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  1. Cataclaw

    Échangeur Côte des Neiges / Remembrance

    Voici ma vision pour une nouvelle intersection Côte des Neiges / Remembrance. Buts: 1. Remettre l'intersection au niveau du sol 2. Démolir l'échangeur vieillisant/quasi-inutile 3. Simplifier la circulation automobile / piéton 4. Embellir les environs 5. Créer une belle entrée pour le Mont Royal 6. Ajouter un petit potentiel de dévelopment résidientiel/mixte Carré mauve = dévelopement actuel ou en construction Carré bleu = nouveau dévelopement possible La bande brune au centre de l'intersection = de la brique PHOTOS: Situation existente plutôt pénible: [/img] Les plans:
  2. IluvMTL

    Stationnement

    Lots to lose: how cities around the world are eliminating car parks | Cities | The Guardian Cities Lots to lose: how cities around the world are eliminating car parks It’s a traditional complaint about urban life: there’s never anywhere to park. But in the 21st century, do cities actually need less parking space, not more? Paris has banned traffic from half the city. Why can’t London? Houston, Texas Parking lots dominate the landscape in downtown, Houston, Texas. ‘Though the perception is always that there’s never enough parking, the reality is often different,’ says Hank Willson. Photograph: Alamy Cities is supported by Rockefeller Foundation's logoAbout this content Nate Berg Tuesday 27 September 2016 12.23 BST Last modified on Tuesday 27 September 2016 15.51 BST With space for roughly 20,000 cars, the parking lot that surrounds the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, is recognised as the largest car park in the world. Spread across vast expanses of asphalt and multi-storey concrete structures, these parking spots take up about half the mall’s 5.2m sq ft, on what was once the edge of the city of Edmonton. A few blocks away, a similar amount of space is taken up by a neighbourhood of nearly 500 homes. Despite its huge scale, the West Edmonton Mall’s parking lot is not all that different from most car parks around the world. Requiring roughly 200 sq ft per car plus room to maneuvre, they tend to be big, flat and not fully occupied. Often their size eclipses the buildings they serve. Even when they’re hidden in underground structures or built into skyscrapers, car parks are big and often empty: parking at homes tends to be vacant during the workday, parking at work vacant at night. A 2010 study of Tippecanoe County, Indiana found there was an average of 2.2 parking spaces for each registered car. The US has long been the world leader in building parking spaces. During the mid 20th century, city zoning codes began to include requirements and quotas for most developments to include parking spaces. The supply skyrocketed. A 2011 study by the University of California, estimated there are upwards of 800m parking spaces in the US, covering about 25,000 square miles of land. Nobody goes to a city because it has great parking Michael Kodransky “As parking regulations were put into zoning codes, most of the downtowns in many cities were just completely decimated,” says Michael Kodransky, global research manager for the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy. “What the cities got, in effect, was great parking. But nobody goes to a city because it has great parking.” Increasingly, cities are rethinking this approach. As cities across the world begin to prioritise walkable urban development and the type of city living that does not require a car for every trip, city officials are beginning to move away from blanket policies of providing abundant parking. Many are adjusting zoning rules that require certain minimum amounts of parking for specific types of development. Others are tweaking prices to discourage driving as a default when other options are available. Some are even actively preventing new parking spaces from being built. A typical road in San Francisco. A road in San Francisco. Photograph: Getty To better understand how much parking they have and how much they can afford to lose, transportation officials in San Francisco in 2010 released the results of what’s believed to be the first citywide census of parking spaces. They counted every publicly accessible parking space in the city, including lots, garages, and free and metered street parking. They found that the city had 441,541 spaces, and more than half of them are free, on-street spaces. “The hope was that it would show that there’s actually a lot of parking here. We’re devoting a lot of space in San Francisco to parking cars,” says Hank Willson, principal analyst at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. “And though the perception is always that there’s never enough parking, the reality is different.” Knowing the parking inventory has made it easier for the city to pursue public space improvements such as adding bike lanes or parklets, using the data to quell inevitable neighbourhood concerns about parking loss. “We can show that removing 20 spaces can just equate to removing 0.1% of the parking spaces within walking distance of a location,” says Steph Nelson of the SFMTA. The data helps planners to understand when new developments actually need to provide parking spaces and when the available inventory is sufficient. More often, the data shows that the city can’t build its way out of a parking shortage – whether it’s perceived or real – and that the answers lie in alternative transportation options. Parking atop a supermarket roof in Budapest, Hungary. A parking lot on a supermarket roof in Budapest, Hungary. Photograph: Alamy With this in mind, the city has implemented the type of dynamic pricing system proposed by Donald Shoup, a distinguished research professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. In his book The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup explains that free or very cheap on-street parking contributes to traffic congestion in a major way. A study of the neighbourhood near UCLA’s campus showed that drivers cruised the area looking for parking for an average of 3.3 minutes. Based on the number of parking spaces there, that adds up to about 950,000 extra miles travelled over the course of a year, burning 47,000 gallons of gasoline and emitting 730 tons of CO2. After San Francisco implemented a pilot project with real-time data on parking availability and dynamic pricing for spaces, an evaluation found that the amount of time people spent looking for parking fell by 43%. And though there’s no data available on whether that’s meant more people deciding not to drive to San Francisco, various researchers have shown that a 10% increase in the price of parking can reduce demand between 3-10%. Sometimes, the supply of parking goes down because nobody needs it. Since 1990, the city of Philadelphia has conducted an inventory of parking every five years in the downtown Center City neighbourhood, counting publicly accessible parking spaces and analysing occupancy rates in facilities with 30 or more spaces. Because of plentiful transit options, a walkable environment and a high downtown residential population, Philadelphia is finding that it needs less parking. Between 2010 and 2015, the amount of off-street parking around downtown shrank by about 3,000 spaces, a 7% reduction. Most of that is tied to the replacement of surface lots with new development, according to Mason Austin, a planner at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and co-author of the most recent parking inventory. Philadelphia Planners in Philadelphia have noted the decrease in demand for parking, and reduced spaces accordingly. Photograph: Andriy Prokopenko/Getty Images “At the same time, we’re seeing occupancy go down by a very small amount. So what that’s telling us is the demand for this public parking is going down slightly,” Austin says. “And that could be alarming if we were also seeing some decline of economic activity, but actually that’s happening at the same time as we’re seeing employment go up and retail vibrancy go up.” And though many cities in the US are changing zoning and parking requirements to reduce or even eliminate parking minimums, cities in Europe are taking a more forceful approach. Zurich, has been among the most aggressive. In 1996, the city decreed that there would be no more parking: officials placed a cap on the amount of parking spaces that would exist there, putting in place a trading system by which any developer proposing new parking spaces would be required to remove that many parking spaces from the city’s streets. The result has been that the city’s streets have become even more amenable to walking, cycling and transit use. Copenhagen has also been reducing the amount of parking in the central city. Pedestrianising shopping streets raising prices of parking and licences and developing underground facilites on the city’s outskirts has seen city-centre parking spaces shrink and the proportion of people driving to work fall from 22% to 16%. Paris has been even more aggressive. Starting in 2003, the city began eliminating on-street parking and replacing it with underground facilities. Roughly 15,000 surface parking spaces have been eliminated since. A world without cars: cities go car-free for the day - in pictures View gallery But progress is not limited to Europe. Kodransky says cities all over the world are rethinking their parking policies. São Paulo, for instance, got rid of its minimum parking requirements and implemented a maximum that could be built into specific projects. Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are hoping to emulate San Francisco’s dynamic pricing approach. And as cities begin to think more carefully about how parking relates to their urban development, their density and their transit accessibility, it’s likely that parking spaces will continue to decline around the world. “Ultimately parking needs to be tackled as part of a package of issues,” Kodransky says. “It’s been viewed in this super-narrow way, it’s been an afterthought. But increasingly cities are waking up to the fact that they have this sleeping giant, these land uses that are not being used in the most optimal way.” Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook to join the discussion.
