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If you build a city that is great for an eight-year-old and for an 80-year-old, then you build a city that is going to be great for everybody. They’re like an indicator species. We need to stop building cities as if everybody in them is 30 years old and athletic.

Gil Penalosa, the "pied piper for sustainable transportation," quoted in a Globe & Mail profile. 

Photo: The Atlantic Cities

Seen around town: Fall showing its colours on East Hastings Street

Seen around town: Fall showing its colours on East Hastings Street

Bikes and balloons: A shot from the streets of Amsterdam

Bikes and balloons: A shot from the streets of Amsterdam

Seen around town: Some straphangers lined up along the rainy block of West 4th ave & Vine earlier this week. 

If you don’t know what a straphanger is check out Taras Grescoe’s awesome book on the topic: www.tarasgrescoe.com/straphanger/about.html.

Seen around town: Some straphangers lined up along the rainy block of West 4th ave & Vine earlier this week.

If you don’t know what a straphanger is check out Taras Grescoe’s awesome book on the topic: www.tarasgrescoe.com/straphanger/about.html.

Around Town: Granville Street, just south of West Georgia (Downtown)
earlier this week

Around Town: Granville Street, just south of West Georgia (Downtown)

earlier this week

A Whole Lot of Bills. Posted.


A look south from the rooftop of the innovative, mixed-use Woodwards complex here in Vancouver. The New York Times reported back in 2009:

Woodward’s, a 1.1-million-square-foot project with an inclusive design. The project, which is costing 500 million Canadian dollars (about $475 million), is one of the biggest redevelopments in city history.
It is also controversial — because of a tangled history and a high-stakes social engineering approach. “There is so much riding on this project,” said Ian Gillespie, chief executive of Westbank Projects, one of the developers. “Everyone sees it as a panacea for huge social problems.”
When completed in January, the project will encompass four interconnected buildings with a central atrium on the edge of the Downtown Eastside, just a few blocks from the business district.
It will feature 536 market-rate condominiums, 200 “affordable” rental units, a supermarket, a drugstore and Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts. It will also have 31,500 square feet of office space for nonprofit organizations, 59,329 square feet of federal and city office space, a bank, a restaurant and a rooftop day care center.
“It is a microcosm of the city,” said the project architect, Gregory Henriquez.
The other project partners are the Peterson Investment Group, the city government and Simon Fraser. The site, which covers a full block, originally housed the Woodward’s department store, which closed in 1993. That building has a contentious past, including several failed development efforts and a three-month occupation by advocates for the homeless.

A look south from the rooftop of the innovative, mixed-use Woodwards complex here in Vancouver. The New York Times reported back in 2009:

Woodward’s, a 1.1-million-square-foot project with an inclusive design. The project, which is costing 500 million Canadian dollars (about $475 million), is one of the biggest redevelopments in city history.

It is also controversial — because of a tangled history and a high-stakes social engineering approach. “There is so much riding on this project,” said Ian Gillespie, chief executive of Westbank Projects, one of the developers. “Everyone sees it as a panacea for huge social problems.”

When completed in January, the project will encompass four interconnected buildings with a central atrium on the edge of the Downtown Eastside, just a few blocks from the business district.

It will feature 536 market-rate condominiums, 200 “affordable” rental units, a supermarket, a drugstore and Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts. It will also have 31,500 square feet of office space for nonprofit organizations, 59,329 square feet of federal and city office space, a bank, a restaurant and a rooftop day care center.

“It is a microcosm of the city,” said the project architect, Gregory Henriquez.

The other project partners are the Peterson Investment Group, the city government and Simon Fraser. The site, which covers a full block, originally housed the Woodward’s department store, which closed in 1993. That building has a contentious past, including several failed development efforts and a three-month occupation by advocates for the homeless.

For two centuries, technologies damaged cities. Factories brought dirt and noise. Then cars added sprawl: Los Angeles creates fewer encounters than dense Manhattan. Even in the 1990s, the desktop computer swallowed valuable space, and chained each person to his own desk. Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says 20th-century technologies were no use to a dense city such as Venice.

But the internet was perfect for cities. It created new networks that reinforced older urban networks. Patrik Regardh, head of strategic marketing for the mobile-phone operator Ericsson, says urbanites email, phone and use social networks more than people outside cities. After all, they have more contacts, and so they communicate more. In Stockholm, for instance, women use Facebook to team up for safe jogging tours at night.

When laptops arrived, urbanites could use the new networks anywhere – but they often still needed a coffee shop to get online. Starbucks rose thanks to the laptop computer. Now, though, people carry their networks around in a 10-sq-in device. This is transforming city life in countless ways: everything from finding a date to finding a bus in an instant. Greg Clark, the UK’s minister for cities, says the London bus finder app “actually makes the transport system hugely more effective”. Now we just need a good app to find parking spots. Clark sighs: “A lot of congestion comes literally from people driving around looking for a parking space.”

In short, smartphones are helping make the densest cities the best places to live, as witnessed by property prices in Hong Kong, New York, Paris and London. By contrast, sprawling cities that rely heavily on cars – Moscow, Istanbul, Beijing – are becoming dysfunctional as roads clog up. I recently took three hours on a Saturday afternoon to reach a Moscow airport. If you live like that, your networks shrivel because you stop meeting people.

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A quote from the FT article, 'The app of life'.

(Image credit: FT