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Public realm planning and design : creating more livable communities Gregory, Karen A. 2000

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PUBLIC REALM PLANNING AND DESIGN: CREATING MORE LIVABLE COMMUNITIES by Karen A. Gregory B.E.S., University of Waterloo, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE (PLANNING) i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (School of Community and Regional Planning) We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May 2000 © Karen A. Gregory, 2 000 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of th i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or pu b l i c a t i o n of th i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. •School of Community The University of Vancouver, Canada May 08, 2000 and Regional Planning B r i t i s h Columbia ABSTRACT The public realm is defined as space that is shared communally by the public. It is intimately linked to the ideas of universal access, the common ground, and shared amenities. Examples of public space include parks, plazas, pedestrian pathways, and streets. Traditionally the public realm has served a social function - acting as a medium of communication, tool for social awareness and learning, etc. However, it is acknowledged that these social functions are idealistic, and not necessarily reflective of the current norm. The actual and virtual decentralization of place has negatively impacted how the public realm posits itself in terms of its function, and the value that is attributed to it. This has been further compounded by transitions in the public realm, and rapid urban growth and change. The thesis seeks to address this problem by exploring public realm planning and design to provide a comprehensive understanding of public spaces and their role in contributing to more livable communities. The primary research objective of the thesis is to determine how social design approaches to public realm planning and design can maintain the value of place amidst growth and change in the contemporary city. In support of this objective, the research also seeks to determine the role of the public realm in urban North America, and how social design and place-based planning and design approaches contribute to the public realm. Four primary research methodologies were used to provide information in support of the aforementioned purpose and objective: literature review, informal interviews, survey work, and participant observation. To provide contextual meaning and further insight, the latter two of these methods were applied during case study research to determine how people living and working in Yaletown access, use, and perceive the public realm. Through the application of social design principles and approaches, the case study was successful in illustrating that user participation in public realm studies can be effective in gaining a better understanding of human-environment relationships. The research findings demonstrated patterns of behaviour and local perceptions in and of the Yaletown public realm which provided the basis for conclusions and recommendations about design elements (transportation, signage, vegetation, street furniture, weather protection, public art) and planning and design approaches (incremental and evaluative, interdisciplinary, inclusive and holistic). The thesis demonstrates that planning and design rooted in the ideology of social design - placemaking with people - provides the means to meet the individual and collective needs, values, and expectations of i i local users, while further perpetuating the value of place in the public realm. In essence, this provides framework for "creating more livable communities". T A B L E OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i LIST OF FIGURES viii LIST OF MAPS ix PREFACE x ACKNOLWEDGEMENTS xi CHAPTER ONE - 1.0 INTRODUCTION 1 1.1 Purpose and Objective 1 1.2 Definition 2 1.3 Background 4 1.4 Case Study - Introduction 5 1.5 Rationale 6 1.6 Methodology 8 1.7 Organization 10 CHAPTER TWO - 2.0 CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW 11 2.1 Introduction 11 2.2 Public Realm Planning and Design 11 2.2.1 Definition 11 2.2.2 Evolution of the Public Realm in the Wake of Privatization 11 2.2.3 Creative Innovations in the Public Realm 13 2.3 The Value of Place 14 2.3.1 Place Identity, Sense of Place, and Spirit of Place 15 2.3.2 Place Attachment 16 2.3.3 Placemaking 17 2.3.4 Placemaking Research and Practice 18 2.4 Urban Revitalization 19 2.4.1 Urban Revitalization in the Context of Land Use Change 19 2.4.2 Implications for Planners and Designers 21 2.5 Participatory Placemaking 21 2.5.1 Definition 22 iv 2.5.2 Rationale 22 2.5.3 Advantages and Disadvantages 23 2.5.4 Participatory Placemaking in Practice 24 2.6 Conclusion 28 CHAPTER THREE - 3.0 FUNDAMENTALS OF PLANNING AND DESIGN - A SOCIAL DESIGN PERSPECTIVE 29 3.1 Introduction 29 3.2 Social Design 29 3.2.1 Definition and Context 29 3.2.2 Theoretical Underpinnings 30 3.2.3 Principles of Social Design 30 3.2.4 Social Design Approaches 32 3.2.5 Future Approaches to Social Design 32 3.3 Social Functions of the Public Realm 33 3.3.1 Social Functions 34 3.4 Properties and Qualities of the Public Realm 35 3.4.1 Imageability and Accessibility 36 3.4.2 Meaning and Continuity 37 3.4.3 Stimulous and Diversity 38 3.4.4 Choice and Flexibility 40 3.5 Conclusion 41 CHAPTER FOUR - 4.0 YALETOWN CASE STUDY 43 4.1 Introduction 43 4.2 Contextual Overview 43 4.2.1 Geographic Context 43 4.2.2 Historical Context 44 4.2.3 Yaletown Present and Future 44 4.3 Purpose and Objective 47 4.4 Methodology 48 4.4.1 Pre-Test and Survey 48 4.4.2 Participant Observation 49 4.5 Observations 50 v 4.5.1 Survey 50 4.5.2 Participant Observation 63 4.6 Conclusion 64 CHAPTER FIVE - 5.0 CASE STUDY DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ... 67 5.1 Introduction 67 5.2 Physical Design Elements 67 5.2.1 Transportation 67 5.2.2 Signage 69 5.2.3 Vegetation 71 5.2.4 Street Furniture 72 5.2.5 Weather Protection 73 5.2.6 Public Art 74 5.3 Planning and Design Approaches 76 5.3.1 Incremental and Evaluative Approaches 76 5.3.2 Interdisciplinary, Inclusive, and Holistic Approaches 77 5.4 Implementation and Feasibility 79 5.5 Conclusion 80 CHAPTER SIX - 6.0 SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 83 6.1 Introduction 83 6.2 Summary Conclusions 83 6.2.1 What is the role of the public realm in the North American post-modern city? .. 83 6.2.2 How does social design and place-based planning and design approaches contribute to the public realm in the post-modern city? 84 6.2.3 What lessons can be learned from the Yaletown public realm case study? 85 6.2.4 What does "all of this" mean in terms of livability? 85 6.3 Recommendations for Future Research 87 6.3.1 Case study 87 6.3.2 Academic Pursuits 88 6.4 Conclusion 89 REFERENCES 90 APPENDIX A 97 APPENDIX B 106 APPENDIX C 112 v i i LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Example of a Vibrant Public Space (Yaletown Docks in Vancouver) (photo) 11 Figure 2: Gasworks Park in Seattle 14 Figure 3: Piazzo del Campo (Siena, Italy) 38 Figure 4: Context Map of Yaletown 43 Figure 5: Map of Yaletown 43 Figure 6: Geographic Distribution of Respondents Based on Location of Business or Community Amenity 49 Figure 7: Age Distribution Among Survey Respondents 50 Figure 8: Live / Work Status in Yaletown of Survey Respondents 51 Figure 9: Activity Status of Survey Respondents 51 Figure 10: Factors Influencing Enter and Exit Patterns 53 Figure 11: Mode of Transport 55 Figure 12: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Never") 56 Figure 13: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Almost Never") 56 Figure 14: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Sometimes") 57 Figure 15: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Often") 57 Figure 16: Rationale for Low Rate of Public Space Use 59 Figure 17: Preferred Types of Public Space 63 Figure 18: Traffic Congestion (photo) 68 Figure 19: Yaletown Signage at Entrance to Old Yaletown (photo) 70 Figure 20: Chinatown Streetscape (photo) 78 LIST OF M A P S Map 1: Public Space Access: Gateways 52 Map 2: Public Space Use: Pathways 54 Map 3: Public Space Perception: Valued Places 60 Map 4: Public Space Perception: Community Spaces 62 ix "The world does not exist simply for our consumption. If we pay attention, we will see that it presents itself to us in so many ways as an active presence in our lives -as colours, smells, openings, faces, all enclosing, exposing, or protecting us. Our places offer themselves to us in a special relationship, and as a form of reciprocity our recognition is expected" (Schneekloth andShibley, 1995, 17). A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S I would like to extend my sincere thanks to those who have provided support and encouragement -family, friends, professors, and colleagues - you know who you are. In particular, I am extremely indebted to those closest to me. Your constant love and support provided me with the strength to keep on. Special thanks also to my fellow "scarpies" who made learning an especially memorable and rewarding experience. Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities C H A P T E R O N E - 1.0 INTRODUCTION 1.1 PURPOSE AND O B J E C T I V E Cities are a composite of both public and private spaces that collectively give form and meaning to the urban experience. Public spaces - the traditional crux of urban living - particularly influence the form and function of cities and the daily interactions that take place at a community level. This is particularly reflected in plazas such as the Piazza San Marco (Venice) and the Piazzo del Campo (Siena). Other famed examples include the pedestrian streets of Venice and the user-friendly streets of Freiburg. Similarly, contemporary examples of public space in North America provide the framework from which cities and the communities within them evolve. While the public realm in North America does not equate to the traditionally romanticized visions of European public space, it still maintains the same social functions, although perhaps to a lesser degree. Essentially, the public realm is a place for individuals to come together as a community and experience place. This can occur in such a way where the user of the public realm is either directly or indirectly participating in public life (i.e. the observer versus the participant). Moreover, in situations of participatory placemaking, the public realm provides individuals and communities with the opportunity to impact the form and function of public space, and in turn how cities and their inhabitants co-evolve through daily human-environment interactions. It is acknowledged that the social functions of the public realm that have been described are idealistic, and not necessarily reflective of the current norm. Community in its traditional sense is no longer rooted in a fixed locale. For example, persons of advanced socio-economic standing have the freedom to select where they wish to spend their time - whether in their neighbourhood, on the other side of the city, or outside of the region. Moreover, commuters travelling from suburban to urban areas (and sometimes the inverse) are establishing ties outside of their community, and in some cases contributing to a pseudo-community that operates by the workings of the employer's clock. The revolution in information communications technology (ICT) has also led to the degeneration of place as the stronghold for community by facilitating virtual communication from the comforts of one's laptop. This actual and virtual decentralization of the experience of place has negatively impacted how the public realm posits itself in terms of its function, and the value that is attributed to it. This is further compounded by urban growth and change that is driven by economic gain and an increasing trend toward privatization that does little to enhance the experience of place. The end result is a rift in the human-environment connection. K. A . Gregory 1 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities In light of this problem, the purpose of this thesis is to explore public realm planning and design to provide a comprehensive understanding of public spaces and their role in contributing to more livable communities. The research objective is to determine how social design approaches to public realm planning and design can maintain the value of place amidst growth and change in the contemporary city. In order to answer this, two subsets to the research question must be asked: what is the role of the public realm in urban North America?, and how can social design and place-based planning and design approaches contribute to the public realm? 1.2 DEFINITION The public realm is a broad term that encompasses varied meanings. For the purpose of clarity and simplicity, public realm henceforth is defined as space that is shared communally by the public. Public space is intimately linked to the ideas of universal access, the common ground, and shared amenities. Examples include parks, plazas, pedestrian pathways, and streets, and more case-specific examples such as the docks, Roundhouse Community Centre, and Vancouver Public Library. The aforementioned public spaces are, or have the potential to be, "places". Dovey (1985, 103) defines place as, "a complex system of people, physical setting and meaning". Whereas space is insular and without meaning, place is the embodiment of interactions between people and the environment which thereby creates meaning. Lennard (1987) contends that spatial design defines the type of behaviour, activities, and social contacts of place. In effect, the form and subsequent function of the public realm contribute to the "sense of place" that is established within a community. This is similar to a human-behaviourist approach which defines sense of place as the intangible characteristics of a place that have the power to influence behaviour (Bolton, 1992). On a broader level, the phenomenological approach defines sense of place from an experiential perspective. In this sense, place is experienced based, and dependent on meanings and values rather than empirical measurement and scientific knowledge (Dovey, 1985). Undoubtedly, definitions of sense of place are varied. However, it is almost universally accepted that sense of place contains some element of the intangible. Nonetheless, sense of place serves as an important form of social capital because it contributes to community identity at the local and regional levels (Bolton, 1992). The relationship between sense of place and community identity has long since been identified by early planners including Lewis Mumford. In her review of the life and work of Mumford, Lucarelli (1995, 49) noted that Mumford believed "the attainment of a genuine sense of place, grounded in a relationship to nature, parallels - and encourages - community". K. A . Gregory 2 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities It is important to define sense of place in light of its contribution to the value of place, and in turn, how this impacts the human-environment relationship. This is particularly relevant in the wake of the modernist era, and post-modern change and growth which threaten the integrity of place - whether in the private or public realms. To understand the essence of the current post-modern era, it is important to also discuss modernism since the former developed in response to the latter. The modernist movement was based on principles of functional and universal design that were driven by technological advance. Quite simply, one could depict modernism as the embodiment of the "city efficient" (Ley, 1987). Post-modern critics of the movement maintained "that the planning and design of the modern city was a blueprint for placelessness, of anonymous, impersonal spaces, massive structures, and automobile throughways" (Ley, 1987, 42-43). This critique (and others like it) spawned the development of post-modernism - a direct response to the inadequacies of modernism. Post-modernism evolved due to an increased awareness about qualities of unique places, and subsequently, in response to the modernist "habit of erasing the details and diversity of everything in landscapes that preceded them" (Relph, 1987, 213). As such, post-modernism is characterized by design that expresses earlier design styles (i.e. through revitalization and preservation), but that is reflective of the various needs of present day users (Relph, 1987). In this sense, it introduces a "more personal and contextual design solution" (Ley, 1987, 40) that allows for a more diverse and humanized approach to planning and design. Relph argues that post-modernism has evolved in this way due to the social and political climate of the 1970s which introduced more grassroots approaches (Relph, 1987). As a result, marginalized voices that were once unheard became vocalized, thereby giving shape to what has become known as post-modern planning and design. On this basis, it is argued that post-modernism is in fact a "social protest" against modernism (Jencks, 1987). Similar to post-modernism, social design evolved in reaction to modernism and aspired toward social change. Its objective is to create environments that are meaningful and accessible to a wider cross-section of people - namely its users. Essentially, social design is a hybrid of both design and the behavioural sciences. It advocates a more inclusive approach that allows user needs, values, and desires to be incorporated into design. As a sub-set of social design, place-based planning and design also acknowledges the human-environment relationship through planning and design efforts that encourage appropriate design and attempt to further perpetuate the value of place. Contemporary practice in planning and design encourages communities with sense of place, that are built to human scale, and more recently, embrace principles of sustainability. Essentially, these attributes K. A . Gregory 3 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities contribute to the formation of livable cities. The concept of livability is difficult to define, because similar to such terms as sense of place and sustainability, it is a "buzz word" that is often used loosely thereby detracting from the essence of its meaning. According to Vancouver's Central Area Plan, the livability of a city or an area depends on the availability of parks and open space, the volumes of traffic, safety and security, the preservation of character areas, etc. (City of Vancouver, 1992). At a broader level, this thesis defines livable cities and the communities that they support as those in which harmonious interconnections are made between humans and the natural and built environments, and past, present, and future living experiences. 1.3 B A C K G R O U N D Urban planning and design has undergone several important transitions that have influenced how cities and the public spaces within them have evolved. For example, during the Reform era (1900 to 1930), urban planning and design was an aesthetic undertaking. Reformers sought to manipulate the physical environment through for example park planning initiatives, to maintain social order and neutralize the inequities prevalent among the social/ economic classes (Cranz, 1982). The concern for aesthetics and the socialist undertones of the Reform era eventually gave way to Functionalism during the 1930s. At this time, urban planning and design experienced a paradigm shift wherein the physical and functional attributes of the city were developed independently of aesthetics. Functionalist approaches to city building arose from advances in medical knowledge and subsequent concerns for physiological well-being. As such, the era is marked by attempts to separate work and living spaces, provide access to open spaces, ensure adequate light and ventilation, etc. (Gehl, 1987). While these efforts are commendable attempts to make cities more livable, researchers such as Gehl (1987, 47) argue that functionalism was in fact detrimental to cities. He writes, "Throughout the entire history of human habitation, streets and squares have formed focal points and gathering places, but with the advent of functionalism, streets and squares were literally declared unwanted. Instead, they were replaced by roads, paths, and endless grass". Whether attributed to functionalist approaches or not, the urban environment has undergone significant, and perhaps more importantly, rapid change. The effect of this transformation has been a public realm that is not always effective in meeting user needs, reflecting local values, or positively contributing to the existing context of the physical, social, and economic environment. In recognition of this place deficit, research has been undertaken to explore public space use and activity, and appropriate approaches to planning and design. For example, in 1970 William H. Whyte developed a research group to undertake "The Street Life Project". The project examined behaviour patterns in New York City plazas through time-lapse photography that recorded public space use and activity (Whyte, 1988). This research is K. A . Gregory 4 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities recognized as being instrumental in bringing to the forefront environment behaviour research, and its potential to improve how public spaces are planned and designed. Environment-behaviour research by Jan Gehl in Denmark has also significantly contributed to this body of knowledge (Gehl, 1987). Thirty years have passed since the resurgence in public space research led by Whyte and Gehl. Since that time, environment behaviour research has been adopted by a diversity of disciplines including planning, landscape architecture, sociology, psychology, and the behavioural sciences. Change is also evident in that research reflects a new social consciousness. For example, research has become more focused on issues such as accessibility among marginalized user groups (e.g. elderly, children, disabled persons, etc.) and participatory placemaking processes. Despite progress in research which suggests the need for greater detail to planning and design in applied practice, public realm policy remains fragmented in nature. For example, the City of Vancouver has developed plans and guidelines for the public realm at Georgia Street (West End), Triangle West, Downtown South, and the Library Precinct districts. More recently recommendations have been made to revise the Granville Street (Granville South) guidelines and amend the Downtown ODP to recognize Granville Street as an entertainment district, and improve the public realm through storefront treatments, enhancements to entrances and building frontages, etc. (City of Vancouver, 1998a). However, a comprehensive, city-wide public realm plan for Vancouver has not yet come to fruition. Nonetheless, studies such as the "Greenways - Public Ways" (Urban Landscape Task Force, 1992) and the "Downtown South Streetscape Design Study" (Christopher Phillips & Associates Landscape Architects Inc., 1991) have provided thoughtful insight into how planning for the public realm can create sense of place and more livable communities. 1.4 C A S E STUDY - INTRODUCTION To provide contextual meaning and further insight in support of the research question, an exploratory survey of the Yaletown public realm is conducted as part of this thesis. Yaletown is an interesting example of post-modern development in Vancouver. It possesses a unique character that is attributed to the combination of heritage buildings and newer styles of architecture that it supports. While the funky, upscale allure of Yaletown has drawn people to invest in the residential market, the commercial sector has only achieved moderate success. Therefore, it has been recognized that efforts must be taken to continue revitalizing the area to improve both residential and commercial markets, and create a more healthy and K. A . Gregory 5 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities livable live/ work environment1. Since revitalization began in the late 1970s and early 1980s to transform Yaletown from an industrial to mixed-use area, there has been considerable contention as to how it might be planned, designed, and managed. Public realm planning is one way in which Yaletown can be revitalized to achieve long-term success. It is hypothesized that improving the public realm will make Yaletown more conducive to living and working in the area. In effect, establishing a more livable environment will provide the impetus for community building that will ensure activity, involvement, attachment, and long-term investment. Based on this premise, the purpose of undertaking case study research in Yaletown is: • To employ access, use, and perception analysis as a means toward individualizing the Yaletown public realm and enhancing sense of place. and in light of the overarching purpose which guides this thesis, • To determine the efficacy of social design approaches to planning and design, and how this might contribute to a more livable Yaletown. 1.5 R A T I O N A L E The rationale for undertaking research on public spaces is multi-fold: • Public space is integral to the concept of livability and the social, economic, and environmental viability of communities. As Crowhurst Lennard and Lennard (1995, 25) note, "Urban public space is the single most important element in establishing a city's livability". Healthy urban living experiences will therefore be influenced by the extent which formgivers positively or negatively shape the public realm2. It is hypothesized that gaining a greater understanding of public realm planning and design, particularly from a social design perspective, will provide the basis for more informed decision-making and ultimately, public space that is appropriate to local users. 1 The Yaletown Business Improvement Association ( Y B I A ) was created in A p r i l 1999 to improve the commercial well-being of Yaletown. 2 The term "formgivers" refers to planners, designers, and community members that are engaged in placemaking activities. K . A . Gregory 6 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities • Planners and designers undertaking revitalization efforts have made {and continue to make) decisions about preferred living environments. Given the direct and indirect impacts of revitalization on users in local and surrounding areas, it is clear that research into access, use, and perception is a valuable endeavour. This is supported by Brail's research on Yaletown (1994, 55): "Despite the fact that redevelopment is seen as encouraging for Vancouver in some respects, the impacts of redevelopment on existing residents and tenants is an issue which must be considered before permanent land use and landscape alterations can occur". The potential permanency of planning and design decisions is noteworthy given that public spaces can be void and meaningless entities that serve no real function. Conversely, public spaces can be planned and designed to make spaces into valued places of meaning that serve as the impetus for community building. • Planning and design of the public realm often excludes the end user thereby creating inappropriate and meaningless spaces. Beauregard and Holcombe (1979) argue that the private sector (particularly in single enterprise communities) has undertaken revitalization initiatives for the purposes of attracting and retaining businesses3. As a result, private sector interests have outweighed those of the community in the planning and design of public spaces. The private monopoly over the built environment is also recognized by for example, Boyer (1993) and Zukin (1991). Further to private sector influences, a professional elitism and exclusivity have also contributed to public spaces that are alien to the needs and desires of end users. In response to current trends in public realm planning, Carr et al. (1992) argues in favour of "appropriate" planning and design achieved through social and economic analysis that establishes contact with potential users. The rationale for undertaking research lies in the inherent belief in appropriate design which contravenes exclusivity. Moreover, the rationale lies in the presumed value of determining the extent which human activity is shaped by public spaces and how they are valued, so as to provide information to create meaningful places that encourage sense of place. 3 The single enterprise community is "one in which a company is either the major employer within the town or the dominant organization in terms of community decision-making" (Beauregard and Holcombe, 1979, 19). Note that at the time of its inception, Yaletown was largely a single enterprise community given the scale of influence the rail system had over the community's development. K . A . Gregory 7 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Specifically to the case study, • An analysis of form and function through use, access, and perception is useful in terms of planning for a livable environment that is valued by the local and surrounding communities. Given the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)'s commitment to planning for livable communities (Greater Vancouver Regional District, 1995), it follows that research on public spaces has practical utility to both the City of Vancouver and the G V R D . Moreover, the scale and diversity of Vancouver's communities and future growth projections suggest that an analysis of this nature will prove beneficial into the future. • Recent revitalization efforts in Yaletown will continue to occur, albeit at a smaller scale than initial transitions in land use from industrial to mixed-use. Yaletown has yet to completely fulfill its potential as a revitalized area despite its location in central Vancouver, economic potential (e.g. tourism, live-work, etc.), historic and aesthetic appeal. Since Yaletown is in the midst of transition and growth, studies pertaining to public realm planning could lay the groundwork for future planning and design. The relative youth of Yaletown (in its revitalized form) lends itself to the "accretion of creative formgiving" (Dovey, 1985, 104). A plethora of opportunities lie in layering conversions, renovations, and new forms, with enhancements to the public realm as a means toward realizing goals of a truly unique and vibrant community. 