  3. Celine Cooper: Before Montreal can thrive, it needs to educate itself Celine CooperCELINE COOPER, SPECIAL TO MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Celine Cooper, Special to Montreal Gazette Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 2:00 PM EDT The city of Montreal is reflected in the St. Lawrence River. Montreal is a city with so much potential. If only we could unlock it. PAUL CHIASSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS By now the story is familiar. It’s called the Great Montreal Paradox. It goes something like this: Montreal has everything it needs to become one of North America’s most dynamic and successful cities. Yet, we continue to lag behind other North American cities on a vast range of economic indicators including job creation, employment rates, GDP growth and population growth. And here we go again. Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a socio-economic study called Montréal: Métropole de Talent. The study looks at Montreal’s relative performance within a constellation of 18 city members of the OECD (Manchester, Boston, Dublin, Stockholm and Toronto, for example). It concludes that Montreal has the necessary DNA to thrive as a major hub for innovation and economic development at both national and international levels. It lauds our enviable quality of life. We are bursting at the seams with potential. Yet, the findings echo much of what we’ve read in other studies focused on Montreal, including the 2014 BMO and Boston Consulting Group study Building a New Momentum in Montreal and the 2014 Institut du Québec research group study. Despite our strategic advantages, Montreal seems chronically incapable of translating our potential into performance. The unemployment rate in Montreal is higher than other North American cities, and immigrants have higher levels of unemployment here than in other parts of Canada. We are hampered by a low birthrate, population growth and immigrant retention, and high interprovincial outflow. Study after study has indicated that one of Montreal’s biggest challenges is attracting and retaining people. This isn’t just a Montreal problem, but a Quebec one. A recent report by the Fraser Institute showed that Quebec has the highest cumulative out-migration of any province in Canada, having been drained of more than half a million of our citizens to other provinces between 1971 and 2015. The question, as always, is why? Here’s the message I get from reading between the lines of the OECD report: Maybe — just maybe — Montreal has been a little too accepting of mediocrity. The report suggests in relation to our North American counterparts, Montreal’s economy is marked by low levels of competence and low levels of productivity. We have too many sectors with poor-quality jobs that demand few qualifications. The OECD suggests that to create opportunities and prospects for young people and fully capitalize on the potential of immigration, Montreal needs to break a damaging cycle of low qualifications and an over-abundance of low-quality jobs. Let’s sum this up: Montreal needs people. But people need a reason to stay in Montreal. Cities around the globe are competing for the world’s best and brightest. Highly qualified people are looking for jobs where they can put their skills, talent and ambition to use. They don’t want to run the risk of finding themselves in jobs that don’t offer much in terms of pay, advancement and professional growth. Or, worse, unemployed. Among the many recommendations, the OECD report suggests that solving this problem in Montreal requires strategic partnerships among all sectors of our economy. Universities, they argue, need to be directly implicated in the development of the local economy. On this point, I couldn’t agree more. With access to six universities and 12 CÉGEPs, Montreal has the highest proportion of post-secondary students of all major cities in North America. In 2013, it was ranked the best city in the world in terms of overall return on investment for foreign undergraduate students by an Economist Intelligence Unit survey. And yet the proportion of the population with a bachelor’s or graduate degree is among the lowest in Canada — Montreal is at 29.6 percent, lagging behind Toronto and Vancouver at 36.7 and 34.1 percent respectively. As far as I’m concerned, our university ecosystem is our best bet for getting beyond the Great Montreal Paradox. celine.cooper@gmail.com Twitter.com/CooperCeline Sent from my SM-T330NU using Tapatalk
  4. http://www.icisource.ca/commercial_real_estate_news/ When NIMBYism is warranted, and when it isn’t Of course, the question is whether a proposed development, infill project or new infrastructure build really does pose a risk to these cherished things. Developers and urban planners must always be cognizant of the fact that there is a segment of the population, a fringe element, who will object to just about anything “new” as a matter of principle. I’ve been to many open houses and public consultations for one proposed project or another over the years. There is almost always that contingent of dogged objectors who invariably fixate on the same things: Parking – Will there be enough if the development increases the population density of the neighbourhood or draws more shoppers/workers from elsewhere? Traffic – Will streets become unsafe and congested due to more cars on the road? Transit – Will this mean more busses on the road, increasing the safety hazard on residential streets, or conversely will there be a need for more? Shadowing – is the new build going to leave parts of the neighbourhood stuck in the shade of a skyscraper? These are all legitimate concerns, depending on the nature of the project in question. They are also easy targets for the activist obstructionist. Full and honest disclosure is the best defence Why? Because I see, time and again, some developers and urban planners who should know better fail to be prepared for objections rooted on any of these points. With any new development or infrastructure project, there has to be, as a simple matter of sound public policy, studies that examine and seek to mitigate impacts and effects related to parking, traffic, shadowing, transit and other considerations. It therefore only makes sense, during a public consult or open house, to address the most likely opposition head on by presenting the findings and recommendations of these studies up front in a clear and obvious manner. But too often, this isn’t done. I’ve was at an open house a few years ago where, when asked about traffic impact, the developer said there wouldn’t be any. Excuse me? If your project adds even one car to the street, there’s an impact. I expect he meant there would be only minimal impact, but that’s not what he said. The obstructionists had a field day with that – another greedy developer, trying to pull the wool over the eyes of honest residents. This is a marketing exercise – treat it like one This is ultimately a marketing exercise – you have to sell residents on the value and need of the development. Take another example – a retirement residence. With an aging population, we are obviously going to need more assisted living facilities in the years to come. But in this case, the developer, speaking to an audience full of grey hairs, didn’t even make the point that the new residence would give people a quality assisted-living option, without having to leave their community, when they were no longer able to live on their own. I also hear people who object to infill projects because they think their tax dollars have paid for infrastructure that a developer is now going to take advantage of – they think the developer is somehow getting a free ride. And yet, that developer must pay development charges to the city to proceed with construction. The new build will also pay its full utility costs and property taxes like the rest of the street. City hall gets more revenue for infrastructure that has already been paid for, and these additional development charges fund municipal projects throughout the city. Another point, often overlooked – when you take an underperforming property and redevelop it, its assessed value goes up, and its tax bill goes up. The local assessment base has just grown. City hall isn’t in the business of making a profit, just collecting enough property tax to cover the bills. The more properties there are in your neighbourhood, the further that tax burden is spread. In other words, that infill project will give everyone else a marginal reduction on their tax bill. It likely isn’t much, but still, it’s something. Developers must use the facts to defuse criticism Bottom line, development is necessary and good most of the time. If we didn’t have good regulated development, we would be living in horrid medieval conditions. Over the last century and a bit, ever growing regulation have given us safer communities, with more reliable utilities and key services such as policing and fire. Yes, there are examples of bad development, but if we had none, as some people seem to want, no one would have a decent place to live. It just astonishes me that developers and urban planners don’t make better use of the facts available to them to defuse criticism. It’s so easy to do it in the right way. Proper preparation for new development public information sessions is the proponent’s one opportunity to tell their story, and should not be wasted by failing to get the facts out and explaining why a project is a good idea. To discuss this or any other valuation topic in the context of your property, please contact me at jclark@regionalgroup.com. I am also interested in your feedback and suggestions for future articles. The post Why do public planning projects go off the rails? appeared first on Real Estate News Exchange (RENX). sent via Tapatalk
  5. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/montreal-now-a-member-of-the-world-tourism-cities-federation-575257221.html MONTRÉAL, April 11, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Montréal is now officially a member of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). This non-profit organization is a select club made up of the world's leading tourism cities, such as Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Initiated in 2012 by Beijing, its primary objective is to promote exchanges between top international destinations and share tourism development experience. With its headquarters in China, the organization is committed to improving the attractiveness of tourism cities and promoting harmonious economic and social development in these centres. "We are delighted to see that Montréal has a seat at the table with the world's biggest tourism superpowers. This is an excellent opportunity to position our city among the very best urban destinations on the planet," said Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal. "Montréal will have the chance to draw inspiration from these reputed destinations to enhance its tourism potential. In addition to participating in discussions, we will seize the opportunity to forge closer ties with various Chinese institutions. China is an important market for Montréal, with very promising tourism and economic opportunities," added Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. With new direct flights to China and increased economic missions to the country, Montréal is now in an excellent position to attract more tourists from this rapidly developing country. Moreover, tourist traffic from China is expected to increase 15% annually for the next three years. About Tourisme Montréal Tourisme Montréal is responsible for providing leadership in the concerted efforts of hospitality and promotion in order to position the "Montréal" destination on leisure and business travel markets. It is also responsible for developing Montréal's tourism product in accordance with the ever-changing conditions of the market.
  6. Now this is news that is good for Montreal, good for the hub development, and ultimately important for the city. On aircanada.com at this moment, one will see that AC has loaded for summer 2016 a daily Montreal-Denver, Daily Montreal-Houston and Double Daily Montreal-Philly. Good news!
