This week, a series from urban designer Gloria Venczel (principal of Cityscape Design), who asks: 

Is Vancouver the Urban Design-CityBuilding leader in North America?

 

Many new mixed-use developments in the City of Vancouver have a strong public realm component to them …   While negotiated, we take these public realm enhancements as a given.  Architectural edge programming in Vancouver is an integral part of  the public living room.  ‘Streetscape vibrancy’ design elements are implemented in varying degrees in contemporary projects on a consistent basis.

Is Vancouver the North American leader in producing contemporary mixed-use, people-friendly, walkable, vibrant  developments? Has the City of Vancouver’s early vision for pedestrian-friendly urban design spurred a symbiotic ( sometimes problematic)  relationship with the development community, resulting in a developers’ “race to the top”?  

It appears that the local Vancouver development market is very competitive in product quality and reputation but is head and shoulders above their North American counterparts in city building savvy and delivering walkable urban design projects.

Some examples, with photos by Gloria:
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Mixed use, Melville St., Downtown Vancouver . Great building-edge programming  with retail/shops. Always filled with people.  
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Mixed use, Fourth Ave, Kitsilano. Building designs that invite window shopping as well as opportunities to pour people into cafe seating.
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Mixed Use, Fourth Ave, Kitsilano, Vancouver. Building designs that invite window shopping as well as opportunities to pour people into cafe seating.         
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  Mixed use, Fourth Ave, Kitsilano. Urban design that facilitates creature comforts for the “outdoor living room” like Adirondack chairs, trees, shade, window shopping.J