Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sun/Shade & Urban Development – August 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  http://paper.li/SunPosition/1376522926


Vancouver real estate market shines light, casts shadow | via @VanCourierNews

skyline

Three recent scenes involving light and shadow from Vancouver.

The first scene: a luminous Sunday evening at the 38th Vancouver Folk Festival. The aptly named band Phosphorescent is dealing with feedback issues at the main stage, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the crowd vibe. The western sky resembles a crushed set of pastels, with a crescent moon adding a stroke of white.

The second scene: I step from the Burrard SkyTrain Station late one afternoon to find a shadowy Gotham on Dunsmuir. Having somehow avoided this spot for years, I marvel how towers in the area have cut the sky down to a few slivers of light.

A visit to some places in the downtown core can feel like a walk through a Vegas casino floor: plenty of artificial light with no indication of the time of day. In contrast, the grassy amphitheater of Jericho Park, with its exposure to the sun, moon and (a few) stars, can give you a sense of riding spaceship Earth.

Third scene: some time ago I spoke with a “geospatial engineer” at a public hearing for a high-rise development in a Lower Mainland neighborhood. He tells me that at certain hours on sunny days, a proposed 22-storey highrise would result in a kilometre-long shadow across suburban homes to the east — but he’s not prepared to be interviewed about his findings.

It’s a touchy subject. Our Tulipmania real estate market is creating a Jack in the Beanstalk skyline, with pinnacles of light for the players and a canyon of shadows for everyone else.

Most home and condo owners don’t think a great deal about light — beyond exposure to the four cardinal directions — until they lose it to a nearby development. As noted in a Washington Post story about the gloomy consequences of high-rise construction in the U.S., “shadows even turn light into another medium of inequality — a resource that can be bought by the wealthy, eclipsed from the poor.”

Controversy over civic light and shadow has a long pedigree south of the border. Public outcry in 1915 over the seven-acre shadow created by the 42-storey equitable Building in Lower Manhattan influenced the architecture of subsequent developments in New York. Skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and Chrysler building were conceived with tapered designs; setbacks at higher floors that allow more sky to be seen from the ground.

This contextual approach went sideways for a stretch. The modernist credo, expressed in Le Corbusier’s description of a house as a “machine for living,” led to writer P.J. O’Rourke’s ’90s-era estimate of rectilinear additions to the North American skyline: “That’s not a building, it’s the box it came in.”

Developers habitually lose the plot with light — but the public is always there to remind them what they are really doing: constructing immense sundials. In 1984, San Francisco introduced a “sunlight ordinance” that requires the municipal review of proposed structures over 40 feet that might shadow public parks.

Today, geospatial engineers and “enlightened” architects use sophisticated 3D modelling software to measure “shadow impacts” of proposed developments. As a bargaining tool, developers might negotiate the elimination of a few storeys from high-rise development proposals, so neighbouring developments receive a few extra minutes of sunlight through the day.

Big buildings don’t just generate shadows. The speculative enthusiasm for all-glass towers, which shows no sign of abating in the world’s urban hotspots, can result in unintended consequences. One such example is London’s “Fryscraper,” an infamous high-rise with a concave surface that has reportedly cooked cars parked in its focal point.

Yet the reflective property of such structures can also be used intentionally and intelligently. As recently reported in the Guardian, architects at NBJJ in London “used computer modeling to design a pair of buildings, one of which works like a gigantic, curved mirror. The glass surface of the northernmost building reflects light down into the shadow cast by its southern partner. And the carefully defined curve of that glass allows the reflected light to follow the shadow throughout the day.”

The above scheme is intended to create more ambient urban light, rather than a summertime death beam or all-season twilight.

City of Vancouver, take note. With a gravity-defying real estate market sending condos and prices into the troposphere, the streets below could use some brightening up.

https://t.co/Jm7PRaxNOO


One of our shadow study projects >

Plans Revealed for West Block Development at Loblaws Lake Shore | via @urban_toronto

West Block, Loblaws, ArchitectsAlliance, Page + Steele, ERA Architects

Choice Properties REIT and Wittington Properties Limited unveiled updated plans for the Loblaws Groceterias building at Lake Shore and Bathurst today during a ceremony honouring the preservation of the first brick taken from the building’s facade.

The first brick ceremony included remarks from development partners Tony Grossi, President of Wittington Properties Limited; John Morrison, President and CEO of Choice Properties; Terry Hui, CEO of Concord Pacific Group of Companies, the parent company of Concord Adex; as well as Mayor John Tory and Councillor Joe Cressy. In his speech, John Morrison described the beginning of the restoration process, in which the building's stones and nearly 100,000 bricks will be dismantled, labeled, stored in Port Credit, cleaned, and eventually reassembled on site. Mayor John Tory praised the mixed-use nature of the project and credited the site with welcoming visitors to the city from Billy Bishop Airport.

W. Galen Weston and Galen Weston were also present to receive the first brick on behalf of Loblaw Companies Limited.

The preservation of the first brick was followed by the unveiling of a new banner that features the project's new name and logo: West Block, established 1928. This new logo is a nod to the building's history, as Loblaws first opened the doors to their headquarters and warehouse in this building in 1928. They continued to occupy the building until the 1970s, when Loblaws moved into a new headquarters on St. Clair Avenue East and The Daily Bread Food Bank took over the space. The warehouse has been vacant since the Food Bank left in 2000, shortly before the larger southern structure received heritage designation in 2001.

