Monday, April 6, 2015

Sun/Shade & Urban Development – March 2015

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

Check out our weekly news summary “Sun, Shadow & Urban Development” at

Are We Building Skyscrapers Upside Down? | Fast Company

In a traditional skyscraper, the widest part of the building is at its base, and as the building climbs taller, it tapers. This design is both a matter of greater structural stability and of urban priorities--buildings that take up less airspace dozens of stories above ground allow more sunlight down to the street below. But in a design for the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, Bjarke Ingels Group proposes inverting this time-tested design tradition to make room for more views and a courtyard in the sky.

More importantly, the inverted structure provides an important climate control function. The wider parts of the tower at the top are designed to act as a sun shade for the lower floors, creating a passive cooling effect that could potentially be harnessed in warm, sunny environments elsewhere around the world…

The design works because it's taller than its surroundings, but it's easy to see how this might backfire. It's structured like an umbrella shading the ground below. In tropical Malaysia, this is a positive attribute: the larger sections of the tower shade the rest of the skyscraper. That provides passive cooling and protection from the glare of the sun, reducing the need for of extra glazing or interior shades. However, it's probably not the answer for colder climates. A giant sun shade would do little good in a snowy region, nor would it work for super-dense, tall cities where wide skyscraper tops would put the streetscape in eternal shadow.

Inglewood condo plan opposed by community leader | CBC Calgary

CALGARY, AB - Calgary city council is discussing a proposed residential project in Inglewood Monday that has some area residents upset…

The seven-storey design exceeds the local height limit by 2.5 metres. Bakelaar said allowing that would set a dangerous precedent…

A spokesman says since the project was approved by council at first reading, the developer has been working with area residents and making adjustments, such as reducing the shadow the building casts northward.

Here's what Mayor John Tory thinks about land use and development in Toronto | via @buzzbuzzhome

TORONTO, ON - Though transit might be the top issue on the minds of Torontonians, we’d argue that city growth and development runs a close second. Case in point: the enormous crowd that turned out at the open house for the Honest Ed’s redevelopment.

The Urban Land Institute invited Mayor John Tory to discuss these issues at its seventh fireside chat (the sold out event attracted more than 400 people).

Here’s what the the 65th mayor of the city had to say about the changing shape of Toronto…

5 things we learned about Westbank's early concepts for the Honest Ed's site in Toronto | via @buzzbuzzhome 

TORONTO, ON - Westbank’s vision for its mega-sized redevelopment at Bloor and Bathurst, which includes the iconic Honest Ed’s discount store, will not involve a single condo tower. More than 500 curious Torontonians packed into the developers’ public open house on Tuesday, March 3rd at the Park Hyatt Hotel to see the early proposals. 

Though an official development proposal likely won’t be filed until fall of this year, the early concepts for the site call for 1,000 purpose-built rental units.

When news broke in October 2013 that the Vancouver-based developer had bought the 4.4-acre site, many real estate watchers assumed the Annex intersection would end up having some kind of condo component given Westbank’s history building the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto and Kensington Gardens and 188 Keefer St. on the west coast.

The residential side of the redevelopment is just one part of what’s shaping up to be an ambitious undertaking with architect Gregory Henriquez designing the multiple buildings and Janet Rosenberg taking care of the landscape architecture.

Here’s what we know now:

read on >

Brooklyn Heights Library Meeting Reveals Schedule; Much Still to be Resolved | Brooklyn Heights Blog

Last evening’s meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library had few surprises. The final design of the proposed structure is far from complete, although it has been decided that it will be “taller and skinnier” than earlier renderings showed…

Toba Potosky, a resident of Concord Village, expressed concern about the shadow the building would cast on that location. Mr. Kramer said a shadow impact study would be conducted. He noted that making the building taller and thinner would reduce the area the shadow affected…

No date has been set for the next Community Advisory Committee meeting, but it is expected to be sometime in May.

Approved: Close call for Downtown Madison hotel | WSJ

MADISON, WI - Madison’s complicated and fussy approval process for building projects won’t stop a stylish Downtown hotel from going up. 

That’s a relief.

After a slew of city meetings, multiple revisions by the developer and close votes, North Central Group just won City Council permission for a 164-room Marriott AC hotel a block off the Capitol Square.

The hotel with a lounge, restaurant and other public spaces — some high up in the building with great views of the Capitol — will be a huge improvement on the vacant Pahl Tire Co. site at the corner of East Washington Avenue and North Webster Street.

Just as cool: The developer didn’t ask the city for any tax incremental financing, which would have slowed property taxes from the project to local governments.

Only six months ago, the developer had shelved the proposal after the city Plan Commission voted 5-4 against it, citing concerns about height, shadows and valet parking. Some commissioners also worried about the hotel’s close proximity to the nearby Lamp House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed landmark.

Most people don’t know about or see the mid-block Lamp House when they walk by. A shade study suggested the hotel could cast a partial shadow on the house's roof for a couple of hours a day.

That wasn’t a compelling reason to nix the project, Commissioner Michael Heifetz convincingly contended last fall: “I’m not willing to bow at the altar for a few feet of shadows on the Lamp House,” he said.

