“The gentrification of Chelsea was under way long before the High Line, although the park certainly helped to establish as a credible residential neighbourhood an area that previously had little open space and no park.” – Sarah Williams Goldhagen, the architecture critic for The New Republic. This article ran in the September 2, 2010 issue of the magazine.
Having attended Wednesday night’s presentation on Northeast False Creek featuring James Corner, I left with mixed feelings. The draft design of the park provides a significant number of desirable public amenities, however the looming question of affordability hangs like a shadow over all new developments in Vancouver – even parks.
A park loaded with attractive features, designed by a world-renowned and award-winning firm, will inexorably cause a rise in adjacent land values. Without an adequate housing strategy in place this project may end up inadvertently exacerbating an existing problem. The NEFC draft area plan touches on this issue, suggesting 200-300 units of new social housing units be built in place of the viaducts along Main Street and 20% of new residential floor area be delivered as social housing. By comparison, the Woodward’s development (another significant intervention in the city’s fabric, built nearby in 2010) created 200 units of below-market affordable units (roughly 25% social housing by residential floor area), which did not compensate for the gentrification that continued in its wake.
James Corner described Northeast False Creek as what could be Vancouver’s “most central” park – as it is easier to access for citizens who don’t live on the peninsula. Surrounded by so many growing communities, transit nodes, and the sea wall, this area is choice for a park, regardless of the circumstances. Cities should be affordable and have excellent public spaces. In this light, I offer some remarks about elements of the park:
- The park promotes an “informality between people and places”, allowing people to clamber into and plop themselves down within “found nature”.
- There is an intent to connect people with the natural environment, which James Corner notes Vancouverites are already better at than most – due to the consistent presence of our natural landmarks (and rain). Small tactile sensations, such as the presence of moss, are being considered in the park. Tall trees may one day return to the area with the inclusion of Douglas Firs. The presence of rich, educational gardens will bring forgotten species under new scrutiny.
- Elements of the park have been informed by adjacent neighbourhoods ranging from the West End to the False Creek Flats, and from the Downtown Eastside to Southeast False Creek. The three primary contributing factors, reflective of these communities’ needs, are “destination”, “nature in the city”, and “community”.
- Tiered steps will be installed below the high tide line, allowing for each level to serve as an inter-tidal diagram, and doubling as bench seating.
- There will be a “found” beach only available at low tide.
- The park is aligned with the Ontario Greenway, so bring out your tin foil hats if you are into ley lines.
- The height of the hill in Andy Livingstone Park will be advantageously re-purposed as stadium seating to view the neighbouring sports fields.
- A sensuous, meandering boardwalk over tidal zones will challenge pedestrians to take their time enjoying and respecting the water’s edge.
- There will be places of respite, yet James Corner noted that some park management boards close their parks at night (I experienced this in Chicago’s Millenium Park, when my friends and I were hastily removed for exploring after dark). Further, some boards will design a park’s view corridors to place “eyes on the street” such that people who are homeless or whose circumstances do not fit within acceptable norms of park usage do not feel “safe” staying in the park.
- The new park attempts to include and run contiguously with a refreshed Andy Livingstone Park, but the connection is interrupted at grade by the relocated (and wide) Pacific Boulevard. A passerelle (note: not a bridge) provides a gently sloped, slender footbridge over the boulevard, while cyclists will likely cross at grade. As a person who should really exercise more often, I hope I am inclined to expend the necessary energy to walk up and over the passerelle. I wonder if the new Pacific Boulevard will one day be closed to traffic in the same fashion as the recent closure of Robson Square.
- Collaboration with First Nations stakeholders was only briefly mentioned, which I am hoping to hear about in greater detail. The draft area plan notes “The City of Reconciliation framework goals include strengthening local First Nations and Urban Aboriginal relations; promoting Aboriginal peoples arts, culture, awareness, and understanding; and incorporating First Nations and urban aboriginal perspectives for effective City services.”
- There is a raised platform for bicycles to enter the park from Dunsmuir Street, which along with the passerelle are the closest thing the scheme has to previous calls for re-purposing the existing viaducts. In the spirit of creating a place with a sense of shared memory and city history, will a fragment of the viaduct remain?
- Due to the seriousness of the housing crisis, I am curious if the ongoing exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver, titled The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st-Century City will have an influence on the park’s neighbouring developments.