When we last checked in with this site in 2013, demolition had just finished on the northern structure. The new plans for West Block development include office and retail space designed by the original site architects at architectsAlliance, updated residential tower design by Page + Steele Architects, and heritage restoration of the original Art Deco facade by ERA Architects. Today’s renderings reveal some significant changes from the plans released in 2013.

The updated plan includes approximately 22,760 square metres of retail and office space in a seven-storey building housed in the reconstructed warehouse, 876 residential units in two towers (37 and 41 storeys) on the northern side of the site, a planned public art installation and café under the Gardiner Expressway, and approximately 600 underground parking spaces.

The retail space will be anchored by a 4,645 square metre Loblaws Great food store that will serve a neighbourhood that has seen rapid residential growth in recent years. West Block is currently slated to open in Spring of 2019.

http://t.co/1NrDCSUWwS


25-Storey Tower Development Application behind Shoreline Towers | Mimico Residents Association

Shorelinetowers application

The Application was submitted June 8th and was received as complete by City Planning. City Planning has 120 days (from June 10th) to hold a public consultation on this application and produce a Final Report for Etobicoke York Community Council. It is likely the application will be rejected by City Planning and the developer will then appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. If the City does not process the application within the 120 day time-frame, the developer will be able to go to the OMB without a full City review of their proposal and without the public having an opportunity to provide input.

The Mimico community went through years of extensive consultation, which resulted in a Secondary Plan being developed. The MRA supported the secondary plan which was then approved by the City.

Here are some aspects of this particular development that contravene the Secondary Plan:

  • the tower is located directly where a lakeside road is proposed in the Plan. If a building is approved in this location, and so close to the existing buildings, there can be no road. The road is key to opening up Lake access points to the public, maintaining sight lines from Lake Shore Blvd. and providing sensible access to well-planned development in the future.
  • the tower is 25 storeys, steps from the Mimico Waterfront trail – there were no towers of this height proposed in such close proximity to the Lake in the Secondary Plan because they would crowd and shadow the Waterfront park.
  • the tower almost doubles the population on an already dense site – there are 266 units in the 10 storey buildings that are currently on the site. The new tower would add 241 units. There are immediate concerns re: infrastructure esp traffic and transit to support new residents.
  • other considerations: wind tunnel effects, reduction of open space, reduction of potential greenspace and open public space provided for in the Plan.

more - http://t.co/iRzUKchjW5


Glyn, thank you for your shout-out  in Spacing Magazine (Spring 2015) in your "Sunny Side of the Street" and "Torontohenge" articles. @Banquos_Banquet @Spacing

Disputes over shadows aren't black and white | via @marketplace

A view of the Manhattan skyline.

New York’s skyline is in the process of getting some new icons. They are known as pencil towers, super-slender towers and pejoratively as bank vaults in the sky because of their high price tags. They are feats of modern engineering, but also controversial.

One reason is the shadows they would cast on Central Park at certain times of year. Another reason is that the luxurious apartments and high price tags that make them possible are also signs of conspicuous consumption by the mega-wealthy. There are analysts who try to sort out fact from fiction when it comes to light and shadow, but they have their work cut out for them. 

more - http://t.co/6EDJX8PENj


Sure, a "22-storey highrise would result in a kilometre-long shadow" at certain hours, but so would a 2-storey house

see article - https://t.co/tk2sVHRbto


Claim "huge shadow" on Lake Eola and park >

Church files detailed objections to Lake Eola tower plan

Save Lake Eola sketch by opposition

St. Luke’s Cathedral, a historic church in downtown Orlando, filed its detailed objections to a plan for a 28-story tower on the shores of Lake Eola.

The church, which donated property for Lake Eola Park in 1914, has come out in strong opposition to the plan by private developers to build the 28-story City Centre project (also known as Parc Center), which would have more than 200 apartment units, retail and an outdoor café.

The café itself would be built over land donated by the church. The Sentinel has covered the project and the church’s opposition in several recent stories.

Here’s a summary of the new details in the church’s formal appeal of the Municipal Planning Board approval of the project:

--Use of the deeded park land for commercial purposes violates deed restrictions, and was done without asking St. Luke’s permission.

--The tower itself would be built so close to park land that it would represent an illegal encroachment on park land, which the city has rarely or never allowed.

-- The tower and related development would block the public view of the lake, which was expressly forbidden in deed restriction.

--The project violates the city’s own Community Redevelopment Agency Plan for the downtown area and the city’s DTOutlook plan, which calls for more public park space, not less. The developer’s use of park land for a private café would not meet goals of creating more public green space and connection between public green spaces.

--There is no account for “the shadow impact that such a huge structure will have on the use of the park by the public and the wildlife that inhabits it.”   The church’s objection notes that a 2008 plan for developing the same site took into account how the building would cast a shadow and required that the building shape be altered to not cast a large shadow over the park and lake.

more - http://t.co/WPJNcwtaBL


CTBUH honours Turning Torso with 10-year award | Construction Canada

HSBTurningTorso

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) selected Malmö, Sweden’s Turning Torso as the winner of its 10-year award.

The award allows an opportunity to revisit projects that have been operational for a decade and recognize those that have performed successfully across any number of criteria, including environmental, engineering performance, vertical transport, and iconography.

Turning Torso was completed in 2005 and was the first twisted skyscraper in the world. It rotates 90 degrees along its height in nine pentagonal sections. Its design was inspired by a white marble sculpture by Spanish architect, engineer, and artist, Santiago Calatrava. The 190-m (623-ft) building embodies Malmö’s revival and Sweden’s determination to lead the world in expressive, sustainable design typologies. To this day, it remains the tallest building in Scandinavia.

more - http://t.co/admHXam2g2


Cheers, Ralph

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