“I understand historical things, but I don’t understand putting them ahead of the city’s interest.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t get his way. His side was one vote short. So the project appeared dead. And this was the second developer to consider and then drop plans.

But three months later, the developer returned with improved plans that addressed some of City Hall’s concerns.

The developer was flexible and, in the end, so were most city officials. The Plan Commission recommended the revised proposal with a 5-3 vote, and the City Council voted 13-7 in favor two weeks ago. They allowed a taller building because of “exemplary design.”

Congratulations, Madison, on making this happen. The Marriott AC is going to be a great addition to our city.

New renderings reveal massive tower on Stollerys site | via @blogto

TORONTO, ON - Developer Sam Mizrahi is thinking very big when it comes to the future of the Stollerys site at the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor. How big? Well, if approved as proposed, the structure would become the second tallest in the city behind only the CN Tower. The One, as it's been dubbed, would feature 8 storeys of luxury retail topped by 72 floors of residential units. 

The design by Foster Partners and Toronto's Core Architects is as bold as its projected size. Framed by what's being described as a steel exoskeleton, the massive building would feature column-free floors, which Mizrahi believes will be highly attractive to marquee retailers…

Councillor: Building will cast significant shadow >

The One, 80-storey condo, pitched for Toronto's Yonge-Bloor corner

TORONTO, ON - A proposed 80-storey condo tower at the corner of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto would be the tallest residential tower in Canada if approved, and the design is already polarizing people in the area.

Developer Sam Mizrahi showed off plans for the massive tower, dubbed The One, at a community meeting on Wednesday night. The building would shoot up at the corner where the Stollerys building stood for more than 100 years before it was controversially torn down earlier this year…

The tower, if built as planned, would stand 318 metres tall.

For those familiar with Toronto skyscrapers, that’s taller than the First Canadian Place tower, the massive (and city council-approved) Mirvish-Gehry towers set to rise from King Street West and the recently finished 78-storey Aura condo located at Yonge at Gerrard St…

But for now, area Coun. Kristin Wong-Tam said it’s still just the developer’s "dream" as far as city council and staff are concerned.

"Right now all that’s before planners are some images,” Wong-Tam told CBC Radio's Metro Morning, noting that while it’s an "attractive, modernist" building there are still plenty of studies required before work begins.

The height of the building, she said, would cast a significant shadow…

Build A Skyscraper That Casts No Shadow? We Can Do That, Architects Say

 LONDON, UK - Tall buildings can be beautiful, but the big gloomy shadows they cast can leave urban centers starved of sunlight.

Now a London-based architecture firm says it's hit upon a way around that problem. The firm devised a plan to build paired skyscrapers in such a way that sunlight reflected by one fills in the shadow of the other. Brilliant!

Though the shadow of the building that is reflecting sunlight would remain, calculations show that the concept would reduce the total amount of shade produced by the buildings by up to 60 percent, according to the NBBJ firm. And the shadow-erasing reflections work as the sun changes position during the day…

Great idea if executed properly >

The skyscraper of the future won't cast a shadow

LONDON, UK - Growing cities around the world are going up rather than out, leading to taller and taller skyscrapers. The new era of the mega-skyscraper has bought a more efficient way of building homes, offices and retail malls, but has also cast a shadow (quite literally) on the streets below, much to the ire of people living and working below. The solution: buildings that work together to reflect light and thus minimise shade on the ground. This new architectural marvel could mean that we no longer have to live in the shadows of big business.

Architects design skyscraper that doesn't cast a shadow

LONDON, UK - As our cities become denser, mega-condos and corporate towers increasingly cut across the skyline — with each project blotting out another bit of the sun on the streets below. But what if you could build a no-shadow skyscraper instead?..

The south tower would act as a reflective mirror, casting light exactly where a shadow from the south building would normally appear. The north tower would still cast a shadow, however…

Not used to 'upside down' shadows >

James Packer's proposed tower to cast a long shadow at Barangaroo

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - James Packer's $2 billion tower at Barangaroo would literally be throwing shade at its competitor, documents show.

Crown Limited's proposed hotel, casino and apartment complex would extend a shadow as far as Sydney's only existing casino at Pyrmont, according to modelling lodged with the Department of Planning and Environment…

The shadow diagrams have been submitted as part of the latest changes mooted for Barangaroo South - required to bring the hotel approved in 2010 on a pier over the harbour back onshore.

Known as "modification 8", the revised concept plan also seeks to increase the permitted height of the "landmark" hotel building from 170 metres to 275 metres.

"In order to achieve a similar landmark status for the relocated building, the proposed modification seeks to increase the height of the hotel building by 105 metres," the environmental assessment submitted by Lend Lease said.

"The modification will make the landmark hotel building the tallest tower on the site, and one of the tallest buildings in Sydney."…

The assessment said a key benefit of Mr Packer's development - located on an area previously approved for parkland - was that it minimised overshadowing of the southern cove and surrounding public areas "due to the massing being concentrated toward the north-west of the Barangaroo South".

Cheers, Ralph

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