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Interesting commentary from Vancity Buzz columnist Kenneth Chan on maintaining the status quo for the Vancouver viaducts.  I have to admit given Kenneth’s usual pro-transit stance and excellent feel for what makes cities work, I was a bit perplexed as to his seemingly pro-Motordom stance … that is until I read his thoughts on the hottest urban design topic in the city at the moment.

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Viaducts

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There are some great points here.  I for one advocate for keeping areas of the city funky, gritty, cheap, by celebrating the Rough versus the Refined as my old professor Moura Quayle once taught us.  Kenneth’s vision asks the question what if we tried to work with the space instead of hitting Vancouver’s seemingly default button of bulldoze and replace?

In addition there is the concerning shell game regarding traffic design that needs to be addressed; why remove a pseudo freeway in the sky and replace it with a 6 lane Pacific Blvd decapitating the much celebrated shiny new park space?  If this is deemed necessary, can we ramp up the park on either side to bridge an at-grade arterial creating a continuous park experience/connection?  After all the site is reputed to be contaminated so capping the park with clean fill is more than likely required and would alleviate the high cost of tunneling Pacific Blvd.

If we do go ahead with removing the Viaducts lets strive to create a world class space that will leave a legacy of such a bold decision.  Vancouver’s version of Millennium park perhaps, or taking a cue from Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture park or learning from Toronto’s evolving great new urban lakeshore spaces.