Archive for May, 2009

Norm Connolly at CEA

Congratulations to Norm Connolly, one of our cohort members in the Sustainable Community Development Certificate program.

Community Energy Association Engages Norm Connolly as Executive Director 

The Community Energy Association (CEA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Norm Connolly as Executive Director, commencing July 2009. 

The Community Energy Association is a collaboration of the Union of BC Municipalities, the Province, the Planning Institute of BC, transit providers, energy utilities and individual local governments.  The organization assists BC local governments to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy through community energy planning and project implementation.

Norm Connolly is an urban planning professional with ten years experience in corporate, municipal, federal, academic and non-profit sectors.  He has served the past ten years as a senior researcher and project manager for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, managing sustainable planning workshops and integrated design charrettes for prominent projects throughout western Canada. 

Most recently Norm has been managing a team developing a 20-year renewal plan for Granville Island, addressing infrastructure, sustainability, transportation and land use challenges.  Norm holds a Masters in Environmental Design – Urban Planning from University of Calgary, LEED TM accreditation and a Bachelor of Commerce.  

May 29, 2009 at 9:19 am 1 comment

Vancouverism vs. Motordom

Larry Beasley, Vancouver’s previous planning director, gave a lyrical address for the Munro Lecture in the Segal Centre at SFU last night.  And not just with words.   Images flowed with his remarks, changing in mid-sentence, always illustrating his points.   I’d say it was the best use of the photos I and others have taken.

He kindly referred to an essay I had recently written for SFU’s AQ magazine, describing some of the transportation history of Vancouver, and why we are the way we are.  


You can find it here.

– Gordon Price

May 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

Urban Studies: Call for Proposals

Global Games and Local Legacies: Understanding Olympics Outcomes in Host Cities

The Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University  invites scholars and practitioners from all fields to submit paper proposals for a symposium entitled “Global Games and Local Legacies: Understanding Olympics Outcomes in Host Cities,” to be held in Vancouver, Canada, from October 22-24, 2009.

The symposium will involve organized panels, moderated discussion, and an open forum for ideas about urban Olympics outcomes research. The panels will be held at the Vancouver and Surrey campuses of SFU.

Details here.

May 28, 2009 at 8:09 am Leave a comment

Active Neighbourhoods – a promise delivered

Dr. Jim Sallis, the head of Active Living Research (ALR) at San Diego State University, gave a City Program lecture a few years ago.   His research unit has worked hard over the years to establish the  link between land use and physical activity.

This week, he sent us the results of an international study that will help put land use on the health agenda worldwide.   To those who attend the City Program’s  ‘Shifting Gears’ series (sponsored by the Bombardier Foundation and the BC Recreation and Parks Association), the idea that “neighborhoods built to support physical activity have a strong potential to contribute to increased physical activity” likely won’t strike you as anything surprising.  But the virtue of ALR (and Larry Frank’s work at UBC) is that it provides the data for what would otherwise be intuition.

logo Surveys were conducted in 11 countries using the same self-report environmental variables and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire.  The results are available to all in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.  Press release here.

May 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

Love and the City

Beasley lecture

Who in the previous generation would have thought that “love” might become a prime force in the economy of cities? Now we know that people will only come to a city and stay in a city if they feel real affection for it and make it their place.

Larry Beasley will use examples from his long practice in Vancouver and more recent work around the world to explain what he sees as the basic dimensions of the sustainable and humane city – the “eco-city” — arguing that “placemaking” is the pivotal missing component in the commonly pursued strategies of smart growth.
Placemaking provides the link between urban excellence, economic development and sustainability. He observes that to get cities back into the proactive business of placemaking, urban design must be deliberate and not accidental.
Larry Beasley outlines the imperative of a new approach to city building, which he calls “experiential planning,” involving understanding and delivering cityscapes that people genuinely prefer over unsustainable forms, cities that people will truly desire and therefore solicit their love.

Larry Beasley was Vancouver’s Co-Director of Planning for many years. After retiring from government, he was appointed the “Distinguished Practice Professor of Planning” at the University of British Columbia. He is the principal of his own international planning consultancy, “Beasley and Associates”, and lectures worldwide. He chairs the Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty of Ottawa’s National Capital Commission and is Special Advisor for Planning to the Government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. He has degrees from both Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. He has received the “Kevin Lynch Prize” from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the “Advocate for Architecture Award” from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

The Munro Lecture honours John Munro, regional economist and senior administrator at Simon Fraser University.  This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President, Academic and Burnaby Mountain College.

This lecture is free but seating is limited, please reply to “cs_hc@sfu” or to 778 782 5100

May 19, 2009 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

The FormShift Winners

Brent Toderian, the Vancouver’s Director of Planning, blogs on Planetizen, often about Vancouver, always with insight.

In his most recent post, he talks about FormShift, the competition sponsored by the City and the Architectural Institute of B.C. 

We’ve recently announced the winners and honorable mentions, to strong design community, media and blog buzz.