1.6 M E T H O D O L O G Y Four primary research methodologies were used to provide qualitative and quantitative data in support of the thesis purpose and objective: literature review, informal interviews, survey work, and participant observation. While the research question outlined in section 1.1 is specific, the nature of its inquiry required that a wide cross-section of literature be explored from a number of fields of inquiry. Therefore, the researcher drew from literature in planning, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental psychology, and sociology. Within these broad fields, the researcher focused on public realm planning and design, placemaking and participatory processes, and social design research. To enhance this base of knowledge, the researcher conducted informal interviews with employees of the City of Vancouver. This was facilitated by contacts that were made during the researcher's internship with the Central Area Planning Department at the City of Vancouver. Collectively, the literature review and informal interviews were K. A . Gregory 8 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities effective in providing information that helped scope the research, while providing information that could later support the case study. The researcher was selective in choosing the methodology for undertaking the case study particularly because of the difficult nature of acquiring data on user perceptions. Notably, several methods have been used in the field of perception research to uncover the value that humans attribute to the environment. Participant observation and interviews tend to be among the most common research methods employed. The former spans a variety of activities including, basic recording of activity at a specific time(s) and place(s) with behavioural maps and counts, documentation of activities through more extensive observer descriptions, and interactive research involving dialogue with subjects, and use of photos and maps (Low, 1997). Ultimately, the researcher chose to a use survey method in lieu of interviews to ensure that information could be more efficiently obtained. The rationale was that the survey could use a combination of open and closed questions, thereby providing the assurance that quantifiable data would be attained (i.e. through closed questions), and that respondents would have the flexibility to respond without restraint (i.e. through open questions). The survey method was also chosen to allow the introduction of a visual element into the research. Self-report methods traditionally involve for example, checklists, open-ended descriptions, etc. Therefore, requiring respondents to map some of their survey responses was viewed as an opportunity to diverge from the norm and experiment creatively with mapping. Moreover, the researcher felt that a survey involving map work would provide a unique way to assist respondents in getting quickly (re)familiarized with Yaletown's spatial framework. Given the often brief and cursory nature of surveys, mapping was also seen as a way to slow down the process, and have respondents reflect on their experiences of place. In the end, an exploratory survey was administered to Yaletown retail/commercial owners and managers, general employees, and community service users living both inside and outside of the study area. The survey included questions and visual mapping exercises that addressed the public realm in terms of access, use, and perception. This method was used in concert with participant observation. The latter method was used to observe public spaces in Yaletown so as to better understand human-environment interactions in terms of the nature and extent of access and use. Moreover, participant observation was used as an opportunity to get a sense of the unique planning and design features, opportunities, and constraints that public spaces in Yaletown present to users. K. A . Gregory 9 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities While participant observation is useful for determining public space use, it is recognized that it is not completely indicative of the value that people attribute to the public realm. For example, a public space may receive high use during lunch time hours, but this may be due to lack of alternative locations to take a break rather than true place satisfaction (Francis, 1989). In assuming that on-site users are key indicators, the resulting low user counts are often misinterpreted to mean that public spaces such as urban parks have little, to no benefit or social value. Research by Ulrich (1985) indicated that greater than half of the potential on-site urban park users rarely (if ever) used parks. More than one third of potential on-site users never used parks. Nonetheless, two thirds of the people surveyed considered urban parks to be the most important city service. In light of these findings, participant observation was used as a supplement to the survey, but not as the primary tool of investigation for the case study. 1.7 O R G A N I Z A T I O N The thesis is organized into six chapters. Chapter One provides an introduction to the thesis by identifying the thesis' purpose and objectives, defining key terms, outlining background and contextual information, the rationale for the thesis, and the methodology for achieving the purpose and objectives. Lastly, the organization of the thesis is described. Chapter Two presents a review of literature in the areas of public realm planning and design, place and placemaking, urban revitalization, and participatory planning and design. Chapter Three discusses the fundamentals of planning and design from a social design perspective. Chapter Four presents the Yaletown case study, and Chapter Five follows with a discussion and recommendations generated from the case study. The six and final chapter concludes the thesis by outlining summary conclusions and recommendations for applied planning practice. K. A . Gregory 10 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities C H A P T E R T W O - 2.0 CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW 2.1 I N T R O D U C T I O N This chapter presents a conceptual overview of public realm planning and design to provide a base of understanding and knowledge that supports subsequent chapters. It begins by defining public realm planning and design, and follows with a discussion pertaining to issues of privatization and public realm innovations. This provides perspective on public realm planning and design as it exists at present, and in the recent past. To continue forth from current trends in the public realm, the value of place is explored under the sub-texts of place identity, sense of place, spirit of place, and place attachment. This provides a foundation for a discussion about placemaking as a tool to create meaningful environments amidst the potential for placelessness. Since rehabilitation and reuse are integral to placemaking (Steele, 1981), urban revitalization is then discussed in the context of land use change, and the implications that it presents for planners and designers. Finally, participatory placemaking is presented as an adjunct to the emerging "place paradigm" (Dovey, 1985) and its emphasis on environmental experience and meaning. 2.2 PUBLIC R E A L M P L A N N I N G A N D DESIGN "Public space is an integral part of every downtown centre. It forms the connective tissue which binds the downtown together and allows for human exchange to occur" (Arishenkoff, 1997, ii). 2.2.1 Definition The public realm is space that is shared communally by the public, and includes parks, streets, pedestrian walkways, plazas, and markets. Less conventional examples include indoor spaces such as atriums, shopping centres, and community centres. Rooftop and community gardens, and street cafes demonstrate new examples of public spaces that are emerging as significant components of the public realm landscape. Figure 1: Example of a Vibrant Public Space (Yaletown Docks in Vancouver) 2.2.2 Evolution of the Public Realm in the Wake of Privatization The public realm has experienced several transitions that have influenced how humans interact with the environment. Prior to the late 18th century (the pre-industrial era), society lived in the public realm primarily out of necessity. People collected water, disposed of wastes, and took refuge from less than comfortable living conditions in the public realm. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, K . A . Gregory 11 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities innovations occurred in transport, communications, etc. Consequently, the necessity and traditional role of the public realm dissipated, and the private realm emerged as the preferred place for living, working, and dwelling (Greenberg, 1990; Lofland, 1998). Post W.W.II there was a significant increase in public space as urbanites vacated the city in response to the desire for large expanses of open space that could support safe communities in private residential areas. However, in comparison to historical public spaces in cities and towns, the form and function of public spaces had changed. The purpose of newly created "open" space was, "i.e. to separate functions, open up distance between buildings, allow for the penetration of sunlight and greenery not provide place for extensive social contact" (Greenberg, 1990, 324). In effect, public space - albeit in a new form -increased in concert with a newly acquired desire for private space. Urban revitalization and gentrification in the post-modern era reflect a return to urban living. However, this does not necessarily imply that public life has once again been embraced. For example, the new corporate towers have (in some cases) begun to favour the privacy of atriums in lieu of plazas, thereby blurring the lines among public, semi-public, and private space. New urban residential developments are also being designed to accommodate the desire (real or perceived) for privacy by providing complete living amenities, i.e. gymnasiums, pools, etc. — complete with gated entranceways. Unfortunately, this type of development encourages insularity and negates the need to share in community life. Given the apparent trend toward privatization, the value attributed to public spaces has been questioned. For example, Lofland (1998) argues that sentiments of anti-public space and privatism perpetuates antiurbanism. In other words, antiurbanists see "pleasures" and "public" as oxymoronic! This is particularly disconcerting given the prevalence of suburbia, and the threat of continued sprawl. Undoubtedly, privatization has impacted how public space is perceived, in turn how it is planned and designed, and to what extent it contributes to sense of place. The impact of the private sector on the public realm is demonstrated in the fact that public spaces are no longer publicly sponsored to the large extent that they were in the 1960s and 1970s. Public sponsorship has been replaced by private initiatives that "subsidize, develop, and manage" public space (Francis, 1988). Increasingly, the private sector is assuming responsibility for the public realm. Relph (1993) refers to this private sector phenomenon as the "commodification of landscape". He argues that commodifying the landscape leads to indiscriminate choices in planning and design that have little or no relevance to the individualism of place. Relph refers to the sacrifice of individualism of place, while K. A . Gregory 12 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Beauregard and Holcombe (1979) make note of the sacrifice of community interests that are outweighed by those of the private sector. The reason for this sacrifice is to attract and retain revenue from investors in business and industry. Boyer (1993) echoes this argument by noting that public spaces manipulated for market advantage by private corporations has in fact invaded the cultural sphere. Privatization of the public realm is not attributed solely to the market interests of the private sector. At the municipal level, policy has been created to reflect the trend toward privatization of the public realm. For example, in the 1980s San Francisco revised its downtown plan to reflect a desire for enclosed atriums over outdoor public spaces. Already existing parks, for example the city of Sausalito's central park, have also been impacted by policy that limits access and use (Francis, 1988). The impact of privatization is also evident in Los Angeles where developers are required to install plaques in what are traditionally acknowledged as public spaces. The plaques communicate that plazas are private spaces, and access can be revoked at any given time (Loukaitou-Sideris and Banerjee, 1993). Despite the impact of privatization - whether significant or minute - US based research indicates that as urban spaces become more privatized, the desire for public life increases (Francis, 1989). Moreover, researchers argue that the decline in public life has been exaggerated (Lennard and Lennard, 1984), and that public life is not declining but rather taking new forms (Carr et al., 1992). While these findings are encouraging in terms of community building and creating livable cities, growth trends in the suburbs attest to the stronghold and glaring prevalence of privatization in the 21st century. Greenberg (1990, 325) astutely notes that "the need to find a workable balance between the sometimes conflicting requirements of private (inside) and public (outside) life poses an extraordinary challenge". 2.2.3 Creative Innovations in the Public Realm New York City (NYC) presents a good example of balanced interests in the private and public realms. From 1961 to 1973, approximately 1.1 million square feet of new open space was created. This increase in public space provision occurred as a result of planning policy that responded to the density of skyscrapers being built, and the subsequent loss of light penetration and increased shadowing that were threatening the livability of the city. Knowing that developers wanted to build tall buildings, planners downzoned with the agreement that they would upzone if developers agreed to provide public space or amenities. Termed "incentive zoning", this approach provided that for every square foot of plaza created, developers would be assured permission to build ten square feet of additional office space, and approval of development plans if zoning guidelines were followed. The result of N Y C ' s incentive zoning are impressive: from 1961 to 1971, N Y C created more open space in the city than all US cities combined! K. A . Gregory 13 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Eventually, other American cities followed suit, and incentive zoning became an effective instrument to encourage the development of public space (Whyte, 1988). I 1 destination points (see Figure 2). Figure 2: Gasworks Park in Seattle (formerly a coal gasification plant) source: Olin (1991) The creation and renewal of public space is not limited to derelict industrial areas that require new land uses. Public spaces are created and renewed for reasons of public welfare, visual enhancement, environmental improvements, economic development, and public image (Carr et al., 1992). For example, the City of Vancouver has established thirteen Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) with the two-fold objective of economic development and public image enhancement. In order to achieve this objective, the BIAs exert tax levies on commercial properties to enable local enhancements to the public realm. Given the City of Vancouver and Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)'s commitment to planning for livable communities, it is reasonable to observe that local level initiatives such as the formation of BIAs has occurred. As Crowhurst Lennard and Lennard (1995, 25) note, "urban public space is the single most important element in establishing a city's livability". "In many instances, modern society is tending to destroy the rich variety of places, replacing them with homogenized "efficient" settings that have no variety, surprise, or traces of their own history and development. They may indeed be efficient for certain tasks (such as crossing a city by expressway in a matter of minutes, or providing a choice of five types of hamburger), but they offer minimal returns compared with the traditional impact of places as providers of many levels of meaning and experience" Further to the increase of public space in the US referred to by Whyte (1988), the proliferation of creative forms of public space is exemplified in the number of industrial urban areas that have recently been revitalized to become mixed-use/ residential developments. For example, industrial areas are being redeveloped as parks, residential areas with supporting amenities (e.g. pedestrian pathways, shopping centres), and commercial and tourist 2.3 T H E V A L U E O F P L A C E (Steele, 1981, 8). K. A. Gregory 14 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Having defined the public realm, mapped its evolution, and illustrated examples of creative innovations in public space planning and design, it is relevant to delve further by examining the value of place. This is particularly important in light of the recent trend toward privatization and rapid urban growth and change which threaten the value of place. The value attributed to place is a function of - and further contributes to - place identity, sense of place, spirit of place, and place attachment. The following section discusses these aspects of planning and design in addition to the concept of placemaking. 2.3.1 Place Identity, Sense of Place, and Spirit of Place Place identity refers to the meaning, whether actual or symbolic, that is attached to a place. For example, a hospital may be associated with health and safety because it actually performs a service function for those who are i l l . Alternatively, places may perform an ideological communication function because they symbolize some philosophical, architectural, or political concept to those that experience it. For example, Parliament Hi l l (Ottawa) may symbolize freedom and democracy for Canadians. Similarly, a place may convey a personal communication through messages that it sends to its observers (Gifford, 1997). For example, a candy factory may convey warm childhood memories and messages of innocence and naivete. At a more advanced level of analysis, it is said that place identity refers to the integration of place into the concept of self (Gifford, 1997). In effect, this interpretation of place identity recognizes that individual and community identity is intimately tied to sense of place. Similar to the human environment connection that Gifford alluded to in his analysis of place identity, sense of place is defined in the context of human-environment interaction. For example, Bolton (1992, 193) refers to sense of place as, "a complex of intangible characteristics of a place that make it attractive to actual and potential residents and influence their behaviour in observable ways". In effect, these characteristics of place contribute to the general character, or "spirit of place". Similarly, Gurstein (1992, 6) observes that sense of place has been interpreted as "personal attachments to a place due to the presence of physical factors that symbolically resonate in our consciousness". These sense of place interpretations echo that which has been discussed in Chapter One: the form and subsequent function of the public realm contribute to the sense of place that is established within a community. However, sense of place does not arise from form and function alone. Action and involvement (Burgess, 1979), and the relationships that evolve from the "act of doing" (Gurstein, 1992) are also integral to experiencing sense of place. Since sense of place is an intimate experience that is unique to s/he that shares a relationship K. A . Gregory 15 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities with the environment, personal experience (e.g. socio-economic status, education, etc.) also influences the degree of perceived sense of place, and the impact that it has on a person's behaviour. 2.3.2 Place Attachment If a person attributes meaning to a place, s/he is demonstrating some level of place attachment. Essentially, the meaning that exists within the environment is cause for bonds to develop between the community and the setting. Referring again to the human-environment connection, Gifford (1997) notes that lines of separation are dissolved between humans and the environment as people become "part of a place". Assuming a more interactional approach, Milligan (1998, 2) defines place attachment as "the emotional link formed by an individual to a physical site that has been given meaning through interaction". Further to the idea of interaction-based place attachment, it is important to note that an individual's experience interacting with her/ his environment will be influenced by determinants that are unique to the individual. For example, socio-economic status, education, and residential circumstances influence the valuation of open spaces by individuals (Foresta, 1980). This is demonstrated in research suggesting that a person of a lesser socio-economic status will value open spaces (i.e. residential lanes) more than a person of a higher socio-economic status. In this sense, the meaning and value that is attributed to place is a function of personal experience. Note that personal experience extends to a community's present and historical relationship with a place, which then determines the level of valuation. In a discussion pertaining to place attachment, it is important to address how this phenomenon interplays with community satisfaction. Place attachment (or similarly community attachment) and community satisfaction are not correlated. Affluent residents may be satisfied with a community, but may not feel attached to it because mobility allows them to develop relationships and experiences in other places. Conversely, lower-income residents often have a strong place attachment, but are not satisfied with the community in which they live (Quayle and Driessen van der Lieck, 1997). Where community satisfaction has been tied to physical determinants, i.e. housing quality, neighbourhood quality, ease of access to nature, etc. (Fried, 1982), place attachment is dependent more on social/ psychological variables, i.e. length of residency and the social relationships, memories, etc. that evolve from this. K. A . Gregory 16 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 2.3.3 Placemaking Placemaking is the process of transforming "places in which we find ourselves into places in which we live" (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995, 1). In other words, creating valued places of meaning in otherwise "placeless" spaces. Placemaking acknowledges the human environment experience and meanings in the context of geography, architecture, sociology, and phenomenology (Gurstein, 1992). As such, it perpetuates creativity and individuality in design, and built form that is appropriate to the individual and larger community. Place is "a knot of meaning in the fabric of human ecology" (Relph, 1993, 250). Placemaking practices are important in the sense that they provide symbolism and meaning to the public realm, and design that "fits" with the existing social, economic, and physical context. In essence, this enriches daily experiences of the physical environment and the social interactions within it. Moreover, value and meaning in the environment contributes to quality of life (Garnham, 1985), and provides for a more livable live/ work environment. Essentially, it is the responsibility of planners and designers to identify and further perpetuate the value of place. This can be achieved by becoming attune to subtleties in the urban landscape that suggest place meaning. For example, imperfection in the landscape is an indication that self-expression has not been suppressed and that individuality and creativity have been encouraged. Generosity, for example "idiosyncratically decorated houses", landscaping and urban design undertaken without the intention of profit gain, etc., are also indicators of place meaning (Relph, 1993). Planners and designers can tap into these indicators, and further enhance place by extending placemaking efforts outward from these nodes of interest. This can be achieved through placemaking policies, programs, and design initiatives that create meaningful places4. "A good place is one which, in some way appropriate to the person and her culture, makes her aware of her community, her past, the web of life, and the universe of time and space in which these are contained" (Lynch, 1971, 142). Studies on place-making reveal various attributes of the public realm that must be considered in order to create meaningful places. For example, in studying sense of place in downtown Winnipeg, Chmielewska (1994) determined that people identified with places that had continuity of experience, a variety of stimuli, pedestrian scale, historic links, possibilities for human interaction, and were aesthetically pleasing. In addition, public spaces should be responsive to the need for comfort, relaxation, active and passive engagement, 4 Note the distinction between space and place. Places are spaces with meaning - " r ich in associations and sentiment" (Lofland, 1998, 64). K. A . Gregory 17 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities and discovery (Carr et al., 1992). Enclosure, diversity and intricacy, sunlight, and centering (i.e. creating a main crossroads and pausing/ focal point) are also essential design elements. Perhaps more relevant to the creation of meaningful places is design that encourages democracy (i.e. through accessibility, freedom of action, and ownership), and connections between place, person, and the larger world context (Carr et al., 1992). 2.3.4 Placemaking Research and Practice The previous sub-section clearly articulates the importance of placemaking. Nonetheless, Verriere & Parham Associates (1994) claim that the disruption of sense of place and community identity are being overlooked by government. They postulate that this is occurring because the impacts of a decline in sense of place and community identity are less visible than economic and environmental impacts. It is hypothesized that this is further compounded by the fact that studies examining intangibles such as sense of place are difficult to prove with any degree of scientific validity given their qualitative and subjective nature. In light of these observations, justifying and pursuing placemaking research in practice may be problematic. Nonetheless, it is argued that practice should reflect advances in research which suggest the benefits of placemaking. As discussed earlier, placemaking research has provided both the rationale and the "how to" for creating valued places of meaning. The latter is richly described by Steele (1981) who provides comprehensive and succinct methods for placemaking: • Site choices - Sites should be selected, not chosen at random. Choices should be based on how appropriate the site is to anticipated activities, and how the site will contribute to the richness of these activities. • Designing for human needs - Design and development goals should not take precedence over the needs of known and potential users. • Connected growth - Growth should be compatible with the character and form of areas already existing. • Building-in flexibility - The pace of change and diminishing resources requires that flexibility should be built into planning and design. • Incorporating fragments - Historic uses of a site should be incorporated into planning and design. • Social system designs - Social intervention (i.e. social norms, rules, policies, and structures) should be used to impact built form use and associated social patterns. K. A . Gregory 18 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating.More Livable Communities • Localized names - Spirit of place should be enhanced by using localized names (i.e. community names, signage, etc.) to establish historic links, highlight specialized local features, events that have occurred, etc. • Diagnosis and tinkering - Place assessments should be used to determine how qualities of settings negate spirit of place. • Not unmaking places - Places that already have a "strong spirit" should be preserved. • Rehabilitation and reuse - Rehabilitation and reuse should avoid replication and provide working examples of developments that function in the present economy. 2.4 U R B A N R E V I T A L I Z A T I O N "Diversity, creativity, colour, and festivity are being introduced into the monochrome environment of the industrial city. In the process, many of these cities are discovering a new sense of community identity and pride that itself contributes to the physical renewal of the place" (Widner, 1986, 56). Rehabilitation and reuse are integral to placemaking (Steele, 1981). These efforts create opportunities to maintain links to the past, and secure collective memories that are embedded within place. Moreover, urban revitalization can create variety in built form, and an aesthetic quality that encourages sense of place and spirit of place within the public realm. Therefore, to continue forth from the exploration of the value of place, the following section examines urban revitalization in the context of land use change, and the implications that it presents for planners and designers. 2.4.1 Urban Revitalization in the Context of Land Use Change The decline of the Industrial Revolution has meant that land formerly occupied for the sole purpose of industrial use has become available for new land uses. The growth of knowledge-based industries has also impacted land use in North American cities. Industries now enjoy a greater flexibility in terms of where they choose to locate, and show tendencies toward clustered development particularly in the ICT sector. The environment has also been a key driver in land use change as demonstrated in government initiatives to encourage more efficient growth in "under-utilized but already urbanized areas"(Greenberg, 1990). SoHo (New York), the "Kings" (Toronto), Yaletown (Vancouver), etc. are examples of industrial and manufacturing areas that have been converted to mixed-use areas for these reasons. The conversion of working class, marginal areas to middle class residential areas is termed "gentrification". Gentrification has largely changed the nature of downtown development. This is reflected in the move from large to small-scale projects, and new developments to rehabilitation projects (Zukin, 1991). Gentrification has also been responsible for middle class resettlement which has K. A . Gregory 19 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities contributed to problems of population displacement and the erosion of affordable housing. Despite these significant physical, social, and economic impacts, Ley (1991, 181) observes that Canada's reaction to gentrification has "been remarkably muted". Since it is argued that the legitimization of "loft living" led to gentrification (Zukin, 1991), it is relevant to examine SoHo - the archetype of loft living. SoHo is a particularly interesting example of land use change because it occurred informally on an ad hoc basis. In the 1960s, the New York City (NYC) Zoning Resolution and Multiple Dwelling Law prohibited people from living in industrial buildings in a manufacturing area. Nonetheless, appropriation of land occurred and industrial buildings in the 19th century manufacturing area were converted to loft apartments. It is estimated that greater than 95 percent of Manhattan conversions during the 1960s were illegal (Roddewig, 1981). In 1982 N Y C regulations were finally revised to permit residential uses in a manufacturing/ industrial district. The approximately 20 year gap between land use change and policy creation is particularly thought provoking, suggesting that urban dynamic change is inevitable - with or without supporting policy. As Kwartler (1998, 17) notes, "SoHo has taught us to pay attention to individual actions often carried out from self-interest, which when harnessed can lead to innovations and corresponding perceptual shifts, e.g. a loft is not a factory space but rather a setting for a more complex range of activities". Since the precedent setting land use transformations in SoHo, North American cities have begun to recognize the desire for alternative live/ work options, and have adapted planning regulations accordingly. For example, two industrial districts in Toronto (King Street East and Parliament Street, and King Street West and Spadina Street) commonly referred to as the "Kings", have been the subject of considerable debate. Proposals to redevelop were put forth given the industrial decline of the districts, the historical and architectural interest that the "Kings" presented, and the substantial need for continued growth in the city. As recently as 1996, the districts had restrictive planning controls in an effort to protect the stock of industrial land in the city. However, in response to continued pressures to redevelop, and subsequent concerns about historic preservation, mixed-use compatibility, etc., a new planning approach was invented for areas in Toronto such as the "Kings". "Reinvestment Area" zoning was created with the objective of achieving land use flexibility. Acceptable land uses include residential, live/work, commercial, and light industrial mixed-use, reuse of existing buildings, and development that reinforces the existing built form character (Bedford, 1997). K. A . Gregory 20 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 2.4.2 Implications for Planners and Designers As demonstrated with the examples of SoHo and the "Kings", planners are recognizing the need for creative planning and design to respond to a changing economy, environmental and land use pressures, market interest, and urban growth patterns. The changing profile of gentrified areas in Canada suggests that gentrification will not be a temporary phenomenon or trendy fad5. Conversions, renovations, and changes to zoning regulations will become increasingly common as a means of efficiently reusing existing infrastructure to respond to contemporary pressures and lifestyle choices. In light of the trend toward urban revitalization and the consequent impacts on both the private and public realms, it will be essential for planners and designers to hone and maintain their creative energies. Moreover, it will become increasingly imperative that planners and designers remain cognizant of the true value of place. As Zukin (1991, 195) warns, "the cultural value of place that is associated with gentrified areas can be initially treated as "unique", [and later] abstracted into market culture". Loss of individualism within communities and commodification of the urban landscape are likely possibilities amidst seemingly harmless revitalization initiatives to enhance both the public and private realms. As Hayden (1996, 9) notes, "Decades of "urban renewal" and "redevelopment" of a savage kind have taught many communities that when the urban landscape is battered, important collective memories are obliterated". 