Category Archives: urban design

Public views… from the sky?

Montrealers are lucky, I suppose. We have Mont Royal, with great public views of the city scape from on high, at a few of choice spots, if we include the Westmount Summit.

The Olympic Stadium tower, for a fee, offers a magnificent side view of the mountain and downtown. The Hotel de la Montagne, with its micro-swimming pool, enables a few choice glances for the price of nachos and beer. And Altitude 737, that “bar-disco-drinking complex” on top of Place Ville Marie is another fee option. I still get vertigo thinking of it. Perhaps there are others.

But would it be possible for the city to invest in public views, from some of our skyscrapers?

Imagine: you take a dedicated elevator to the (top…near top) floor of a downtown office building. The entire floor is set up like a public park. A non-profit concession offers veggie dogs and ethical coffee. There’s a children’s playground with swings. Benches and grass. Spectacular views on our city.  The concession provides brown paper bags for those who want to share a discrete glass of wine, but forgot to bring one. A real Montreal moment.

Imaginable, ca?  Has any city ever tried that?

Lightweight interventions to encourage life on Montreal mainstreets

McGill’s community/university alliance yielded many fine research outputs, to be sure, but this one really caught my attention. Master’s student Michael Giulioni proposes a methodology for testing the planning maxim:  “people sit where there are places to sit“.

First, he analyses the streetscape and shows up the holes and breaks that detract from a quality experience, for the pedestrian. The case study is Upper Lachine Road in little Little Italy, just West of the McGill mega-hospital.

Then, he proposes light infill projects to fill in or temporarily repair these gaps and holes, presumably spring/summer/autumn. Perhaps a little fruits and vegetables market? An open-air café extension to a restaurant or bar? Also, here and there, some wooden seats and planters, street furniture. Nothing permanent. Perhaps 100,000$ in public investment.

Finally, we evaluate these interventions. Do people stop more? Does street life improve? Assumption: we have measured the “before state”. That just makes sense, no?

If it has made measurable improvements, we move to the next phase. Perhaps some more permanent changes. Here is a link to the more detailed report.

Montreal has been using this strategy, here and there, over the past few years, on some main streets. Can you think of any?


Bike/People conflict zones

There are so many little places to improve our bike network. Where to start?

One example is found at the corner of Parc Lafontaine/Amhearst and Cherrier. At rush hour, this place is clotted with bikes and in the afternoon, we add joggers, walkers, baby strollers and cars all vying for speedy access to “the other side”.

Eventually we will have the money to find solutions to these hot spots.

What are your favorites?

Real traffic went one way…

Have you ever seen a cement path leading foot traffic one way, and a shortcut burned in the grass by hundreds of pedestrians showing the designer where the path *should* have gone? Ahh, Lynch.

We have put in some good crossways that map to real pedestrian movements recently in Montreal, for example at Ontario and Berri, near the BANQ, and at Lionel Groulx metro station, heading West. Can you think of any other spots? Or places where it *should* be done?

brand real traffic

–Brand: How Buildings Learn