Monday News Roundup

Here's what you missed out on last week!

Saying Goodbye to 'Leave it to Beaver' Urbanism? (Sustainable Cities Collective)
An exploratory tour of the iconic front yard and lawn. Long protected by cultural position -and zoning setbacks -is the classic Leave it to Beaver lot configuration really part of a sustainable future?

Cardboard bank in the Netherlands (Dezeen)
Amsterdam architects have created a bank using giant cylinders of cardboard and paper to enclose meeting rooms and multi-ply cardboard for textured patterns.

Urban farming in a box (Swiss Info)
Swiss entrepreneurs Urban Farmers are pushing the concept of local production and have come up with a pioneering solution to many of the problems of conventional farming methods.

How walkable is Seattle? (Seattle PI)
Walk Score just released its latest list of most-walkable cities in the nation, and Seattle made the top 10!

Law and Order and Parking Lots (Sightline)
In this post, we take a look at how Northwest municipalities deal with parking at drinking establishments. Who gets it wrong, and who gets it (almost) right?

When Design Kills: The criminalization of walking (Grist)
It's a plain fact: When you design streets solely for cars, people die as a result. So why don't we design streets for the reality of human needs and behavior?

Report: Centers, Cities, Clusters (Sustainable Cities)
This report focuses on sustainable economic development through case studies from Barcelona, Boston, and Curitiba highlighting innovative strategies for economic development in urban cores.

The Modern List Manhattan (Build LLC)
As an architectural laboratory and one of the greates social experiments ever conducted on earth, NYC is one of the best places for the design-minded to observe, research, and learn.

Retro Futuristic Space Colonies (Wanken)
A lot of great futuristic visualizations came out of the 1970's including these brain warping space colonies that could accomodate up to 10,000 people.

VIA Vancouver Cycling Activities

by Stephanie Doerksen, VIA Architecture

Bike to Work Week
This spring, VIA added a couple of extra bike racks to our storage space because of how many of us are cycling to work these days. Some of us are fair weather commuters, but we have a couple of die-hards in the office too. A couple of VIAites recently participated in Bike to Work Week. Collectively we logged almost 75km. Not bad considering us urbanites have pretty short commutes. However, we have a number of cyclists in the office who neglected to log their commutes despite the fact that they regularly ride to work (not naming names here – you know who you are!) Next time we’ll have to ramp up the VIA team spirit and show the city just how many bike commuters there really are around here!

Ride to Conquer Cancer
A few weeks ago, two VIAites participated in this year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer, an annual fundraising ride from Vancouver to Seattle supporting the BC Cancer Foundation. This year’s ride was the largest in history, with over 2800 cyclists who raised over 11 million dollars!

The cold, wet spring we’ve been having continued, making the 240km a truly epic endurance event. Cycling for two days in the rain required as much mental endurance as it did physical. It was all worthwhile when we arrived at the campsite on Saturday to hot showers (and cold beer!). The festive atmosphere was truly amazing.

Getting back in the saddle at 7am on Sunday morning was pretty tough, but the rain provided motivation to get to the finish line and we kept up a pretty strong pace for most of the day. Crossing the finish line sure felt great!

DVA cycling forum
On behalf of the Downtown Vancouver Association, VIA has been instrumental in organising a DVA forum on cycling in the downtown called The Business of Biking. Presentations by the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and the BC Food and Restaurateurs’ Association addressed the new role that cyclists are playing in the economic development of the downtown core.

Monday News Roundup

Interesting news and articles you may have missed last week:

Polish Pop-Up Hotel Made of Recycled Materials (Inhabitat)
Architects Jerzy Wozniak and Pawel Garus decided to solve their city's sold-out hotel problems by creating a pop-up hotel in an unoccupied apartment building. On a very tight budget, the team created Quotel, a comfortable temporary hotel, using inexpensive furniture and recycled elements.

Sustainable architecture in the Americas (Guardian)
From Rio to Cupertino, cities across the Americas are waking up to the benefits of sustainable design.

Bikes of Amsterdam by Charles Siegel (Preservation Institute)
This post is dedicated to all the Americans who have told me that most people can never bicycle, because (1) you cannot carry your groceries home on a bicycle, and (2) you cannot chauffeur children around on a bicycle... These pictures of bicycles in Amsterdam may open their eyes.

An edgy yet cozy urban garden (Remodelista)
In her outdoor compositions (or "3-D collages"), Beth Mullins uses alternative materials mixed with textural plant combinations to create evocative vignettes. We especially like this rooftop garden in San Francisco, where Mullins uses layering techniques to make the most out of a small space.

Thoughts on Blue Urbanism (Design Observer)
As planners and designers, we need to take up the mantle of blue urbanism. Just as green urbanism challenges us to rethink sustainability at the city scale, blue urbanism asks us to re-imagine ourselves as citizens of a blue planet. How can we become better stewards of the world's oceans?

