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This week, a series from urban designer Gloria Venczel (principal of Cityscape Design), who asked “Is Vancouver the Urban Design-City-Building leader in North America?”

After a Manhattan comparison, a contrast with Toronto.

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I was also able to visit Toronto in the humidity and heat of the summer 2016. It is also a winter city with a plethora of underground shopping complexes downtown Toronto with edgy contemporary  architecture. But the streets seem to be for people/car movement with limited public realm vibrancy.

How does this compare to Vancouver’s newer developments from a pedestrian oriented urban design perspective? Livability? Vibrancy?

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“One York”  – great architecture but nothing to do on the street as all the shops and services are below ground. No edge programming that would make the street more vibrant and safe.

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Financial District, Toronto. Minimal building edge programming like cafes or shops  to actuallygive people a reason to stay. Planters do not in and of themselves create vibrancy.

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Greater Toronto Area (GTA) City Hall . No recognition of people in the urban design in theforecourt, ironically a very anonymous and dangerous space.

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Downtown Shopping , Toronto. Barren streetscape, no trees, benches or concept of a “public living room” . Just people and goods movement – utilitarian- close to the Eaton’s Shopping Centre.