This week, a look at a municipal town centre that’s trying to create a regional transit-oriented development – before transit has arrived.
If you haven’t been to Coquitlam for a few decades, this might be your memory – a commercial strip with a bad case of Motordom. And much of Barnett/Lougheed Highway still looks this way (map here):
But “Coquitlam City Centre” is a designated regional town centre in the Metro Vancouver strategic plan (details here) – and the municipal council, planners and developers have been making a determined effort to create an urban place for the last several decades, expecting, hoping, crying for the Evergreen rapid-transit line to arrive. So it makes a great case-study in how high-density works, particularly in highrise form, when the context all around is still car-dependent.
As we’ll see, much of the urban-design has been influenced by ‘Vancouverism’ – the name somewhat vaguely applied to the tower-and-podium style that evolved out of the megaproject developments that so spectacularly changed the City of Vancouver in the 1990s.
Although Coquitlam wasn’t the only suburban municipality to adopt a Vancouver-styled urbanism (check out No. 3 Road in Richmond, Lonsdale in North Vancouver, Surrey City Centre), it’s probably the one that looks most like parts of Concord Pacific or Downtown South.
The residential highrises, in fact, are often taller and more imposing that what might be found downtown, and the ambience of the neighbourhood is distinctly influenced by the presence of a large Korean community.
Next: what works, what doesn’t.