  7. https://austinonyourfeet.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/9-things-people-always-say-at-zoning-hearings-illustrated-by-cats/?utm_content=bufferc065f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer AUSTIN ON YOUR FEET 9 THINGS PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY AT ZONING HEARINGS, ILLUSTRATED BY CATS November 23, 2015Dan Keshet If you watch enough zoning hearings, the testimony begins to sound pretty repetitive. That novel argument you’re making? The Council members have heard it a million times before. Here are 9 of the things we hear most often at zoning hearings, illustrated by cats. 1. I’M NOT OPPOSED TO ALL DEVELOPMENT. JUST THIS DEVELOPMENT. Those 1,000 times you sat on your couch to support developments far away from you surely counterbalance that one time you came out to oppose your neighbor’s development. If you’re opposed, just tell us why; don’t go on about how you’re not a person that opposes things. 2. NOBODY TALKED TO ME! The city notifies neighbors and registered civic organizations about upcoming permits. Developers seek out people they think might be affected. But it’s hard to know who is going to care and notifications are often thrown out. Don’t feel left out! If you’re at the hearing, you’re being heard. Just say what’s on your mind. 3. REALITY IS, EVERYBODY DRIVES A CAR. Usually said while proposing somebody build more parking. If you want that reality to ever change, you have to accept building less car infrastructure. 4. THESE GREEDY DEVELOPERS ONLY THINK ABOUT PROFITS Land development is a business. Like all businesses, sometimes you make money and sometimes you lose money. You just try to make sure that you make enough money on the winners to cancel out the losers. Focusing in on the fact that the developer is hoping to make money makes your testimony sound more like you oppose out of spite than a particular reason. 5. LET ME TELL YOU MY THEORY OF ECONOMICS If council members haven’t learned economics by now, they’re not going to learn it from your three minute testimony. 6.WHAT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD REALLY NEEDS IS A COFFEE SHOP, NOT MORE APARTMENTS For all the mean things people sometimes say about developers, a lot of folks seem to fashion themselves amateur land developers, with a keen eye on exactly what types of businesses will succeed or fail. As it turns out, those things coincide perfectly with the things they personally enjoy. 7. I’M 5TH GENERATION! MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER MOVED HERE BEFORE THIS WAS EVEN ON THE MAP! That entitles you to one vote, just like everybody else. Now tell us what you came up here to say. 8. WE NEED TO RESPECT THE HUNDREDS OF HOURS SPENT CRAFTING THIS NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Respecting people for volunteering time making plans doesn’t mean those plans should never change. Now tell us your reasons for or against this particular change. 9. THIS HOUSING IS TOO SMALL FOR ME! Different people have different needs and desires! Just because you don’t like a particular thing doesn’t mean nobody would like it. sent via Tapatalk
  8. Quebec exports to jump 9% in 2015: EDC economist FRANÇOIS SHALOM, MONTREAL GAZETTE More from François Shalom, Montreal Gazette Published on: November 27, 2014Last Updated: November 27, 2014 8:00 AM EST The U.S. housing market will spur export growth in Quebec, says Peter Hall, chief economist of Export Development Canada The U.S. housing market will spur export growth in Quebec, says Peter Hall, chief economist of Export Development Canada AFP/Getty Images SHARE ADJUST COMMENT PRINT Smile wide, Quebec exporters. Peter Hall, chief economist of Export Development Canada, says that two key ingredients will brighten your lives for the next year or three: the U.S. economy and the weak Canadian dollar. “These two things are coming together to make this year and next very positive for Quebec exports,” Hall said in an interview. “The reason it’s a particularly good story is that Quebec does not have a very strong internal economy. Consumption is going to be weak because of high indebtedness levels.” The good part of the EDC forecast, made public Thursday, is that just as household debt is cutting into the consumption economy, the trade sector is taking over and is set to boom, compensating — and then some — for the spending shortfall. “So we’ve got to be the luckiest people on Earth,” Hall said. Traditional resource sectors like mining and forestry as well as aerospace will be key drivers of the export resurgence. And that resurgence will in turn be driven principally by the U.S. housing market, which has mounted a remarkable comeback from the ominous recession of 2008. “The rate of (U.S.) housing construction has doubled where it was during the crisis,” said Hall. “And the best is yet to come. They’re building now at the rate of 1 million (housing) units a year. But the economy itself is generating (demand for) 1.4 million new households every year. They’re 400,000 units a year behind where they need to be just to keep pace with basic demand.” “So the very minimum you can expect over the next two or three years of growth inside this market is 40 per cent.” “That’s very good news for Quebec lumber firms and for everything else that goes into houses being built — copper piping, wiring, 2-by-4s, asphalt, OSB (particle board used for flooring, roofing and walls) — you name it.” “And it doesn’t stop there. Once the house is completed, there’s all the stuff that goes into it; washers, dryers, stoves, fridges, floorings, furnishings.” Again, he noted, a major opportunity for metal producers, notably Quebec aluminum smelters. It all adds up to a projected eight-per-cent jump for Quebec exports this year and another nine per cent in 2015, he said. Aerospace exports will surge 10 per cent next year, thanks to the weak Canadian dollar and good demand internationally. “Quebec’s Bombardier is the major beneficiary of these positive international trends, and with their CSeries line expected to enter into service in late 2015, it will be a huge boon for Quebec’s aerospace industry for years to come,” said Hall. He praised Quebec’s comprehensive overhaul of government spending under Premier Philippe Couillard as vital to the future of the province’s economy. “It’s essential to ensuring competitiveness for the future. If you don’t have fiscal sustainability, it means a higher future tax liability and an uncertain policy environment. “We’ve long learned that this is very, very positive for the future economy. :thumbsup::thumbsup:
  9. New waterpark planned near Montreal Montreal will soon have a new attraction to talk about, as developers prepare to break ground on a new waterpark and leisure facility in the municipality of Sainte-Adèle. Planned to open in September 2016, the La Rolland project will take up 84ha of land. It will offer 60,000sq.m of accommodations for short stays and 24,000sq.m of facilities dedicated to leisure and sports activities as well as catering and an indoor tropical waterpark. La Rolland is currently in development by Jamco Ventures and its international team. M2Leisure is the overall project consultant for the development and operations of this new family oriented resort destination. M2Leisure's program for La Rolland includes 800 lodging units, providing an offering for short breaks and holidays. The facilities consist of a three-pavilion village centre featuring an iconic indoor waterpark set at 29 degrees Celsius 365 days a year; a sports and leisure centre; shopping; restaurants and more. The project is in line with the latest leisure market trends, according to M2Leisure, showing a growing preference for family oriented and proximity-based resort destinations, accessible near major urban centres. The opening of the resort is planned for September 2016. http://www.interpark.co.uk/news/New-waterpark-planned-near-Montreal/3749-19-&cb=0
  10. YMQ

    Montreal's economy lags

