Wednesday, November 23, 2011

re:CONNECT Voting

The City of Vancouver's re:CONNECT competition to re-imagine the future of the viaducts is in the voting stage.

Among the many submissions: a NYC-Highline inspired transformation of the viaducts; reverting the False Creek flats back to marshland and the creation of new parkland; a false volcano that covers the stadiums and area.

Voting is open until November 25th. Winning entries will be announced on December 1, 2011.

Above, Submissions (from top) #56, #11, #113, #82

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glass Towers Quandary

A sober report from a University of Toronto professor on the problems of Toronto's glass towers.

Ted Kesik, Professor of Building Science and author of the report, raises the issue of the expected lifetime performance of the glass (5-15 years, or 15-25 years more conservatively) and the costs of eventual replacement on a massive scale.

Kesik's report makes one thing clear: many sealed units fail. And with that failure, most of the R-value ceases to function. Factor in manufacturing, transporting, and installing replacements and the question of thermal resistance becomes one part of a complex assessment of costs and environmental considerations. In older buildings there are also aesthetic concerns with existing glass.

Kesik also talks about alternative methods of construction to glass walls such as punched windows and the use of materials like brick and masonry block.

It's difficult to say what conclusions can be drawn from the report for Vancouver, where the climate is milder but glass towers are plentiful.

On a related topic, ouno blog recently posted on the questionable viability of skyscrapers as a building typology.

Kesik ends his report with this:

"Today's glass condo towers are not as energy efficient and far less durable than their 1960's counterparts. Is there any industry where 50 years later, the products it produces cost more and perform worse than their predecessors?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vancouver Curio: Pacific Centre Promo

The cover for a promotional brochure for Pacific Centre in Vancouver.

At top is an illustration showing Cesar Pelli's faceless black TD tower, standing on the site of the second Hotel Vancouver. Eaton's edges into the foreground, with the Four Seasons Hotel and Marine Building receding in the background towards the harbour and north shore mountains.

The brochure features a layout of Pacific Centre with store listings set in what must be 5 point lower case type, rendering it virturally unreadable. It's undated but judging from the buildings, likely dates from 1975.

Pacific Centre was designed by Victor Gruen + Associates, with McCarter, Nairne + Partners (1975).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

John Fulker: Images of Architecture

John Fulker's career flourished alongside the Canadian architects whose work he captured: Barry Downs, Arthur Erickson and Clifford Wiens among others. In the process he created an invaluable visual record of architecture on the West Coast and beyond.

For the first time in thirty years his work will be exhibited at the West Vancouver Museum. Following the 2009 exhibition of Selwyn Pullan's work, "Images of Architecture" is another opportunity to reacquaint with a local legacy.

The exhibition opens on November 15th with a reception with the photographer and runs until January 14th, 2010. There is also a photographer's talk on December 3, 2011 at 1:30pm.

Photo: Graham Residence, John Fulker, 1967

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1981: Thom + PNE

Check out this post from Retro Coast: a 1981 PNE brochure featuring a Prize Home designed by Ron Thom.

Compare Thom's design with more recent Prize Homes.

Curiously, the house is currently for sale, in somewhat altered form, in White Rock.