(Although most of the community has been very positive, there have been a few criticisms of method, winners, judging, even motives – some disappointingly cynical, but others representing good feedback for next time. There’s an old saying that in design competitions, it’s the jurors that really are being judged).

You can see the winners and indeed all of the 84 submission, here and a good article on them from the Tyee “Welcome to Vancouver 2.0”.  As well, here’s also an interesting related article from Re:Place on the need and value of more competitions locally .

So here are the winners, with edited descriptions provided by the entrants.

Winner – Primary

Sturgess Architecture (Jeremy Sturgess) – Calgary  

Van Primary - Sturgess


This concept encourages alternative ways to live, work, play and grow, by re-thinking the traditional role and format of surfaces and elevations.

The walls are not conceived as cladding or filler but as crucial base elements of the design. The elevations do not follow a fixed or traditional paradigm but are configured to maximize the performance of the walls, and are responsive and reconfigurable to the urban and environmental conditions.

This hypothetical mixed-use project is generated by a complex of productive surfaces: every wall, ramp, floor and roof contributes in some way to either the procurement of energy, the generation of food, or the creation of a connective of communal public space. The stepped elevation rises from four to eight stories, allowing the project to respond to the current urban and environmental context. The ledges and rooftop spaces can accommodate modular additions in response to changing programmatic requirements. The wall and floor surfaces can be configured to harness a site-specific energy source, be solar or wind-generated or another source; and can be adapted to community needs, such as providing the site for a weekly marketplace or other communal activity.

By ensuring the design of all new buildings respect the surrounding context and understand the local environmental conditions, surfaces can be sculpted and custom-configured to provide a vibrant and accommodating urban environment.


Winner – Secondary

Romses Architects (Scott Romses) – Vancouver  


Van secondary


This concept challenges the status quo of how energy is produced, delivered and sustained in our city, neighborhoods, and individual single-family homes. It proposes to overlay a new “green energy web” across the numerous residential neighborhoods and laneways within the city.

These laneways will be transformed into green energy conduits, or “green streets,” where energy is “harvested” via proposed new “Modpod” laneway live-work homes. These prefab “ModPods” will provide the needed adaptable affordable housing for the City, but equally important, will act as incremental nodes of sustainable energy infrastructure for the immediate home and laneway house, as well as the city at large. They will also act as a venue for the harvesting of rainwater and new urban food systems. Private and communal rainwater cisterns will provide irrigation for edible green roofs, community and private edible gardens, fruit bearing vegetation, and vertical gardens that will inhabit the facades and space of the laneway, providing a “green food web” for the residential neighborhood.

The end intent is to transform Vancouver’s hidden laneways into synergistic “green streets” creating a socially vibrant new public realm. A new space where environmental, social, urban design, and community aspirations intersect while respecting and enhancing the existing single family fabric of the surrounding neighborhood. The result will slowly transform the service/auto oriented experience and quality of the Vancouver laneway into a green and dynamic pedestrian public realm. 

Winner – Wildcard

Go Design Collaborative (Jennifer Uegama and Pauline Thimm) – Vancouver  

Van Wildcard

“DENcity : INTENcity”

DENcity : INTENcity proposes a typology that responds to the “crunch” at the waterfront. It allows for the coexistence of industrial and agricultural lands with other uses as well as a providing a transportation and transit hub.

A high-density “stacked” program concentrates multiple diverse uses in a vertical format.  In concentrating such uses, efficiencies in energy recovery strategies can be realized through harvesting of wind energy and on-site organic waste digestion. 

The typology is composed of a base block of stacked industrial floor plates and parking is serviced by rail and streetcar serving the Fraser riverfront and linking to the new Canada Line sky-train route. A dramatic undulating roof, pierced with skylights, caps industrial activity and provides pockets of interstitial zones in between where a variety of events could occur – a seasonal farmers’ market or festival gatherings.  This roof then provides a new elevated ground plane above, capable of supporting urban farming or park land.  It is anchored by a flexible tower, a large-span, straight-forward structure that permits endless reconfiguration and occupation with minimal intervention.

 The typology revisits conventional horizontal zoning. It is responsible and sustainable, vibrant and accessible.  It invigorates its neighbourhood and welcomes its neighbours.  It stands as a beacon of the city’s edge, of its founding economic engines and ultimately of Vancouver’s commitment to building bold solutions for its future.


You can see all the winners and the honourable mentions here.

May 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Strolling down Spadina in your IPod

SFU colleague Dale Wikaruk discovered a brilliant innovation on Heritage Toronto’s website – an IPod tour down Spadina, one of the great streets of Canada.

Toronto heritage tour

You can watch this narrated tour on the website, or download a video or audio version for your IPod in order to take a self-guided tour on site. 

Dale, of course, wished we had something like that in Vancouver.  I noticed that the funding for the Spadina tour was by the RBC Foundation.  And that the Royal Bank has a magnificant branch at the corner of Granville and Hastings.  And that both streets would be excellent choices for IPod tours.  Hmm.

May 15, 2009 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

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