Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sun/Shade & Urban Development – August 2013

The following relate to urban development and urban design in general, specific projects, and sun/shade issues.  They were derived from our twitter feed ( or @SunPosition).

No ugly downturn for condo market, even in Toronto: report - The Globe and Mail

TORONTO, ON - A new report from the Conference Board of Canada predicts that the much-watched condo sector will avoid an ugly downturn, even in Toronto.

Economists and policy-makers are keeping a close eye on condos, especially in the country’s most populous city, where cranes dot the sky. A number of economists say that too many units are being built, a development that would put pressure on prices. The Bank of Canada has highlighted the risks that this market could pose to the economy.

Condo sales plunged in most Canadian cities last year, and are expected to be down again this year.

But Wednesday’s report, which was done for mortgage insurer Genworth Canada, argues that the market will not sink too low, and will be propped up in part by population growth and modest employment gains.

In the eye of the beholder > Idealized or Caricature, Architectural Renderings Are Weapons in Real Estate

NEW YORK, NY - In recent weeks, two competing illustrations have popped up in different corners of the Internet. In one of them, eight silvery towers perch at the waterfront of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, like a fleet of sailboats waiting peacefully for their captains. In the other, swollen and clearly exaggerated buildings the color of sickly flamingos loom over a diminished Manhattan skyline, threatening to swallow their neighbors in a gluttonous fit.
Despite their differences, these two renderings depict the same development, called Greenpoint Landing. One illustration was created by the project’s developer several years ago to give a sense of the permissible size and scale on that site. The other was drawn by the project’s opponents just a few weeks ago. Guess which is which.

Time to set Toronto free from OMB: Editorial

TORONTO, ON - There’s no denying that the Ontario Municipal Board invokes polarizing reactions from community builders. Many citizens hate it and developers, well, they reap such benefits from its benevolent decisions that there’s no reason to show it anything but love.
Certainly, decisions by the OMB, a development appeal board, have long ignored protests from locals who don’t want the dark shadow of a highrise condo building killing their prized vegetable garden. Indeed, municipal governments that don’t want dense development spend thousands of dollars in legal fees only to see the board overturn their decisions. Even high-ranking provincial politicians could not protect the Ontario legislature’s stunning roofline vista from the intrusion of soaring condo towers. Once again, the developer got the win.
 So now that Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey is promising reforms that will make the board more accountable, she would be wise to put her words into action. It’s time to free large urban centres from their century-old overlord.

Huh, glass reflects sun? The Museum Tower, a 42-sty condo in Dallas, fries museum’s art

DALLAS, TX - The Museum Tower, a 42-story condominium in Dallas, borrowed cachet from the neighboring Nasher Sculpture Center to brand itself and sell $4 million apartments.
Then it proceeded to fry the museum’s art with the glare from its glass walls.

Public Art at 300 Front | My 300 Front Condo

TORONTO, ON - With the lower tower of 300 Front Street nearly complete, and occupancy for the full tower right around the corner, plans for the on-site green space have been revealed.
Internationally acclaimed designer Jason Burges has created an innovative and engaging piece, cleverly called Back to Front. The privately owned park, located in the Entertainment District, features several 3 meter tall granite structures outfitted with LEDs.
What is so interesting about these structures is that they are capable of sensing light and shadow changes around them and then reflect those changes. This results in animated silhouettes of the changing scenery in real time.


The San Jose Blog: EPIC NEWS: KT Properties Planning Two New Towers in San Pedro Area!!!

SAN PEDRO, CA - Downtown fans are about to have even more to look forward to! Nathan Donato-Weinstein from the Silicon Valley Business Journal broke a story last week that made my month. KT Properties--the developer behind Axis and One South Market--has acquired a huge 1.7-acre block of land between The San Pedro Square Market and City Heights. They are planning to build two high-rise residential towers with more than 600 units!

KT properties has not released any sort of architectural drawing yet, but based on how Axis and the final design of One South turned out... I have high hopes that the buildings will look impressive. They did mention that they could have done one giant building but opted to go with two to add more texture to the skyline. Thankfully the buildings will not be identical like many towers Downtown, but they will have similarities. Also both towers will be towards the north of the lot to minimize visual impact around the historic Fallon House.