2.5 P A R T I C I P A T O R Y P L A C E M A K I N G "The design of the city is not on the drawing board of the planners and architects, but in the minds and spirits of the people" (James D. Harrison and William A. Howard, in Verriere & Parham Associates, 1994). Having explored the value of place and urban revitalization, it follows that a participatory approach to placemaking be presented as an adjunct to the emerging "place paradigm" (Dovey, 1985) and its emphasis on environmental experience and meaning. It is particularly relevant to explore participatory approaches as a means towards placemaking in light of dynamic urban change (i.e. urban revitalization as discussed in section 2.4) and planning processes and design that threaten to alienate users from the experience of "place" in the public realm. Arnstein (1969) contends that participatory processes can induce social reform, wherein the balance of power becomes more equitably distributed among those that have and those that do not. However, as Dovey (1985, 100) notes, power is only part of the equation. 5 A survey of gentrifiers in Grandview-Woodland (Vancouver) revealed that over 60 percent of households contained children. Similar results were found in a gentrification survey in Waterloo (Ley, 1991). K. A . Gregory 21 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities "Active and creative involvement" must be combined with "the power to implement" so that ultimately people are able to contribute to, and benefit from, the value of place. 2.5.1 Definition Participatory placemaking refers to a collective contribution to placemaking that recognizes diversity and communal uses of spaces. As such, it requires that users (current and future) participate collectively with professionals to create places that are meaningful and appropriate. This requires "the investment of time and energy, the creative exploration of problems, identities, meanings, values and dreams" (Dovey, 1985, 100). A range of placemaking tools are available to persons involved in studies examining environmental perception and use. Examples include, questionnaires, surveys, participatory charrettes, post-occupancy evaluations (POEs), etc. 2.5.2 Rationale Jacobs' (1961, 4) reference to promenades that "go from no place to nowhere and have no promenaders", "commercial centres that are lacking lustre", etc. compelled her to write: "This is not the rebuilding of cities. This is the sacking of cities". Jacobs' observations of inadequate city form in the 1960s were echoed by critiques of the standardized built form of the modernist era in the 1970s and 1980s. The post-modem era has since arrived, and yet urban public spaces continue to lack the qualities necessary for them to be valued and used to the greatest extent possible. This evidence suggests that the process for planning and designing the public realm should be addressed to determine opportunities for improved placemaking. In response to Utopian reformers such as LeCorbusier, Lynch and Jacobs argued in favour of an experiential approach to planning focused on user needs and observations of urban conditions (Gurstein, 1992). These arguments continue to be voiced by for example Burgess (1979), who maintains that professionals should become more cognizant of people's feelings, beliefs, and needs as they relate to design and planning decisions. However, further to mere awareness among professionals, trends in planning and design are moving toward participatory approaches wherein the public become an integral part of the planning and design (or placemaking) process. This is occurring due to an inherent need to include the public in the municipal decision-making process; greater commitment to plans and eventual implementation (Gerson, 1991); and the benefits observed in involving the public earlier rather than later. Further to the reasons listed, the rationale for undertaking participatory planning and design lies in the need to understand varied user perceptions (Rappoport, 1977). A more comprehensive understanding of K. A . Gregory 22 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities user perceptions leads to design that is meaningful and compatible to user needs, values, and understanding of the environment. Public participation in planning and design also contributes to a greater awareness among professionals about the sense of place that prevails among local users. This is useful because an understanding of sense of place can lead to "sensitive and appropriate design interventions" (Gurstein, 1992, 15). Inevitably, more sensitive and appropriate design is linked to increased social awareness. As Sanoff (1992) notes, the participatory process leads to increased awareness and individual learning. Essentially, the process allows designers to learn more about what is valued by the local community, and users to become more aware of the intricacies of design problems and opportunities. Further to increased awareness and learning, participatory placemaking creates meaning through the interactions that develop between people and setting (Dovey, 1985). As discussed in section 2.2.2, if a person attributes meaning to a place, s/he is demonstrating some level of place attachment. It follows that research also indicates a link between public participation in the planning and design process and increased place attachment (Francis, 1989). Given the trend toward "placelessness" - a "weakening of distinct and diverse experiences and identities of places" (Relph, 1976, 6) - and the increasing disassociation between humans and their environment, arguments by Dovey and Francis provide sound rationale for undertaking placemaking through participatory planning and design processes. 2.5.3 Advantages and Disadvantages "The collaborative space of placemaking creates the possibility that ordinary people can do extraordinary things in rather ordinary ways" (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995, 200). Despite the sound rationale that supports participatory placemaking, there are both advantages and disadvantages to be considered. For example, Dovey (1985) cites the following benefits of adopting a participatory approach to placemaking: • Political right is fulfilled6. • Opportunities are presented for learning about design, decision-making, and the development of personal and community identity. • The chance of "good fit" between built form and social life is increased. • Tolerance and acceptance of inadequacies is more likely, and adjustments more feasible. • Meaning is generated between people and setting (environmental meaning). 6 Self-determination is a political right and a liberating process (Dovey, 1985). K. A . Gregory 23 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Sanoff (1992) also notes that: • Social needs are more effectively met. • Community resources are utilized more effectively. • Professionals gain better access to more current and relevant information. Lastly, it is noted that assigning placemaking exclusively to professionals can be disabling to others (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995). Therefore, the benefit of participatory placemaking is that it provides a voice to traditionally marginalized groups (i.e. elderly, children, disabled), and empowers them to contribute in future planning and design. In essence, a more inclusive, participatory approach becomes a shared experience of power among professionals and non-professionals (or local users). This is beneficial given that accessibility can empower or disenfranchise user groups (Drucker and Gumpert, 1997). Despite ample illustration of the benefits of public participation, it remains difficult to implement inclusive approaches in professional practice. Dovey (1985) cites the following perceived (and arguably actual) barriers to public participation in placemaking: • The time and cost consumptive nature of public participation. • The scale and speed of development does not lend itself to alternative approaches. • The effects on designers in terms of lessened control over the built form. • The potential threat to the developer's image that s/he maintains. • The paying client is often not the end user. In effect, this creates a distance factor that does not provide incentives for seeking alternative approaches. • The user is complacent and unaware of the alternatives, having already accepted the status quo of non-participation. Sanoff (1992) also refers to: • The inconsistencies in participatory placemaking (i.e. how participatory programs are developed, implemented, and evaluated) which act as barriers to sharing of "lessons learned". • The potential to degenerate to the status quo or most obvious solution. 2.5.4 Participatory Placemaking in Practice Despite the advantages and disadvantages described, participatory placemaking continues to persist and evolve within professional practice. While traditionally public involvement has been elicited in the initial K. A . Gregory 24 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities stages of a project, it can also be applied in management. This is particularly useful in light of Sommer's (1972) arguments. When user-maintained parks are not permitted there are substantial negative consequences that include a loss of potential savings, alienation of users from the facility, and decreased effort among the community to restrict vandalism and prevent littering due to a decreased sense of ownership. Public participation in management of the public realm is also valuable given that "the divorce of the users of a place from control over its shape and management... leads to inappropriate form and the imposition of alien purpose" (Lynch). Participatory management has traditionally persisted in different sectors of environmental management (i.e. water resources, forestry, etc.). However, examples of community-level management of neighbourhood green spaces is also prevalent, although perhaps less overtly. This is demonstrated most clearly in the case of hybrid landscapes. These are community landscapes (i.e. greenways) that have gradually been transferred from the power of municipal agencies to the community (Quayle and Driessen van der Lieck, 1997). Through community control and the act of participatory placemaking, the landscapes are more able to reflect the peculiarities of place and the people that live there. Undoubtedly, the natural and built environments are not fixed and unchanging - no matter how well planned, designed, and managed by municipal agencies or the community. Therefore, in order to plan and design appropriate places, evaluate and undertake retrofits, and continue to maintain public space, it is important to engage all members of society (professionals and local users). Public participation in a place-based approach to public realm planning and design is important in terms of understanding how the environment is changing, and in turn, how user needs and wants reflect this change. This is demonstrated in the words of Gurstein (1992, 10): "Studying sense of place as if all people had one coherent notion of a particular place implicitly assumes an understanding of the world through categories that are essentially unchanging properties and processes". Researchers undertaking POEs acknowledge the nature of dynamism and individuality of place as they strive to understand the compatibility (or "fit") of a project with users of buildings and spaces. Sanoff (1992) identifies three types of POEs: • Indicative - A short-term analysis that identifies major successes and failures through questionnaires, walk-throughs, and interviews. K. A . Gregory 25 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities • Investigative - A more detailed analysis using approaches similar to "indicative" POEs. However, a literature review is used to establish evaluative criteria and to provide examples for comparative analysis. • Diagnostic - A long-term analysis using a variety of methods (i.e. questionnaires, surveys, observations, physical measurement) to provide a more comprehensive analysis than "indicative" and "investigative" POEs. The information gained through POEs - whether indicative, investigative, or diagnostic - provides the basis for informed decision-making about future improvements to planning and design in situ, or in other local projects. This is possible because users - those most affected by planning and design - are part of the review and redesign process. Essentially, POEs and similar participatory methods provide user-based insight into "what works" and "what doesn't". Since complete places can not be "made to order", but rather evolve at the local level (Relph, 1993), the extent which a community flourishes will therefore be reflective of whether planners and designers make use of participatory placemaking methods, and if so, how and when they are implemented7. "Places have to be made largely through the involvement and commitment of the people who live and work in them; places have to be made from the inside out" (Relph, 1993, 34). To conclude the discussion on participatory placemaking in practice, two Vancouver-based examples are illustrated: Mount Pleasant Wellness Walkways (City of Vancouver, 2000a; Mooney and Luymes, 1998) and the Garden Drive Project (Quayle and Reed, 1996). These projects are not unique in the sense that they involved public participation. However, they are worthy to highlight given the creative and innovative design solutions for placemaking that each project generated as a direct result of public involvement. • Mount Pleasant Wellness Walkways - The Wellness Walkways project is a City of Vancouver initiative that has sought to contribute to the health of the local community through public realm planning and design. While neighbourhood beautification, improved safety, and increased opportunities for social interaction were among the list of objectives identified by the City and local stakeholders, enhancing and increasing accessibility in the public realm was paramount. Given that three healthcare facilities are located within the site, the needs of seniors and disabled persons were granted particular consideration. 7 "Complete places" are places that contribute to healthy communities that are socially, economically, and environmentally viable. K. A . Gregory 26 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities To ensure public participation early in the process, the City consulted stakeholders prior to hiring design consultants. In this way, objectives for the site were locally generated, and helped provide guidance for consultants who (at least at the onset) were unfamiliar with the needs of user groups. Once hired, the consultants continued to encourage public participation by consulting with the public, health care facilities, and interest groups. The result of this process was a set of recommendations that included for example: walkways with tactile strips, colour coded streets (i.e. cool colour theme for north-south streets and warm theme for east-west streets), legible signage, textured paving around rest areas, etc. These recommendations reflect a desire to implement wayfinding devices to enhance and increase accessibility. In 1999, the Province awarded $50 000 to the Wellness Walkways project for implementation purposes. While some of the design recommendations have been implemented thus far, the project is still very much "in progress". A POE has not been undertaken, although it has been acknowledged that this would be desirable. In the mean time, innovative design solutions are on the table, which if implemented, will create a meaningful and functional environment for all users. • The Garden Drive Project - The Garden Drive Project is a City of Vancouver pilot project that was undertaken with the objective of creating change in the public realm through participatory action and creative design. The focus of the project was a seven block residential street called Garden Drive. Through a combination of techniques intended to develop a partnership relationship between the City and local community, creative ideas were developed and eventually implemented to transform a street into a greenway. Partnership techniques involved learning about performance criteria, identifying objectives, idea development and sharing, modelling, in situ testing, and the development of a final design proposal. A POE has not yet been completed, and thus the long-term effects of the partnership can not be reported. However, at present it can be determined that the participatory placemaking approach was effective for both the City and the community. The "excitement and support" of Council facilitated change outside the bounds of existing design standards, thereby allowing the community to fulfill (if only in part) its vision. Community involvement assisted the City in the sense that community partners brought information to the process that otherwise would have been difficult to access. At a broader level, the approach successfully demonstrated that creativity can feasibly be implemented to enhance the existing public realm, and that partnerships work. K. A . Gregory 27 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 2.6 C O N C L U S I O N A return to urban living does not necessarily equate with a return to life in public. This is demonstrated in the trend toward privatization which has led to private initiatives to subsidize, develop, and manage the public realm, and policies which further perpetuate this trend. The result has been a commodified public realm and loss of individualism of place. Despite these trends (or perhaps in light of them) a desire for public life has increased accordingly with the proliferation of a privatized public realm. In response to this desire, innovations in the N Y C public realm (and subsequent incentive zoning throughout North America), and advances in new forms of mixed-use development in formerly industrial/ manufacturing urban areas has occurred. This has allowed the public realm to be both created and maintained in its traditional and newer forms. As urban transformation continues to occur in the wake of privatization and rapid urban growth, it will become increasingly necessary for formgivers to recognize the value of place. The value of place is a function of - and further contributes to - place identity, sense of place, spirit of place, and place attachment which are integral to the human-environment relationship and place experience. In essence, participatory placemaking activities which identify and further perpetuate the value of place are essential in terms of enriching daily experiences of the physical environment and social interactions within it. Moreover, they create opportunities for a more comprehensive understanding of user perceptions and increased social awareness. This leads to a more sensitively designed public realm that is meaningful and appropriate to user needs, values, and understanding of the environment. K. A . Gregory 28 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities CHAPTER THREE - 3.0 FUNDAMENTALS OF PLANNING AND DESIGN - A SOCIAL DESIGN PERSPECTIVE 3.1 I N T R O D U C T I O N The previous chapter presented a conceptual overview of public realm planning and design to provide a base of knowledge and understanding. Ideas central to this chapter were: urban change and its influence on the public realm, the value of place and its ability to strengthen the human-environment relationship, and participatory approaches as a means toward increased understanding and awareness among formgivers. Chapter Three builds on this with a discussion about planning and design of the public realm from a social design perspective. It begins by exploring social design through an examination of its definition and context, theoretical underpinnings, principles, and approaches. Following this, the social function of the public realm is explored to provide further understanding of the human-environment relationship. Lastly, properties and form qualities that contribute to social well-being and livability within communities is presented. 3.2 S O C I A L D E S I G N "... We must consider not just the city as a thing in itself, but the city perceived by its inhabitants " (Lynch, I960, 3). 3.2.1 Definition and Context As discussed in Chapter Two, there has been an increasing move toward placemaking and participatory processes that encourage appropriate design and engender meaning in the environment. Essentially, this is part of a larger movement which is referred to as "social design". Social design is a hybrid of both design and the behavioural sciences. As such, it attempts to incorporate user needs, values, and desires into design so as to create environments that are meaningful. Consequently, design is not homogenous, but rather unique, expressive, and responsive to its environment and the people within it. Social design came into being in the modern era in response to the human rights, consumer, and peace movements (Sommer, 1983). These movements were rooted in an "unstated belief that a better life for all people was achievable" (Schneekloth, 1985, 143). Moreover, social design evolved in response to criticisms (i.e. by Jane Jacobs) about the inadequacies of built form. The modern movement had promised that the best of the Industrial Revolution could be incorporated into design so as to increase quality of life. In reaction to its failure to do so, social design emerged (Schneekloth, 1985). Both the social design movement and the modern movement aspired toward social change (Schneekloth, 1985). However, in contrast to the modern movement, the social design movement assumed a more K. A . Gregory 29 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities inclusive and grassroots approach based on interdisciplinarity and public participation. In this way, social design sought to reform the design (and associated) professions so that design could become more human-oriented. Similar to the social design movement, post-modernism was also a "social protest" against modernism (Jencks, 1987). Its eventual succession over modernism in the early 1970s is attributed to a shift in the social/political climate that led to more grassroots approaches, a critical response to modernism and its "habit of erasing the details and diversity of everything in landscapes that preceded them", an increased awareness about qualities of unique places, and a new found affluence that allowed greater flexibility in expressing the unique qualities of place (Relph, 1987, 213). Despite its benevolent intentions, the corollaries of post-modernism are not entirely positive. Monopoly and loss of identity (see sub-section 2.2.2), fragmentation and dispersion, etc. illustrate a sampling of the post-modern reality. 3.2.2 Theoretical Underpinnings While it is valuable to discuss the context from which social design emerged (modernism) and that which it now is embedded within (post-modernism), it is also important to examine the theoretical underpinnings of social design. Essentially, social design has two primary theoretical influences: ecological theory and humanistic psychology theory. The former examines how people develop and respond to an ever changing, dynamic environment, and is based on the idea of interdependence -"everything is connected, and a change in any aspect will reverberate throughout a system" (Sommer, 1983, 34). Similarly, the latter examines how people develop and respond to the environment. An individual's experience of environment is central to humanistic psychology theory (Sommer, 1983). While ecological theory and humanistic psychological theory are recognized as being intimately linked to social design, a connection is also observed with place theory. Place theory (or a "place paradigm") evolved in response to the inability of researchers to address issues of environmental experience and meaning (Dovey, 1985). As such, it examines human needs, and cultural, historical and natural contexts as part of the design process. Contrary to urban design approaches that rely on empirical, quantitative measurements, place theory addresses more ephemeral, qualitative issues such as social/cultural values and perceptions through user-based analysis. This comprehensive approach is undertaken for the purpose of achieving designs that are appropriate to human needs and context (Trancik, 1986). 3.2.3 Principles of Social Design • Small scale and human oriented As noted earlier, social design is very much concerned with the human element of design. As such, it is characterized by design that is small scale (or human scale) and human-oriented (Sommer, 1983). K. A . Gregory 30 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Therefore, environments ranging from office buildings to vest pocket parks are designed so as to be amenable to human activity. For example, a small scale, human-oriented building may be low-rise (e.g. less than four stories), provide pedestrian amenities (e.g. weather protection along the facade), and facilitate human interaction (e.g. entrances and balconies facing the street - "eyes on the street"). In this way, design does not alienate users of the environment by way of imposing high-rises, sterile streets, etc., but rather encourages comfortable and safe living experiences, and human-environment connections. • Inclusive Social design is an inclusive approach in the sense that the traditional client base is expanded to include the user (Sommer, 1983). User involvement through user needs analysis, POEs, etc. allows the user to become an integral part of the design process, rather than just the occupier or user of the building or space. In this way, social design considers an inclusive spectrum of actual and potential users and their respective needs and values, rather than designing for a single client type. • Meaning Social design is concerned with meaning that is communicated through the environment to current and potential users (Sommer, 1983). For example, feelings, intents, and symbols may communicate to the user whether a space is safe, welcoming, or a "people place". This may occur through safety-oriented lighting and vegetation that are designed to minimize shadowing after dark, and ensure visibility so as to allow community monitoring of public spaces. Meaning may also be communicated through signage that informs users about a site or the community within which it rests. Moreover, examples of community self-expression (e.g. people's art) may communicate to users that a public space is valued by the community, and that public involvement is appreciated and encouraged8. • Context Context is integral to social design (Sommer, 1983). Whether in revitalization or new development efforts, social design contends that development must be appropriate to the natural, cultural, built, and social environments that exist. For example, design may enhance natural topography that is characteristic of the region, thereby preserving and enhancing local sense of place. Alternatively, design might enhance the historic and cultural value of a district through built form that complements and further enriches the existing cultural and built environment. Lastly, the social context is respected through social design approaches that involve local members of the community (see sub-section 3.2.4). In this way, designers 8 Examples of "people's art" include vacant lots appropriated by residents for parks, driftwood sculptures at the beach, and construction sites with fences that are sites of community painting (Sommer, 1972). K. A . Gregory 31 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities are able to increase their understanding of the people that live in the community, and their respective individual and collective needs, values, and expectations for place. 3.2.4 Social Design Approaches Since social design evolved in response to the need for more human-oriented and appropriate urban design, there is no doubt among social designers that "fit" is essential to the creation of livable environments. This is demonstrated in the above-listed principles of social design. As Sommer (1972, 17) notes, "The question is no longer whether physical design should suit the people for whom it is intended, but how to accomplish this purpose within the current organization of the building industry, the economic system, and regulatory agencies". Social designers respond to this quest for appropriate approaches that can be integrated into the existing social, economic, and political environment by focusing their efforts on developing and testing methods to refine their research and design process. It follows that social design is not characterized by a particular aesthetic style, but rather the process that it advocates. Planners that subscribe to this theory generally employ phenomenological analysis to gain an understanding of the human-environment relationship. For example, environmental autobiographies may be used so that personal experiences of the environment can be recorded. This allows for increased understanding and greater environmental awareness. However, the more common range of social design tools and techniques include the analysis of user needs during pre-design, post-completion analysis (or POEs), behavioural science consultations, and direct participation by prospective users (Sommer, 1983). These methods have been discussed in section 2.4 with the exception of behavioural science consultations. These consultations occur so as to inform designers about the sociological and psychological aspects of the environment, and patterns of behaviour that will determine how a public space, building, etc. is used, and by whom. This cross-fertilization of knowledge between disciplines illustrates a truly co-operative and participatory approach to human-environment studies. 