    Montreal’s economic development lags behind that of other Canadian cities and it needs greater political and economic powers to turn around its sagging fortunes, says a new study. It’s time to realize that Montreal is a motor of the Quebec economy that contributes more than it gets back, said BMO President L. Jacques Ménard, the chancellor of Concordia University. He unveiled the 162-page study by BMO Financial Group, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group, on Tuesday. “Montreal finances more than half of the public spending across Quebec, even, in fact, the Colisée,” said Ménard, referring to controversial plans to build a new arena in Quebec City. Yet Canada’s second-biggest city has no more powers than small towns like Ste-Adèle or Mascouche, Ménard said. Forced to rely on property taxes to finance repairs to its crumbling infrastructure, Montreal needs to be recognized and promoted as Quebec’s metropolis, he said. “We have to get away from the unfortunate idea, I think, that wrongly presents the development of Montreal as being antithetical to that of the regions,” he said. With slow population growth, stagnating personal income and sagging economic growth, Montreal has lost 20 per cent of its major head offices in 20 years, the report noted. A comparison with five other Canadian cities shows that Montreal’s GDP grew by only 37 per cent over the past 15 years, compared to 59 per cent on average for Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. Montreal’s population only grew by 16 per cent compared to 33 per cent for the other cities. Unemployment remains at about 8.5 per cent in Montreal compared to 6.3 per cent in the other cities. And Montrealers’ disposable income has risen by only 51 per cent in 15 years, compared to 87 per cent for residents of the other five cities. “It has to do with the lack of us trying to create a milieu where ideas, people and technology conjugate to create innovation and to contribute to what you could call the new economy,” Ménard said. “One has to try and imagine what is Montreal going to look like 10 years from now? What are the new things we’re going to be doing and exporting that we’re not doing today?” he asked. For solutions, the report looked to seven world cities that have successfully regenerated their economies after going through periods of decline. They are Boston, Manchester, Melbourne, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle. Researchers identified strategies all of the successful cities used to become more competitive in the global economy, Ménard said. They included strong municipal leadership, support from higher levels of government, centres of excellence that acted as catalysts for growth, improved quality of life and transportation, a focus on human capital at universities and colleges, and development of a strong identity or brand for the city. With its effervescent cultural scene, cultural diversity, cheap rents and key industries like aerospace, technology and medical research, Montreal has enormous potential to thrive, the report said. Ménard said one way to achieve that potential is to unleash the talent and expertise concentrated in its five universities (including the Longueuil campus of the Université de Sherbrooke) instead of treating institutions of higher learning simply as service centres. “Montreal is a revolving door,” he said, noting the city loses as many residents as it gains. Even though the city has a huge student population, it retains few graduates because most leave in search of better opportunities, the report found. Corruption scandals and the divisive debate over the charter of values also make the city a less attractive and welcoming place, it said. Researchers interviewed more than 50 community leaders from a variety of fields, including cultural industries, education, finance, industry, health, community organizations, politics and technology to delve into challenges facing the city. Ménard emphasized the initiative is non-partisan and said it was only a coincidence that the report, which was 18 months in the making, is coming out just before a provincial election campaign. Premier Pauline Marois is expected to call an election in the coming days or weeks. “They say coincidences can be lucky. If the revitalization of Montreal is part of the debate in the coming weeks, I think it will be good for Quebec,” he said. Ménard said Montreal is sorely neglected by other levels of government. “When you look at the Champlain Bridge, the Turcot Interchange, the state of our roads, I don’t think they would have tolerated that in Ottawa, or in Quebec City, or even in Toronto,” he said. He said he hopes Montreal will be front and centre in the coming election campaign. “If they mention the word Montreal more than 100 times, I’m going to break out the champagne because it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. Ménard said he hopes to rally citizens from all walks of life to join the effort to revitalize the city. A public meeting is planned for June 13 at the Palais des Congrès and will include people from business, higher education, social agencies, the arts and youth organizations. Mayor Denis Coderre said he fully support the initiative and will do all he can to achieve the dream of putting Montreal back on the road to prosperity. “I’m inspired today,” he said. mascot@montrealgazette.com You can download the report, in French, here: http://www.bmo.com/ci/files/Creer_un_nouvel_elan_a_Montreal.pdf « PREVIOUS 1 2 View as one page NEXT » © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  11. Même le Wall Street Journal en parle : Developers Brace for End of Montreal's Condo Boom Sales Are Well off the Pace of Previous Years By DAVID GEORGE-COSH Nov. 5, 2013 6:12 p.m. ET With signs that Montreal's more than decadelong condominium boom could be fading, some local developers are repositioning or even pulling projects due to waning demand. In the downtown core, quarterly presales of new condos have averaged nine units per project this year, according to Altus Group Ltd. AIF.T -0.07% , a real-estate consultancy. That is well below the pace of such sales in both 2012 and 2011, when the average was 16 units. Meanwhile, only 10 new condo projects were announced in Canada's second-largest city in the first half of 2013, compared with 14 such projects in the first half of 2012. At the current pace, Montreal isn't likely to match the 25 project launches announced last year, and could fall below the 2011 total of 14 projects, Altus Group says. Developers have noticed. "There's starting to be a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace," said Sam Scalia, chief executive of Samcon Inc., one of the city's biggest developers with 13 projects in the works. Nearly 1,500 people signed up for information on Samcon's 190-unit Drummond Condominiums project when the developer began presales in January, Mr. Scalia said. But sales were slow, and Samcon pulled the project from the market in May for a full redesign with a new architect. "When we came out on the market, there was a glut of units that were launched in our district downtown," Mr. Scalia said. When Samcon puts the Drummond project back on the market in January, units will be roughly 10% smaller and one-bedroom units will be priced nearly 33,000 Canadian dollars ($31,578) less than the initial C$275,000, Mr. Scalia said. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2016, one year later than first planned. Montreal's condo boom, like those in Toronto and Vancouver, was fueled by ultralow interest rates that put homeownership within the reach of more Canadians. The resilience of Canada's housing sector was a key factor in helping the country weather the global financial crisis better than many of its industrialized peers. But it also led to record household-debt accumulation, a concern for Canadian policy makers. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty singled out the overheated condo markets in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal as areas of particular concern when he tightened mortgage-financing rules to put the brakes on the sector. A slowdown appears to be under way. "While overall sales are good, [the condo market is] moving at a more muted pace," said Colin Johnston, president of Altus Group's Canadian research, valuation and advisory department. Montreal's condo-resale market also is showing strain. Listings have soared 24% in the past 12 months, according to the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board. Sales, though, have fallen by 15%. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., a government-owned housing agency, forecasts 10,000 new condo units will be built in the Greater Montreal area in 2013, down 16% from last year and the second annual decline in a row. CMHC attributes the slowdown to a surplus of new condos and a rise in resale listings. "It feels like everyone who had to consider buying a condo has already done so," said Stéphane Côté, president of DevMcGill, a developer with four projects under construction. "Right now, we're on the tail end of the market." Mr. Côté said DevMcGill has positioned its projects to withstand a slowdown. Development of the condos is structured in several phases, and if sales begin to trickle, DevMcGill can redesign units to adjust to lower demand. Mitchell Abrahams, owner of Benvenuto Group, a Toronto-based developer, said sales of condos he is developing in Montreal are mixed. Le Peterson, a 31-story tower in the heart of Montreal, has had "slow but steady" sales with 53% of the development sold. Meanwhile, the Belvedere, a luxury development in Montreal's tony Hampstead neighborhood, closed its sales center earlier this year due to poor sales, Mr. Abrahams said, declining to elaborate. "Montreal's a hard market for people to make a decision," he said. "But fundamentally, it's still a great condo market." The slowdown has a silver lining. Samcon's Mr. Scalia said he is in talks with at least three developers to take on projects that haven't sold well, though he declined to identify them. Some developers predict it will take several years for the market to absorb the excess inventory. Michael Engels, vice president of sales at Inca Development, said the slowdown isn't much of a surprise. After a rush of product coming to the market, developments still need some time to be digested by home buyers. Montreal's condo sector has become a buyer's market. Mr. Engels expects his current project, a development along the city's trendy Crescent Street downtown, to begin construction next year after selling over 40% of his inventory so far. "Competition is always subjective, even in this tough environment," he said.