For those interested in future events involving Northeast False Creek, there is one at the Vancouver Public Library on June 13, and another at the Sun Wah Centre on June 15. For those with comments on the park, a survey is available here until June 30. For more information, the City’s Northeast False Creek website is here.
“It took Gates seven years and $63 million to build his Medina, Washington, estate, named “Xanadu 2.0” after the fictional home of Charles Foster Kane, the title character of “Citizen Kane.”At 66,000 square feet, the home is absolutely massive, and it’s loaded to the brim with high-tech details.
The property is worth $124.99 million as of this year. Gates purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988.Per public filings, he paid $1,080,443.17 in property taxes in 2016.
Half a million board-feet of lumber was needed to complete the project.The house was built with 500-year-old Douglas fir trees, and 300 construction workers labored on the home — 100 of whom were electricians.
A high-tech sensor system helps guests monitor a room’s climate and lighting.When guests arrive, they’re given a pin that interacts with sensors located all over the house. Guests enter their temperature and lighting preferences so that the settings change as they move throughout the home. Speakers hidden behind wallpaper allow music to follow you from room to room.
The house uses its natural surroundings to reduce heat loss.You can change the artwork on the walls with just the touch of a button.Situated around the house are $80,000 worth of computer screens. Anyone can make the screens display their favorite paintings or photographs, which are stored on devices worth $150,000.
The pool also has its own underwater music system.The 60-foot pool is in its own separate, 3,900-square-foot building — the large brown building in the photo above. People in the pool could swim underneath a glass wall to come up to a terrace area on the outside.
The 2,100-square-foot library has a dome roof and two secret bookcases, including one that reveals a hidden bar. On the ceiling you’ll find a quote from “The Great Gatsby” that reads: “He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”
For more on this abode, please check out The Independent article here.
Haven’t a good passerelle for awhile, so thanks to Doug Dosdall for his contribution.
This is from Bilbao where I am now, a city that knows how to combine modern and historic!
After a day of walking I also appreciated that the bridge had a cushiony astro-turf like (except black) carpet surface which was lovely to walk on!
Gladys We discovered these in dezeen:
Dutch designer Robin Stam was inspired by the seven images of archetypal bridges originally created by Austrian designer Robert Kalina to represent key phases in Europe’s cultural history. The illustrations on the banknotes show generic examples of architectural styles such as renaissance and baroque rather than real bridges from a particular member state, which could have aroused envy among other countries. …
The local council responsible for constructing a new housing development in Spijkenisse, a suburb of Rotterdam, heard about the idea and approached Stam about using his designs.
The Euro 200 note:
More bridges here.
I’m surprised I’ve missed this one: the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge – a footbridge between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska:
I came across it in this piece by Tom Fairchild: Touring by Bike in Cities without Bikeshare.
The city’s not-to-miss feature for walkers and cyclists alike is the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian (and bicycle) Bridge, which spans the river to a great trail network in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When I arrived at the bridge, it was a beehive of activity and a great symbol for “build it and they will come.”
It was built for $22 million, and opened in September 2008. My guess is that (a) it was criticized as a pork-barrel waste of money for a project that would never justify its expense, and (b) it’s now a well-loved landmark. I do know that (c) there are plans to extend it.
Brice Maryman of Seattle submits this winner, by way of the archpaper blog:
HNTB’s Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge connecting the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with Brooklyn Bridge Park opened to the public last Thursday.
The $4.9 million bridge was built using “trail bridge technology” with galvanized steel cables and cylindrical black locust timbers, providing an efficient and lightweight structure that, as a sign at the entrance to the bridge warns, quite literally puts a bounce in visitors’ steps.
The 400-foot-long Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge zig-zags through Brooklyn Bridge Park, moving through what will one day be a mixed-use development on the park‘s edge designed by Rogers Marvel Architects and providing a crucial connection to the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood which sits largely cut off from the waterfront by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
More here, including slideshow.
The Luchtsingel is a footbridge in Rotterdam (in the Netherlands) with two unusual attributes. One, it is all wood–17,000 individual planks. And two, it is funded by individual donations, not the city’s coffers. Each piece has someone’s name on it.
The bridge is temporary, while Rotterdam gets together the necessary finances to build something permanent. But it’s likely the Luchtsingel will be around for a while. According to the city’s current schedule, the new bridge won’t be funded for another 30 years.
