Comment 88667

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2013 at 15:47:14

One of the most frustrating things about the GSP and New Horizon presentation (besides the lack of preparation and obvious tone of condescension) was the way they used progressive urban design catch phrases in a sort of cargo cult manner.

They talked about the advantages of density in terms of leveraging existing services, without recognizing that the 300 or so residents of the original proposal already more than achieved the 'densification' goal, and that the effects of density are nonlinear: no new services or upgrades up to a certain density, and then a need for significant upgrades beyond a certain level. The new plans imply around 520 residents on a 0.78 Ha site with zero current residents ... this might indeed require upgrades or redesigns.

GSP talked about how they had opted for towers rather than slabs to preserve views and a better streetscape, in a weird sort of parroting of Vancouver tower and podium designs. In fact, what we have is an ad hoc risk minimization design of a succession of 1970s style towers with no podium surrounded by surface parking. And the obvious dishonesty that the current design was only (apparently) dreamt up after towers 1 and 2 had been designed, and takes up the entire surface of block 3. They couldn't have built a slab there if they wanted to, or, equivalently, they are building a 17 storey slab!

The most telling aspect was the complete absence of the architects.

I've interacted with architects quite a bit, and I know they are typically passionate about their projects and love to explain why their design is so great for the site and purpose. There was no mention at all of architecture, and Paikin himself was clear that the architects remit was simply to cram the biggest cheapest building possible onto the small block 3 site (maximize margins and take advantage of demand).
If the design really is so great and responds so sensitively to the site, let's have the architects themselves tell us why!

After looking at their website, it is pretty clear why they weren't present: they seem to specialize in anonymous corporate style architecture where the main concern is to provide a 'solution' to the developer.

I'm surprised that some of their buildings were actually architect (rather than builder) designed, such as Spencer Creek Condos in Dundas and this Hampton Inn and other suburban and ex-urban chain hotels. There are a couple of good projects (the Gowlings restoration and the concept for the Riccio towers). Compare and contrast with KPMB ...

Maybe the nameless architect responsible for the block 3 design would like to write something on RTH to try to convince us why this is a great design!

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