  12. Canadian Investor Bets on a Montreal Revival Cadillac Fairview Wants to Expand City's Business Center to the South By DAVID GEORGE-COSH Nov. 5, 2013 6:11 p.m. ET For more than two decades, Montreal was one of the sleepiest office markets in Canada, seeing no new private development as cities such as Toronto and energy-rich Calgary added millions of square feet of new space. Now, as Canadian investors step up real-estate investment throughout the world, a company owned by one of Canada's largest pension funds is looking to shake things up. Cadillac Fairview Corp., a unit of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, wants to expand the city's business center to the south with a planned 1.9 billion Canadian dollars ($1.82 billion) development next to the Bell Centre, where the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens play. The company earlier this year broke ground on the first building on the 9.2 acre site, named the Deloitte Tower after the professional-services firm that it lured from Montreal's traditional downtown. Owners of office buildings in Montreal's core dismiss the competitive threat, citing the lack of retail and transportation in the Deloitte Tower area. "I don't think that people who went to that location will be happy," says Bill Tresham, president of global investments at Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc., which owns the Place Ville Marie office complex that Deloitte is vacating. But Cadillac Fairview executives say businesses will be attracted to the tower's modern workspaces, energy efficiency and the civic square and skating rink in the complex modeled on New York's Rockefeller Center. "That's where we feel the growth is," says Sal Iacono, Cadillac's senior vice president for development in Eastern Canada. Developers in other cities have had mixed results when they have tried to build new business districts to compete with traditional downtowns. London's Canary Wharf development was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in its early years, although it eventually turned into a success. The Fan Pier project in Boston finally has gained traction after years of delay. The Cadillac Fairview development is partly a sign that Montreal has absorbed a glut of space that has hung over its office market for years. Its third-quarter vacancy rate for top-quality space downtown was 5.4%, compared with 9.4% in the third quarter of 2010, according to Cushman & Wakefield Inc. But the project also is a sign of the increasing appetite that Canadian investors have for real-estate risk as the world slowly recovers from the downturn. Canadian investors are on track to purchase at least US$15.6 billion of commercial real estate world-wide in 2013, up from US$14.5 billion in 2012, and a postcrash record, according to Real Capital Analytics Much of the interest is coming from Canadian pension funds, which have more of an appetite for risk than U.S. and European institutions because Canadian property wasn't hurt as badly by the downturn, experts say. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the country's largest pension fund, allocated 11.1% of its assets to real estate, for a total of C$20.9 billion, in the first quarter of fiscal 2014. That is up from 10.7% in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, for a total of C$17.7 billion. Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has been aggressive in several other sectors as it tries to shore up its funding deficit amid stubbornly low interest rates. The fund last month acquired Busy Bees Nursery Group, the largest child-care provider in the United Kingdom, for an undisclosed sum, while contributing US$500 million to Hudson's Bay Co.'s purchase of Saks Fifth Avenue for US$2.9 billion in July. Over the past year, Teachers' also has made investments in Australian telecom companies, oil assets in Saskatchewan and a supplier of outdoor sports-storage systems. Cadillac Fairview's real-estate portfolio increased to C$16.9 billion at the end of 2012, the last period for which data is available, up from C$15 billion in 2011. Montreal has a population of 1.65 million and its business sector, which relies heavily on aerospace, information technology, pharmaceuticals and tourism, remained relatively healthy during the downturn. The last commercial office buildings in its modern office district were completed by private developers in 1992. Nearly 20% of the city's office inventory was built before 1960, more than in other large Canadian cities, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Other pension funds also are making new investments in Montreal's office market, though they are focusing on core properties. Ivanhoé Cambridge, an arm of Quebec-based pension fund Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec, spent more than C$400 million in August to acquire full control of the Place Ville Marie office complex, and is planning a C$100 million upgrade. Cadillac Fairview began assembling land for its project in 2009 when it acquired Windsor Station, a historic hub that dates to the 19th century. The area is southwest of Old Montreal, the historic section of the city near the St. Lawrence River. But the area has been unappealing to most office-building developers because it lacks many stores, restaurants or other amenities. "No one was interested in developing," Mr. Iacono says. The company has been planning a development including retail, office and residential space since then, but many were skeptical that businesses could be convinced to move outside of the city's traditional business center. That skepticism was damped when Deloitte announced plans to move. Then this year, the Alcan unit of mining giant Rio Tinto said it would move its headquarters to the top eight floors of the 500,000 square-foot tower, increasing its occupancy to 70%. Cadillac Fairview also has started building a 555-unit condo on the site. Eventually, the entire complex will include an additional 4 million square feet of office, retail and residential space as well as public areas. Deloitte executives say the new building—slated to open in 2015—was appealing because of its energy efficiency and green features such as stalls for charging electric cars. "This building is a catalyst for a whole energy for that part of the city," says Sheila Botting, national leader of real estate for Deloitte in Canada.
  13. The jury members are: - Melvin Charney, architect; - Odile Decq, architect and Director of the École Spéciale d'Architecture, Paris; - Jacques Des Rochers, Curator of Canadian Art, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; - Michel Dionne, architect, Cooper, Robertson & Partners, New York; - Raphaël Fischler, urban planner and professor at the School of Urban Planning, McGill University; - Mario Masson, landscape architect and Division Manager, Service du développement culturel, de la qualité du milieu de vie et de la diversité ethnoculturelle, Ville de Montréal; - Alessandra Ponte, associate professor, School of Architecture, Université de Montréal; - Philippe Poullaouec-Gonidec, landscape architect and holder of the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design at Université de Montréal. Instructions for prospective entrants (Courtesy of CNW Telbec)
  14. A 45 - acre comprehensive, master planned office campus on Nuns' Island. This multi-phased office complex is geared to those tenants looking for the quality environment offered in suburban locations but with the benefits of a site located just five minutes from Montreal's central business district. Availabilities range from 50,000 sq.ft. to 500,000 sq.ft. in various configurations, all of which will be LEED certified. With the arrival of Bell Canada on Nuns' Island, public transportation has improved with investments in infrastructure being made by various governmental authorities; the neighborhood is poised for even more development. Companies such a Yellow Pages, Multi-prêt, Bombardier Recreational Products and the Bank of Canada continue to enjoy the exceptional office environment that Nuns' Island has to offer with its abundant retail offerings, bike paths, nature walks and lush landscaped public areas.
  15. Shows you where the money is going these days. Great looking skyscraper! Article on FP: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/07/04/telus-to-build-400-million-tower-in-calgarys-downtown/?__lsa=e9e9-144b
  16. U.S. firm plans private hospital in Griffintown Jason Magder Montreal Gazette Wednesday, February 06, 2008 An American company that specializes in medical tourism is planning to set up a private hospital at the southeast end of Griffintown. The company is hoping to occupy at least 24 stories of office space as part of a construction project planned for the area bordered by the Peel Basin and the Bonaventure Expressway. Roland Hakim, one of the developers, wouldn't reveal the name of the medical tourism company, but said the health complex would serve mostly people travelling to undergo medical procedures, such as knee and hip replacements, but could also serve people from this country. The hospital would have the same comforts as a four-star or five-star hotel, Hakim said. He added medical tourism is becoming very popular. People travel to undergo medical procedures, either because it's usually less expensive than doing it in their own countries, or they want to schedule a vacation around their recovery period. It would be part of a 2.8 hectare project that includes an intermodal station, for a planned tramway into Griffintown, as well as a train that is planned to link Montreal with the South Shore. The project also calls for a heli-port at the top of one of the towers where several helicopters can land. There would be a movie theater, shops, restaurants, conference rooms, office towers and a hotel. "It would be the first thing people see when they come to Montreal and we want it to be something nice," Hakim said. He said the first phase of the project, which includes the hospital, could be built in three years. However, Pierre Varadi, Hakim's partner in this project, and the president of Canvar, said nothing can be built before the Bonaventure Expressway is torn down and rebuilt at street level, a project still in the planning phase. "They say they will do it within four years, but I don't know if they will do it that quickly," he said. The development is one of many being planned for the area. Canada Lands is expected to present a proposal later this year to redevelop the defunct Canada Post sorting station. The massive project would cover about 11 hectares of land and would be built just east of the 10.2 hectare project proposed in November by the company Devimco. Hakim said development of Griffintown is inevitable. "The downtown core has to expand and the only place it can expand is further south," he said. "This will become the new downtown core."