3.2.5 Future Approaches to Social Design It is indisputable that ICT has significantly impacted every day interactions. In fact, the post-modern era has been coined by some ICT enthusiasts as the knowledge-based era. Therefore, it is argued that the aforementioned approaches to social design will become increasingly affected by advances in ICT. This is supported by research which indicates that computers are useful for educational and communication purposes, particularly in the early stages of design when concepts and ideas are usually most unclear. Essentially, computers ameliorate the quality of public participation through increased access to K. A . Gregory 32 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities information and heightened awareness among those involved (or soon to be involved) in the planning and design process. This is made possible through electronic media that allows for clear demonstration of ideas and decisions to a wider cross-section of people (Quayle, 1987). Despite the benefits of incorporating computers into design, Quayle (1987) notes that participatory design processes rarely take advantage of computer technology. Research some ten years later by Al-Kodmany (1999) demonstrates that time is gradually changing this reality - however slowly. For example, in a participatory planning process involving the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the neighbourhood of Pilsen, computer technology was used to tap into community expertise and local knowledge for the purpose of community planning. Through a combination of tools (i.e. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and electronic sketchboard renderings) community workshops allowed participants to visualize neighbourhood conditions in the past, present, and future. This allowed community workshops to become the forum for information sharing among all participants, and allowed the neighbourhood plan to be better directed. It was also determined that this approach encouraged community involvement, and strengthened trust between the university and community that had formerly been lacking. Thurstain-Goodwin and Batty (1998, 55) also point to the potential for innovations in technology (i.e. GIS) to ameliorate user involvement in planning - enabling them to "consider qualitative, subjective, and locally unique aspects with more confidence". They caution however, that GIS should be treated as an exploratory tool and a support mechanism for decision-making, rather than a means for testing hypotheses. This suggests that while inclusive approaches that capitalize on technological advances will do much to further a social design approach to planning and design, the power of ICT must not be overestimated or utilized without due caution. 3.3 S O C I A L FUNCTIONS O F T H E PUBLIC R E A L M "A livable city is a city where common spaces are the centres of social life and the foci of the entire community" (Salzano, 1997, 20). The previous section illustrates that social design recognizes the intimate relationship that is shared between humans and the environment, and that approaches have been developed accordingly. However, thus far there has been no discussion pertaining to exactly what function the public realm has, and how this contributes to the aforementioned human-environment relationship. Therefore, this section examines the social function of the public realm, and its diverse roles in human development, socialization, and general well-being. K. A . Gregory 33 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 3.3.1 Social Functions As described in section 2.1.2, the public realm provides an opportunity for social life to occur in public. While privatization has impacted social life in terms of both the extent which it occurs, and how it takes place, the public realm continues to be "the stage upon which the drama of communal life unfolds" (Carr et al., 1992, 3). As Lofland (1998) notes, public space is a medium of communication. As such, it structures who communicates, how, and the content of the communication that takes place. For example, since pedestrian design provides more equitable access to the public realm (Lennard, 1987), it is argued that such an environment will encourage a more diverse group of users (including elderly persons, children, etc.) to interact and communicate with each other in public. While some researchers contend that design influences behaviour and activities that take place (e.g. Levine et al., 1997; Crowhurst Lennard and Lennard, 1995; Joardar, 1977; Lennard, 1987; Whyte, 1988), others argue against such a deterministic paradigm. For example, Gehl (1987) and Lofland (1998) contend that the built environment does not determine human interactions, but rather provides the opportunities and constraints, or "starting points" for interactional opportunities. There is merit in this argument given that the public realm may or may not have a human scale quality, which then determines how people communicate and the content of their communications. For example, park design features such as ample lighting, sitting space, and eating areas will make users feel safe and comfortable. In such a milieu, people will be encouraged to use the public space, and the benefits of social life in public life will transpire. Conversely, a park may be designed so that it is not to human scale, thereby discouraging use, and ultimately interaction among its users. While the public realm has a communication function, related and more distinct benefits of the public realm can also be identified. For example, the public realm serves both a social awareness and informational (or learning) function (Francis, 1988; Lennard 1987). Through social life in the public realm, people broaden their scope of social awareness and become attune to how people from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds live. Children for example, learn about the people in their community, and how to interact and relate with them on a daily basis through life in public. While this is important for all persons, the experience of observing others is particularly important for the social development of children (Gehl, 1987). The awareness and informational functions of the public realm point to the fact that the public realm also serves a social integrative function. While there is not always direct contact and knowledge with others, people in public spaces become connected. For the observer, others may become "a source of K. A . Gregory 34 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities wonderment and fantasy" (Lennard, 1987, 62), and for those who wish to be seen, users of the public realm become their audience. On a broader level, the social integrative function of the public realm results in people knowing people (if only by appearance) which allows for greater continuity within the community (Lennard, 1987). Essentially, the public realm provides the opportunity for individuals - no matter what age, gender, or socio-economic background - to come together as a community. This provides the opportunity for social connections within the community which may also lead to greater sense of security and well-being. This occurs when the "unknown" becomes the "known" through public experiences that are assimilated into an individual's personal frame of reference and way of knowing. Ultimately, the greatest social function of the public realm is bringing people together. This is due to the fact that when people come together in a shared space, communication, social awareness, learning, continuity, etc. can flourish. In effect, a public realm that brings people together creates healthier places Dovey (1985), and ultimately more livable environments. 3.4 PROPERTIES AND QUALITIES O F T H E PUBLIC R E A L M It is argued that rather than being completely deterministic of social well-being, the environment creates opportunities and constraints for humans to benefit from their relationship with the environment, and further build on it. This ideology is reflected in the words of Relph (1976, 156): "It is not possible to design rootedness nor to guarantee that things will be right in places, but it is perhaps possible to provide conditions that will allow roots and care for places to develop". Inevitably the environment at present, and as it has been for centuries, is a construct of human manipulation. Both formal and informal planning and design activities shape the environment. Therefore, whether livability is perpetuated through planning and design that provides opportunities for people to benefit from the social functions of the public realm is essentially a conscious decision that is made among formgivers. In The Image of the City. Kevin Lynch outlines properties of a beautiful city, or in more current terminology, a livable city (Lynch, 1960) which can be incorporated into planning and design to make the public realm more amenable to providing opportunities for social well-being and livable communities. This section describes four of these properties in concert with related qualities. While properties and qualities are discussed individually, it is noted that linkages exist between and among the sets presented. K. A . Gregory 35 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 3.4.1 Imageability and Accessibility • Imageability -Imageability (also referred to as legibility) is "that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer" (Lynch, 1960, 9). Perception is unique to s/he that experiences the environment, and therefore what is legible to some may not be to others. However, quite generally, examples of imageability in the context of the public realm include sidewalks with chalk drawings, grass medians elaborately planted with native plants, and a central square that is enlivened by an outdoor community art exhibit or a local farmers' market. The image conveyed is not only beauty, vibrancy, and activity, but a strong community spirit. In light of this, an environment that is legible to its users allows for a more developed sense of place. The clear mental images that contribute to sense of place also benefit local users of the public realm in terms of wayfinding and increased accessibility. For example, a person may distinguish one street from another if it is lined with trees that blossom in the spring, has a lively public square, or an interesting public art installation, etc. • Accessibility -Public and private spaces are distinguished by the degree of accessibility that they offer to users (Lofland, 1998). However, there is often a fine line between private and public spaces because visual cues in the landscape do not always communicate what spaces may or may not be accessible to the public. This can be avoided by providing clear demarcations through signage, vegetative barriers, paving design, etc. which can reduce uncertainty through increased legibility. In the immediate and long-term, increased legibility, and in turn improved access, allows for higher rates of use in public spaces. Further to accessibility in its most general sense, one must also consider accessibility under the lens of social responsibility. Privatization of the public realm and gentrification provide ample illustration of the need for social awareness and socially responsible design. Quite simply, public spaces should be democratic in the sense that they are physically and socially accessible to all members of society (Carr et al., 1992). This means planning and design that is mindful of traditionally marginalized groups for example, the elderly, children, physically challenged persons, etc. The Mount Pleasant Wellness Walkways (see section 2.4.4) serves as an excellent example of design that encourages access for all persons including the elderly and those physically challenged. Providing democratic spaces that encourage accessibility also requires that planning and design not cater to certain social groups (cultural, economic, or gender based) at the exclusion of others. This can be achieved through for example, encouraging mixed-used development that provides a range of housing types (i.e. triplexes, single family K. A . Gregory 36 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities dwellings, co-operatives, etc.), shopping amenities (i.e. markets, international food stores, the "corner shop", etc.), and services (i.e. subsidized daycares, safe parks, etc.). 3.4.2 Meaning and Continuity • Meaning -Having discussed imageability, it follows that the next property described is meaning given that the two are interrelated. As Carr et al. (1992) notes, legibility is a precursor to developing meaning in the environment. When images are clear to users of the environment, they are able to use space more freely -taking from and adding to the meaning that exists. Through participatory placemaking processes, planners and designers can encourage the development of meaningful places. However, ultimately it will be the responsibility of local users to appropriate the space, and with time, allow meaning to develop and become richer. For example, hybrid landscapes (i.e. greenways, public parks, etc) that are designed and maintained by traditional standards but allow "small-scale appropriation and embellishment" by local users allow placemaking to occur. This happens as residents of the community, both as individuals and groups, become self-empowered to engage in activities such as "creative tinkering" which creates (or further refines) community identity and restores individuality and meaning to the community (Quayle and van der Lieck, 1997). An incremental approach to developing meaningful environments is also expressed by Lynch (1960) who argues that it may be more prudent to develop a legible environment, and then allow meaning to develop undirected by human intervention. In this way, environments may become more meaningful to a wider cross-section of people, including future generations. Further to increased legibility and opportunities for community appropriation and creativity, meaning in the environment can be provided by allowing for what Nozick (1992) terms, a pluralistic pattern to development. Rather than a universal model of design that is homogenous in nature, a pluralistic pattern reflects the meaning of place which is derived from the history, traditions, and values of a community. A social design approach to planning and design can facilitate this pluralism. • Continuity -Continuity is essential to creating meaning in the environment. For example, continuity among buildings, paths, vegetation, etc. can create definition, context, "sense of arrival", and a continuity to the experience of place. Furthermore, continuity (whether in physical form, style, etc.) in the environment can create enclosure. The link that has been established between the enclosed character of a public space and the creation of sense of place (Lennard, 1987) suggests that enclosure is a design element that is central to creating unique, community-valued public spaces of meaning. The Piazzo del Campo in Siena (Italy) is an excellent example of the effectiveness of continuity, and in turn, enclosure (see Figure 3). An K. A . Gregory 37 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities assemblage of buildings frames the piazzo, providing a stark contrast between the density of built form and the open space of the piazzo. Notably, as early as 1262 the importance of continuity was recognized among planners and designers when the heights and facades of buildings facing the piazzo were controlled to ensure that this contrast would remain amidst growth and change in the city (Trancik, 1986). More locally, Yaletown also demonstrates a similar element of continuity. The historic buildings of the area do not exhibit much differentiation in built form typology, but it is precisely this uniformity and continuity in the urban fabric that contributes to the industrial and heritage appeal of the area, and sense of place and meaning that it creates. Figure 3: Piazzo del Campo (Siena, Italy) source: Gehl , (1987, 42) While continuity in the environment can have a positive impact on place, discontinuity can have the opposite effect. Often discontinuity in the urban landscape arises from new built form that is incongruous with existing development. While this distorts imageability and aesthetic appeal, in more extreme cases such as the slum clearance that occurred during American urban renewal (1960s), this can lead to loss of community and the associated meaning (i.e. symbolism, memories, etc.) that the environment engenders among its users. 3.4.3 Stimulous and Diversity • Stimulous -Environments must be stimulating to users so as to provide aesthetic appeal and encourage activity and involvement. This can be achieved by designing a public realm that is intricate and varied in form, that appeals to all the senses, and provides unpredictable features that awaken curiosity in its users. Examples include, a display fountain amidst dense urban development that provides sights and sounds to connect people to the natural environment, and vegetative plantings that change colour with the seasons, stimulating the visual and olfactory senses. Experiencing people in the public realm also provides an opportunity for stimulation. As Gehl notes (1987, 23), "compared with experiencing buildings and other inanimate objects, experiencing people, who speak and move about, offers a wealth of sensual variation". K . A . Gregory 38 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Studies have demonstrated that people identify with places that present a variety of stimuli, possibilities for human interaction, chances for passive and active engagement, and opportunities for discovery (Carr et al., 1992; Chmielewska, 1994). However, in the attempt to provide stimulating environments, and in part due to the influence of privatization, planners and designers have encouraged decreased sense of place through theme-oriented design. This is reflected most clearly in the words of Loukaitou-Sideris and Banerjee (1993, 11): "Indeed it is clear that increasingly a great deal of attention is given to developing a certain mood for the space, to promoting a theme park-type setting, to packaging and advertizing the product, and finally, to managing and maintaining the theme park environment. The planning and development of a modem downtown office complex is not unlike what is involved (on a grand scale) in the planning and design of Disney World or Universal Studio". Clearly, there are limits to the extent which planners and designers should go to create stimulating environments. Similar to creating meaningful environments, planners and designers can provide the substrate for stimulation through informed planning and design that is appropriate to the users and local context. However, it is argued that how the environment is used, and in turn what locally generated embellishments occur, will also be useful (and arguably more appropriate) in creating a stimulating environment. • Diversity -Diversity in the environment provides opportunities for stimulation to the senses. This can be achieved in what Cybriwksy (1999) observes as a trend toward "playful" design (i.e. theme park simulations), or quite simply mixed-use development that provides rich and diverse opportunities to its users. One need only look to the pre-fabricated designs of the suburbs to know that diversity (particularly in the built environment) is a rare commodity! Hough (1991) refers to this monotony as a "sameness" that is waiting to be diversified. He argues that diversification can be achieved by bringing out natural and cultural attributes that increasingly are lying dormant in the urban environment. In this way, communities can overcome the cookie cutter approach that has resulted in "standard landscapes for standard people" (Hough, 1991, 204). Essentially, it is only through a rediscovery of the unique nature of place, that value and sense of place will be restored. Beyond resurrecting place value and sense of place, Hough argues that varied landscapes that recognize diversity of social needs is important in terms of providing the opportunity for choice and increased quality of life. Moreover, this diversity lends excitement to urban living through a mix of design quality, "from the good to the bad, from the humdrum to the beautiful, a sense of many interests influencing the form of the city" (Hough, 1991, 204). Similar to Hough, Quayle and van der Lieck (1997, 152) recognize the merit in diversity, particularly in the opportunities that it presents for environmental communication. They write, "We may laugh at the K. A . Gregory 39 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities virgin in her bathtub grotto or the plastic duck behind a chain-link fence, but we should be uneasy about that derision, for the constellation before us affirms that someone engages selectively with a real inexplicable world". No doubt, people may not appreciate or identify with less conventional expressions of diversity in the public realm, but it is noted that indeed, diversity contributes to more livable communities. For example, a study on visual quality and design of plazas, and human use and feelings towards plazas in Vancouver concluded that sixty percent of the pleasantness and popularity of the public spaces studied was attributed to the amount of diversity perceived in the landscape. Examples of diversity included, variety of plant types, brightness in pavement surfaces, presence of focal points (i.e. water bodies), etc. (Joardar, 1977). 3.4.4 Choice and Flexibility • Choice -"The primary requirement for being able to feel "at home" is being able to comfortably use the space, or take possession of a corner of it for a while" (Lennard, 1987, 31). This occurs through the provision of public space that allows choice among its users. Opportunities for choice can occur through diversity in the environment (as described previously), or flexibility in design. For example, plazas can be designed with moveable chairs so that people using the space have a choice in how they will appropriate the space and feel comfortable in it. This approach has been used in Marienplatz and Kaufingerstrasse in Munich (Germany), and has proven to have positive effects on the pedestrian areas (Lennard, 1984). Similarly, parks can be designed with a combination of places to be active or relax, and places to hide or be seen -again allowing the user to choose what experience s/he prefers. The importance of choice in the public realm is supported by Steele (1981, 171) who notes that users will have richer place experiences if they are "personally free or loose enough to use a setting in lively ways, and not be limited just to traditional or socially acceptable ones". The ability to allow one's self to use the public realm freely and innovatively is encouraged through planning and design that facilitates this choice. • Flexibility -Trancik (1986) argued that modern era design requires flexibility to allow communities (present and future) to alter their environment. This argument reverberates into the post-modern era when comprehensive developments continue to be built with little to no regard for flexibility. This is alarming given that policy and design that is flexible enough to allow local appropriation and incremental, small-scale change is critical to the development of livable communities. Flexibility in built form allows choice among users to transform space and accommodate needs that will invariably change with time (Trancik, 1986). Moreover, human-environment connections (or meaning) develops when users can claim a place K. A. Gregory 40 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities or change it (Carr et al., 1992). People's Park in Berkeley, California serves as an example of a neighbourhood's attempt to do just that. In 1969 the University of California perceived that a residential development in the neighbourhood of Berkeley campus was deteriorating. Despite protests by residents, the university bought the land and bulldozed it. The land remained vacant and was eventually turned into an untended parking lot. Local residents' concern for the quality of the environment, and lost spaces such as the university owned parking lot, prompted direct action9. Locals began to develop the lot as a park that was to be created and maintained by users. Their actions were nearly thwarted by the State Governor and members of the University Board of Regents who saw the park development as a threat to law and order (Sommer, 1972). However, in light of continued local protests and mounting tensions surrounding the issue of the park, to this day it remains uncontrolled by the university and thus free for use as a park for the people. The People's Park example has been described to illustrate the power of place, collective action, and the desire for community involvement in the design and maintenance of public space. At the time of People's Park, governance did not have the visionary ability to see the potential benefits of a user planned, designed, and maintained park. However, local resistance to traditional approaches persisted, and thus People's Park and a number of other user generated parks that followed were able to persist and flourish. This reflects the changing role of planners and designers, and the need for flexibility in traditional ways of doing business. As Sommer (1972, 61) writes, "There must be elbowroom and footroom in designs to give people a place to be creative forces in their environment rather than components of a design scheme. Good planning allows for this freedom, and in fact, encourages it". 3.5 C O N C L U S I O N Social design has played an integral role in shaping contemporary planning and design. This is demonstrated in the actions of planners, designers, and community-based formgivers who are endeavouring to create environmental change that is responsive to the needs, values, and desires of local users. Essentially, through inclusive and grassroots approaches based on interdisciplinarity and public participation, social design has encouraged development that is unique, expressive, and responsive to the environment and the people within it. More importantly, social design has been effective in addressing the human-environment relationship, so that users of the public realm may benefit from meaningful 9 Lost spaces are "the undesirable urban areas that are in need of redesign - antispaces, making no positive contribution to the surroundings or users" (Trancik, 1986, 3). K. A . Gregory 41 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities interactions with place. This is critical given that the public realm offers a wide spectrum of social functions (e.g. communication, awareness, informational, social integrative, etc.)10. The application of a social design approach will ultimately influence how the public (or private) realm is shaped, and in turn, to what extent users benefit. This is due to the fact that the environment creates opportunities and constraints for human-environment interactions. Ultimately, whether social design is employed as a means toward providing these opportunities is a decision that must be made among formgivers. The public realm can be planned and designed to encourage place value and meaning, and the social benefits of life in public - or dissuade it! For example, design that offers imageability and accessibility, meaning and continuity, stimulous and diversity, choice and flexibility can make the public realm more amenable to providing opportunities for social well-being and livable communities. This is also true of social design approaches (i.e. user needs analysis, POEs, behavioural science consultations, and direct participation) that contribute toward appropriate and more meaningful environments. This thesis has taken a social approach to public realm planning and design. Consequently, the environmental and economic functions of the public realm have been omitted, although it is recognized that they do exist. 42 K. A . Gregory Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities CHAPTER FOUR - 4.0 Y A L E T O W N C A S E S T U D Y 4.1 I N T R O D U C T I O N The preceding two chapters have explored the public realm by providing a general conceptual understanding and more specific insights from a social design perspective. Collectively these chapters have pointed to the fact that inclusive approaches to planning and design of the public realm are integral to maintaining the value of place amidst growth and change. In an attempt to provide an applied and more comprehensive understanding of this, Chapter Four presents the Yaletown case study. The chapter begins by providing a contextual overview of the area under study. This is followed by a discussion pertaining to the purpose and objective of the case study and the methodology that was employed. Finally observations are presented which serve as a basis for discussion and future recommendations in the following chapter. 4.2 C O N T E X T U A L O V E R V I E W 4.2.1 Geographic Context Yaletown is located in the downtown peninsula of Vancouver, east of the Central Business District (CBD). According to the Yaletown Business Improvement (YBIA)'s official boundaries, Yaletown is bordered north and south by Robson Street and Pacific Boulevard respectively. Pacific Boulevard North and Homer Street form east/ west borders (see Figures 4 and 5)". Note that this geographic definition is significantly larger in scope than the six block radius that traditionally defines Yaletown. Figure 4: Context Map of Yaletown Figure 5: Map of Yaletown 1 1 The Y B I A ' s boundaries have been used because it is expected that the Y B I A w i l l be one of the primary beneficiaries of the information produced in this thesis. K. A . Gregory 43 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 4.2.2 Historical Context Despite the relative youth of Vancouver, Yaletown enjoys a rich history dating back to the beginning of the 21st century. Largely shaped by the railway, Yaletown came into being with the construction of the Roundhouse along False Creek. The Roundhouse spurred residential development, and eventually an eight-block warehouse district. The majority of warehouse buildings which now define the Yaletown area were built between 1909 and 1913. Despite minimal downtown industrial growth in the 30 years following its inception, Yaletown continued to be zoned industrial. Industrial zoning eventually prevented Yaletown from succumbing to the built form of central area high-rises characteristic of the 1960s. However, in the late 1970s and early 1980s interest in the warehouse district proliferated and Yaletown began to experience change. Yaletown's industrial zoning changed to HA-3 in the mid 1980s and as a result, existing warehouses were converted and renovated to allow for new commercial and residential uses, among which were the lofts for which Yaletown is renowned. HA-3 zoning also permitted the construction of new buildings compatible with the scale of existing architecture (City of Vancouver, 1999a). Consequently, rather than a relatively inactive industrial relic, Yaletown began to evolve as an alternative to conventional planning and design. Revitalization efforts have paid tribute to Yaletown's industrial heritage while infusing it with a high-end, newer appeal that continues into the present. 