Our Two New Daily Papers re: Sun Glare & Driving, and Shadow Impacts & Urban Development -

Urban Design Commission gives nod to "The Hub at Madison" development on State Street

Madison, WI - The Urban Design Commission gave final approval with some conditions Wednesday for the "The Hub at Madison" - a tall luxury housing and retail building proposed for the corner of State and Frances streets.
It was the third time the commission heard the proposal, which some fear won't mesh well with surrounding structures along Madison's beloved State Street.
The commission's approval came with several conditions, including refining the facade on the corner of State and Frances, which calls for modern-looking steel elements.
Constructing a high-rise near State Street worries residents who value the street's charm and unique character. Many fear it will cast large shadows, although developers maintain that it would cast no more of a shadow than the surrounding four-story buildings.

Norwegian Town Copies New York's Dream Downtown Hotel, Installs Giant Mirrors to Redirect Sunlight
Rjukan, NOR - I saw a story on Reddit today that instantly reminded me of one of the more unique features of New York City. The town of Rjukan, which is normally covered in shadow for five months a year, is installing a bunch of massive mirrors on an adjacent mountain to illuminate its town square during its darkest times. As the Popular Mechanics story points out, it's an attempt at a mood enhancer, and I think it will work.

Four Seasons Residents Threaten Ballot Initiative Against Tall Buildings
San Francisco, CA - You may know this already, but we here at SFist like tall buildings. And we think that people who bitch about tall buildings are aesthetically-challenged, provincially-minded sticks in the mud who should, perhaps, consider a move to Berkeley if they're upset about the construction happening here in our city. Because we like cities, and cities are tall and dense. Enter a group of completely self-interested well-to-do types who own condos in the Four Seasons who are threatening to launch another ballot initiative aimed at shortening all development in San Francisco. 

The reason for their current apoplexy? A planned residential tower and Mexican Museum at 706 Mission Street which is most definitely going to block their Bay views. But the ballot initiative they're threatening would force all developers of buildings over forty feet tall that might cast a shadow on a park to get approval by voter ballot to build. But they don't actually give a shit about shadows and parks, you see. 

Currently, under the 1984 "sunlight ordinance" that was voted in as Proposition K, the Planning Commission can decide if buildings over 40 feet cast shadows that are "insignificant" on city parks.  

We're not sure if a majority of the current voting public of San Francisco would vote for height, or for shadow-free parks, but we'd vote for height!  

Leigh Buchan‏@lives2talk:  Real estate developers don't give a rat's ass about 'neighbourhood' Just $$$$$$$$
RB:  Respectfully disagree, however, there are bad apples in every bunch.
Leigh Buchan‏@lives2talk:  In this case believe developers are wrong! In Ajax, it's a constant battle to save our green space from real estate developers!
RB:  The San Francisco story is actually about high-rise condo residents upset that they will lose their Bay views. 

Tower boom on horizon as developers eye Footscray
Melbourne, AUS - A pocket of Footscray will become a satellite city of 5000 people living in more than a dozen high-rise towers after recent amendments to Melbourne's planning scheme.
But the new scheme may allow towers up to 25 storeys high on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, prompting anger from nearby residents.
Five different developers, including government-controlled Places Victoria, have drawn up plans for 3061 apartments in towers ranging in height from four to 32 levels. The bulk of the proposed buildings are 17 or more storeys tall.
Because the area is slated for high-density development, height limits are not rigid.
 ''Preferred heights do not apply if built-form outcomes are achieved and particular amenity impacts, including overshadowing, are acceptable,'' the amendment states.

Clubs aim high with city tower build plans - The Freemasons "ensure no further overshadowing of Fitzroy Gardens" with their twin tower proposal in Melbourne
Melbourne, AUS - Freemasons Victoria is taking cues from another Melbourne society, the Celtic Club, to better profit from its blue-ribbon land holding.
The Freemasons, with joint venture partner Mirvac, has sought permission from Planning Minister Matthew Guy to replace its parkside Dallas Brooks Hall site in East Melbourne with two towers of 17 and 11 levels.
Mirvac's chief executive of residential development, John Carfi, describes the block as iconic, adding "the site's location, views and attributes are outstanding''.
He said the consortium would work with the minister, the Melbourne City Council and stakeholders to deliver a project that will "ensure no further overshadowing of Fitzroy Gardens".

