Is the Success of Vancouver's Urbanism Just a Facade?

Bob Ransford argues that the policies that have shaped Vancouver's streets and skyline over the last decades into a global icon of planning and design are an accomplishment of style over substance that fail to look at how people inhabit buildings.
August 30, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Ransford defines "Vancouverism" as "a design trend that has among its key principles residential buildings that are in the form of thin point towers with a podium at street level wrapped with townhouses providing 'eyes on the street.'" And while these principles, along with a focus on glass-glad buildings, make for pretty architecture, Ransford and architect Gair Williamson surmise that they fail to acknowledge the changing needs of users. 

"These are conservative times, but technological changes are changing values and shaping different ways people want to live and work. Meanwhile, architects are reverting to classic solutions - classic meaning something that is timeless and not adaptable," says Williamson.

While Ransford attempts to assign responsibility for the failure to re-imagine "the substance" inside the city's stylish new buildings to those who've established the framework for how the city has evolved, Williamson puts the blame squarely on architects. 

"‘You can blame city hall, the client, the public consultation process or the project budget, but in fact it is the disinterest of those involved in the design process who, with a few exceptions, fail to challenge the status quo."

 

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Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 in The Vancouver Sun
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