Cities and Suburbs as New Economic Generators (The Atlantic)
In the wake of recession, cities and suburbs are being knit into giant city-states, with millions of people and billions -- even trillions -- of dollars of business.

A House That's Business in Front, A Party in Back (FastCo Design)
One one side, you've got exotic foliage sprouting wildly off a curving facade; on the other, a wall of flat, symmetrical windows that could pass for the front of an office building. We like to think of the place as the architectural equivalent of a mullet.

Transportation Reauthorization Plan Revealed (Infrastructurist)
John Mica, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, rolled out a proposal that would authorize $230 billion for transportation infrastructure spending over six years.

Announcing our new Community Design Studio

VIA Architecture is pleased to announce the formal roll-out of its Community Design Studio (CDS). Informally conceived in 2009 as an initiative to serve smaller-scale, yet equally visionary projects that have not been traditionally taken on by architecture firms, we are ready to introduce this approach to a broader audience.

VIA has built its reputation on integrated architectural design and community planning over a period of 26+ years, and we are perhaps best known for our large-scale projects such as the various phases of Vancouver’s SkyTrain system, the Seattle Monorail Project, and master planning for communities as diverse as Southeast False Creek, Bremerton, Kelowna and Tacoma. Yet quietly in the background, we have long served community groups, non-profits, and other smaller clients with thoughtful, crafted responses to much more humble needs. It is this work that we are now bringing to the forefront.

We are inspired by the growing interest locally and globally in urban agriculture, homesteading, community-shared resources, the revival of practical skills and preservation. Simultaneously, we are aware of communities across the country that are, in some measure, fragmented or even broken due to social, economic and environmental factors such as missing infrastructure, unequal access to food and outdated regulations. We recognize the great potential to address these issues in profound ways through small-scale, hands-on design approaches that can have a powerful cumulative effect.

Our focus with the CDS will be issues of applied craft, community resilience, planning and design for food production, and other problems where we can be of direct assistance to improving the quality of life for our clients. Our work seeks to restore and reinvigorate communities through thoughtful, practical and cooperative solutions around food, mobility and open space.

The CDS consists of architects and community planners within the VIA team who share a passion for helping to create connective communities that are resilient and thriving. The team is led by Catherine Calvert, VIA’s Director of Community Sustainability, who brings a background of not only architecture and sustainability work, but specialized training in areas such as Farm Design and Permaculture.

Our services include:
  • Integrated design and planning for small-scale residential, commercial and institutional projects in rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Visualization and early design services for agriculture-focused site planning and building projects, both urban and rural.
  • Education around issues of strategic sustainability, local resilience and design for self-sufficiency.
  • Resolution of regulatory barriers to community-based projects.
  • Facilitation of community discussions or workshops.

To date we have worked on a variety of projects in the Seattle area, including:

Rainier Vista Community Farm – VIA has been assisting Common Ground in the design of shelters made from salvage materials.

Atlantic City Urban Farm – VIA has been working with Seattle Tilth and the Friends of the Atlantic City Nursery on site planning concepts for conversion of the former Seattle Parks nursery to a new urban farm.

Spectrum School Farm – VIA provided early site design concepts for a one-acre farm on the campus of the North Kitsap High School, designed to support the school science curriculum and provide food for the school kitchen

Option A

Option B

Finn River Cidery in Chimacum WA – VIA is working with this 33-acre organic farm on site planning concepts, as well as the design of the Chum Hut, a shelter for educational gatherings adjacent to the salmon-bearing Chimacum Creek that runs through the property.

Our projects are both urban and rural in location, serving the Puget Sound and Fraser Valley regions to date but with the potential to expand beyond these areas to wherever we can be of assistance.

VIA has been actively interested in the topics of food security, planning for agriculture, and issues around integrating art and agriculture in urban areas. See our previous blog posts on these topics:

- Grow: an art + urban agriculture project
- Trends in Small Farming - Kitsap County
- Rethinking Highest + Best Use
- Transitioning Towards Local Resilience
- Agriculture through Rose-Colored Glasses

A New Trend in Airport Hospitality

by Catherine Calvert, VIA Architecture

The American Farmland Trust blog had an interesting piece today on a new trend in airport hospitality – food service establishments that feature fresh products from the local region.  San Francisco International is one of the first to include this kind of amenity, and other airports including Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall and LAX are following suit on a smaller scale.  

Certainly any kind of fresh food is welcome, as airports are notoriously challenging environments for the healthful-minded traveller.  It is likely that it is easier to sustain a year-round supply of fresh food in the Bay Area than it might be in regions where fresh food is more seasonal in nature.

I’ve always wondered however, at the extent of flat land occupied by airports, and if there might not be a higher and better use for the fields in between runways.  If the safety issues could be resolved, could this land be made productive and/or more ecologically functional?  Wouldn’t it be interesting to land in a cornfield that happens to also contain an airport?  Food for thought.