The Viaducts Competition
December 5, 2011
This post refers to the Vancouver viaduct competition occurred in November 2011
The Jury, adverses to any viaduct views, choose some other entries which if not eliminating the viaduct like 71, or building a crypt to its remnants (nice attention from entry 113), was either burrying them-and all the local street network-under a huge tumulus segregating the historic precinct of False Creek (entry 111), or hidding it away in an canvas like composition, seen from an improbable point from the sky (entry 72), or not showing at all what could be done with them or their land (entry 138) – N.B. the goal of the competition was to “visualize the viaducts or the land they occupied” … The only rewarded entry showing a viaduct is the entry 72:
An unsuccesful entry
Entry 109 , focusing more at removing the barrier effect, than the viaduct themselves- the real physical barrier being obviously the Skytrain guideway-reflects my previously stated position on the viaducts.
Entry 109 put the traffic (“blood” of the city) front and center, and emphasis on the following values:
- Reconnect Chinatown to the rest of the urban Fabric
- Open Gastown and Chinatown to the False Creek shore
- And more generally, keep the seawall open to the city by locating the development on the edge of the site
- …and respect the View cone policy
- Develop Georgia street as a “ceremonial” street ending on the false creek basin in the Science world axis.
- Provide a pleasant urban street feeling basically everywhere
- Don’t compromise East West connection
Currently Chinatown is cut from the rest of the city, West by the Andy Livingstone park, and South by the bridges (as well as Thornton park and the Skytrain viaduct…it is simply too much of urban discontinuity to invite people to Chinatown), the entry suggests building lined streets along Keefer and more importantly Main. That motivates the removal of the Main overpass.
The entry introduces a canal in the Carral street axis to that purpose (then people can go straight toward the shore, passing below the skytrain guideway, along the Canal). other North/South streets are extended up to pacific Boulevard.
rather than along the shore
In the case of the viaducts area, the view cone policy mainly protects perspectives from South East False Creek which also can help to prevent a disastrous “toilet bowl” effect on the False creek basin
That certainly motivates the removal of the Georgia viaduct, if you want Georgia street to be an urban boulevard with traffic going down to Pacific Street what is advisable to preserve its urban feel
That motivates a realignment of the Expo boulevard, to enable it to be lined by building on its south side rather than to be defined by the Skytrain guideway, avoiding the problem seen on Lougheed Boulevard in Burnaby or Number 3 road in Richmond.
There is no clear motivation to remove the Dunsmuir viaduct. From an urban viewpoint it basically adds nothing, since you are still left with the Skytrain guideway barrier, and eventually have even a negative outcome, since you end up to have at best a very clumsy landing of Dunsmuir somwehere either on Expo or Pacific boulevard, (which also end-up to relocate the viaduct structure more than removing it)…or worst, a dead end Dunsmuir street accompanied by a lost of a gentle grade access to downtown. At the end you have to consider the positive side of a viaduct asset: it can be seen as a balcony on the “urban theatre” as described in the entry 109…and a treatment of this asset under this light is suggested in this entry.
Unfortunately, the values expressed by entry 109 were not shared by the jury which had another motivation in mind.