Civic thread

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by HippoCrushEverything, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. Not about the Honda but all things urban and extra-urban. Transport, architecture, infrastructure, civic engineering projects, traffic patterns... whatever -> post here.



  2. Okay, urban planning is one of my nerdy vices. On my going away party from Calgary, one of my friends bought me this book, about all the transformative civic projects in the city that never made it to fruition. I feel like I want to borrow some of the better stories from there and return to this thread later.

  3. Well do you have any non-nerdy ones?

    Please do.
  4. They are currently building this in my city. Not sure what to think of it. It's a library/cinema.

    It looks like one of those zumwalt class frigates.

    HippoCrushEverything likes this.
  5. They also just finished this building at university campus, which i think looks interesting.

  6. I prefer to talk about the other Civic. I was excited.
    This thread has ruined my day.
  7. Why do none of your building have windows? Is this one of those north Korean fake cities?
    Fast Man likes this.
  8. Yes
  9. That looks impressive.
  10. i agree more windows for the zumwalt
  11. Hollanders are striving so hard to be different!!
  12. There are a couple cool stories in that book I mentioned that I think would be interesting to people outside of Calgary as general case studies. The rapid growth of the typical North American home following the Second World War, the dominance of the car in city planning, and the legacy effects of major projects (even those that never actually get built). I might come back to a few of them in later posts, but I'd like to share just a bit about the relationship between human and physical geography. This is how Calgary looked a few years after its founding, shortly after the country's first transcontinental railroad was completed:

    The main trunk of the Canadian Pacific Railway followed the Bow River into the mountains, and after crossing the Elbow River had two spurs, one North to Edmonton and one to the grain elevators in the South of the province. All of the commercial interests in the city clustered around this section of rail shortly after it made some space from the Bow River, but before it spurred. The Northwest Mounted Police had a fort not far from this location also.

    Calgary's pre-War role in the world was as a link in the chain of commerce within the British Empire and later Commonwealth that stretched, in a very physical sense, from London to India. In Canada, that chain was the Canadian Pacific Railway. Every major bank and hotel and store that opened tried to be as close as possible to the CPR station, as pictured above.

    Together, these barriers (the main trunk of the CPR line to the South and the Bow River to the North) put significant constraints on the development of downtown Calgary. To compensate, downtown Calgary is a very compact, very tall core for a city of its size - barely over a million in the entire metro region. The only building in all of Western Europe that would have significant prominence over the buildings in this photo is the Shard in London. The next tallest, Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, is the exact same 56 floors as Brookfield Place above.

    A huge fraction of the urban planning effort in Calgary has, in turn, been to figure out how to handle transportation in the core. Nobody lives there; it has a population of about 10,000. But about a quarter of the city - 300,000 - commute in and out every day (and about another 50,000 commute through). That's not huge verus most global cities in terms of absolute numbers, but as a fraction of the tax base, fraction of population, or just per square kilometer, that's big. There were a lot of mid-century proposals about how to 'fix' it. A proposal that was almost approved saw CPR moving its entire mainline out of the city, and the rail corridor would be replaced with a huge, 10-lane freeway. Parking would be plentiful, density would be lower, and congestion probably terrible (if similar proposals in New York are evidence to go by). Calgary would be Houston, and that is very much an insult. It was killed by this:

    A large mixed-use retail and office building would span over a new central rail station, serving inter-city routes to Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto. One level below would be a metro-like rail system, and at-grade retained road access as it was, with new accommodations for a central bus terminal. A very forward-thinking building for its time. Via Rail moved its main trunk route from Calgary to Edmonton in the mid-80s, and with the oil crisis, the plan was abandoned. But it made a lasting influence. Calgary decided that a (then) advanced transit system would handle as much traffic as the freeway, since there was a common destination. No freeway was ever built, and all the other planning that took place at the City was done to accommodate it.

    This is one of the plans drawn up for Calgary's current municipal building, built 1985. It was built right over that dashed box at the centre of the figure. Calgary does not have a subway, but with the previous project on the books, all the tunnelling shown above was actually built. And all the buildings on 8th and 9th avenues were required to have accommodations for a future subway - they couldn't have critical foundation structures that would interfere with stations or tunnels, lobbies required sufficient area for station heads and escalator access, and so on. All of this will actually be getting use soon enough, as the next major infrastructure project on the city's books is to move the rail system underground - using all the parts placed there in the 80s.

