Getting To Know The Six Species Of Arm-Chair Urban Planner…

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by Scott Daniel | A recent post on the Waldorf reno sparked one of the great, unnecessarily polarizing Scout Magazine Commenter Debates on gentrification. It got me thinking about how overbearingly preoccupied Vancouverites are with housing, real estate, and development issues. And it made me think about Derek Hayes’ Historical Atlas of Vancouver. The book does a really good job tying the entire history of this place to one big idea: speculation.

Everyone’s been a part of the game, buying, selling (or at least renting) a vision of how the city should, could, and will look. Naturally, this week’s “Burrard Gateway” proposal inspired Vancouver’s inner political manimals. Forget the Vision, NPA and COPE nonsense, this city is one giant urban design panel made up of opinionated constituencies and their sloganeering. The following groups are invariably heard from whenever a new development proposal comes out…

The 6 Species Of Vancouver’s Arm-Chair Urban Planners

1. Smarmy City Sucks!
No one can live here. Another high-end condo will just continue to force normal folk out of town.

2. Resort City Sucks!
All anyone does is live here. We need more offices and jobs.

3. The City is an Extension of my Ego!
A world-class city requires a grand statement to inspire . And it’ll make the car ads better.

4. Table Top City Sucks!
We, the Skyscraper Nerds, call for an end to monotonous rows of mid-rise, cookie-cutter buildings and demand taller, architecturally expressive, “signature” towers.

5. That thing’s gonna block the fucking view!
Nimbys and View Coners united will never be defeated.

6. Where’s Everyone Going to Park?!
These are the “think of the children” people when it comes to urban planning.

It all seems pretty superficial. That’s the curse of living in such a new, urban environment. When you step out of the building – the one Bob Rennie’s peeps so endearingly christened AzüRE – you get the feeling you’re walking around in a vacuous architectural model. But I guess that’s also the interesting part of living in an evolving city: the contest over how it gets filled with meaning is still going on.

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