Brent Toderian's blog

Brent Toderian is an international consultant on advanced urbanism with TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, Vancouver’s former Director of City Planning, and the President of the Council for Canadian Urbanism. Follow him on Twitter @BrentToderian

Vancouver Olympics a Living Laboratory for Urbanism!

Among the countless stories being written on the successes and challenges of these 2010 Olympic Winter Games, not surprisingly the most interesting stories to me are those that speak to the challenges of great urbanism. As a host city, Vancouver has become a massive urban laboratory, with so many opportunities to learn, and we’re soaking it all up.

As we are coming to the end of the final week, a few examples of big experiments and learnings come to mind.

In Olympic year, Vancouver chooses LEED™ Gold for private buildings!

Followers of Vancouver city planning will remember that in 2008, as part of the approval of the EcoDensity Initiative, our Council approved what remains (we think) the highest green standard for private sector building design in North America. The 2008 policy requires that buildings that go through rezonings (representing most buildings built in Vancouver) must establish that their design, at approval, is capable of achieving LEED™ Silver. We actually nick-named it "Silver Plus", because we mandated that there be a minimum of 3 energy points, 1 water point, and 1 storm water point, emphasizing the things that matter most to us.

Prince Charles, Vancouverism, and the search for Sustainable Urbanism

This past Saturday, I had the honour of joining a group of invited urbanists and sustainability experts, in a special dialogue put on by The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environmentand Vancouver's Simon Fraser University. Among other things, the event was to launch a new partnership between these two innovative organizations around research and curriculum for sustainable urbanism.

The 2010 Winter Olympics Athletes Village: Vancouver's Next City-Building Model, Part 1

I'm sure much will be written on the observations and learning's from the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Winter Olympics and Paralympics process - at least once all those working tirelessly on it have had some time to catch our breath after next year's monumental event. As you can imagine, we're already inundated with visitors, questions and critiques, and we still have months to go and much hard work to do.

Vancouver approves Laneway Housing and "Suites within Suites"

A quick post to note that on Tuesday of last week, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved bylaws to put into place Vancouver's new "suites within suites" housing option, across the City. Also referred to as "lock-off suites", these secondary suites within apartments are meant to represent an opportunity for housing flexibility, with such suites usable as a rental mortgage helper (a “mortgage helper in the sky”, as one article puts it), a separated but related unit for an elderly parent or aging teenager, a unit for a care-giver, or any other relationship an apartment owner might need.

Raising the Green Bar again: from EcoDensity to "Greenest City"?

Over various blog posts through the last few years, I've shared some of the key steps and stages leading to the eventual unanimous Council approval of Vancouver's EcoDensity Initiative. Since then the EcoDensity Charter and new policies have been changing the way we think about density, green building and site design, and our ecological footprint in and outside of city hall. We've also been moving forward on various EcoDensity actions approved in principle by Council back in 2008.

Remembering Canada's Greatest Architect

This weekend, friends, family, colleagues and admirers got together to celebrate the life, and mourn the death, of a man many consider to be the most talented architect Canada has ever produced. Frank Gehry may have been born in Canada, but Arthur Erickson began, remained and died a great Canadian. He was also one of the World's architectural greats, and a "citizen of the World".

More on design competitions, and building a city's "culture of design"

Can a city's "design culture" be deliberately grown and fostered? If so, can City Hall be part of such a fostering, or must it come from the grass roots, from the cultural or design communities themselves?

Readers know I've been musing on these questions for a while. A few years back, after arriving here in Vancouver, I wrote on the difference between our city's reputation as a "city BY design", and the reputation some other cities have, as "cities OF design".

Great street design, and coming full-circle with our design heroes

"If we can develop and design streets so that they are wonderful, fulfilling places to be community-building places, attractive for all people then we will have successfully designed about one-third of the city."         Allan Jacobs

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at an event celebrating what might possibly come to be recognized as one of Vancouver's important civic feats - the redesign and reconstruction of downtown Vancouver's Granville Street.

Citifying a Suburban Shopping Centre

In a past post, I wrote on the plan to urbanize Vancouver's Oakridge Centre, our first car-oriented "suburban" shopping centre (see past post here for information, report-links and images). Some have asked how the downturn has affected the plans to proceed - as we were only anticipating going through the next steps of planning and design (rezoning) in the next year or so, with some time before the owners were planning on initiating the physical transformation of the mall, I believe they remain in "wait-and-see" mode regarding possible timing of first phases, relative to the market.