  17. Article by FDI intelligence (financial times) Rankings: 1. New York City 2. Sao Paulo 3 Toronto 4.MONTREAL 5. Vancouver 6. Houston 7. Atlanta 8. San Francisco 9. Chicago 10. Miami "Canadian cities Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, and performed particularly well in the attraction of knowledge-intensive FDI. All three locations were among the top 20 key destination and source cities for FDI. With the exception of New York, Montreal-based companies invested in more FDI projects than other city in the Americas region" "Business friendly Canada Placed in third, Montreal’s success lies in retaining and developing relationships with existing investments – data from fDi Markets shows that one in five FDI projects since 2003 were expansions. Montreal tops strategy list The prize for Best Major American City for FDI Strategy 2013/14 is awarded to Montreal. It beat 126 competitors across North and South America who submitted information regarding their FDI strategies. In its American Cities of the Future submission, economic development agency Montréal International stated that its economic development strategy has centred predominantly around high-tech clusters, and in particular aerospace, life sciences and health technologies, as well as information and communications technology (ICT). Elie Farah, vice-president of Investment Greater Montréal, says: “The year 2011 was one of the best for Montréal International in terms of attracting FDI since 2005. This is partially explained by the investments from Europe which, in the past two years, have become the main source of FDI in the region.” http://www.fdiintelligence.com/Locations/Americas/American-Cities-of-the-Future-2013-14
  18. À la fois imposant et gracieux, le complexe résidentiel du 333 Sherbrooke constitue un exemple d’intégration urbaine. Érigé sur le terrain en friche de l’ancien couvent Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, l’ensemble immobilier définit un nouveau lieu mariant harmonieusement architecture, design urbain et architecture du paysage. Le projet relie deux tours d’habitation de 10 étages s’élevant sur la rue Sherbrooke à de nouveaux condoplex de 4 étages jouxtant le square Saint-Louis, haut lieu de l’élite canadienne-française du début du siècle. La façade est rythmée par la répétition d’une baie type parfois agrémentée de balcons français qui donnent du relief à la paroi des bâtiments sur la rue Sherbrooke. La modulation de la volumétrie crée de nombreuses terrasses en cascades. Au sommet des immeubles, une structure en forme de pont suspendu fait office de trait-d’union et abrite une piscine extérieur de même qu’un toit terrasse jouissant de vues imprenables. Du côté jardin, une succession de petits bâtiments individuels de quatre étages s’articule autour d’une placette. Cette organisation s’associe facilement à l’environnement domestique typique du Quartier latin. CANADIAN COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE NEWSLETTER Vol. 10 No. 50 Dec. 15, 2006 Editor: Maurice Gatien LL.B. HOMBURG JV INVESTS IN MONTREAL CONDO PROJECT HOMBURG BPF CANADA, a joint venture between Halifax-based Homburg Invest Inc. and SNS Property Finance (formerly Bouwfonds Property Finance) of The Netherlands, purchased a 66.67% interest in a condominium development in Montreal. The remaining 33.33% interest will be held by LES INVESTISSEMENTS F.P. S.E.C., whose general partner is Montreal-based TELEMEDIA DEVELOPMENT I INC. The joint venture has invested $3.8 million in the residential condominium development located at 333 Sherbrooke Street East in downtown Montreal. Phase I of the development currently includes an inventory of 35 completed units available for sale in a 9-storey condominium tower and 4 multiplexes (113 residential units in total). Phase II is yet to be constructed but will include 112 condominium units and 213 parking stalls housed in another nine story tower and another two multiplexes. Construction on Phase II is expected to begin early in the New Year. Link: http://www.homburginvest.com
  19. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-14/micro-apartments-in-the-big-city-a-trend-builds Always happy to see quotes from professors at my alma mater, especially when it comes to real estate issues! Micro-Apartments in the Big City: A Trend Builds By Venessa Wong March 14, 2013 6:00 PM EDT Imagine waking in a 15-by-15-foot apartment that still manages to have everything you need. The bed collapses into the wall, and a breakfast table extends down from the back of the bed once it’s tucked away. Instead of closets, look overhead to nooks suspended from the ceiling. Company coming? Get out the stools that stack like nesting dolls in an ottoman. Micro-apartments, in some cases smaller than college dorm rooms, are cropping up in North American cities as urban planners experiment with new types of housing to accommodate growing numbers of single professionals, students, and the elderly. Single-person households made up 26.7 percent of the U.S. total in 2010, vs. 17.6 percent in 1970, according to Census Bureau data. In cities, the proportion is often higher: In New York, it’s about 33 percent. And these boîtes aren’t just for singles. The idea is to be more efficient and eventually to offer cheaper rents. To foster innovation, several municipalities are waiving zoning regulations to allow construction of smaller dwellings at select sites. In November, San Francisco reduced minimum requirements for a pilot project to 220 square feet, from 290, for a two-person efficiency unit. In Boston, where most homes are at least 450 sq. ft., the city has approved 300 new units as small as 375 sq. ft. With the blessing of local authorities, a developer in Vancouver in 2011 converted a single-room occupancy hotel into 30 “micro-lofts” under 300 sq. ft. Seattle and Chicago have also green-lighted micro-apartments. “In the foreseeable future, this trend will continue,” says Avi Friedman, a professor and director of the Affordable Homes Research Group at McGill University’s School of Architecture. A growing number of people are opting to live alone or not to have children, he says. Among this group, many choose cities over suburbs to reduce reliance on cars and cut commute times. “Many people recognize that there is a great deal of value to living in the city,” he says. Friedman calls the new fashion for micro-digs the “Europeanization” of North America. In the U.K. the average home is only 915 square feet. In the U.S. the average new single-family home is 2,480 square feet. The National Association of Home Builders expects that to shrink to 2,152 square feet by 2015. Small living has deep roots in Japan, where land is scarce. “It’s just the way things have always been done,” says Azby Brown, an architect and author of The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited Space. Three hundred square feet may sound tight, but consider that Japanese families historically lived in row houses outfitted with 100-square-foot living quarters and large communal areas. After World War II, Japan’s homes grew, though not much by American standards. By the late 1980s the average Japanese home measured 900 square feet. Tight quarters demand ingenuity and compromise. Think of the Japanese futon or the under-the-counter refrigerator, a feature of European apartments. The Murphy bed gets a sleek makeover in a mock-up of a micro-apartment on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. The 325-square-foot space, designed by New York architect Amie Gross, also features a table on wheels that can be tucked under a kitchen counter and a flat-screen TV that slides along a rail attached to built-in shelves. Visual tricks such as high ceilings and varied floor materials make the space feel roomier. The show, titled “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” displays some of the entries from a design competition sponsored by New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The winning team, comprising Monadnock Development, Actors Fund Housing Development, and nArchitects, secured permission to erect a 10-story building in Manhattan made of prefabricated steel modules. Some of the 55 units will be as small as 250 square feet. “The hope is that with more supply, that should help with the affordability of these kinds of apartments so that the young or the elderly can afford to live closer to the center and not have to commute so far in,” says Mimi Hoang, a co-founder of nArchitects. Although tiny, these properties aren’t cheap, at least not on a per-square-foot basis. In San Francisco, where two projects are under way, rents will range from $1,200 to $1,500 per month. In New York, the 20-odd units for low- and middle-income renters will start at $939. Ted Smith, an architect in San Diego, says singles would be better served by residences that group efficiency studios into suites with communal areas for cooking, dining, and recreation. “The market does not want little motel rooms to live in,” he says. “There needs to be cool, hip buildings that everyone loves and goes, ‘Man, these little units are wonderful,’ not ‘I guess I can put up with this.’ ” BusinessWeek - Home ©2013 Bloomberg L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  20. yarabundi

    "Urban shift is reshaping Montreal"

    Urban shift is reshaping Montreal Montreal will be a much greyer city 20 years from now, and the aging of our populace will influence everything from home design to urban architecture to public transportation. It will also be a more multi-coloured city, measured in terms of skin tone, and multi-linguistic, too, as new legions of immigrants flow in, altering its face, flavour and sound. It will be more condensed, with condominiums overtaking expensive single-family homes as the lodging of choice for first-time homebuyers. And it will be a poorer city mired in a heavily indebted province, forcing it to focus on necessities like rebuilding roads and paring down bureaucracies and services rather than investing in grand designs like megaprojects or metro extensions. Economic imperatives will force Montreal to focus on what it’s good at to survive — namely, being itself. The city will endure by hosting festivals and conferences, promoting its flourishing arts scene, throwing successful, peaceful street parties for hundreds of thousands at a time and inviting the world to come. It will market itself as a vibrant, fun, creative place to live, and a coveted vacation destination for legions of retired baby boomers with time on their hands and savings to burn. This in turn will lead the city to become more accommodating to pedestrians and cyclists, with stretches of thoroughfares like Crescent and Ste. Catherine Sts. becoming pedestrian-only enclaves. This is the Montreal 2033 vision of McGill University architecture professor and housing expert Avi Friedman. Author of 12 books on housing and sustainable development, he is called on by cities throughout the world to consult on urban development and wealth generation. He sees in Montreal’s future a metropolis that will be poorer, still paying for past transgressions of inept infrastructure design and inadequate maintenance. But at the same time, it will be buoyed by its four major universities and its cachet as one of the cool hangouts in the vast North American neighbourhood, a magnet for tourist dollars, immigrants and creative minds. “Montreal is a brand. We’re not talking about Hamilton