4.2.3 Yaletown Present and Future As Vancouver expanded from a frontier boomtown to an extension of the inner city industrial district, it never fully succeeded in establishing itself as a unique entity. This is illustrated in a Province newspaper editorial in 1924: "Yaletown is today never heard of... Most Vancouverites are probably not aware that a district of the city was known by that name" (Cotton, 1924 in Hutton, 1998, 130). At present, Yaletown continues to be one of the lesser known districts of Vancouver. This is attributed to its geographic separation from the CBD, proximity to the formerly vacant Expo lands, fluctuating physical boundaries12, and socio-economic exclusivity that form actual and perceived barriers. However, recent diversification (i.e. service clusterings — applied design services, culture and entertainment, etc.) has led to investment and development outside of the corporate office district; albeit still in the Central Area (Hutton, 1998). As such, Yaletown has experienced a clustering of creative and specialized design service users which has elevated the status of Yaletown to a predominantly service oriented district. The Concord megaproject development along North False Creek has also contributed to Yaletown's emergence as a fully operational mixed-use area. Yaletown's boundaries have formally extended since the Y B I A was founded in Apr i l 1999. K. A . Gregory 44 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Further to the above-listed impacts, the recent establishment of the Y B I A has also influenced Yaletown and promises to continue doing so into the near future. The Y B I A ' s objective is to improve the quality of the Yaletown experience and the overall success of commercial services in the area. With a five year budget of approximately 950 thousand dollars (38 percent of which will be spent in the first two years of operation), and only five years guaranteed official status, the Y B I A has a number of challenging goals to meet and program initiatives to fulfill. Thus far, the Y B I A has been successful in: • Encouraging local-level participation in community planning programs and initiatives. Action - Establishing a storefront office to encourage local input into Y B I A programs and initiatives (Fall 1999). • Creating active public spaces that contribute to local sense of place. Actions: • Bringing "Yuletide in Yaletown" to the area (December 1999). The celebration animated Bi l l Curtis Square with the addition of a Christmas tree and additional lighting at its entrance. • Contributing to the Winter Solstice Lantern Procession that wove through downtown streets, along the seawall, and culminated at the Roundhouse Community Centre on the southern edge of Yaletown (December 1999). • Securing an on-site venue for the Du Maurier International Jazz Festival (July (2000), and Fringe Fest (September 2000)). • Addressing local safety issues and concerns. Action: • Contributing financially to the establishment of a Community Police office. While the Y B I A has done more in terms of activity programming for public spaces than physical change to the public realm, this is arguably more effective in creating sense of place. Brinckerhoff Jackson (1994) argues that Americans view sense of place as being associated with an event, and that in effect, the event is more cherished than the place. An event such as the Winter Solstice Lantern Procession is integral to creating the vibrancy that is lacking in Yaletown at present. Essentially, rituals, traditions, and events keep streets alive (City of Vancouver, 1992), and encourage community building and sense of place. K. A . Gregory 45 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Future challenges for the Y B I A include: • Creating a vibrant streetscape that enhances the Yaletown experience, and emphasizes gateways and areas of interest. Actions: • Installing locally designed banners along streets (Spring 2000) • Devising a lighting program that is functional and contributes to the industrial and heritage appeal of the area. • Attending to parking and service provision to ensure efficient use and overall appeal of public spaces. Actions: • Continuing to work with the G V T A and the Parking Corporation of Vancouver to resolve parking problems in Yaletown. • Resolving garbage storage and removal problems to ensure aesthetic quality along streets and docks, and efficient service provision. • Further addressing local safety issues and concerns. Actions: • Establishing a private security program for Yaletown. • Establishing a Graffiti program to protect the aesthetics of public spaces in the area. While the efforts of the Y B I A will prove beneficial in terms of improving the Yaletown public realm, it is also important to recognize that their efforts will be inconsequential unless the anticipated impacts of new development in, and adjacent to, Yaletown are considered in partnership with other members of the public and private sectors. This observation is supported by population projections that indicate Downtown South will have a significant bearing on Yaletown's public realm. For example, Downtown South's population is expected to increase from a 5 054 in 1997, to 11 050 by 2021. This is a substantial growth projection as compared to Yaletown's population which is expected to increase from 420 in 1997 to 720 in 2021 (City of Vancouver, 1998b). The most imminent impact on Yaletown will be felt along its edges from the Concord development on North False Creek . Impacts of the Concord development may include increased use of, and activity in, Yaletown public spaces, additional public/ semi-public amenities (i.e. small parkettes) among the new residence towers, etc. However, these impacts will occur in concert with potentially negative impacts that may include, obstructed view corridors leading to the waterfront, increased traffic congestion and parking problems, disrupted sense of place due to the scale and aesthetic quality of new development, etc. K. A . Gregory 46 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Notably, the False Creek North Official Development Plan (ODP) has acknowledged that Yaletown must be considered in development plans for North False Creek. For example, ensuring view access to Yaletown at street corners on Pacific Boulevard, creating pedestrian interest uses and lower levels of buildings that reflect the character of Yaletown, etc. (City of Vancouver, 1990). However, to what extent these policies will materialize in built form is yet unknown. Essentially, the challenge for the YBIA, private developers, and community groups operating at the local level will be to ensure change in and around Yaletown does not impede on the value (present and future) of the public realm. While policy (i.e. Central Area Plan, ODPs, etc.) will play a large role, persons involved at the local level will have to remain active participants in the process in the knowledge that they have the power to influence public realm planning and design. As Steele (1981, 205) notes, "Fate helps to make our experiences; so do we, by the choices we make, the attitudes we assume, and the extent to which we seek quality place experiences for ourselves and promote them for others" (Steele, 1981, 205). 4.3 PURPOSE AND O B J E C T I V E The purpose of undertaking the case study was to evaluate use, access, and perception of the Yaletown public realm. The impetus for this came from the fact that while Yaletown has been successful in attracting people to invest in the residential market, the commercial sector has only achieved moderate success. Research suggesting that the physical environment in which commercial activity occurs is often the most influential determinant of the buying process (Loxton, 1995) implies that a public realm study could be used to help realize plans for the economic revitalization of Yaletown. This is further supported by the fact that increasingly the success of firms is directly linked to worker satisfaction as it pertains to living and working conditions in communities (Widner, 1986). Moreover, the YBIA ' s keen desire to learn more about consumer behaviour and perceptions of the public realm indicated to the researcher that the study would be well received, and could potentially contribute to positive change in the community. Further to economic benefits, previous studies involving user-based research (Gehl, 1987; Joardar, 1977; Whyte, 1988) indicate the physical and social merits of exploratory research on access, use, and perception. The objective of the study was to obtain information from the survey and participant observations that would provide insight into how the public realm might be individualized to meet community values and needs while enhancing sense of place. This objective was developed in recognition of the fact that individualizing the public realm and enhancing sense of place are linked activities. For a place to have meaning it must also have relevance (Carr et al., 1992) and therefore be designed to reflect the values and K. A. Gregory 47 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities needs of its users. Livability is essentially about compatibility - how qualities in the public realm "fit" with humans and their living experiences in the environment. Further to the aforementioned objective, the case study was undertaken to determine the efficacy of a social design approach through user-based research, and how this might contribute to a more livable Yaletown. 4.4 M E T H O D O L O G Y "The study of environmental behaviour and meaning has been systematically pursued for less than twenty years, while the human experience of place is ancient. The latter material is rich and unreliable; the former still lies at some distance from the felt experience of place, which is the designer's chief concern" (Lynch and Hack, 1989, 67). As discussed in Chapter One, survey and participant observation were used as the primary means of obtaining information in support of the case study. Note that the literature review and informal interviews acted as secondary sources. The following describes the methodological process that was employed. 4.4.1 Pre-Test and Survey In order to implement and test a social design-based approach to research in public realm planning and design, an exploratory survey was developed with the intent that it would provide insight into access, use, and perception of the Yaletown public realm. The survey included open and closed questions in each of the three areas of inquiry. This provided the assurance that quantifiable data would be obtained (i.e. through closed questions), and that respondents would have the flexibility to respond to the survey questions without restraint (i.e. through open questions). Notably, some of the survey questions required that the respondents participate in visual mapping exercises to indicate access points, pathways, valued places, and community spaces in the public realm. In order to illustrate their responses, respondents referred to three aerial photo maps of Yaletown (flown March 1999) that were included in the survey package (see Appendix A). Prior to administration of the survey, a pre-test was conducted with a small group of participants (n=4). The survey was then revised on the basis of survey response, participant observation, and feedback. Following revision of the survey, an attempt was made to recruit survey respondents through advertisements placed in the Vancouver Public Library, the Y B I A storefront office, and the Roundhouse Community Centre. Lack of response required alternative approaches for recruitment which included: • Setting up a booth at the Roundhouse Community Centre. • Using the YBIA ' s membership list to elicit participants by telephone. K. A . Gregory 48 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities • Walking into street level retail stores to inquire about potential interest in participating. • Sending an electronic message to colleagues asking if they had contacts in Yaletown (the "snowball method"). The combination of these approaches enabled the researcher to recruit 30 survey participants including I I Yaletown retail/ commercial owners and managers, general employees, and community service users living both inside and outside of the study area, (see Figure 6). While the number of participants in the survey is not large enough to be statistically significant, it is sufficient for the purposes of conducting exploratory research. Moreover, it is a realistic number in terms of what would likely be replicated in professional practice given time and possible financial constraints. Figure 6: Geographic Distribution of Respondents Based on Locat ion of Business or Community Amenity 4.4.2 Participant Observation Participant observation was undertaken at four sites of interest within Yaletown so as to better understand human-environment interaction in terms of the nature and extent of access and use. Moreover, participant observation was used as an opportunity to get a sense of the unique planning and design features, opportunities, and constraints that public spaces in Yaletown present to users. During a 20 minute observation period, the researcher recorded date, time, weather, number of people, and activities observed. Observations were conducted January through March at mid-day on both weekdays and weekends. A mid-day time was chosen for participant observation because the literature review revealed that 80 percent of human activity in public spaces (i.e. plazas) occurs at lunch time, approximately between 12pm and 2pm, and decreases after 5:30 in the evening (Whyte, 1988; Whyte, 1980). Both weekday and weekend observations were undertaken under the assumption that two user groups (working and leisure) would emerge with potentially different patterns of use. K. A . Gregory 49 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities 4.5 OBSERVATIONS 4.5.1 Survey • Survey Respondent Status -The majority of survey respondents were in the 25 to 50 year age range. Notably, 60 percent of survey respondents were 25 to 30 years of age, while 23 percent of respondents were 36 to 50 years of age. This age distribution is likely attributed to the fact that the majority of respondents were recruited through the Y B I A membership list which is comprised of people in the workforce, not yet retired. In light of this, it is not unexpected to also note that 83 percent of respondents reported a working status. While this suggests that persons unemployed, retired, and students were underrepresented in the survey, it is noted that the primary target sample population was in fact those most directly linked to retail/ commercial activity in Yaletown. Of the respondents that reported working status, only 8 percent were involved in work at home (i.e. telework). Survey findings also revealed that 77 percent of survey respondents worked in Yaletown, but did not live in the community (see Figures 7-9). Figure 7: Age Distribution Among Survey Respondents AGE DISTRIBUTION AMONG SURVEY RESPONDENTS 0 to 20 21 to 35 36 to 50 50 plus Unspecified Age (years) K. A . Gregory 50 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Figure 8: Live/ Work Status in Yaletown of Survey Respondents L I V E / W O R K S T A T U S IN Y A L E T O W N O F S U R V E Y R E S P O N D E N T S L i ve W o r k L i ve a n d W o r k D o N o t LiVB o r W o r k U n s p e c i f i e d L i v e / W i . r k S t a t u s Figure 9: Activity Status of Survey Respondents A C T I V I T Y S T A T U S O F S U R V E Y R E S P O N D E N T S W o r k i n g O u t s i d e of W o r k i n g a t H o m e U n e m p l o y e d / R e t i r e d S t u d e n t H o r n e A ctiv ity U n s p e c i f i e d • Public Space Access -Respondents were asked to indicate on maps provided what intersections were used most frequently to enter and exit Yaletown. Map 1 illustrates the sum of the responses received. Note that some respondents chose to indicate more than one set of enter/exit points. K. A . Gregory 51 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Mapping enter and exit points was a particularly effective exercise because it identified gateways to the district that represent nodes of substantial activity. For example, Davie Street, Drake Street, and Pacific Boulevard have the highest incidence of use as points of entry into Yaletown. Conversely, Nelson Street, Drake Street, and Pacific Boulevard were identified as being used most often to exit Yaletown. Interestingly, convenience was the strongest reason cited for choosing the enter/exit pattern as is illustrated in Figure 10. Figure 10: Factors Influencing Enter and Exit Patterns F A C T O R S I N F L U E N C I N G E N T E R A N D E X I T P A T T E R N S P u b l i c T r a n s p o r t P r o x i m i l y t o L o c a t i o n o l W a[k C o n v e n i e n c e O t h e r N o R e a s o n / A n s w e r R e s i d e n c e R e a s o n s C i t e d Further to identifying gateways, the survey sought to obtain information on pathways in terms of route(s) taken, mode of transport used, and incidence of observation en route. To achieve this, the respondents were asked to illustrate on maps provided the route taken most frequently through Yaletown. Map 2 illustrates the sum of the responses received. Note that some respondents chose to indicate more than one route. Pathways illustrated in map 2 indicate that Pacific Boulevard, Davie Street, and Mainland Street are the streets most frequented by the respondents. Along the pathways illustrated, walking (44 percent) and driving (38 percent) were reported as modes of transport used most often (see Figure 11). K. A . Gregory 53 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Figure 11: Mode of Transport MODE OF TRANSPORT 16 i Wa lk ing Cyc l ing Driving Publ i c T r a n s p o r t O the r M ode of T r a n s p o r t The survey found that respondents appear to be keen observers of their physical environment and are attuned to attributes of the public realm that influence preference or distaste for particular public spaces. For example, when asked if there were any public spaces that were focal points of interest as they entered, exited, or made their way through Yaletown, responses ranged from, "The waterfront park off Drake. I enjoy driving and looking out over the water", to "None in particular, [I] find it rather consumer based, [it] needs more greenery, flowers, etc. ..." Overall, 67 percent of respondents indicated that there were focal points of interest as they entered, exited, or made their way through the district. Nonetheless, only 20 percent of respondents indicated that they chose the enter/ exit pattern or route taken through Yaletown for the purpose of experiencing the public spaces that were points of interest. • Public Space Use -The respondents received a map with enumerated public spaces that were to be assigned a qualitative indicator of use (never, almost never, sometimes, and often) (see Appendix A , map 2). The responses are illustrated in Figures 12 to 15. K. A . Gregory 55 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Figure 12: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Never") F R E Q U E N C Y O F P U B L I C S P A C E U S E (Public Spaces Used "Never") , 8 . _ Public Spaces Figure 13: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Almost Never") F R E Q U E N C Y O F P U B L I C S P A C E U S E (Public Space Used "Almost Never") 9 ... Public Spaces K. A . Gregory 56 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Figure 14: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Sometimes") F R E Q U E N C Y O F P U B L I C S P A C E U S E (Public Space Used "Sometimes") Publ ic Spaces Figure 15: Frequency of Public Space Use (Public Space Used "Often") F R E Q U E N C Y O F P U B L I C S P A C E U S E Publ ic Space Used "Often" P u b l i c Spaces K. A . Gregory 5 7 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Figure 15 illustrates that Mainland Street had the highest reported frequency of use in the "often" used category. This was followed by Pacific Boulevard and Hamilton Street. Conversely, Helmcken Park was reported most often as being "never" used. This was followed by Cooper's Park and B i l l Curtis Square (see Figure 12). While this information shows the extreme spectrums of public space use, reference must also be made to Library Square and Homer Street that reported high incidences of use "sometimes" (see Figure 14). It appears that use of public space was largely influenced by the nature of the respondent profile. For example, when asked what type of activity (i.e. working, shopping, etc.) brings people to the public space that they use most often, working was the reason most often cited. Note that this is consistent with the fact that 83 percent of survey respondents reported a working status. It follows that among the public spaces used often, Mainland Street was ranked as having the highest use. Conversely, Helmcken Park ranked the highest in the "never" used category. The latter may have had a higher reported rate of use if the sample population had consisted more of Yaletown residents. Further to respondent status and activity, public space use was also influenced by the nature of the public space, i.e. opportunities for interaction, diversity, utility, historical character, etc. For example, the survey revealed that the most significant determinants of public space being used "often" were a) whether it was highly accessible (15 percent) or, b) aesthetically pleasant (15 percent). This is consistent with respondents' descriptions of public spaces used most "often". Seventy-four percent of the responses related to accessibility described the public spaces as "highly accessible". In terms of aesthetics, 75 percent of the responses described public spaces to be "aesthetically pleasant"13. High ranking attributes among spaces used most "often" also included "high opportunity for interaction" (67 percent) and "welcoming" (65 percent). Observations were also made about low rates of public space use. For example, Figure 16 illustrates the rationale for why respondents ranked some public spaces as being "almost never" or "never" used. Clearly, accessibility and location were most significant in determining low rates of use. This is consistent with the observation that 97 percent of public spaces used most "often" were due to convenient location (e.g. close to place of residence, work, etc.) Further to accessibility and location, two other factors significantly contributed to low rates of use. Twelve percent of respondents reported lack of need, interest, or reason to use public spaces identified as being "almost never" or "never" used, and ten percent 1 3 Statistics cited refer to rankings in the four to five point range on a five point scale. K. A . Gregory 58 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities of respondents reported awareness (in terms of location or mere existence) as a contributing factor to low rate of use. Figure 16: Rationale for Low Rate of Public Space Use R A T I O N A L E F O R L O W R A T E O F P U B L I C S P A C E U S E Access ib i l i t y and Loca t ion W el l-Being Loca t i ona l P r e f e r e n c e Park ing Activity and Interest D e s i g n P lace of R e s i d e n c e T i m e A w a r e n e s s A e s t h e t i c s No N e e d , Interest, or R e a s o n No R e a s o n / No A n s w e r 4 6 8 Number of Survey Respondents Lastly, respondents were asked whether they felt public spaces are highly used in Yaletown. Forty-three percent of respondents answered "yes", and 43 percent answered "no". While this does not prove to be very informative, the plethora of reasons listed in support of these answers is. Reasons cited for why people perceived substantial activity included for example, convenience, accessibility, distance among public spaces, proximity to water/ seawall, high concentration of shops, population profile (i.e. young, affluent, active), etc. Reasons cited for why there may not be substantial activity included for example, minimal landscaping, lack of parking, exclusiveness, physical barriers to access, lack of interest (too planned), lack of sheltered spaces, etc. For a complete listing of the responses obtained, refer to Appendix B (use), # 7. • Public Space Perception -The respondents were asked to identify on the maps provided public spaces in Yaletown perceived as being highly valued by the local community. Map 3 illustrates the sum of the research findings. Places with the highest response rate included the Roundhouse Community Centre, David Lam Park, and the seawall. Further to being a valued place, the Roundhouse Community Centre was also identified as being a public space with a strong community feel. Similarly, Mainland and Hamilton Streets were perceived K. A . Gregory 59 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities as having a strong community feel, or as Steele (1981) terms, "spirit of place" (see map 4) . The features listed as contributing to a strong community feeling were extensive and varied. For example, materials used in built form (i.e. brick buildings, cobblestone walkways, etc.), historic architecture and sense of history, activity, features related to art and culture, scale, etc. See Appendix B (perception), # 3 for a complete listing of features contributing a community feel. Data pertaining to valued places and community spaces demonstrated a significant bifurcation between "old" and "new" Yaletown (see maps 3 and 4). The former exhibits a high prevalence of public spaces perceived as "valued places" and "community spaces", while the latter does not. Notwithstanding this bifurcation, it is still noteworthy to observe that respondents were able to identify "valued places" and "community spaces" despite the relative youth of Yaletown as a newly revitalized area. Nonetheless, it is noted that only 43 percent of respondents indicated a strong place attachment to Yaletown. While a low rate of place attachment was observed, respondents were nonetheless quite verbose in their descriptions of public spaces in Yaletown they feel particularly drawn to and why. For example, "The little bench just outside the Yaletown Galleria off Mainland - it's quiet and it's covered by trees - a good place to eat lunch", and "I like waterfront spaces as I really like to be surrounded by urbanity and yet still have access to nature". Notably, the responses indicated that respondents are drawn to a variety of types of places (i.e. socio/cultural, built/urban, natural). It was also observed that respondents show an affinity toward natural public spaces (see Figure 17). Despite these observations, it is noted that there was a substantially high "no response" or "invalid response" rate to the question. Unfortunately, it can not be determined with any degree of certainty why this was so. However, it is hypothesized that this may have been attributed to the respondents' inability to understand or respond to the question. This may have been a function of how the question was posed, or the inexperience of the respondents in dealing with questions pertaining to perceptions of the public realm. In the final part of the survey the respondents were asked to describe what types of public spaces might be created or improved to enhance the quality of experiences in Yaletown and Vancouver generally. Again, the responses were rich and varied. Results ranged from suggestions pertaining to the need for street furniture, public art, and more "on the street energy", to added green space (i.e. pocket parks, community gardens), a public market, and covered areas (i.e. indoor skate park, seating areas). For a complete and aggregated listing of the responses obtained, refer to Appendix B , (perception) # 6. 1 4 Spirit of place is "the combination of characteristics that give some locations a special " f ee l " or personality (such as a spirit of mystery or of identity within a person or group (Steele, 1981, 11). K. A . Gregory 61 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Figure 17: Preferred Types of Public Space P R E F E R R E D T Y P E S O F P U B L I C S P A C E 1 0 T — — — " 2 Soc io-cul tura l Built (urban) Natura l C o m b i n a t i o n None/Inval id Types of Publ ic Space 4.5.2 Participant Observation • Use - No significant differences were observed in user rates during weekdays versus weekends contrary to earlier assumptions. However, although not statistically demonstrable, it was felt that weather (i.e. air temperature, wind conditions, etc.) affected user rates in so far as inclement weather resulted in decreased rates of activity at the observation sites as compared to days that exhibited more favourable weather. It is important to note that participant observation was carried out during the winter when conditions (i.e. minimal sunshine) are less conducive to outdoor activity. Unfortunately, since observations did not carry through to the summer, no comparisons can be made in terms of user rates during optimal (summer) versus non-optimal (winter) weather conditions. It is expected that user rates would be substantially higher during optimal weather conditions. In terms of volume of use, the Davie/Pacific site exhibited the highest number of users among the sites observed. This was followed (in descending order of user volume) by Mainland/Helmcken, Bi l l Curtis Square, and Helmcken Park sites. While Helmcken Park had a significantly lower rate of use as compared to the other sites, one must consider that it was not designed to support large volumes of people. This point is made to illustrate that user counts are useful in developing a broad impression of activity and energy, but are not meant to reflect the value of a public space. More insight is gained from observing types of activity and how people relate to the space. K. A . Gregory 63 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities • Activity - Helmcken Park and Bi l l Curtis Square were generally used more as thoroughfare areas than places to dwell. Seating areas (particularly in B i l l Curtis Square) were frequently void of sitters despite being amply provided for. This observation is consistent with a user evaluation in downtown Chicago (First National Bank Plaza) where it was observed that walking through the plaza was the highest reported activity (52 percent) (Marcus and Francis, 1988)15. While the Helmcken Park and B i l l Curtis Square sites were predominantly thoroughfare areas, it was also observed that in some cases they were places to be avoided. Pedestrians were observed walking around the park and square, rather than incorporating them into their route. This was most evident at the Helmcken Park site. Similar to Helmcken Park and Bi l l Curtis Square, the Davie/Pacific, and Mainland/Helmcken sites also illustrated constant flows of thoroughfare activity. Little to no instances of stopping to dwell were observed other than in select areas along the docks of Mainland Street. This is not surprising given that the former site is dominated by a large intersection, and the latter contains street level retail that generates activity among shoppers passing in and out of shops. Notably however, activities observed are also reflective of design which does little to encourage pedestrians to dwell. For example, at the Davie/Pacific intersection no seating is available despite the large expanse of space pedestrians must cross (note potential difficulty for elderly and disabled persons). Wide, aesthetically pleasant sidewalks observed in the site area accommodate large volumes of pedestrian traffic. However, lack of street furniture (i.e. outdoor seating) inhibits resting or dwelling, thereby creating a largely unanimated space. Conversely, the Mainland/ Helmcken site demonstrated examples of outdoor seating at select locations along the docks (i.e. west side of Mainland Street) which encouraged vibrancy along the streetscape. However, narrow sidewalks on the east side of Mainland discouraged the use of signs, planters, and seating, and caused observed instances of congestion problems for pedestrians. * For a more detailed and complete listing of observations, refer to Appendix C. 4.6 C O N C L U S I O N Yaletown continues to be one of the lesser known districts of Vancouver. However, recent investment and development outside of the corporate office district has led to a clustering of creative and specialized design services which has elevated the status of Yaletown^ The Concord megaproject development along 1 5 Notably, walking activities (i.e. walk through, walk and watch, walk and talk) contributed to 65 percent of the activities that were observed in the plaza (Marcus and Francis, 1998). K. A . Gregory 64 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities North False Creek and the Y B I A have also contributed to Yaletown's emergence as a fully operational mixed-use area. As Yaletown continues to transform through ongoing urban revitalization initiatives and subsequent growth, it is important to acknowledge that access, use, and perceptions of the public realm will be affected accordingly. In order to monitor this change, and in essence, maintain the value of place, a social design approach that values user-based input to planning and design must be adopted. The research presented in this chapter has presented user-based observations pertaining to access, use, and perception of the public realm. The patterns of behaviour and local perceptions that emerge from the information provide a basis for discussion and recommendation that may assist in future efforts to individualize the public realm so as to meet emerging needs and community values, while enhancing sense of place (see Chapter Five). Although it is acknowledged that the case study is not statistically representative of all users of the Yaletown public realm, the merit of the case study rests in the fact that it is user-based, and thus rich with local knowledge as is demonstrated in the case study observations. The research determined that highly frequented gateways in Yaletown include Drake Street, Davie Street, Pacific Boulevard, and Nelson Street. These gateways represent significant nodes of activity among users of the public realm. Similarly, frequently used pathways including, Pacific Boulevard, Davie Street, and Mainland Street, exemplify substantial activity within the area. In terms of public space use, the research determined that Mainland Street is used most frequently. Conversely, public spaces such as Helmcken Park, Cooper's Park, and B i l l Curtis Square were reported as being less frequently used. The research suggests that use was determined by the type of activities engaged in (i.e. work related), and the nature of the public space (i.e. opportunities for interactions, diversity, etc.). Notably, the most significant determinants of public space being used "often" were accessibility and aesthetics. Conversely, accessibility and location were most significant in determining low rates of use. In terms of perception of the public realm, the Roundhouse Community Centre, David Lam Park, and the seawall were perceived as being highly valued by the local community. Public spaces reported most frequently as being perceived to have a strong community feel included the Roundhouse Community Centre, Mainland Street, and Hamilton Street. These valued places and community spaces indicate that despite the relative youth of Yaletown, people living and working in the area are recognizing and benefiting from the functional purpose, aesthetic quality, and symbolic meaning of the public realm. Nonetheless, only 43 percent of respondents reported a strong place attachment to Yaletown. It is suspected that this is largely a function of the respondent profile which was mainly comprised of people working, but not living in Yaletown. In essence, working non-residents have less opportunity to interact K. A . Gregory 65 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities in the community as compared to their working resident or resident counterparts. This is due to the constraints of an often demanding work schedule, and the mobility of working non-residents which allows them to have place experiences outside of the community within which they work. In effect, this creates a type of pseudo community for working non-residents in which they are not as likely to benefit from developing emotional links to the environment - a requisite for place attachment. Furthermore, the low rate of place attachment may also be a function of the personal experience of respondents. The relatively short history of Yaletown (in its revitalized form) has provided less opportunity for people to establish and strengthen their present and historical relationship with the area. It is expected that as Yaletown matures and resident and working populations become more established, place attachment will increase accordingly. K. A . Gregory 66 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities CHAPTER FIVE - 5.0 YALETOWN DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 5.1 I N T R O D U C T I O N Relph (1976, 44) argues that understanding place "can contribute to the maintenance and manipulation of existing places and the creation of new places". Therefore, having introduced the findings of the survey and participant observations in the Chapter Four, this chapter follows with a discussion pertaining to physical design elements and planning and design approaches that are relevant to the case study. Recommendations for creating a more livable Yaletown are also presented. Lastly, the feasibility of implementation is discussed. 