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

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.

The Copenhagen Approach To "Traffic" Could Transform Your City!

Our world and our cities, would be so very different, if all of the Directors of Traffic thought like Niels Tørsløv of Copenhagen - especially if, like Niels, all such Directors were trained as landscape architects. What if the "traffic problem" was about too many bikes, and the "parking problem" was about how to deal with so many bikes overtaking the public spaces and sidewalks?

Can Vancouver "shift form"?

A new design competition thinks it can.

In a recent post, I discussed the value of open design competitions in strengthening a city's "culture of design". I explained how Vancouver, often described as a city by design but in past years perhaps lacking a competition skill-set, is seeking to strengthen that culture, albeit by small steps and grass-roots efforts thus far. Here's the link - you might want to read that post first

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