Dr. James T. White

Dr. James T. White

Toronto’s ‘Vancouverism’: developer adaptation, planning responses and the challenge of design quality

Through Dr. Whites travel award he was able to explore Vancouver, on Canada’s West Coast, which is widely recognised for its design-sensitive approach to city planning and development management. It has been described as the ‘poster child’ of North American urbanism in that it has ‘retained, re-created or reinvented many of the elements that characterize civilised urban living that have eluded so many other cities in North America’. Since

the early 1990s, the city has witnessed the transformation of the margins of its commercial core and industrial waterfront into a high-density residential and mixed-use inner city endowed with a network of high-quality waterfront public spaces, so much so, that critics now complain that this is inhibiting commercial office development in the core.

 

Vancouver’s planners have been praised for collaborating with community stakeholders and for securing quality public amenities from. New development is characterised by slender condominium towers that respect designated views of mountains and water, integrated with townhouses or commercial units and generous public amenity space. This design-led typology is exemplified by Concord Pacific Place, a 70-hectare ribbon of mixed used development, built by the developer Concord Pacific on Vancouver’s False Creek waterfront, that incorporates over 8,000 residential units, commercial space and a necklace of parks and recreational facilities along a celebrated seawall.