5.2 P H Y S I C A L DESIGN E L E M E N T S 5.2.1 Transportation While transportation is not within the primary scope of this thesis, it is acknowledged that transportation influences the livability of public spaces and cities generally. Therefore, it is relevant to discuss several key transportation related findings that may prove useful in future planning initiatives: • Volume - Pacific Boulevard, Davie Street, and Mainland Street are heavily trafficked. While Pacific Boulevard and to some extent Davie Street accommodate this volume, Mainland Street does not. This is due to the narrow width of the street and sidewalks, and parking (on both sides of the street) which prevent smooth circulation. • Movement - Convenience was the main reason cited among survey respondents for their enter/ exit patterns into and out of Yaletown. This suggests that users of the public realm are modifying their behaviour in response to the constraints and opportunities presented in their environment. This observation is further supported by the survey findings which indicate that accessibility is a significant determinant of public space use. The literature review also revealed that accessibility is an important consideration in public realm planning and design. For example, guidelines suggest miniparks should be located so that pedestrian users within a four block radius can access them without crossing a major street (Marcus and Greene, 1998)16. Since human tolerance levels suggest that adaptation has limits, use of public space may eventually decline if transportation infrastructure does not adapt accordingly to provide for movement that is convenient and allows easy access to 1 6 Note low user rates at Helmcken Park where one of the major access points requires that users cross Pacif ic Boulevard. K. A . Gregory 67 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities destination points. • Modes of Transport - Walking and driving were the most commonly cited modes of transport used by respondents in Yaletown. It is noted that the high reported rate of pedestrian activity may be misleading, and does not necessarily imply decreased use of the automobile and other modes of transport. The respondents were asked to draw the pathway that they take most frequently through Yaletown, and the mode of transport used. Since this did not accommodate for pathways or modes of transport outside of the study area, it can not be stated with certainty whether respondents indicating pedestrian activity do, or do not use other modes of transport to get to Yaletown. Respondents may be parking outside of the district, and then walking to their destination point. This would suggest that users of the public realm might be adapting to parking constraints in Yaletown, and placing added stress on neighbouring facilities. While further research would have to deny or confirm this, it can safely be concluded that indeed, the automobile is still a predominant feature within the Yaletown urban landscape. The local community has expressed frustration about the level of vehicular congestion, lack of parking, and inconvenience associated with metered parking. This was also evident to the researcher during participant Figure 18: Traffic Congestion observation periods. Transportation alternatives to the traditional planning and design paradigm could be used to address the aforementioned observations, and generally ameliorate the Yaletown public realm. For example, woonerfs17 and communicative pavement design18 could be used to increase accessibility. This could 1 7 The "Wooner f ' or " L i v i n g Street" concept originated in the Netherlands during the 1970s, and is an example of integrated transportation planning. Woonerfs give an increased priority to the pedestrian by restricting use of streets as throughways, l imit ing cars to walking speed, and ensuring that only permit holding cars are allowed entry. Cafes and trees are allowed to extend out into the woonerf — effectively blurring the line between what has traditionally been the realm of the car (street) and the realm of the pedestrian (sidewalk). The result is reduced car traffic and streets that are conducive to a multitude of activities (i.e. playing, stroll ing, cafe eating, etc.) (Crowhurst Lennard and Lennard, 1995). 1 8 Freiburg (Germany) has perfected its paving to the extent that it communicates what type of transportation (e.g. walking, cyc l ing, public transport, etc.) is permitted and where. This facilitates access, improves safety, and adds to the aesthetic appeal of the city, while contributing to sense of place. K. A . Gregory 68 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities potentially be effective in increasing public space user rates given that accessibility (and location) was the main reason cited for low use. Implementing alternative transportation policies would also be consistent with recent recommendations to create a Comprehensive Street Strategy including a 20 year plan to reclaim 20 to 30 percent of residential streets in Vancouver for multipurpose streets (Urban Landscape Task Force, 1992). Similarly, implementing alternative transportation policy would be consistent with the Greenways Plan that has enabled the provision of alternative transportation options for pedestrians and cyclists along a network of "green paths" throughout the city (City of Vancouver, 1995), and recent City efforts to explore the option of introducing the Urban Streetcar System (Baker McGarva Hart - SNC Lavalin Ward Consulting, 1999). The volume of activity along select corridors, user preferences for conveniently accessible public spaces, and continued prevalence of the automobile suggest that Yaletown would benefit from alternative approaches to transportation planning and design. Given that the Downtown peninsula population is expected to grow to 90 000 residents and 185 000 workers in the next 20 years (City of Vancouver, 1999b), it is expected that alternative transportation planning and design policy may assist in a move toward more livable communities in Yaletown and Vancouver generally. • Recommendation - Transportation planning and design policy should be reviewed with the objective of working toward a more sustainable and livable Yaletown, city, and region. More efficient traffic circulation can be achieved by reducing traffic volumes on heavily congested streets, addressing local parking concerns, etc. This is desirable in light of the case study research which suggests that making the public realm more conveniently accessible will result in higher user rates — in effect, a more active and vibrant public realm. Reclaiming streets (i.e. Mainland Street) for a wider range of activities, including but not limited to the car would also contribute to this. 5.2.2 Signage As Lynch and Hack (1989, 72) note, "Places should have a clear perceptual identity: be recognizable, memorable, vivid, engaging of our attention". Signage is a means of effectively achieving this type of perceptual identity. This was demonstrated in the Skidmore Old Town Historic District in Portland which, similar to Yaletown, was revitalized during the 1970s. A consultant report pertaining to the Portland district by McMath and Huntington (1976) is particularly insightful in terms of the benefits of using signage. The report acknowledged that while the District was recognizable, its edges needed to be better defined. It was recommended that this be achieved through subtle identification by means of a K. A . Gregory 69 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities street name sign standard that would include a special frame for the street names and a logo specific to the area. It was further recommended that priority be given to District entrances. Creating the sense of arrival or "threshold experience" described in the Portland case has only been marginally successful in Yaletown. Small signs indicating the location of Yaletown occur along the edges of the district. However, they are small enough to be easily missed, and do not reflect the character of the area. This is particularly critical to note given that sense of place and more meaningful experiences are created by designing threshold experiences (Crowhurst Lennard and Lennard, 1995) by way of signage. F igure l9 : Yaletown Signage Further to articulating gateways and edges, signage could be used as a means of wayfinding. This would be useful in light of research findings indicating that ten percent of low public space use is attributed to general awareness (or lack thereof)- Moreover, signage could also be useful in addressing the bifurcation between "old" and "new" Yaletown. For example, disparities in public space use and distribution of valued places and community spaces could be remedied through signage that alerts people to hidden areas of interest, and provides information and meaning to the environment (i.e. interpretative signage). As Southworth (1992) notes, design must satisfy more than technical, functional, and aesthetic requirements so that the life, history, and meaning of places can be communicated. This allows for greater understanding of the environment, and in turn, better management and more responsible use. • Recommendation - Aesthetic signage that provides information and meaning to users and the environment should be implemented in Yaletown and areas surrounding the district. Signage in Yaletown should be improved to create more legible gateways that reflect the character of Yaletown. Signs should be strategically placed at intersections that are nodes of substantial activity. For example, Nelson Street, Davie Street, Drake Street, and Pacific Boulevard. Legible signage should also be considered for pathways to places of interest, particularly those identified as being highly valued by the local community (e.g. the Roundhouse Community Centre), and less visible public spaces (i.e. Helmcken Park). Lastly, interpretive signage should be used to communicate information about the K. A . Gregory 70 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities history of Yaletown, the natural features of the area, etc. It is recommended that B i l l Curtis Square (a would-be focal point for activity in Yaletown) be considered for interpretative signage so as to provide interest and a communicative component to the square. 5.2.3 Vegetation Environmental behaviour research indicates that trees are an important means of attracting people to public spaces. For example, in a study conducted by Levine et al. (1997), three times more people were observed in treed areas versus non-treed areas. In addition to increased use and activity, the positive impacts of creating vegetated spaces may include opportunities for social interaction, monitoring and supervision, increased social cohesion, and increased sense of safety and territoriality (Levine et al., 1997). This suggests that efforts to increase the amount of vegetated public space in Yaletown should be encouraged. Community gardens, rooftop gardens, display gardens, etc. are among the examples of vegetated spaces that can be created to enhance the Yaletown public realm. Community gardens in particular may prove effective in creating linkages between the natural and built environments, initiating opportunities for community involvement, and contributing to sense of place and place attachment at the local level. Moreover, creating community gardens would respond to the deficit that exists in Central Area Vancouver residential areas (i.e. the West End and Yaletown). The public realm of the Library Precinct Area (on the north edge of Yaletown) exemplifies how landscaping can be used successfully to enhance the public realm. For example, Homer Street exhibits a double row of trees along its streetscape which softens the landscape, creates a more natural feel, and sense of arrival. This is particularly effective given that natural features, in particular trees, have been demonstrated to be the most valued individual component of the urban landscape (City of Vancouver, 1992). As M E T R O (1992, 26) notes, trees make streets "slow down and fill up our senses" - in effect, creating a heightened awareness of the environment in which we live. Soft landscaping (e.g. climbing vines, planters, etc.) is also useful in for example, emphasizing entranceways, defining enclosures to create "outdoor rooms" suitable for outdoor dining, etc. (Christopher Phillips & Associates Landscape Architects Inc., 1991), and providing diversity and aesthetic appeal. • Recommendation - It is recommended that efforts be undertaken to create a greener Yaletown. Vegetation provides human scale, enclosure, protection from the elements, diversity, aesthetic appeal, opportunities for interaction, and social cohesion within the public realm. Moreover, there is a link K. A . Gregory 71 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities between vegetated areas/ natural spaces and public space use. This suggests that a greener public realm could lead to public spaces that are infused with more activity. In light of this, it is recommended that gateways, highly trafficked pathways, and nodes of activity in Yaletown (see section 4.4.1) be planned and designed as greener spaces. 5.2.4 Street Furniture The docks have successfully distinguished Yaletown as a unique heritage area. While aesthetic for the most part, the docks have not been functional in terms of meeting user needs. Seating (i.e. benches, chairs) is not adequately provided for, thereby creating an unwelcoming environment that does not encourage dwelling except in select areas. This is disconcerting given that sitting space is key to attracting people to public spaces. Quite simply, "people tend to sit most where there are places to sit" (Whyte, 1988, 28). Lack of seating may be contributing to the fact that the docks are not as active and vibrant as they potentially could be1 9. Further to seating areas, garbage receptacles are in short supply along the docks. This is a basic service amenity that should be provided to ensure the sanitary and aesthetic quality of the docks. The local community expressed significant concern for this problem. Despite the above-listed need for improvements, the docks require less policy and design intervention to create sense of place than other areas in Yaletown. This is due to unique built form, and design guidelines developed in the 1990s to protect the heritage quality and aesthetic appeal of the docks. Conversely, large open spaces (i.e. Pacific Boulevard, David Lam Park, etc.) with no particular defining character could benefit from street furniture designed to capitalize on the unique character of Yaletown. The survey and participant observation study indicated that while Pacific Boulevard has a high user rate, it is lacking in vibrancy. Seating is limited, cafes are almost non-existent - little reason exists to partake in the more restful pleasures of public life. Wide sidewalks, ample setbacks, and decorative pavement provide a substrate for creating a more animated streetscape. Street furniture appears to be the missing element. Some may contend that no matter what design improvements are made, the high volume of traffic along Pacific Boulevard does not lend itself to a rich street life. However, it is argued that Pacific Boulevard can be enhanced to become an important link to places of interest (i.e. the seawall, B i l l Curtis Square, Helmcken Park, etc.). While it may be dominated by vehicular traffic at present, it is expected that design improvements (i.e. street furniture, safer pedestrian crosswalks, etc.) combined with continued residential development along North False Creek will facilitate a move toward more on the street energy. This may be further perpetuated by the Urban Streetcar System which is under review by the City. 1 9 Levels of activity and vibrancy may also be attributed to the lack of population on a 24 hour basis. K. A . Gregory 72 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities • Recommendation - It is recommended that the public realm be enhanced with street furniture for aesthetic, symbolic, and functional purposes. While Yaletown has successfully maintained a consistent development pattern (i.e. scale of buildings, width of streets, etc.), it has only marginally implemented a design theme that focuses on the area's heritage and industrial qualities. Since a distinct neighbourhood character can be created by developing a special focus and using consistent development patterns (Christopher Phillips & Associates Landscape Architects Inc., 1991), it is recommended that the aesthetics of the public realm be enhanced through the addition of unique street furniture that contributes to sense of place. Further to aesthetics and symbolic meaning, installing additional street furniture would also fulfill functional space requirements that are not currently being met. 5.2.5 Weather Protection Pressman (1997, 55) observes that "impoverished design and user unfriendly attributes, particularly in public urban space" has occurred as a result of climate not being factored into policy and design guidelines. The planning and design of public spaces in Canada is particularly difficult given the extremes in climate that are experienced seasonally. Vancouver is an anomaly in that its temperature remains fairly consistent throughout the year with only minor fluctuations. Nonetheless, the significant amount of rain it receives creates a unique (and wet) environment for planning and design. The City of Vancouver has identified weather protection as an important element of design in that it affects pedestrian movement, and serves a public amenity function (City of Vancouver, 1979). As a result, the City's design guidelines have made provisions for climate in the design of its public (and semi-public) spaces. Broadly, the design guidelines' objectives are to provide weather protection, ensure livability and amenity by reinforcing the pedestrian function of streets and encouraging pedestrian and public transport, and providing shopping area improvements to ensure they are accessible in all weather conditions (City of Vancouver, 1979). The City's efforts to encourage climate sensitive design is particularly evident along retail streets where efforts have been made to extend continuous weather protection along the facade of buildings within the main pedestrian path. Provisions have also been made for weather protection at entranceways with the introduction of awnings and temporary/ fixed canopies. While streetscapes usually provide some degree of weather protection, open spaces are not always amply provided for. This is due in part to community resistance to weather protection which is attributed to concerns that shelters might provide places for drug K. A. Gregory 73 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities addicts, prostitutes, etc. to congregate. Concerns also pertain to shelter maintenance, and the costs associated with it (Duncan, 2000). The researcher observed that public spaces in Yaletown (i.e. B i l l Curtis Square, Helmcken Park) do not sufficiently provide flexibility for users to enjoy both open spaces with unobstructed sunlight, and sheltered spaces that provide protection from the rain. The exception to this observation is a protective shelter that has been built along the seawall. The survey respondents made reference to the need for climate-sensitive design by suggesting for example, a covered skate park and public space with covered seating areas. While these examples refer to built shelters, it is noted that Yaletown's public spaces can also be designed to include natural shelters (i.e. trees, climbing vines, etc.) to protect users from seasonal climate changes. Creating a mix of open and sheltered spaces also lends diversity to the environment. In a sense, this provides compartmentalized space within a large public space (e.g. plaza) that allows the user to explore different experiences and sensations (i.e. hidden and protected versus open and free) within the public realm. • Recommendation - The Yaletown public realm should be retrofitted to provide weather protection for users, particularly in large open public spaces (i.e. parks, walkways, etc.). The Yaletown public realm should provide for the safety and comfort of its users through weather protective design. At present, public spaces such as B i l l Curtis Square completely expose users to the elements, allowing no opportunities to seek shelter. As one of Yaletown's most visible and accessible public spaces, B i l l Curtis Square should be top on the list of spaces designated for climatic retrofits. A sheltered area along the north side of the Square would benefit residents and people working in neighbouring buildings that take short breaks and engage in lunch activities outdoors. In effect, this would encourage increased use, and in turn provide more opportunities for people to enjoy the Yaletown public realm. 5.2.6 Public Art "And if in our hurried passage from one to another, we are induced to hesitate and look or feel or listen for even the briefest moment, who is to say that would not be a worthwhile moment (Concord Pacific Development Ltd., 1991, 6). "Percent-for-art" policies have increasingly become more common in the North America and Europe as a means of encouraging public art installations in the public realm. For example, more than 90 states and cities in the United States have mandatory percent-for-art programs in place (Roberts and Marsh, 1995). K. A . Gregory 74 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Essentially, percent-for-art programs compel private developers requiring a rezoning to pay a predetermined dollar value per square metre of development toward public art. Notably, the City of Vancouver operates under a percent-for-art system in which private developers pay one dollar per square metre of development toward public art. Public art in the city is also funded through the community Public Art Program and the City Fund. Through the percent-for-art program, public art has successfully been incorporated into the Yaletown Edge development to ameliorate the public realm and create sense of place. Examples include "Street Light" (Bernie Miller and Alan Tregebov) at Davie Street and Marinaside Crescent, and "Welcome to the Land of Light" (Henry Tsang) at the Drake Street Promontory (Concord Pacific Group Ltd., 1999). These pieces pay tribute to the socio-economic history of False Creek by reflecting the industry and trade that it supported at the turn of the century. Contrary to Yaletown Edge, Yaletown proper is lacking in examples of public art. This is disconcerting given the unique ability of public art to infuse environments with creative energy and aesthetic appeal. As noted in "Cultural Directions for Vancouver", "artworks, in the broadest sense of the word, add humour, colour, light, animation and interest to the public spaces of a city, creating a more livable and stimulating environment for residents and visitors alike" (City of Vancouver, 1987, 32). Further to creating "a more livable and stimulating environment", public art creates sense of place through pieces that convey social, cultural, and/or heritage meaning in the environment. Public art also has the capacity to incur indirect commercial benefits by way of enhanced status and profile which may contribute to minimized vacancies (Roberts and Marsh, 1995). Lastly, public art can encourage increased participation and involvement among members of the public (Breitbart, 1995), which leads to increased meaning between people and the environment (Dovey, 1985). The responses received in the survey revealed that public art is part of the visual landscape of some respondents. This was most amply demonstrated in the fact that public art was suggested as a means toward improving the Yaletown public realm. Given the demonstrated link between use of public space and aesthetic appeal in Yaletown, it is argued that improving the public realm through public art could prove beneficial in terms of creating stimulating public spaces with higher user rates. K. A . Gregory 75 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities • Recommendation - The public realm should be enhanced with public art installations (temporary and fixed) through City programs and community-based initiatives. Public art should be adopted as a means of providing place context (socio-cultural and historical) and meaning in the environment. In effect, this will engender sense of place among users of the Yaletown public realm. This is particularly critical given the relative youth of Yaletown, and the discontinuity that was observed between old and new areas of Yaletown. Benefits also derived from adopting this recommendation include, increased "on the street" creative energy, aesthetic appeal, indirect commercial benefits, increased user rates, and opportunities for public involvement. 5.3 PLANNING AND DESIGN A P P R O A C H E S 5.3.1 Incremental and Evaluative Approaches Despite a history dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, Yaletown is a relatively new area. Revitalization has been ongoing since the 1970s, but it has been less than ten years since fundamental changes to the public realm have occurred. For example, the removal of the railtracks from the streetscape, retrofitting of the docks for pedestrian use, etc. Some buildings remain in their derelict state, while others are in a state of conversion. Projected growth rates in Yaletown and Central Area Vancouver suggest that the community will continue to experience dynamic change. The City of Vancouver will have to anticipate and respond to the opportunities and challenges that this presents through incremental planning and design. The success of new areas depends on the degree to which mistakes are responded to and revision is made possible (Peters, 1997). As such, planners, designers, and the local community will have to assist in Yaletown's continuous transformation and maturation by tapping into 'what works' and 'what doesn't', and making adjustments to policy, design, and programming of the public realm accordingly. "Multigenerational projects" that involve several stages of planning and design (i.e. pre-development planning, occupation, redesign, testing, and revision of hypothesis) (Wener, 1988) most effectively address this need for incremental and evaluative approaches. Exploratory surveys and participant observations, similar to that undertaken in this case study, will be useful in achieving POEs to determine whether user values and needs are being addressed. The information gained will provide a starting point for participatory planning and design initiatives (i.e. planning forums, focus group discussions, etc.) for improvements to the public realm, and the development of future community planning and design guidelines and policies that are appropriate to diverse user groups. K. A . Gregory 76 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Finally, it is noted that the experience of conducting research for this thesis demonstrated that respondents were interested and capable of mapping behaviour, public space use, etc. However, respondents seemed less able (and perhaps willing) to identify more specific features of the urban landscape that contribute to the overall sense of place. This experience is not discussed for the purpose of devaluing the approach used, but rather emphasizing the need for a combination of evaluative tools and approaches. As Zimring et al. (1988) notes, "convergent validity" is achieved by using several research methods to compensate for gaps in knowledge. It is argued that this approach would be most effective in teasing out the finer details that contribute to sense of place, spirit of place, place attachment, etc. This is a particularly critical given that "the internal texture of a settlement is probably more important to its quality than many of the gross map patterns that have usually attracted design attention" (Lynch, 1981, 261). • Recommendation - Incremental and evaluative approaches to planning and design of the Yaletown public realm should be undertaken for the purposes of creating appropriate, livable spaces. Yaletown is in a state of flux — some projects are built out, while others are not yet developed, and still others are on the sketchboards of designers. Inevitably, this dynamic environment requires incremental and evaluative planning and design approaches to ensure that change occurs gradually, and in response to user needs and the context of the existing environment. 