Oops, 47-sty high-rise in Spain has elevators only up to 20th flr, orig plan was for 20-sty bldg.
Benidorm, SPAIN - At 47 stories, the In Tempo skyscraper in Spain is set to be the tallest residential building in the European Union.
But anyone living on floors 21 through 47 has a problem: to get any higher than the 20th floor, you have to take the stairs.
Builders are likely more than a little red-faced after discovering that the 650-foot luxury high-rise under construction in the resort city of Benidorm is missing a crucial element — an elevator that goes all the way to the top of the building.

Very informative Open House: Policies for Tall Buildings held yesterday at Barrie City Hall.

Concerns over blocked sunlight, proposed twin tower in Sydney scaled down to single, slimmer but higher tower
Sydney, AUS - The developers of a hotel that forms a centrepiece of Darling Harbour's proposed revamp have released a scaled-down concept after a community backlash.
Lend Lease had originally planned to build two towers of up to 34 storeys, catering for 900 rooms, but the plan was modified after concern it would block sunlight in the surrounding area.
One 38-storey, slightly slimmer tower will be built instead, the company's group head of development David Hutton says.

Developer asks downtown Tampa businesses for support for rezoning for proposed 36-sty high-rise
TAMPA, FL — The developer of a proposed downtown high-rise apartment building has asked downtown businesses to express their support for the project when it comes up for rezoning at this evening’s Tampa City Council meeting.
Greg Minder, who is developing the tower with business partner Phillip Smith, circulated a form letter supporting the tower project among a variety of engineering firms, law firms and downtown boosters. He asked them to sign the letter and present it to the city.
When the project first came up for rezoning in May, members of the Straz’s board opposed it. Last month, despite some concerns about the size of the tower compared to the surrounding buildings, the Straz’s board voted 32-16 in support of the project. Fourteen members did not vote.

More -

Stifle creativity?  RT @OttawaCitizen: City prepares new rules to soothe public as condo slowdown looms
OTTAWA, ON - Firmer rules for property development in Ottawa are meant not only to soothe angry community associations but to make projects cheaper to plan and execute — which developers will need as the industry slows down, says the chairman of city council’s planning committee.
The city is launching consultations this summer on its new official land-use plan, the top document that’s supposed to guide construction and, at last, close the gaps between the old plan and fine zoning rules that have produced dozens of neighbourhood fights over condo towers and small-scale infill projects downtown.
Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume has chaired the planning committee since 2003. He’s promised repeatedly to deliver certainty, so that builders can be pretty sure what’ll be approved and what won’t, and so residents can be pretty sure they know what’s allowed near their houses. This is the plan that’ll do it, he insists.

An Artificial Sun Lights up the Biggest Building in the World
Chengdu, CHI - On June 28, 2013, the doors opened to “New Century Global Center,” the largest building in the world, according to Chinese officials. New Century Global Center is located in Chengdu, China’s fourth largest city and the capital of the southwestern Sichuan Province.
So, Chinese officials are calling New Century Global Center the largest building in the world. Normally, when we refer to size, we think vertically, but with this building, that’s not the case. New Century Global Center is actually only about 100 metres tall, but it’s 400 metres wide, half a kilometre long, and comprises over 1.76 million square metres of floor space! That’s right, that says square metres…which is about 19 million square feet.

What’s featured in this 19 million square foot space, you ask? Just a couple five-star hotels, a little shopping village, some office space, an ice rink, a 14-screen IMAX Theatre, and a waterpark/resort called Paradise Island – the usual.
Paradise Island is illuminated by an artificial sun that shines 24 hours a day. It beats down on an indoor, man-made beach resort that can accommodate roughly 6,000 people. An LED screen is installed above the water, creating the experience of an oceanside horizon.

Atlanta developer is buying Victory tract in Dallas for new high-rise
DALLAS, TX - A successful Atlanta developer that’s built high-rise residential buildings at home and in other markets is tying up a tract in Dallas’ Victory Park development.
Novare Group is buying a 1.7-acre development site on Woodall Rodgers Freeway between the new Perot Museum of of Nature and Science and the House of Blues.
The property will be used for a more than 20-story residential tower, real estate execs who are tracking the deal say.

Downtown San Jose: Your high-rise future
SAN JOSE, CA - This week's print edition of the Business Journal attempts to wrap up the current state of residential development in downtown San Jose. The takeaway? After a couple years of furious apartment building everywhere but downtown, it looks as though developers -- and investors -- are starting to move into the area.

Cheers, Ralph

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