Dleung, I sincerely appreciate your consistency and your willingness to call them as you see 'em. I rarely agree with your assessments but the contrarian opinions make me further analyze and reflect upon why I think something you despise is okay. More often than not I come down on the side of 'good enough', bearing in mind the multitude of constraints under which developers and architects labour, and I've seen just how bad buildings can be when developers and their architects just don't care (or are not compelled to care by the municipality). I think our average is pretty good and I'm comfortable with most buildings being 'good enough'. I really would love every building to be a masterpiece, or something that we will come to view as timeless, like buildings from the Bueax Arts or Edwardian eras, but that's just not realistic.
We don't have cheap old world-trained stone masons lying around or immigrant labourers and iron workers who will work without safety equipment for little more than what a general labourer on a job site would make these days. Nor can we just cut down an old growth forest to harvest immense timber beams, nor put in plumbing and electricity and call it a day. Buildings are more complicated these days. Approvals do take longer. Integrated design teams are required for even simple C2 arterial mid-rise projects, let alone beasts like 1400 Howe Street.
I do wish that better quality materials would be the norm (stucco and painted concrete should be verboten) and I have a persistent sinking feeling when I see so much wood frame stuff go up. But those choices aren't surprising with land costing what it does, labour costing what it does, materials costing what they do, and the prevailing building forms and height being what they are, etc. It's not an excuse, it's an explanation.
What I care more about than each building's appearance is how they work together with the public realm and complete streets to create blocks, neighbourhoods, and a city of which I am proud, engaged, and comfortable. I think that the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts. A building on an arterial street is a candidate for success if it has; mixed uses, active building program at grade, visual interest for pedestrians, is built of resilient long-lasting materials, and has a massing and building expression that is simultaneously an honest representation of contemporary design, which changes over time, and is reflective of the values of our society, while still striving to be complementary to its surroundings.
VANCOUVER | Beautiful, Multicultural | Canada's Pacific Metropolis
Last edited by SFUVancouver; Jun 12, 2012 at 11:17 PM.
Reason: Some small additions and tweaking. Thanks rbostyle!