WHAT? “Making a Great City by Design,” a lecture by Vancouver’s former planning director, Larry Beasley
WHEN? Monday, October 29th at 6:30pm
WHERE? McGill’s Macdonald Harrington Building (aka the Architecture Building), Room G10
When it comes to urban planning, the so-called “Vancouver Model” has a lot going for it: high-density downtown living, ample green space, public amenities paid for by developers, quality urban design and priority for pedestrians over cars.
Sure, it has its critics, who accuse it of transforming downtown Vancouver into a bland condoscape, or of promoting residential construction at the expense of office and industrial space, but you can’t deny that Vancouver has dealt very well with some pretty massive population growth and development pressures over the past twenty years. As other young, fast-growing cities have sprawled like crazy, Vancouver has densified, creating a functional urban core where a car-free life is now possible.
Larry Beasley, Vancouver’s director of planning in the 1980s and 90s, deserves much of the credit for his city’s transformation. He was instrumental in developing strict urban guidelines that shaped Vancouver’s growth during the prolonged real estate boom that began with Expo 86 and will last beyond the 2010 Olympics. Next week, Beasley will be coming to Montreal to deliver a lecture on his experience as Vancouver’s head planner.
Montreal is enjoying a minor boom at the moment. As I write in this week’s edition of the Mirror, it could learn a lot from Beasley about how to manage that growth.
Beasley isn’t just in town to deliver a lecture, though. On Tuesday, he will lead a design charrette in which urban planning students will imagine ways to redevelop the vacant space left over by the demolition of the Pine-Park interchange. Raphaël Fischler, the McGill urban planning professor who invited Beasley to Montreal, promised me that the students would be encouraged to think outside the box. Their ideas will be unveiled at 5pm that evening.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some comments from Fischler on Beasley’s legacy: “He looked at urban design as a city-building strategy. It has to do with the aesthetic and the cosmetic, but it’s much more than that. It’s about shaping a place where people live and work and play. Place-making is an important element and Vancouver has made that kind of achievement.”