Blogging the Viaduct
Scot Erdman writes:
Thanks for hosting a really interesting discussion last Thursday on the Viaducts! I really enjoyed the exchange of ideas, hearing the different options and opportunities, and the Q&A period at the end as well.
You mentioned that anyone who was planning on writing a blog piece on the topic should email you their links so that it can be shared. Here’s a blog article I’ve co-authored with two other Vancouver Public Space Network volunteers, Canisius Chan and Jesse Tarbotton, on the topic:
I’d love to read other pieces written up by local bloggers from Thursday’s Forum. Is there a page you have that has links to everyone’s Viaduct blog articles?
Yes, Scot, there is – and here it is. I’ll add other links as they come in, and continually update this post.
Stephen Rees, of course, has published the most comprehensive description of the evening. His conclusion:
I do not think that the viaducts are worth preserving … But let us see that the proposed design competition produces. I am not an urban designer. But I do know now as a certainty that the area will be better without these concrete viaducts, and there is very little to be said for retaining even small parts of them. Dammit they are ugly!
Here’s a post from Tim Barton:
… what happens to all the traffic that currently uses the viaducts? Does everything come to a grinding halt if they are removed? The consensus was – no. And to be fair, all the evidence now supports this, including the little experiment the City did in February last year when a small sporting event shut down the viaducts and a few other streets! There is now a fair body of evidence from all over the world which supports the notion of ’disappearing traffic’
Voony hasn’t weighed in on the Viaduct Forum yet – but he did post on the Cheongyecheon Restoration Project, which obviously had a big impact on City Engineer Peter Judd who began the evening with the CRP as an instructive lesson on the limits of traffic modelling.
Says Voony in an email:
In the forum, we mostly heard ‘removal’ of structure and other ‘negative’ words … No need to convince me, like the forum audience, that there will be little adverse congestion effect - but we need to agree of what will be the positive outcome of it.
The panel didn’t answer my question, but from the audience feedback, I got my answer, from the nicely named Hogan’s Alley Planning Initiative touted by Ned Jacobs to the Hong Kong bay ‘vision’ touted by Larry Beasley…
Clearly a world of possibilities … but no agreement whatsoever. And when there is no agreement, there is no action…long life to the Viaducts !
Paul Hillsdon also sent along a link to a previous post back in 2009 (he was one of the first to suggest tearing down the Viaducts). Good illustrations too. And Bev Davies contributes some background.
Ron Richings, who doesn’t blog but should, writes in an email:
One of the interesting things about this … is that much of the ‘problem’ that we now want to fix results from an earlier generation’s ‘Grand Vision’ (which often happened to include freeways). And at the time those designing the new, enlightened approach to urban living were likely every bit as confident of their ‘rightness’ as we are today.
Perhaps some of the problem arises from the very notion of ‘Grand Visions’ themselves, which often involve ignoring and displacing existing neighbourhoods and the people who live in them. To paraphrase, when they are good they are very, very good, but when they are bad they are horrid.
It’s fairly rare to get regular media coverage of City Program lectures, but we had reporters from The Courier and The Tyee, which also linked to a video by Kurt Heinrich which describes the city’s current study of viaduct removal, and how some community groups have reacted to the idea.