5.3.2 Interdisciplinary, Inclusive, and Holistic Approaches Planning and design can not work in isolation within their respective disciplines. Partnerships within the fields of sociology, commerce, education, behavioural science, etc. are integral to the creation of valued public places of meaning. For example, Weisbrod and Pollakowski (1984) argue that design alone will not increase retail viability. Specific promotion strategies, accessibility strategies, sponsored activities, etc. are also critical to the success and longevity of retail. In effect, design is only part of a comprehensive downtown economic development program. This argument is echoed by Hartford (1993) who observes that improvements to the streetscape are eventually taken for granted. Therefore, he proposes that design be accompanied by marketing initiatives that bring to light the "resource" that has been created through capital works projects. While the City of Vancouver (Planning, Engineering, and Parks departments) and the Y B I A have been particularly instrumental in the development of Yaletown, the former in planning and design, the latter in programming and marketing, this case study demonstrates that the public realm is still in need of local improvements. An interdisciplinary and inclusive approach through partnerships with local community groups would facilitate this change. Further to allowing professionals to draw on a diversity of local K. A . Gregory 77 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities wealth and knowledge, the benefit of adopting a social design approach lies in its ability to increase sense of place. Research has established a link between public participation and increased place attachment which suggests that providing opportunities for public participation among local users would also encourage sense of place (Francis, 1989). This is particularly critical in light of survey findings which indicated that only 43 percent of respondents felt a strong place attachment to Yaletown. It is important to note that an interdisciplinary and inclusive approach will prove only moderately effective unless provisions are made for a more holistic approach that provides links between the Yaletown public realm and the rest of the city. An holistic approach to public realm planning and design could be achieved through the development and implementation of a comprehensive public realm plan for the city. The benefits of creating a comprehensive plan lie in opportunities for increased equity and accessibility. For example, in their comparative study of public space in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Loukaitou-Sideris and Banerjee (1993) note that San Francisco has a comprehensive master plan and design guidelines for the downtown, while Los Angeles does not. Their research indicated that San Francisco's plazas were more equitably distributed, and therefore, theoretically better served all user groups within the city. This was made possible by the plan that allowed existing deficiencies to be identified and desirable patterns of public space to be brought to the forefront. Further to addressing issues of equity and access, a public realm plan for the City of Vancouver would provide continuity within the urban landscape. This is not to imply the creation of a homogenized public realm, but rather a public realm that shares overarching principles of design which can be retrofitted to the unique character of each community. For example, a comprehensive plan could ensure that sidewalks were given visual priority over streets and lanes to ensure pedestrian safety in the public realm. Paving design, signage, etc. would then be developed to complement design guidelines within each community. While some areas (i.e. Kerrisdale and Chinatown) have been aesthetically planned and designed in the interest of pedestrian safety, others have been less successful, thus suggesting the need for a comprehensive plan (Duncan, 2000). Figure 20: Chinatown Streetscape K. A. Gregory 78 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities At present the public realm is developed on a site-by-site basis. While this has implications in terms of equity, accessibility, and continuity in built form, it may also adversely affect opportunities for creating linkages at the site and community levels. A comprehensive public realm plan could benefit the city by easing spatial transitions in the public realm by identifying compatible (or "like") design objectives which could then be expressed in patterns of built form broadly similar from one community to the next. In effect, this would create linkages between communities, and contribute to a city-wide shared sense of place. • Recommendation - An interdisciplinary, inclusive, and holistic approach to the planning and design of the Yaletown public realm should be adopted. Partnerships among public, private, and voluntary sectors are important in terms of accessing a wide breadth of information that can be applied to appropriate planning and design of the public realm. Moreover, this allows for increased sense of place and place attachment through direct action and involvement among users of the public realm. Further to interdisciplinary and inclusive approaches, a holistic approach is recommended. A comprehensive public realm plan will result in a more equitable and accessible public realm, continuity in the urban landscape, and linkages among public spaces throughout the city. 5.4 I M P L E M E N T A T I O N AND F E A S A B I L I T Y The City of Vancouver has policies and programs in place to provide for the public realm. As discussed earlier, these include for example the Vancouver Greenways Plan, DCLs, and the percent-for-art program. Other examples such as the Neighbourhood Greenways Program and the Green Streets Program illustrate creative example of partnerships between the City and the community to improve the public realm. The former program provides small neighbourhood- based greenways through locally initiated plans that are later designed, developed, and constructed with the assistance of the City. Examples of neighbourhood greenways in Vancouver include the Keefer Street Overpass and the Prince Albert Greenway (City of Vancouver, 2000b). Similarly, the Green Streets Program encourages neighbourhoods to beautify the public realm by creating street gardens. Through greening traffic circles and corner bulges, neighbourhoods are able to participate in public realm enhancement at the local level (City of Vancouver, 2000c)20. Yaletown is still in a state of transformation and growth. Therefore, while it has profited from some of Traffic and circle bulges are traffic calming devices that are used in the city to slow traffic in residential areas. K. A. Gregory 79 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities the aforementioned policies and programs, it would still do to benefit from incremental improvements, particularly through local partnerships with the City. Improving the public realm through partnership initiatives is particularly desirable in light of the benefits of a social design approach which encourages user participation. As Lynch notes, public participation encourages ownership at the local level, which in turn, strengthens mental connection to place (Lynch, 1981). Undoubtedly, less tangible benefits such as local pride and ownership, sense of place, and more valued environments are important concerns that should be considered further to aesthetic improvement and the economic windfalls of public realm planning and design. It is expected that these partnerships will eventually develop and flourish with time as the resident and working populations establish themselves in the area. In the meantime, the Y B I A has played a valuable role in fostering community partnerships21. It is important to note however, that the Y B I A is currently experiencing the financial stress of implementing infrastructure, programs, and initiatives to improve and maintain the public realm. The general sentiment expressed by the Y B I A is that the City is passing off its responsibilities to the Association, and this has left it with a wish list of things to do that are increasingly becoming difficult to achieve (Hunt, 1999). In an effort to rectify its situation, the Y B I A has looked to similar revitalization initiatives (i.e. the Pearl District in Portland) for instruction on operation and funding. Since the Association is only just over a year old, it is uncertain to what extent it will implement alternative operation and funding strategies to their advantage in the future, or how these might be linked to the business community. It is expected that the feasibility of implementing the recommendations presented in sections 5.1 and 5.2 will be increased substantially if the City extends its already existing partnership with the business community to include the resident population. Currently, there are no resident associations in Yaletown, however the Downtown Vancouver Association, and Downtown South Residents' Rights Association may provide a good starting point for new forms of community involvement in public realm planning and design with the City. 5.5 C O N C L U S I O N This chapter has indicated that indeed, a social design approach to research is effective in generating information pertinent to public realm planning and design for more livable communities. This is illustrated in areas for public realm improvement (i.e. transportation, signage, vegetation, street furniture, 2 1 Partnerships have been formed between business owners and the Ci ty of Vancouver. This does not include local residents. K. A . Gregory 80 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities weather protection, and public art) which have been discussed. The design elements that have been presented are not meant to illustrate a complete range of opportunities available for improvement to the public realm. However, they address a broad range of issues that are both relevant to the survey, and specific to the context of Yaletown, thus providing a strong starting point for future improvements to the public realm. It is acknowledged that ultimately planners, designers, and the local community will influence how the public realm is manipulated to advantage through creative development and management of design elements. However, it is argued that no matter what direction this might take, the approaches to planning and design that have been presented should be used to guide future endeavours. Incremental and evaluative approaches, combined with interdisciplinary, inclusive, and holistic approaches provide a sound basis for future planning and design initiatives. In essence, approaches that are rooted in the ideology of social design - placemaking with people - are essential to creating a more livable community in Yaletown. Placemaking with people can be achieved in many ways and take several forms. In the initial stages it can involve identifying needs and values, perceived problems, and community goals. This can be achieved informally through community social gatherings, and more formally through exploratory surveys, community meetings, etc. Notably however, the extent which planners and designers direct this activity will ultimately determine the degree which planning and design is truly participatory. For example, informing and consultation are less conducive to attaining citizen power than partnership, delegated power, and citizen control (Arnstein, 1969). While this is discussed to illustrate the varying degrees of participation, it is not meant to suggest that the ultimate objective should be complete autonomy from the professional expertise of planning and design. Ideally, public realm planning and design should be a reciprocal activity that is shared between the municipality and community. In some cases the recommendations that have been presented imply the need for City action. However, in others it has been left more obtuse so that the community (or users of the public realm) can take action as they see appropriate. As Amstein (1969, 222) notes, "in most cases where power has come to be shared it was taken by citizens, not given by the city". Nonetheless, examples of how people may work in partnership with the City can be demonstrated. For example: • A community signage project - The City could work with the community to facilitate a legible and communicative environment. Rather than the traditional approach of installing plaques to indicate the K. A . Gregory 81 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities historic legacy of the area, the community could celebrate the future of Yaletown with a public art piece designed and planned in partnership with the City, but built by the community. Examples of public art might include mediums that communicate community visions and aspirations for the future (i.e. a community quilt (to be hung as a mural), locally designed banners that change design with the seasons, etc.). • An eclectic community garden initiative - The City and community could collectively determine the perceived value of a community garden, feasibility, and most optimal locale. The community would then be responsible for its design and eventual maintenance so as to ensure activity and involvement and encourage sense of place and place attachment. The number of creative options is limitless, however this alone will not ensure long-term success. To realize placemaking with people, those living and working in Yaletown must self-organize and build some element of local cohesivity. As Arnstein (1969) notes, partnerships work most effectively when there is an organized community body that encourages accountability on the part of those who are traditionally in a leadership role. In light of this, it is argued that the feasibility of successfully implementing the recommendations presented (and those not yet verbalized or conceived) will be increased substantially if: a) the City extends its already existing partnership with the business community to include the resident population, and b) the community creates a formal representative body to facilitate meaningful and appropriate change in the public realm. K. A . Gregory 82 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities CHAPTER SIX - 6.0 SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 6.1 I N T R O D U C T I O N Through a combination of literature review and case-based methods, this thesis has provided a comprehensive exploration of public realm planning and design from a social design perspective. This chapter presents the conclusions that draw on this research, and recommendations that are meant to provoke creative thought, professional and community-based action, and future research. 6.2 S U M M A R Y C O N C L U S I O N S 6.2.1 What is the role of the public realm in urban North America? The role of the public realm has undergone a series of transformations. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the public realm was the centre of individual, family, and community living experiences. However, the necessity of "living" in the public realm increasingly dissipated with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Consequently, the public realm began to assume more physical design functions that included providing distances between buildings, separating functions, etc. Therefore, the public realm's traditional role as a substrate for social interaction and community building began to change. The advent of privatization has further perpetuated this transformation in the public realm, leading to what critics have termed, "commodification of the public realm" and an overwhelming "placelessness" among cities. Nonetheless, whether as lost space (i.e. empty parking lots, voids between buildings, etc.), contested space (i.e. sites of turf wars) or valued places (i.e. town halls, community gardens, pubic libraries, etc.), the public realm in its various forms has shaped the North American landscape. Since spatial design influences the type of behaviour, activities, and social contacts of place (Lennard, 1987), the transformation of the public realm has impacted the lives of North Americans, and in turn, their experiences of urbanity, community, and place. History demonstrates that urban planning and design has undergone several transitions that have impacted people's experiences of urbanity. For example, while the Reform era (1900-1930) sought to manipulate the physical environment for the purposes of maintaining social order and neutralizing socio-economic inequities, the Functionalist era (1930s) influenced the spatial dynamics of the city, and subsequently, opportunities for social interaction (Cranz, 1982; Gehl, 1987). While this influenced people's experience of urbanity (i.e. city as laboratory for change, forum for social upheaval, etc.), it also impacted the experience of community. For example, when the intimate town square was replaced by the suburban parking lot, the definition of public space and how humans interacted within it also changed. In effect, this contributed to the decline of life in the public realm, and further eroded the desire (or perceived need) K. A . Gregory 83 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities for urban public space. This has been detrimental to the fundamental experience of place, in effect leading to lost space and an overall placelessness. 6.2.2 How does social design and place-based planning and design approaches contribute to the public realm? The flexibility of planning and design in the post-modern era provides an opportunity for planners and designers to rectify past wrongs. This is reflected in the hybrid nature of post-modernism that allows for synchronicity of opposite forms, feelings, and intents in an amalgamated form that is recognized as the post-modern city. In effect, the best of "what works" from earlier eras is incorporated into the existing urban framework so as to create (at least theoretically) more livable cities. While social design was developed during the modernist era, it has very much been incorporated into the post-modern ideology. For example, post-modernism reflects numerous ways of knowing, as does social design which has theoretical underpinnings in both ecological theory and humanistic psychology theory. Similarly, place-based planning and design acknowledges the human-environment relationship and the diverse ways of experiencing meaning in the public realm. Through interdisciplinary involvement and user participation, social design perpetuates a public realm that is unique, expressive, and responsive to the context of the environment and the people within it. This is also true of place-based planning and design that acknowledges the human-environment experience and the importance of fit. Essentially, the evolution and eventual proliferation of social design and place-based planning and design approaches has impacted how the public realm is shaped, and in turn how it is perceived and used. The future is encouraging - professionals are adopting participatory processes, communities are becoming more involved, and planning and design is becoming more human-oriented. In professional practice, this means greater access to information that otherwise may have been difficult to obtain, stronger community partnerships, and an increased chance that plans and designs will be accepted by future users. In turn, communities gain a sense of local ownership and pride, a renewed sense of place, and a useable public realm that contributes to their experience of place. To what extent this has impacted perception and use of the public realm is still under debate. However, it can be assumed that the adoption of social design and place-based planning and design approaches is demonstrative of an increasingly widespread faith in the immediate and long-term benefits of contemporary urban planning and design which provide "a more personal and contextual design solution" (Ley, 1987, 40) 2 2. Note that Ley is referring to post-modernism as compared to its modernist counterpart. K. A . Gregory 84 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities What lessons can be learned from the Yaletown public realm case study? The case study was undertaken in Yaletown to illustrate the current opportunities that exist for urban revitalization, and the importance of maintaining sense of place within the context of change. Through research into how people living and working in Yaletown access, use, and perceive the public realm, it was confirmed that user participation in public realm studies can be effective in gaining a better understanding of human-environment relationships. For example, the survey findings identified patterns of behaviour and local perceptions which demonstrated that the Yaletown public realm has a functional purpose, aesthetic quality, and symbolic meaning. These findings are beneficial in terms of providing the incentive for incremental improvements to the public realm so as to enrich place experiences among local users. Survey findings also proved to be useful in terms of gaining a better understanding of how the public realm might be planned and designed to meet the individual and collective needs and values of local users. This information will provide a sound basis for future planning and design initiatives - either municipal, private, or community driven - to create appropriate public space, and in effect, a more livable Yaletown. The most important lesson that can be drawn from the experience of undertaking the case study is that the survey participants were interested and capable of participating in efforts to understand, and eventually improve the public realm. This indicates that as the lower Mainland continues to experience growth and change, the users of the public realm should be encouraged to participate at all stages of planning and design. As Lynch (1960, 3) notes, "we must consider not just the city as a thing in itself but the city being perceived by its inhabitants". While the urban mega-projects and redevelopment plans for Vancouver will allow the city to secede from the Canadian trend toward disinvestment and decline in core urban areas (Hutton, 1998), it is argued that this will not transpire unless urban change occurs in such a way as to preserve and enhance place, sense of place, and the integrity of the public realm. In essence, planning and design professionals and local communities must work collectively toward creating appropriate places that contribute to healthy experiences and more livable communities. A social design approach to public realm planning and design provides a framework for achieving this. 6.2.3 What does "all of this" mean in terms of livability? Privatization, advances in technology, and continued development and growth will change the nature of the public realm. However, as expressed by Bentley, the public realm will always remain part of the urban experience because it is an important medium for communication and exchange among humans: K. A . Gregory 85 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities "Cities exist for process of communication and exchange between people - that is the only reason for having them in the first place - and public space is a key medium through which these processes take place. In capitalist contexts, it is easy enough to commodify communications media in general; as with the mail, the telephone, the fax and so forth. Still, face to face contact is crucial in many situations, and to achieve this, people have to traverse pubic space, which can therefore never be eliminated from the urban raison d'etre" (Bentley, 1993, 72). Municipal policy ensures the continued viability of the public realm through development cost levies (DCLs) and initiatives such as the Percent-for-Art program wherein developers are obliged to make financial contributions toward maintaining and improving the public realm. However, as noted by Whyte (1980), provision for public space does not necessarily equate with appropriate public space that is conducive to human activity and compatible to user needs and values. Therefore, new development and revitalization efforts must be planned and designed to perpetuate the existing value of public space, while creating new opportunities for meaningful experiences through life in public. This is critical given that "urban public space is the single most important element in establishing a city's livability" (Crowhurst Lennard and Lennard, 1995, 25). Collaboration between professionals and community to create public spaces that enhance valued places and community spaces, increase legibility and accessibility, add diversity and meaning to the environment, etc. will be important in terms of providing direct benefits to the local community. However, it would be remiss to ignore the larger implications of a social design approach to creating more livable communities. The nature of globalization suggests that communities are nested in a complex network of global cities. As such, it is to a city's competitive advantage to strive toward more livable communities. As Boyer (1993, 125) notes, "Cities are competing, and their edge is livability ... Livability is the new measure of cities. It is the qualitative scale on which they must compete for emerging opportunities". If the livability of the public realm is considered under the pretext of globalization, perhaps "creating more livable communities" will be more desirable, and thus more feasible. In light of the human-environment relationship, significance of the public realm, and current context of the public realm in the contemporary city, it is useful to reflect on the words of Relph. He contends that landscape is "an expression of communally held beliefs and values and of interpersonal involvements" (1976, 34). This argument can not be refuted, however it does lead one to question to what extent the landscape (or public realm) is permitted to act as an expression of community. References to recent projects including the Garden Drive Project and Wellness Walkways suggest that the public realm can be reflective of community despite overarching constraints imposed by zoning regulations, design guidelines, and other municipal tools. While it has been noted that Yaletown requires incremental K. A . Gregory 86 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities improvements to its public realm, nonetheless, it too demonstrates a valiant effort to provide appropriate and meaningful public space. It is important to note however, that in the Garden Drive and Wellness Walkways projects local community was very much involved in planning and design. Conversely, in Yaletown it would appear that apart from the standard practice of public consultation, the local community was not involved in shaping the public realm. The former scenario is desirable over the latter since the degree of involvement in participatory placemaking will ultimately influence the expression and growth of community and place identity (Dovey, 1985). Nonetheless, all of these cases demonstrate an attempt to infuse meaning into the environment and create sense of place. However, these examples are not illustrative of the overall state of the public realm. While Ley (1987) is correct in arguing that post-modernism responds to placelessness and the need for urban community, the actual realization of this response is still forthcoming in the contemporary city. A transition to social design approaches has been (and will likely continue to be) a gradual process. Whether the rate of urban development and change keeps pace with this transition will eventually determine the success of cities in achieving more livable communities. 6.3 R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S F O R F U T U R E R E S E A R C H 6.3.1 Case Study The case study research presented in this thesis revealed that accessibility is a key determinant of how public space is accessed and used. It is therefore recommended that research be undertaken to further explore how the Yaletown public realm can become more accessible to local users. Research on accessibility could explore issues including the development of functional and creative signage (i.e. communicative, thematic, etc.), interpretative pathways to link public spaces in Yaletown, and programming that encourages equitable access to the Yaletown public realm. Since the aesthetics of public space also determines the intensity of its use, research could explore participatory design techniques as a means toward creating an aesthetic public realm that engenders sense of place among its users. Improving accessibility, creating a more aesthetic environment, and encouraging public participation are cost-intensive activities. The costs associated with undertaking these recommendations can be particularly dissuading to private or community-based (volunteer) organizations who may not have the funds to support public realm improvement initiatives. Therefore, it is also recommended that comparative, case-based research be undertaken to learn how cities have creatively funded public realm planning and management, and how this might be applied in the context of Yaletown. K . A . Gregory 87 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Lastly, it is noted that an interesting research endeavour would be to undertake a similar case study on access, use, and perception using a different sample population. The case study research presented in this thesis primarily draws from a survey using working, non-resident respondents. A comparative study could explore the differences observed between for example, working non-residents versus people who live and work in Yaletown. It is hypothesized that people living and working in Yaletown would have a stronger place attachment and more developed sense of place. It is also expected that use of public space might be higher among working residents. If the results confirmed this hypothesis, research could then explore how planning and design might facilitate access, encourage increased use of public space (during and outside of work hours), and ameliorate perceptions of the public realm among working non-residents. 