or Markham or Windsor. Montreal is a brand. But we need to learn how to use our brand better,” he said. Statistics Canada released figures in the fall that indicated Montreal was becoming a city of singles. Nearly 41 per cent of its residents who reside in a private dwelling live on their own, as compared to 30 per cent in most large Canadian cities. Our aging population, large number of university students, exodus of families to the suburbs, low immigration numbers and high percentage of apartments are largely the cause. The numbers spurred Friedman to ponder where the city he’s lived in for more than three decades will be in 2033. Major urban shifts, he notes, generally take about 20 years to evolve. “I wasn’t looking for pie-in-the-sky ideas, not Jetsons-type futuristic predictions, just reasonable assumptions based on trends we are already seeing today.” The greatest influence will come from the aging of the huge demographic wave that is the baby boomer generation, which will be between 70 and 87 years old in 20 years. Most will no longer be working, or paying as much in taxes. “Montreal, like other eastern cities, is going to be a poorer city than it is today, which is likely to force greater efficiency of all operations and institutions,” Friedman said. “We will have to learn to do more with less.” As families shrink (the average family size has gone from 3.5 individuals in 1970 to 2.5 in 2006), and house prices rise, demand for smaller living units will increase. The era of the single-family house as a starter home within the city limits will be a thing of the past for most, as it has been in many European cities for a long time, Friedman said. First-time buyers, many of them young families, will move into the many condominium projects sprouting downtown. Older boomers will shift from their suburban homes to condominiums. The ratio of family homes to condominiums, now at a roughly 60-40 split, will probably reverse during the next two decades, he predicted. Already densely populated neighbourhoods like Notre Dame de Grâce will see residents and developers building upward, putting additional floors on houses or commercial buildings to add residential space. (In congested Vancouver, developers have already started stacking condominium complexes on top of big-box stores like Walmart and Home Depot.) Homeowners will transform their basements into separate apartments, and the division of single-family homes into separate units to take in two or more families will proliferate. Houses will be transformed as more people opt to work out of home offices, or as retirees alter their living spaces to pursue their hobbies or their work. And seniors will make room for live-in nannies and nurses to help care for them. There will also be more grab-bars, ramps and in-house escalators. Technological advances will allow many routine hospital procedures to be done at home via computer. Patients will be able to check their blood pressure and other health indicators at home and send the information to their caregivers over the Internet, all the while chatting with nurses or doctors face-to-face via Skype. “Aging in place will be on the upswing,” Friedman said. “There will be less and less reason for hospital visits.” The new superhospitals going up downtown and in N.D.G. will also spur residential development as thousands of hospital workers seek housing nearby. Condominiums have started sprouting already near the hospitals, and close to the métro stations and train stations that serve them. Private medical clinics, for locals and foreigners alike, will be built around and even in hospitals, as the cash-strapped government off-loads more services to the private sector for wealthier clients not willing, for example, to wait three years for a hip replacement. The condominium boom, well underway in Montreal and reaching the saturation point, will continue, although at a slower pace. Montreal is on the verge of a condo crash, Friedman predicted, part of the normal ebb and flow of residential construction that regenerates every five years. “You will hear about bankruptcies, about people going under, all sorts of bad stories. This is common. Then there will be a burst of energy and another wave.” Condominium developers will start incorporating more family-friendly features like larger units, terrace gardens and parks on their properties. Condo towers with shops and restaurants on the ground floor will become more common, as will the SOHO concept (Self-Office, Home Office) common in China, where residences are located on upper floors and small offices on lower floors, and people commute by elevator. Many boomers, liberated from their children and their jobs, will give up their suburban homes to live closer to services and entertainment and downtown. Their influx will spur elderly-friendly changes seen in other cities, such as automatic doors at unwieldy metro entrances. Métro stations will become poles of residential development, followed closely by commercial properties to serve the influx of people. Suburbs like the West Island will see more low-level condominiums of four to six storeys, and available land between municipalities will be slowly colonized, making for one continuous metropolis. The densification, with housing projects like those in Griffintown bringing tens of thousands of residents into the downtown core, will result in an even more active and vibrant city, with offshoots of more shops, restaurants, services and life downtown. Neighbourhoods like St-Henri, Rosemont and Park Extension, relatively close to downtown and well-served by public transit, will be the next regions to see a slow gentrification, Friedman predicted. In a sense, we will mirror Toronto’s growth, but on a smaller scale and with a Montreal twist. “In 20 years, downtown Montreal will be populated by many more people who will bring their flavour, their lifestyle and their unique Montreal brand, with things like after-hours clubs, which is not Toronto,” Friedman said. “This is a fun city, with restaurants and pubs and clubs. I believe it will be a fun place.” Friedman sees Montreal’s four major universities and an increase in immigration quotas to make up for low birthrates as other major drivers of change, with immigrants coming from burgeoning regions like Asia and Latin America and settling in the north and east of the city. Already, roughly 10 per cent of the students in Friedman’s bachelor’s-level architecture classes are from mainland China. Montreal needs to do more to attract the droves of computer engineers from places like China, India and Pakistan who currently see California as their first choice. And tourism, with the many jobs it brings, will be Montreal’s bread and butter. At this phase in its history, Friedman sees Montreal as a city bogged down by the sins of its past, fixated on corruption and mismanagement and with no sense of a grand vision coming from city hall. Things will get more difficult from an economic standpoint, and “poorer cities do nothing. If you have wealth, you can change things,” he said, pointing to bike and public-transit friendly European cities like Copenhagen, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Berlin as examples. There is hope for Montreal’s future, Friedman said. It is articulated in the plethora of condominium towers and cranes on its skyline, in Montreal’s reputation for its joie-de-vivre attitude, open-mindedness and its artistic energy, a magnet for the young, adventurous and creative. But the hope is tempered with this caveat: the successful cities that Friedman has observed, are those whose citizens are willing to enforce change, as opposed to hoping city councillors will do it for them. “Do-it-yourself cities are the successful cities. We have to ask ourselves ‘Are we a forwards city, or a backwards one?’ ” Developments already underway provide an indication of the answer. “The densification of the core we’re seeing here will bring life,” he said, gazing up at the condominium towers growing like mighty redwoods of metal and glass in Griffintown. “This city will be a hopping place.” Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Urban+shift+reshaping+Montreal/8071854/story.html#ixzz2NF8glXu5
  21. I wonder what some will have to say about this Henry Aubin: Can our city gain influence? By Henry Aubin, The Gazette January 2, 2013 0 Story Photos ( 2 ) Henry Aubin: Can our city gain influence? Henry Aubin MONTREAL — A study by U.S. intelligence predicts that the power of the world’s major cities will continue to grow in coming decades. Meanwhile, the power of most countries will wane. “The role of cities will be an even more important feature of the future as urban areas grow in wealth and economic power,” says the study by the National Intelligence Council, which reports to the U.S. intelligence czar James Clapper and which has made its study public to “stimulate strategic thinking” by decision-makers everywhere. “Increasingly, cities are likely to take the initiative on resource management, environmental standards, migration, and even security.” Meanwhile, countries in general “will struggle to keep up with the rapid diffusion of power.” So, can Montrealers count on their city wielding more clout? Sadly, no. The intelligence study does not deal with many cities individually, and it does not mention Montreal. But the study’s assertion that a city’s growth in influence hinges on its growth in “wealth and economic power” points to Montreal’s disadvantage. According to the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal’s calculation based on 2010 data, the Montreal area ranks dead last among the 32 largest Canadian and U.S. cities for per-capita GDP. On current form, it’s hard to imagine Montreal moving up very far. The Canadian constitution gives far less autonomy to cities than does U.S. law: In Canada, provinces control municipalities. That doesn’t hurt Toronto: The provincial legislature is located in that city, legislators know the city’s needs first-hand and there is no Ontario nationalism to distract them. Montreal has no such luck. The emergence of strong Quebec nationalism means the dominant political discourse is to gain more power for l’état québécois (either as a province or as a republic). Montreal mayors keep asking Quebec for more autonomy, but that would mean less power for l’état — and the mayors never obtain it. It’s all the easier for Quebec legislators to ignore Montreal’s needs because the city is a) far from the legislature geographically, b) far from the rest of the province socially because of its large non-francophone population and c) far from the levers of influence because it has so few swing ridings. Here, in no special order, are six ways in which the Quebec government, deliberately or not, adversely affects Montreal’s economic development. In a study of the Montreal metropolitan area, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says a “tangled muddle” of institutions is harming the area’s development. The respected think tank recommends that Quebec — the institutions’ ultimate master — chop many of them. That was in 2004. Quebec has done nothing, The Montreal area thus has more bureaucracies dealing directly or indirectly with economic development — and often working at cross purposes — than other North American metropolitan areas. Count’ em: Five administrative regions, seven conferences of elected officials, 12 counties (MRCs), 20 local development