Monday, 21 March 2011

Projects for Public Spaces

I have been a frequenter of the PPS website and subscriber to their newsletter for about a year now. They have great articles on how to build community through attention to public spaces, and loads of examples of how other Municipalities, Cities and communities make use of Place Making.

Below is part of an article about  "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" (LQC) . I included the intro and an example they used later in the article about Granville Island, in Vancouver BC. I grew up in BC and absoloutly adore Granville Island so I thought I'd use it.

What do you think about LQC?  For the full article click on the logo at the top of this post.

 A Low-cost, High-impact Placemaking Approach to Improve Your Community Now
As people everywhere struggle to do more with less and cry out for places of meaning and beauty, we have to find fast, creative, profitable ways to capitalize on local ingenuity and turn public spaces into treasured community places.

Interestingly, many of the best, most authentic and enduring destinations in a city, the places that keep locals and tourists coming back again and again and that anchor quality, local jobs, were born out of a series of incremental, locally-based improvements. One by one, these interventions built places that were more than the sum of their parts.

The time is right to rethink the way that we do development, using an approach called "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" (LQC). This approach is based on taking incremental steps, using low-cost experiments, and tapping into local talents (e.g. citizens, entrepreneurs, developers, and city staff). These smaller-scale projects are being implemented in a variety of environments, including on streets, squares, waterfronts, and even parking lots.

To preserve the character of the Island, many relics of Granville’s industrial past were re-painted, like these corrugated buildings. Awnings and painted pipes were added to unify the Island and create an environment that was bright and fun. Image taken from
Building Multi-Use Destinations
Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia, epitomizes how an LQC approach was used over the past 35 years to produce incremental changes and to create, what is today, the most visited destination in British Columbia and second only to Niagara Falls in all of Canada.

To preserve the character of the Island, many relics of Granville's industrial past were re-painted, like these corrugated buildings. Awnings and painted pipes were added to unify the Island and create an environment that was bright and fun.

Granville Island got its start in the seventies when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) decided to develop a 35 acre island across from downtown Vancouver. Granville Island was home to a variety of marine related uses, a concrete plant, and many dilapidated corrugated metal sheds. CMHC even described the island in 1975 as "a semi-industrial slum." The vision was to create a place here that would provide social and recreational services for the Vancouver community, highlight its arts and cultural resources, and bring in other related services and uses that together would make it economically self sustainable.

The Canadian Federal Government provided a $25M grant to facilitate CMHC's work in redeveloping the Island with no guarantee that any more funds would be available. Even at that time, this was not a lot of money given the large scale of the development and CMHC had to be creative. Instead of using the money to redevelop the Island all at once, the team that re-imagined Granville Island decided instead to use an "incremental redevelopment" strategy. A traditional approach might have been to buy out the leases of the remaining industrial tenants- but that would have consumed most of the grant money, leaving little to re-invent the Island as a great destination over the following years. The redevelopment team instead used an incremental approach that allowed the existing tenants to stay through the duration of their leases, and used the grant money to make small-scale, improvements on the Island. This approach allowed the character of the Island to grow over time so that it could continually evolve to accommodate the demands of the city around it.

Dilapidated buildings were stabilized, painted, and linked together with colorful pipes, awnings, and signage. Some buildings were added to create a feeling of an industrial area that had come back to life with many things for people to do.

Today, Granville Island continues to grow as a multi-use destination for both tourists and locals. The marine related uses have been preserved, and a variety of arts, culture and community related uses exist along side, the concrete plant -- a good, if unlikely partner in the development. Granville Island is also home to a vibrant public market and a wide range of uses that have helped ensure the island's economic viability. It is entirely self-sustaining and has required no additional financial support from the Canadian government.

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