Two items came in within hours of each other.
From Brent Toderian: Top 10 world’s best public spaces
6. Peace Bridge in Calgary, Canada, by Santiago Calatrava: The single-span helical footbridge gently arcs across the water, sheltering users with a glass roof along its 126 meter length. Adjacent to Prince’s Island Park in the downtown district, the structure will provide pedestrians and cyclists with connecting routes between the urban center and Memorial Drive.
From Scot Bathgate: Why Does This Canadian Bridge Keep Trying to Kill People?
Ever since it opened in September, this inanimate giant of cold steel has been waging bloody war against the puny humans who use it for their daily commute.
As much as I thought the Port Mann Bridge was excessive, I have some sympathy for its managers. A bridge is a big, complicated piece of machinery – and screw-ups are always part of start-ups. It’s true for a bridge as much as a rapid-transit line (remember snow and SkyTrain?) But in an age of social media and instant branding, there’s also no patience.
A new conceptual design by Paris-based studio AZC won the “Bridge in Paris” competition … They’ve dreamed up an inflatable bridge that’s outfitted with giant trampolines that allow you to bounce your way from the Left Bank over to the Right Bank.
A self-sustainable bridge that responds to its use, designed by Sanzpont [arquitectura], Sergio Sanz Pont and Victor Sanz Pont, winners of the “Building to Building Pedestrian Bridge” the latest DesignByMany challenge:
From Pop-up City:
Designed by Amsterdam-based NEXT Architects, the extraordinary structure connects the new neighborhood Weidevenne with the old town center. … The bridge spans 66 meters over the Noordhollandsch Kanaal and consists of one part for pedestrians and another part for cyclists or wheel chairs. At it’s highest point, the bridge is 12 meters above the water level.
After climbing a significant amount of stairs, and having reached the top of the bridge, you will get a stunning view of the city of Purmerend. The stairs are lit at night with energy-efficient LED lights, which on itself also provides an attractive piece of architecture to gaze at.
The High Trestle Bridge, located along the High Trestle Trail between Woodward and Madrid, Iowa spans the Des Moines River Valley and serves as a link in the 25 miles of paved High Trestle Trail.
And at night:
I’m not sure if this counts as a passerelle but it’s pretty neat nonetheless. And it’s from the same architect that designed the Peace Bridge in Calgary:
L’Umbracle is the entry port to the City of Arts and Sciences (in Valencia). It is shaped by a succession of 55 fixed arches and 54 floating arches of 18 meters high. On them grows climbing plants, which will provide shade along the whole landscaped walk and will give a feeling of a “Winter Garden”.
Planted with native species, palms, orange trees, rock roses, mastic trees, rosemary, bougainvillea, that change shape and colour with every season, create different ambiences over the course of the walk. Inside the structure is an outdoor art gallery, called the ‘Stroll of the Sculptures’ with nine sculptures from contemporary authors.
The City of Arts and Sciences – meant to be Valencia’s answer to Bilboa’s Guggenheim – hasn’t worked out that way. Story here.
French architecture studio bureau faceB is developing an unusual new bridge on Paris’ Seine River—one that is designed to be intentionally unstable.
Constructed from steel cables, the “Water At-traction” presents the pedestrian with two ways of crossing the river—a typical bridge with a concrete mesh bottom and a series of perilously narrow, wobbly paths.
The bridge’s makers intend for the pedestrian to “flirt” with the Seine by getting closer to the water—you can even sit down on the bridge and have lunch.
Cycling through Edinburgh in between roof-tops on the tracks of the former Caledonian Railway’s Leith New Lines. The new route will provide a direct access from East Edinburgh to Pilrig park cycle tracks and the West.
The bridge structure has been developed with an optimized pattern of simple straight timber boards suspended from two main kevlar cables.
Thanks to Tom Durning.
Via Paul Hillsdon’s blog:
South Surrey’s new Pioneer overpass, a striking pedestrian bridge over Hwy 99 that lights up at night, was the set for the Young Liars’ first music video.
Paul’s blog, Civic Surrey, is a good example of the New News: the transition to digital coverage of our region – the subject of the next City Conversation on June 21, at which Paul will be a conversationalist.
Brent Toderian sends a tweet: