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Make Your Mark in Mount Pleasant

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The Daily Hive notes that the City of Vancouver is looking for artists and designers  to create “sidewalk stencils” for the sidewalks in front of commercial businesses along Mount Pleasant’s Main Street. There have been sidewalk stamps before, most notably along Heather Street between 49th and 54th Avenues. Those sidewalks stamps were chosen from images created  by the Churchill Secondary School’s fine art class,  and were cut into metal stencils using a plasma cutter at the City works yard. Some of the images have been so successful that they have been used in other parts of the city as well.

Sidewalks were installed on Heather Street from 49th Avenue to Marine Drive and there was the opportunity to imprint the metal stencil directly into fresh cement. In the Mount Pleasant case,  a metal stencil will be…

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Anish Kapoor’s Descension

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For the fortieth anniversary of the City of New York’s public art fund, Anish Kapoor’s “Descension” public art piece has been placed in Brooklyn Bridge Park from May until September. This is a very visceral work ,in that it is a “negative” space work-it looks like a large round swimming pool that has a continually spiralling vortex of water funneling but is flush to the ground. In other places it has been installed with the water frothing black to emphasize the wave. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy insisted that the water be the same colour as the East River, so it is more transparent looking.

The work is fenced off by a simple bar fence and is under 24 hour guard so that no one slips into the water. The actual pool is eight meters in diameter, and the water is about 1.2 meters deep.  The water…

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Noises Off at Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Via NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver is this Fast Company article on the Secret Life of Parks. Diana Budd explores the work in Brooklyn Bridge Park that Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has undertaken in making parks quieter, even when surrounded by traffic and other noise. “By sculpting the land, MVVA gives cities their very own mute button.” 
In the parks of three major cities heavily impacted by traffic noise- Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and A Gathering Place for Tulsa,  MVVA  decided that having a conversation at normal tone was a measure.  “If you have to yell or get really close together to talk, it’s not park-like . . . You try to lower ambient noise level so people can start to hear the insects.”
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Last month I visited Brooklyn Bridge Park with NYC…

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Copenhagen’s Iconic Benches Stolen off the Street

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Well everyone grew up and instead of coveting that Teddy Ruxpin  bear or the Christmas Furby, some of us have aimed higher with good design in good landscape furniture.  As noted in Citylab.com  The “Copenhagen bench”, a beautiful  Danish bench with clean lines has become popular because of its classic lines. So popular that “across the Danish capital, thieves are targeting a local design icon—the classic Copenhagen bench”.  Designed in the 1880’s “the benches are one of those visual clues that Danish people instantly associate with Copenhagen, like the Wallace Fountains of Paris or the now defunct red telephone boxes of London”.

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And everyone wants their own. This year 45 benches have been stolen so far, at a cost of about 1,765 Canadian dollars a bench. That’s about six  benches being pilfered a month. Here’s the strange part-you can actually buy the bench at retail stores…

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Observations on New York City, Central Park and the High Line

My best day as a planner with planning guru Mitchell Silver and City of Sydney Australia’s manager of City Conversations, Julie Grimson.

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I have just returned from New York City where I spent a day with Mitchell Silver the Park Commissioner for New York City, and Julie Grimson, City Conversations Manager for the City of Sydney Australia. Mitchell is a renown city planner who was the planning director for the City of Raleigh  and was formerly the head of the American Planning Association. He has a wonderful office in the historic Arsenal in Central Park. Robert Moses’ old office adjacent to Mitchell’s is now the board room for staff meetings.

4662706783_1d2405b21cFamed City Master Builder Robert Moses in his office in the Arsenal, Central Park, 1940’s

FullSizeRenderMitchell Silver and Julie Grimson in what was Robert Moses’ “closet” in the Arsenal

One of the prime drivers of public space in New York City in Central Park and on the High Line has been the creation of conservancies or public “trusts” that bring in massive…

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Speed Humps Versus Bumps, and a Great Temporary Solution

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Anyone working in municipal government  knows all about the tussle over speed humps or “bumps”, those wonderful “silent policemen”  installed by the City that slow vehicular traffic.  A speed hump is an area of raised pavement across a roadway, usually circular in shape, and is a gentler version of a speed bump, which has acute angles designed to insist vehicles slow right down. Speed bumps are designed to provide driver discomfort, and drop vehicular speeds to  approximately ten kilometers per hour.

Every neighbourhood wants these wonderful things that by their nature and design intentionally slow traffic. The City of Vancouver has a speed hump request form where residents can ask to have their street evaluated for speed humps. You can’t buy speed humps-there is a magical formula in the “warrant” system that looks at speed and volume of vehicles and  ICBC reporting of vehicular crashes and fatalities. But if your…

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Chinatown History Windows Contextually Connects Community

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A very special project in Chinatown  has been attracting attention from locals and tourists alike. The CBC has written about the Chinatown History Windows which were designed to animate the vacant storefronts in the area. The large photos are historically accurate and often have been “stylized and recoloured ”  to capture imaginations.

There is a heady legacy of what Chinese Canadians have done for Canada. In 1867 seventy per cent of the population of British Columbia  was First Nations, with 4,000 Americans, 4,000 from Europe, Great Britain or Australia, and 4,000 Chinese. These early Chinese immigrants took on the arduous and at times deadly work of building the railway across Canada. From those beginnings Chinese-Canadians have faced discrimination, from a head tax to come to Canada, to not being allowed to vote until 1947. It was not until 1951 that all of the exclusionary laws were repealed.

The…

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