Anyone who has seen the Disney film Cars knows the sad story of the fictional town of Radiator Springs. The once-lively stop on Route 66 was effectively erased from the map when a new freeway was built bypassing the town. The economy crashed. The tire shop couldn't sell tires, the hotel couldn't rent rooms and the sleepy main drag fell into disrepair.
The city of Kenora, Ont., was faced with the possibility of this story becoming a reality when in 1990 the decision was made to build a bypass on the Trans-Canada Highway. This new road would divert 3,500 vehicles every day away from the city's picturesque main street. Coupled with the closing of the paper mill, the city's largest employer for 80 years, Kenora seemed destined to become a real life Radiator Springs.
By Greg Hasiuk, MAA, SAA, MRAIC, LEED®AP
Practice Leader, Number TEN Architectural Group
I was recently at the 87th Council of Educational Facility Planners International Conference in San Jose California.
Notable keynotes speakers were Robert Scoble and Tom Friedman (http://www.cefpiworldconference.org/speakers.php#Naked).
The theme was “Learning in a Flat World”. It was inspiring! Here are some of my notes:
Facts no longer need to be learned. Concepts and connections do.
Information no longer needs to be found. It finds you.
The internet allows the gathering of the world’s knowledge.
Social Networks allow the gathering of the world’s people.
Collaborative problem solving is now possible with people from around the world, in real time.
To flourish, you will have to generate your own content. Share it. Post it. Let the world come to you.
'Our Golden Business Boy will watch the North End die, and sing I love this town, then let his arcing wrecking ball proclaim, I hate Winnipeg'
As this line from the Weakerthans song One Great City candidly expresses, Winnipeg's long history of building demolition to make way for open parking lots has left our downtown resembling the toothless grin of hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke.
Winnipeg is home to some of the largest urban parking lots in Canada. These inhospitable asphalt deserts create pedestrian dead zones that fragment the city centre. A low downtown residential population and years of declining transit ridership have resulted in high demand for parking from 70, 000 daily commuters. Optimistically designed for "Chicago of the North," it has historically been difficult to maintain density in our oversized city centre.
In 1820, Paris established itself as the 'City of Light' when it became one of the first in the world to illuminate its streets with gas lanterns. This transformed the character, economy and culture of the city as it came alive at night with shops and cafés remaining open long after dark. The soft orange light cast on the limestone buildings was considered so beautiful it inspired the works of impressionist painters like Renoir and Van Gogh.
Over the next two centuries, urban lighting across the world has most often been considered from a purely functional perspective, flooding streets and buildings with consistent, high-intensity light. With the emergence of new technologies, exterior lighting is again becoming an inspiring urban feature and creative extension of architectural design. Good architecture transforms itself as light conditions change around it. A unique example of this is the Buhler Centre on Portage Avenue by DPA+PSA+DIN Collective, which creatively uses metal tabs as nighttime reflectors, subtly animating the façade as they capture the moving light of passing cars.
Every year at the height of summer, the Fringe Festival invades Winnipeg and the cobblestone sidewalks of the Exchange District come alive as artists' kiosks, shops and restaurants overflow with people late into the evening.
It's almost as if, for a short time, our tranquil warehouse district masquerades as a little piece of New York's Greenwich Village. When the Fringe moves on and the streets again fall quiet, we are left to wonder what might be done to capture a small piece of that vibrancy and maintain it throughout the year.