Properly planned and designed projects need not be islands unto themselves

(Source: Globe and Mail)

Who on earth would want to live there? CityPlace [see Parade Condo] is going up on the old railway lands, a huge tract at the bottom of downtown that stood fallow for years as the city and developers wrangled about what to do with it and scheme after scheme fell apart. For a long time, it was home to a downtown golf course with a towering net to catch golf balls, a sad symbol of a wasted opportunity. It seemed an unlikely place to make a home, with few amenities and no sense of neighbourhood. As Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, there was “no there there.”

But as the towers rose, it became clear that something cool was happening. The buildings, unexpectedly, are quite beautiful, sleek medleys of glass and steel in a variety of shapes and styles. When you go closer, you find the beginnings of a real neighbourhood, with a supermarket, people walking their miniature condo dogs, couples pushing baby strollers and – officially opened this week – a creative new park designed by Vancouver writer and artist Douglas Coupland. Schools, daycares and public housing are to follow, along with a new library and community centre. There is a there there after all.

It goes to show that properly planned and designed projects need not be islands unto themselves. They can attract shops, restaurants and other facilities and weave themselves into the urban fabric.

Read Marcus Gee’s full article “It takes a condo to make a village” in the Globe and Mail (September 12, 2009).

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