    Long story short, that's why a medium-sized city on the Canadian prairie - the most conservative city in Canada - has more rail transit passengers than the entire state of Texas.
  13. Bonus: the oldest 'stalled' project in the city.

    This tower was slated to be about 270m tall: if it were built as planned in the 1970s, it would still be the tallest building in the city. I believe the Bank of Montreal was to be the primary tenant. This was one of the many projects killed by the oil crisis, but the Bank of Montreal still owns the land it was going to be built on. And in fact, they have a tower on adjacent land and have (for many years) said that there's a major project planned for the space (currently finding its hopefully-temporary purpose as a parking garage). Every few years the rumor mill spits out a story that an updated version of the thing will be put forward, as soon as BMO finds the subletters.
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  14. I should have actually included an aerial photo with the first post just to show how crazy the river and railway are at constraining development. Both are really clear from this angle, and the density of development just turns off like a switch outside of their boundaries. I was having lunch a few years ago just North of the river and a few urban planners were there for a conference, eating at the same place. While just chatting, they asked me if they were still in Calgary; they assumed the river was a municipal boundary. They had assumed that a change in urban form like that was only possible due to change of government, like they had just crossed into New Jersey.

  15. That looks like a nice city

  16. Pretty interesting how a fuckup like this could happen
  17. Tel Aviv's central bus station opened in 1993. A 230,000sqm monstrosity that was, back then, the largest bus station in the world (they've built a bigger one in India since). Seven floors that included a mall (with over 1,000 shops), multiple terminals and whatnot. The building is a messy maze, with departures at the 7th floor, large ramps and bridges that go through buildings to get there, half floors, lack of proper connection between them (like, in order to get from the 5th to the 4th, you have to go to the 6th). Tons of inner and intercity bus lines go through there and it's almost impossible to find you way without help. As the years went by, it has become the poorest point in the city. A hub of drug dealers, illegal immigrants, prostitution and general crime. Even the shops are known to lure innocent soldiers and steal their credit card information. The first and second floors have actually been abandoned and sealed. It is now THE place nobody wants to live next to. Lately, they've been talking about removing the busses from there, renovating the building and giving it other uses. Some say it should be taken down completely, but others find it hard to destroy the biggest "monument" in town.


    View from the street (the black dudes are mostly Sudanese and Eritrean):

    Infamous building that turned into a poor slum due to ramps and bridges:
  18. I had no idea Israel had black people
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  19. There's plenty of Israelis of Ethiopian descent, so they're black. But also we've been getting some African refugees (mostly Sudanese and Eritrean, as I mentioned earlier). We share a border with Africa, more or less, and that makes us the most sensible country you can actually flee to by foot. Although there are many stories about how they get scammed, kidnapped and even harvested for organs in Egypt. Plus we stopped letting them in lately.
  20. Lih @ New Jersey

    Edmonton looks pretty similar:


    Why are the river and railway corridor treated as such impassable obstacles, though? Rhine, Seine, Thames, Danube, Elbe, Neva, Po... Nearly all major cities of Europe have spread on both sides of such rivers quite early on. Bridges and tunnels have been invented, you know.

    Here's Frankfurt am Main. You can observe 3 substantial rail corridors and the Main river flowing trough the city. High-density development has spread on both sides of the river:



    Here's Osaka and it's absolutely riddled with rivers and rail lines:

  21. Believe it or not, some trains do exist here at the edge of human civilisation. A rail corridor cuts the city of Helsinki in half at the middle, expainding into this logistics hub and separating into 3 outgoing lines:

    The city population is spread rather evenly across both sides of the rail corridor. Consequently, bridges for them cars, trams, trannies and trains have been built built to facilitate hauling ass to and fro:

  22. Another interesting fact is that Quebec's CN Rail developped Canada as a whole.

  23. they are building a new railyard here
  24. I guess the difference between European river cities and Canadian prairie river cities are the rivers. The latter aren't navigable, and don't have major ports.
  25. Also, I find that city centers with mixed uses (i.e both commercial and residential) is what makes a city cool and successful. New York (Manhattan), Vancouver, London, Paris etc. all have mixed city centers. Many American cities don't do this right, and that's how you get city centers that can be dangerous at night and have a ring of slums around them, before suburbia starts.
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