6.3.2. Academic pursuits The public realm has traditionally come under the study of more design oriented professions including architecture and landscape architecture. Conversely, it would appear that planning has played a more peripheral role in public realm planning and design. However, it is expected that as the public realm becomes increasingly threatened by urban change - whether through urban revitalization, privatization, and/or rapid growth - the planners' policy development and implementation skills will become ever more valued. This is particularly true given that the social consciousness that instigated the social design movement persists into the present. As such, concerns pertaining to equity and accessibility are still very much on the public agenda, and therefore must be addressed through policy in for example the form of comprehensive plans. Moreover, as participatory processes and consensus-based decision-making gain momentum, it is also expected that the demand for skills that planners offer in the areas of negotiation and mediation will rise accordingly. Evidently, there will be an increasing need to incorporate planning into what has been traditionally the design milieu. This is encouraging since the profession offers a unique contribution to public realm planning - it is firmly rooted in urban policy, and yet still capable of bringing a human element to the field of design. In light of this, it is recommended that planners capitalize on, and further hone their skills by undertaking academic pursuits in public realm planning and design under the guidance of social design principles and approaches. In keeping with the purpose and objective of this thesis, it is recommended that future research be undertaken to understand sense of place and place attachment, and how they impact participatory placemaking processes within the public realm. Other recommended topics of research include an evaluation into how the inconsistencies in the development, implementation, and evaluation of K. A . Gregory 88 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities participatory placemaking might be rectified through advances in ICT. Furthermore, it would be useful to undertake an examination of government policy (i.e. within a municipal framework) so as to determine whether sense of place, community identity, and the perceived value of place are being considered in urban planning and development, and in turn, how this affects the public realm. Clearly, this thesis is capable of stimulating a breadth of opportunities for creative research in the future. Whatever form these academic pursuits may take, it is hoped that they will make a contribution to the livability of the community under study, and more broadly, to the present and future living experiences of humans and the environment that they have appropriated. 6.4 C O N C L U S I O N The role of the public realm in urban North America has undergone a series of transformations. Nonetheless, it still maintains an important role in influencing experiences of urbanity, community, and place. The emergence of social design has perpetuated these experiences by advancing unique, expressive, and contextually appropriate public realm planning and design through more inclusive and interdisciplinary processes. In an attempt to undertake user-based research rooted in the ideology of social design, the case study demonstrated that user participation in public realm studies can be effective in gaining a better understanding of human-environment relationships. In effect, this is useful in determining how the public realm might be planned and designed to meet the individual and collective needs, values, and expectations of local users, and thus create a more livable community. Cities such as Vancouver should support urban change that promotes livability by preserving and enhancing the value of place, sense of place, and the integrity of the public realm. The local and global ramifications of livability suggest that more livable cities will be successful in avoiding trends toward inner-city disinvestment and decline. While a social design approach to public realm planning and design provides a means for achieving livability, it is noted that a transition toward a fuller embrace of this approach has been, and will likely continue to be, slow in coming. On this basis, it is argued that the extent which the transition toward a social design approach to public realm planning and design keeps pace with the rate of urban development and change will determine the eventual success of cities in achieving more livable communities. K. A . Gregory 89 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities REFERENCES: Al-Kodmany, K . (1999) "Combining Artistry and Technology in Participatory-Community Planning". Berkeley Planning Journal. -(13): 28-36. Arishenkoff, Lilian M . "Planning the Public Realm: A Public Space Framework and Strategy for Downtown New Westminster", Thesis (M.A.), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1997. Arnstein, Sherry R. (1969) " A Ladder of Citizen Participation". American Institute of Planners Journal. 35: 216-224. Baker McGarva Hart - SNC Lavalin Ward Consulting. "Vancouver Downtown Streetcar Study", report for the City of Vancouver, 1999. Beauregard , Robert A . and Briavel Holcomb. 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"Garden Drive Comes Alive: Piloting New Criteria for Residential Streets" (unpublished article), 1996. Rappoport, Amos. Human Aspects of Urban Form. Toronto: Pergamon of Canada Ltd., 1977. Relph, Edward. Chapter 2: "Modernity and the Reclamation of Place", in Dwelling, Seeing, and Designing - Toward a Phenomenological Ecology. David Seamon (ed.) New York: State University Press, 1993. Relph, E. Chapter 11 - "Post-Modernism in Planning and Architecture: 1970 - ", in The Modern Urban Landscape. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1987. Relph, E. Place and Placelessness. London: Pion Limited, 1976. Roberts, M . and C. Marsh. (1995) "For Art's Sake: Public Art, Planning Policies and the Benefits of Community Property". Planning Practice and Research. 10(2): 189-198. Roddewig, Richard J. Loft Conversions: Planning Issues, Problems, and Prospects. Chicago: A P A , 1981. K. A . Gregory 94 Public Realm Planning and Design: Creating More Livable Communities Salzano, Edoardo. "Seven Aims for the Livable City", in Making Cities Livable. Suzanne H . Crowhurst Lennard, Sven von Ungern-Steinberg, and Henry L . Lennard (eds.). Carmel, California: Gondolier Press, 1997. Sanoff, Henry. Integrating Programming, Evaluation and Participation in Design. Aldershot: Avebury, 1992. Schneekloth, Lynda H . (1985) Book review on Social Design: Creating Buildings with People in Mind. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research. 2(2): 143-146.1985 Schneekloth, Lynda H. and Robert G. Shibley. Placemaking - The Art and Practice of Building Communities. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1995. Sommer, Robert. Social Design - Creating Buildings With People in Mind. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1983. Sommer, Robert. Design Awareness. San Francisco: Rinehart Press, 1972. Southworth, Michael. Landscapes for Learning: Studies in Environmental Interpretation and Exploration (Working Paper 578). 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Gregory 96 Faculty of Graduate Studies B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A S c h o o l o f C o m m u n i t y and Reg iona l P l a n n i n g 433 - 6333 M e m o r i a l Road Vancouver , B C Canada V 6 T 1Z2 www.scarp.ubc.ca Te l : (604) 822-3276 Fax: (604) 822-3787 PUBLIC SPACE ACCESS -Please refer to map 1 which outlines the geographic location of Yaletown. Questions one and four of this section will require that you use the map directly. 1. Please circle in green ink the intersection that you use most frequently to enter into Yaletown. Please circle the location by which you exit the neighbourhood on the map provided with red ink. 2. Is there a particular reason you enter/exit Yaletown by the areas outlined on the map? 3. Please draw the route that you take most frequently through Yaletown in blue ink on the map provided. 4. What mode of transportation do you use most frequently along the route indicated in #3? • walking • cycling • driving (automobile) • public transportation • other 5. Are there any public spaces that are focal points of interest as you enter, exit, or make your way through Yaletown? Please explain. 6. Have you chosen the enter/exit pattern or route taken through Yaletown for the purpose of experiencing the public space(s) described in #5? T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F 98 Faculty of Graduate Studies T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A S c h o o l o f C o m m u n i t y and R e g i o n a l P l a n n i n g 433 - 6333 M e m o r i a l Road Vancouver , B C Canada V 6 T 1 Z 2 www.scarp.ubc.ca Te l : (604) 822-3276 Fax: (604) 822-3787 P U B L I C S P A C E USE -Please refer to map 2 which illustrates examples of public spaces in Yaletown. The first question of this section will require that you use the map as a reference. 1. Using map 2 as a reference, please assign a check ( / ) to each of the ten examples of public space to indicate frequency of use. EXAMPLE of public space USE Never Almost Never Sometimes Often 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8a 8b 9 10 11 other 2. What type of activity brings you to the public space that you use "often"? LF you have chosen more than one public space, please pick the one that you use MOST often. • working (e.g. on route to work, lunch break, etc.) • shopping • recreation (e.g. rollerblading, walking, jogging, etc.) • passive leisure (e.g. strolling, reading, people watching, etc.) • other 9 9 Faculty of Graduate Studies T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A S c h o o l o f C o m m u n i t y and R e g i o n a l P l a n n i n g 433 - 6333 M e m o r i a l Road Vancouver , B C Canada V 6 T 1Z2 www.scarp.ubc.ca Te l : (604) 822-3276 Fax: (604) 822-3787 3. Please circle the most appropriate number to describe the nature of the public space ranked as "often" used on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the least desirable. Again, O N L Y select the MOST often used public space. 1 2 3 poorly accessible 1 2 3 large scale and poor definition (i.e. large, sprawling open space) 1 2 3 aesthetically unpleasant 1 2 3 historical character absent 1 2 3 low intrigue (monotone environment) 1 2 3 minimal opportunity for interaction highly accessible small scale and clear definition (small, well-defined space) aesthetically pleasant historical character present high intrigue (opportunities for discovery) high opportunity for interaction 1 2 minimally vegetated 1 2 minimally diverse (i.e. not stimulating to the senses, limited furnishings) 1 2 open to surroundings highly vegetated diverse (i.e. stimulating to the to the senses, variety of furnishings) enclosed (i.e. sense of being hidden) 1 2 unwelcoming 1 other 2 welcoming 5 100 Faculty of Graduate Studies T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A S c h o o l o f C o m m u n i t y and Reg iona l P l a n n i n g 433 - 6333 M e m o r i a l Road Vancouver , B C Canada V 6 T 1 Z 2 www.scarp.ubc.ca Te l : (604) 822-3276 Fax: (604) 822-3787 4. Which descriptor listed in #3 best describes why you are inclined to use the public space often? 5. Referring again to the public space(s) that you use most "often", do you actively seek out this space when you are in Yaletown? • yes do you use this space because it is conveniently located (e.g. close to where you live or work)? • no • sometimes • yes • no 6. Please explain why you ranked some public spaces as being used "almost never" or 7. Do you feel that public spaces are highly used in Yaletown? • yes • no Please describe why there may (or may not be) substantial activity in public spaces throughout Yaletown. P U B L I C S P A C E P E R C E P T I O N -P l e a s e refer to map 3 o f Y a l e t o w n as a po in t of r e f e r e n c e . The first t w o ques t i ons of this s e c t i o n will r equ i r e t h a t y o u use t h e m a p d i r ec t l y . 1. Using red ink, please indicate on the map what public spaces in Yaletown you perceive as being highly valued by the local community. (Do not feel that you are limited to the examples of public space presented). 101 Faculty of Graduate Studies, T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A S c h o o l o f C o m m u n i t y and R e g i o n a l P l a n n i n g 433 - 6333 M e m o r i a l Road Vancouver , B C Canada V 6 T 1 Z 2 www.scarp.ubc.ca Tel : (604) 822-3276 Fax: (604) 822-3787 2. Using green ink, please indicate on the map public spaces in Yaletown that have a strong community (or "Yaletown") feel. (Do not feel that you are limited to the examples of public space presented). 3. Please describe what features (e.g. aesthetic quality, location, etc.) of public spaces identified in #2 indicate a strong community (or "Yaletown") feel. 4. Do you feel any strong attachment to Yaletown? Please list reasons why. 5. Please describe what types of public spaces in Yaletown (or otherwise) you feel particularly drawn to and why. 6. What types of public spaces might be created or improved to enhance the quality of experiences (working, living, etc.) in Yaletown and Vancouver generally? P A R T I C I P A N T I N F O R M A T I O N : A g e : Please circ le the most appropr ia te a g e ca t ego r y -0-20:21-35; 36-50; 50+ Status: Please circ le the ca t ego ry that most a ccu ra te l y descr ibes your situation -Working (outside of home) ; Working (at home) ; Unemployed/Ret i red ; Student Relationship: Please c o m p l e t e the fol lowing sen tence by circl ing o n e of the descriptors-1... live; work; live a n d work; d o not live or work ... in Ya le town . Thank you very much for your time! Would you like a c o p y of the final report? • yes • no If yes, wou ld you like a c o p y in e lectronic or p a p e r format? N a m e a n d Address E-mail 102 A P P E N D I X B ! R A W D A T A F R O M S U R V E Y PUBLIC SPACE ACCESS -1. See "gateways" map 2. Public transport 5 Proximity to Residence 6 Location of Work 1 Convenience (i.e. Fastest or most obvious rout, least congested, etc.) 12 Other (i.e. Conducive to cycl ing, able to for coffee before work, etc.) 4 N o Reason / Answer 2 3. See "pathways" map 4. Walk ing 15 Cyc l ing 3 Dr iv ing 13 Public Transport 2 Other 1 5. Yes 20 N o 7 N o Answer 3 Reasons cited for "yes " -Roundhouse 4 Seawall 3 Vancouver Publ ic Library 3 B C Place 1 B i l l Curtis Square (Mainland and Davie intersection) 4 David L a m Park 1 Urban Fare (Davie and Pacif ic intersection) 3 Restaurants 1 Docks 2 Shops 1 New Construction 1 Traffic 1 News Stands 1 Public Art 2 Broad Sidewalks on North Side of Pacific 1 Waterfront Park off Drake 1 Parking 1 Ferry Dock to Granvil le Island 1 Vacant Lot at Davie and Hamil ton 1 106 6. Yes 6 N o 22 N o Answer 2 PUBLIC SPACE USE -1. Never Almost Never Sometimes Often David L a m Park 11 4 11 4 Roundhouse 9 7 9 5 Pacif ic Boulevard 4 4 10 11 Seawall 4 5 13 8 B i l l Curtis Square 13 8 4 4 Helmcken Park 17 8 4 1 Mainland Street 6 3 9 12 Hamilton Street 6 5 9 10 Hamilton Street 11 8 8 3 Homer Street . 6 1 15 8 Library Square 2 3 17 8 Cooper's Park 14 5 8 1 Other 0 1 1 0 2. Working 19 Shopping 2 Recreation 8 Passive Leisure 3 Other 3 N o Answer 1 107 3. 1 2 Sca le 3 4 5 R a t i n g 0 Poorly Accessible 1 6 8 13 Highly Accessible 1 Large Scale, Poor Definition 2 10 10 5 Small Scale, Clear Definition 1 Aesthetically Unpleasant 1 5 11 10 Aesthetically Pleasant 2 Historical Character Absent 1 9 9 8 Historical Character Present 1 Low Intrigue 2 13 5 5 High Intrigue 1 Minimal Opportunity for Interaction l 7 13 5 High Opportunity for Interaction 6 Minimally Vegetated 4 8 7 1 Highly Vegetated 1 Minimally Diverse 1 10 13 2 Diverse 3 Open to Surroundings 5 10 8 1 Enclosed 0 Unwelcoming 1 8 10 7 Welcoming Other (noise, parking, utility, cleanliness) 4. Aesthetically Pleasant 5 Aesthetically Unpleasant 1 Historical Character Present ' 3 Uti l i ty (e.g. place of work; to view exhibitions) • 3 High Opportunity for Interaction 1 Diversity 2 Convenience 1 Highly Accessible 5 Other (i.e. peaceful and inspirational; scale and sense of place) 3 N o Answer 9 5. Yes 13 N o 4 Sometimes 12 No Answer 1 Yes 29 N o 1 108 6. N o Reason / N o Answer 6 N o Need, Interest, or Reason 7 Aesthetics 1 Awareness 4 Time 3 Place of Residence 3 Design 2 Act iv i ty and Interest 3 Parking 1 Location Preference 1 Well-Being 1 Accessibi l i ty and Locat ion 10 7. Yes 13 N o 13 N o Answer 4 Reasons for why there might be substantial activity -• Children • Convenience • Ease of access due to commercial presence • Public spaces in good radius of each other • H igh resident population • Accessibi l i ty (i.e. conversion to trendy / commonplace environment) • Attractive, sunny, and close by • Proximity to water/ seawall • H igh concentration of shops • Population profile (i.e. residents are young, affluent, and active with a lot of leisure time) • High number of people working and recreating in the area Reasons for why there may not be substantial activity -• Sti l l mainly a business area • Mislabel led [as exclusive] and therefore not open to vendors • Landscaping is minimal , lack of trees and shade • Lack of interest - too planned • Not enough shops, restaurants, or tourist-oriented streets • Discourages interaction • Parking (i.e. not enough and all pay parking, perceptions of poor parking) • Weather • Lack of public washrooms • Lack of sheltered places • Nature of the people that live and work in Yaletown • Barriers to access (i.e. fences separating people from public spaces) • Areas is too new - somewhat unfinished) • Area is unknown • Lack of residential outdoor space (i.e. community gardens) • Unsafe PUBLIC SPACE PERCEPTION -1. See "valued places" map 109 2. See "community spaces" map 3. Features that indicate a strong community feel -• Recreational settings • Equal access • Materials used in built form (i.e. brick buildings, cobblestone walkways, historical fixtures, benches) • Character of the area (i.e. hip feel) • Aesthetics • Location (i.e. convenient and centrally located) • Urban design (i.e. consistent style of built form, low rise, small/dense, and narrow streets) • Urban quality • Open space and sense of openness • Good design (i.e. seawall) • Historic architecture (e.g. Lof t conversions and renovations that are unique and upscale, sense of history) • H igh level of (pedestrian) use, populated, busy intersection • Natural features (natural environment in the city, yet still fee a sense of being away from built form) • Features related to art and culture versus commerce • Programs, facilities, and recreation opportunities • Acts as a meeting place - high opportunity for interaction • Small scale of space relative to buildings • Passive activities • Views (i.e. of Granvil le Island) 4. Yes 13 N o 12 Marginal / Unsure 3 N o Answer 2 Reasons listed for no attachment -• Not a resident • Urban design (i.e. "hotch potch of styles", too glitzy and new) • Time constraints while at work • Area losing historic and unique feel • Lack of quality services and old shops (i.e. corner stores, hardware stores, mom 'n pop restaurants) • Becoming too high end • Preference for more natural settings (i.e. more nature, less intentional) (NB. Not everyone that answered " n o " gave reasons for doing so) 5. Socio-cultural 2 Bui l t (urban) 4 Natural 7 Combination 8 None/ Invalid 9 6. • Increased diversity (i.e. by way of shops) • Street furniture • Larger sidewalks • Green space (i.e. community gardens, open parks, more street trees, family-oriented park) 110 • Water access for boating • Covered areas (i.e. indoor skate park, small covered seating areas with tables) • Public art • More "on the street" energy • Improved access (e.g. Well-defined gateways to waterfront) • Increased activity from commercial spaces on docks • Pedestrianized streets (e.g. Helmcken St.) • Loosen municipal restrictions on doing business • Better parking and awareness about its availability • Increase amenities (i.e. entertainment - playhouse, gourmet food restaurants, non-corporate cafes) • More control over f i lming and construction that impinges on the public realm • A n elevated public space to allow views • Affordable housing (to create population diversity) • B ike lanes • Public market • Respect character and density of community • More public spaces with attractions for children and families • Community gardens • Pocket parks along Homer St. toward Library Square RESPONDENT PROFILE -Age 0 t o 2 0 1 21 to 35 18 36 to 50 7 50 plus 3 Unspecified 1 Status Working Outside of Home 23 Working at Home 2 Unemployed/ Retired 3 Student 1 Unspecified 1 Act iv i ty L i ve 2 Work 23 L i ve and Work 1 Do Not L i ve or Work 3 Unspecif ied 1 111 A P P E N D I X C : P A R T I C I P A N T O B S E R V A T I O N [Note that observations pertain to pedestrians, and do not include vehicular or bicycle traffic] S I T E O N E : B I L L C U R T I S S Q U A R E Site Location: Site Description: The site is bordered to the south by Davie Street which has a high volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The docks frame the site to the west where efforts have been made to provide seating by individual retail owners. Bi l l Curtis Square sits to the east of the site at the comer of Davie Street and Mainland Street. The square is rectangular in shape, lined by trees, and amply provided with benches that line the west side. Open space in the middle of the square allows for pedestrian flow, and a shortcut through the site. Notably, no shelter is provided for protection from the elements. Generally, no real visual interest exists other than an evergreen tree that was located temporarily in the square for Christmas (not yet removed). A sign reads "no skateboarding". Observations: Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000. Time: 12:10pm to 12:30pm Weather: No precipitation, moderately sunny Number of People Observed: 108 Activities Observed: People were walking through the area without stopping, many people would park their cars and then leave the area immediately, the majority of people walked around B i l l Curtis Square rather than through it, the docks along Mainland Street were fairly empty other than the substantial amount of activity that took place in front of Starbucks, Davie Street was highly trafficked with pedestrians. 112 Date: Saturday, February 26, 2000. Time: 11:58am to 12:18pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 148 - singles and pairs Activities Observed: There were no observed instances of resting (e.g. sitting) in B i l l Curtis Square other than for one person who appeared to be homeless, Starbucks was the only place along the docks that exhibited substantial activity, Primary pathways of movement were through B i l l Curtis Square and along Davie Street, Not a lot of metered parking activity was observed along Mainland Street. Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000. Time: 11:38am to 11:58am Weather: Cloudy Number of People Observed: 149 - singles and pairs Activities Observed: Garbage removal was occurring along Mainland Street which caused traffic to back up, Mainland Street was crammed with cars parked on both sides of the street, No incidences of lingering were observed in B i l l Curtis Square other than a woman and her dog for a short period of time, The Square seemed to be used as a shortcut more than a destination, Two pairs of people were observed sitting along the docks. Date: Saturday, March 5, 2000. Time: 12:13pm to 12:33pm Weather: Sunny - although half the site was in shade Number of People Observed: 211 - singles, pairs, groups Activities Observed: Groups of people were sitting on the docks -strategically placed to catch the sun, Two children were playing on the railings, One person was observed sitting in B i l l Curtis Square to smoke, Two people sat and stood on the planters around the square to take photos. Date: Friday, March 10, 2000. Time: 12:24pm to 12:44pm Weather: Overcast Number of People Observed: 282 - singles, pairs (some groups) Activities Observed: People were walking through B i l l Curtis Square or on the sidewalk around it, Two men lingered in the square to smoke (standing), Activity in and out of shops along the docks was observed, No traffic congestion observed on Mainland Street although parking spaces were full, A lot of traffic noise was heard coming from Pacific Boulevard. 113 S I T E T W O : D A V I E S T R E E T A N D P A C I F I C B O U L E V A R D Site Location: Site description: The site has wide sidewalks which are able to support a high volume of pedestrian traffic. Decorative paving enhances the aesthetic appeal of the sidewalks and provides a unique flare. The streetscape is adorned with banners and signage, but otherwise remains unanimated primarily due to lack of storefront activity. Outdoor seating is limited to the area outside of the Roundhouse. East of the site on Davie Street, patios are provided in front of Urban Fare and Starbucks. Observations: Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000. Time: 12:40pm to 1:00pm Weather: No precipitation, moderately sunny Number of People Observed: 229 Activities Observed: The intersection appeared to be largely car-oriented, Traffic and associated noise was prevalent, People were walking through the site without stopping. Date: Saturday, February 26, 2000. Time: 12:27pm to 12:47pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 404 - pairs and groups Activities Observed: Primary activity involved street crossing at the intersection, No resting / dwelling was observed other than for two pedestrians waiting for a bus. Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000. Time: 12:03pm to 12:23pm Weather: Cloudy with drizzle Number of People Observed: 330 - singles, pairs, and groups Activities Observed: A woman requested that the timed crosswalk should be made longer, Only one incident of a man lingering on 114 (cont.) the street, Most people were crossing the streets in a steady flow of activity. Date: Saturday, March 05, 2000 Time: 12:39pm to 12:59pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 321 - singles, pairs, groups Activities Observed: Observed a lot of activity going to/from Urban Fare, There was a fairly constant flow of pedestrians. Date: Friday, March 10, 2000. Time: 12:50pm to 1:10pm Weather: Overcast Number of People Observed: 379 - singles, pairs, groups Activities Observed: Fairly constant flow of pedestrian traffic, Evidence of athletic activity in the area (i.e. joggers, basketball players, racquet sport players), Observed a van that interfered with pedestrian (and vehicular) traffic by entering in the pedestrian crosswalk and traffic intersection at an inappropriate time — confusion erupted. S I T E T H R E E : H E L M C K E N P A R K Site Location: Site Description: The park is well treed and equipped with ample lighting. Given the relatively small area of the park, there is a substantial number of benches (9). A faded hopscotch court is provided. Visual and auditory senses are stimulated by the presence of a water fountain which provides a focal point for the site. Note that it was not in operation during observation periods. An empty lot on the south side of the park detracts from the aesthetic quality of the area. Notably, a development application has been submitted to develop this site as an eight story, non-market residential building. A residential building frames the north side of the park, and has 115 direct entry to it. Note that the residential building has its own private courtyard, complete with chairs, fountain, etc. The park is bordered to the east by Pacific Boulevard which emits traffic and construction noise. Bollards cordon of the park to the west. A small entranceway leads to a lane that supports pedestrian and vehicular traffic (north / south direction). Observations: Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000. Time: 1:20pm to 1:40pm Weather: No precipitation, moderately sunny Number of People Observed: 14 - singles Activities Observed: Despite ample provision of seating people were walking through the area without stopping, The park appeared to be more of a thoroughfare area than a resting space. Date: Saturday, February 26, 2000. Time: 12:53pm to 1:13pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 38 - singles and couples (one large group) Activities Observed: People walked through the park to get to and from Pacific Boulevard - the only alternative form of activity was a child who climbed onto the fountain, Some people climbed over the bollards to enter into the park rather than going through the narrow entranceway provided, The lane (just outside of the observation area) had a fair amount of traffic. Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 Time: 12:31pm to 12:51pm Weather: Cloudy with drizzle Number of People Observed: 25 - singles and group Activities Observed: Four men were sitting clustered around one bench at the beginning of the observation period, Two city employees were doing maintenance work, People were using the park as a throughway. Date: Saturday, March 05, 2000. Time: 1:04pm to 1:24pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 18 - singles and pairs Activities Observed: People were strolling leisurely, Two cyclists came through the park and had to maneuver through the bollard entrance, Observed people stepping over bollards/chains to enter/exit the park, Substantial pedestrian activity was observed along the alley. 116 Date: Friday, March 10, 2000. Time: 1:21pm to 1:44pm Weather: Mix of sun and cloud Number of People Observed: 41 - singles and pairs Activities Observed: Six people were observed sitting on the benches (three of whom were elderly), Most people were leisurely strolling through the park, A significant number of people were observed just outside the study area walking around the perimeter of the empty lot to access, or continue on from Pacific Boulevard, Three cyclists were observed riding through the park (had to maneuver through small gateway to the park at the west end). S I T E F O U R : M A I N L A N D A N D H E L M C K E N I N T E R S E C T I O N Site Location: Site Description: The site is in the heart of "Old Yaletown". Converted warehouses dominate the landscape. Street level retail creates activity on the street as people pass in and out of shops and restaurants. Docks on the west side of Mainland Street disjoint the continuity of the streetscape, but provide a unique experience for retailers, commercial service users, and residents. Awnings and decorative banners enhance the streetscape. Mainland Street is narrow in width, which makes accommodating for vehicular traffic, parking, garbage containers, and pedestrian activity along sidewalks precarious. Observations: Date: Saturday, January 08, 2000. Time: 1:42pm to 2:02pm Weather: No precipitation, moderately sunny Number of People Observed: 174 Activities Observed: People were walking in and out of stores along Mainland Street, The docks were fairly lifeless and unanimated, Only two examples were observed of 117 (cont.) people lingering on the street to engage in conversation or rest. Date: Saturday, February 26, 2000. Time: 1:16pm to 1:36pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 316 - couples, groups Activities Observed: People were sitting out on the docks in front of the Yaletown Brewing Co. (just west of the site outdoor cafe-style seating was also used by people at Blenz), Primary activity involved walking in and out of retail stores and restaurants, Little to no lingering was observed, Pedestrian traffic occurred on the docks, sidewalk, and Mainland street. Date: Tuesday, February 29, 2000. Time: 12:53pm to 1:13pm Weather: Raining Number of People Observed: 312 - singles, pairs, and groups Activities Observed: People were observed having problems getting change for metered parking, People were dwelling outside only to smoke or talk on cell phones. Date: Saturday, March 05, 2000. Time: 1:26pm to 1:46pm Weather: Sunny Number of People Observed: 299 - singles, pairs, groups Activities Observed: People were strolling in and out of shops, The flow of pedestrian traffic came from all four directions, Some people were sitting on the docks in front of the Yaletown Brewery Co. Date: Friday, March 10, 2000. Time: 1:43pm to 2:03pm Weather: Cloudy Number of People Observed: 311 - singles, pairs, groups Activities Observed: No one was observed sitting on the docks although some lingering was occurring around the entranceway of the Yaletown Brewery Co., Three instances of problems accommodating the volume of pedestrians on narrow sidewalk were observed — compounded by a large group, wheelchair, and a stroller, People were using the street as part of the pedestrian path. 118 

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