Video> Shanghai Talks: Toronto city planner James Parakh talks skyscraper design, sustainable urbanism
Last September the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.”
I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Toronto City Planner James Parakh.
Believe it or not, Toronto’s beaches are not a particularly huge draw during the winter months—insiders say it has something to do with temperature. To try and change that—to make the city’s beaches seem appealing even in frigid temperatures—some optimistic Canadians have launched an international design competition to transform the city’s sandy stretches.
Urbanists rejoice! Montreal will tear down a major piece of one of its expressways and replace it with a multi-modal urban boulevard complete with parks, dozens of new trees, bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, a dog park, and art installations. The Montreal Gazette reported that crews will start dismantling the city’s Bonaventure Expressway this spring, and that the entire $141.6 million project should wrap up as soon as 2017.
With 50 pivoting prisms, Toronto-based architecture firm RAW has transformed downtown Montreal into an interactive kaleidoscope. The installation, called Prismatica, is one of two winners selected in the city’s fifth annual Luminothérapie competition. This is the first time that a non-Quebec based firm has won the competition, so congrats to RAW.
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Parabola cantilever walkway delivers park visitors to the brink.
Concerned that visitors to Canada‘s national parks were becoming increasingly disengaged from both the experience of the outdoors and the reality of climate change, Parks Canada launched a search for private-sector initiatives to reverse the trend toward drive-through tourism. Brewster Travel Canada answered the call with a limited design competition for a walkable structure in Jasper National Park‘s Sunwapta Valley. “One of the bus drivers suggested that we do something over this particular gorge, Trickle Creek Canyon—something that could be suspended off the side of the mountain that brought visitors into a more intimate relationship with the Athabasca Glacier and its melting,” explained Sturgess Architecture principal Jeremy Sturgess. With design-build team lead PCL Construction Management and structural engineer Read Jones Christoffersen (RJC), Sturgess’ firm crafted a cantilevered walkway that, clad in weathering steel and glass, defers to its natural surroundings while providing breathtaking views of the glacier and valley floor. Though not a facade itself, Glacier Skywalk warrants discussion within the context of high-performance building envelopes for its innovative structure and streamlined approach to materials—the “+” in Facades+.
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Photoengraved concrete connects past and present in Montreal student housing.
Though the site on which KANVA‘s Edison Residence was recently constructed stood vacant for at least 50 years, its emptiness belied a more complicated history. Located on University Street just north of McGill University’s Milton gates, the student apartment building lies within one of Montreal‘s oldest neighborhoods. Photographs dating to the mid-19th century show a stone house on the lot, but by 1960 the building “had disappeared; it was erased,” said founding partner Rami Bebawi. Excavation revealed that the original house had burned to the ground. Prompted by the site’s history, as well as an interest in exploring cutting-edge concrete technology, the architects delivered a unique solution to the challenge of combining old and new: a photoengraved concrete facade featuring stills from Thomas Edison’s 1901 film of Montreal firefighters.
The Antoine Predock–designed Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in Winnipeg last Friday with a ceremony featuring an indigenous blessing, performances by Ginette Reno, The Tenors, Maria Aragon, and Sierra Noble, plus remarks by several Canadian government officials as well as representatives of the museum. Read More
After traveling all over the Western Hemisphere to inspect built work by emerging architects from Canada to Chile, a team of judges awarded the first-ever Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize on Tuesday, bestowing $25,000 and an offer to teach at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) on Mauricio Pezo and Sofia Von Ellrichshausen for their poetic Poli House, perched above the Pacific Ocean on a cliff in Tomé, Chile.
Herzog & de Meuron will be designing the new Vancouver Art Gallery. The plan will double the size of the 300,000 square foot existing institution.The new Vancouver Art Gallery will be the Swiss firm’s first Canadian project.
HdM was selected out of the shortlist that consisted of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (New York), KPMB Architects (Toronto), and SANAA (Tokyo). The finalists, announced in January, were chosen out of 75 firms from 16 countries who submitted to an open Request for Qualifications process issued by the gallery.
Conceptual designs are expected to be revealed in early 2015.
For the fourth year running, Robson Street in downtown Vancouver will play host to a public art project designed to enhance people’s connection to one another and people’s connection to the space. The brief for “Robson Redux “entails transforming a street that acts largely as a pedestrian thoroughfare into something more akin to a plaza or city square for the coming summer months. On today, April 15th, a jury will select one of the 79 entries to build and install in time for Canada Day (July 1st for those not in the know).
Canadian graphic designer, Thibaut Sld., has created an interactive wall that responds to human presence. The impressive installation—which is equal parts CGI and home design—is known as HEXI and is comprised of 60 mounted modules that work in-sync with motion detectors to track, and then mirror, a person’s movement along the wall. So, essentially, when a person near the wall moves, the wall moves with them. Brave new world.