The Surface of Engagement

At the Oakridge Open House I was intrigued to hear opposing views of the development proposal. One resident of the neighbourhood said it’s about time; another expressed deep concerns over the fit of this project to this neighbourhood.

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A few days before the open house I was asked whether I could provide illustrations of street height views of the project. In the previous stages of the proposal, the developers’ illustrations showed birds’ eye views which raised concerns as to how pedestrian and human scale details would be taken care of.

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The model on the right shows in gray, the anticipated buildings that could eventually, be developed across the street from the Oakridge Centre. In my computerized model I was asked to show the existing conditions, which can be seen above, at the right side of the left image.

Even with the updated boards of the proposal the skeptics remain suspicious. The abundance of ground level illustrations in the room was impressive. Still, until a project is actually built, its success or failure is a matter of speculation.

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Participation of residents in the shaping of their city’s neighbourhoods is a challenging task. This relates to the discussion with Robert Reich where the evidence and extent of inequality in our society are creeping upward. The city’s need to remain economically viable is a business opportunity to some and an affordability threat to most. How sensitive and successful Vancouver’s handling of this challenge is, remains to be seen.

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