centres (CLDs) and 20 public transit boards. Studies show that immigrants, including those with solid credentials, find the labour market harder to crack here than in Toronto and Vancouver — where newcomers help fuel those cities’ economies. Quebec gained the power to help Ottawa select immigrants 17 years ago; it wanted to choose people who could best fit in here. Yet it has been too passive about fighting private-sector bias, too stuck in its ways to serve as a role model by hiring a more diverse public service. Universities have been the city’s best hope for success in the knowledge economy. Now the Parti Québécois government has cut their already subpar funding. Entrepreneurs also fuel cities’ economies. As it is, Montreal has too few of these job creators. Now a PQ plan would in effect make Montreal less hospitable to them by extending Bill 101 to companies with 26 to 49 employees. This could impede the recruiting of non-French-speaking knowledge workers from out of province. Much of Bill 101 is necessary for the health of French. This is not. Quebec is, to be sure, not consciously anti-Montreal. Its coercive merger of the city with many of its suburbs was in part an attempt to make Montreal a player on the world stage. But the premise — that bigger means better — was naive. After 11 years, the enlarged city has become unmanageable, more corrupt, more marginalized. At the heart of much of the city’s economic decline is the perpetuation of political uncertainty, thanks to the PQ’s goal of sovereignty. Yet much of the political class — including two mayoral aspirants, sovereignists Louise Harel and Richard Bergeron — won’t acknowledge the self-evident: that another referendum would further harm Montreal’s economic interests. Sad. The U.S. intelligence study might predict that cities’ power will grow as countries’ power declines, but Montreal is unlikely to be part of this trend. The rise of nationalism has coincided with a decline in the political class’s sensitivity to the city’s interests. No change is the wind. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Henry+Aubin+city+gain+influence/7768030/story.html#ixzz2Gwu4GC4l
  22. http://nymag.com/homedesign/urbanliving/2012/hudson-yards/ Atop the 1,300-foot office tower, soon to rise at 33rd Street and Tenth Avenue, by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse From 0 to 12 Million Square Feet In a few weeks, construction begins on New York’s largest development ever. Hudson Yards is handsome, ambitious, and potentially full of life. Should we care that it’s also a giant slab of private property? An exclusive preview. By Justin Davidson Published Oct 7, 2012 ShareThis On a Friday afternoon in September, a conclave of architects and real-estate executives gathers in a hotel conference room to look over plans for Manhattan’s largest remaining chunk of emptiness. Hudson Yards, the railroad depot that stretches from Tenth Avenue to the Hudson River, and from 30th to 33rd Street, barely registers on the mental map of most New Yorkers. Look down from a neighboring window, and you see only a pit full of trains hazed with their diesel fumes. The planners’ view, though, takes in sugarplum dreams of the city’s shiny next wing: an $800 million concrete roof over the yards, and above it the country’s largest and densest real-estate development: 12 million square feet of *offices, shops, movie theaters, gyms, hotel rooms, museum galleries, and open space, and 5,000 apartments, all packed into 26 acres. In the first, $6 billion phase—scheduled for completion by late 2017—the tallest tower will top the Empire State Building, and even the shortest will have a penthouse on the 75th floor. The people in the conference room can visualize that future in high-resolution detail. On the screen, digital couples stroll among trees pruned to cubical perfection. A chain of glowing towers garlands the skyline, and tiny figures stroll onto a deck hanging nearly a quarter-mile in the air. Architects discuss access points, sidewalk widths, ceiling heights, flower beds, and the qualities of crushed-stone pathways. You could almost forget that none of this exists yet—until one architect points to a lozenge-shaped skyscraper and casually, with a twist of his wrist, remarks that he’s thinking of swiveling it 90 degrees. The Related Companies, the main developer of the site, has called this meeting so that the designers of the various buildings can finally talk to each other, instead of just to the client. I’m getting the first look at the details at the same time some of the participants are. Suddenly, after years of desultory negotiations and leisurely design, the project has acquired urgency: Ground-breaking on the first tower will take place in the coming weeks. There’s a high-octane crew in the room: William Pedersen, co-founder of the high-rise titans Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; David Childs, partner at the juggernaut Skidmore Owings and Merrill; Elizabeth Diller, front woman for the cerebral boutique Diller Scofidio + Renfro; *David Rockwell, a virtuoso of showbiz and restaurant design; Howard Elkus, from the high-end shopping-center specialists Elkus Manfredi; and landscape architect Thomas Woltz, the only member of the group new to New York real-estate politics. Their task is to compose a neighborhood from scratch. The success of Hudson Yards depends on the question: Can a private developer manufacture a complete and authentic high-rise neighborhood in a desolate part of New York? “This isn’t just a project; it’s an extension of the city,” says Stephen Ross, Related’s founder and chairman. New York has always grown in nibbles and crumbs, and only occasionally in such great whale-gulps of real estate. In the richest, most layered sections of the city, each generation’s new buildings spring up among clumps of older ones, so that freshness and tradition coexist. A project of this magnitude, concocted around a conference table, could easily turn out to be a catastrophe. The centrally planned district has its success stories—most famously, Rockefeller Center. Coordinated frenzies of building also produced Park Avenue, Battery Park City, and the current incarnation of Times Square. But this enterprise is even more ambitious than any of those, and more potentially transformative than the ongoing saga of the World Trade Center. New York has no precedent for such a dense and complex neighborhood, covering such a vast range of uses, built in one go. That makes this Ross’s baby. Hundreds of architects, engineers, consultants, planners, and construction workers will contribute to the finished product. Oxford Properties Group has partnered with Related, and the city dictated much of the basic arrangement. But in the end, how tightly the new superblocks are woven into the city fabric, how organic their feel, and how bright their allure will depend on the judgment and taste of a billionaire whose aesthetic ambitions match the site’s expanse, and who slips almost unconsciously from we to I. “We went out and selected great architects and then created a whole five-acre plaza,” Ross says. “People will have never seen such a world-class landscaping project. I can’t tell you what that plaza will look like, but what I visualize is a modern-day Trevi Fountain. It’s going to be classical and unique.” The best clue to what he has in mind isn’t in Rome, but at Columbus Circle. Ross lives and works in the Time Warner Center, which Related built, and if you imagine the complex blown out to five times its size, you begin to get a sense of what’s coming at Hudson Yards: crowds flowing from home to boutique, hotel to subway, office to spa, concert to restaurant—and all that activity threaded around and through a curving plaza equipped with fountains and a very tall monument, as yet unchosen. The Time Warner Center brought profitable liveliness to Columbus Circle, the once moribund, now vibrant hinge between midtown and the Upper West Side. But massive as it is, the Time Warner Center is dainty by comparison. Hudson Yards circa 2017 1. This office tower, by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, will become Coach headquarters. 2. Apartments by Diller Scofidio +Renfro, joined by David Rockwell: condos on top, rentals below. 3. The flagship office building, also by KPF: 1,300 feet high. 4. The curvy multiuse tower by David Childs contains a hotel, condominiums, and a big Equinox gym. 5. The shopping arcade (please don't call it the mall). 6.The Culture Shed: still unrevealed, but a great big space for traveling exhibits and other events. Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse Unnumbered buildings (the western half of the development) have yet to be designed. Photo: Map by Jason Lee The view from the High Line. Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse Photo: Rendering by Visualhouse Start on the High Line, at West 30th Street near Tenth Avenue. At the moment, the landscaped section peters out here, but the old elevated railway continues, forking both east and west to form the southern border of Hudson Yards. Eventually, you’ll be able to continue your stroll beneath the canopy of an office tower housing the headquarters of the leather-goods company Coach. It’s a tricky spot, and the interaction of city street and raised park forces the architecture to perform some fancy steps. The building genuflects toward Tenth Avenue on muscular concrete legs. Coach’s unit reaches out toward the High Line, and the crown greets the skyline at a jaunty tilt. With all its connections and contortions, the tower, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, assembles its identity out of the complexities of city life. “My whole career has been about taking buildings that are inherently autonomous and getting them to become social gestures,” remarks Pedersen. Head up a couple of blocks from Coach’s future headquarters, and at West 33rd Street, another KPF tower tapers from vast hoped-for trading floors to a jagged peak 1,300 feet up. A state-of-the-art office building these days requires huge open layouts and thick bundles of elevator shafts, which tend to give it the natural grace of a hippopotamus thigh. But look up: Here, the design artfully disguises the two towers’ bulk by making them seem dramatically foreshortened, as if they were speeding toward the sky. One slopes toward the river, the other in the direction of midtown, parted like stalks of corn in a breeze. The cone of space between them draws sunlight to the ground and leaves a welcome break in the city’s increasingly crowded skyline. With any luck, you should be able to stand at the foot of these towers and feel sheltered but not squashed. It would have been far easier to wall the development off and let each tower stand in isolated splendor. Instead, planners have tried to soften the borders of their domain. That’s not just civic-mindedness; it’s good business. If Hudson Yards is going to be a truly urban place, it will have to lure people who neither work nor live there but who come because everyone else does. The development will have two major magnets, one for commerce, food, and entertainment, the other for that primal necessity of New York life: culture. Related is pinning a lot of financial optimism on a five-floor, two-block-long retail extravaganza that links the two KPF towers, rather like the Time Warner Center shops, only bigger, busier, sunnier, and more tightly knit to the city. “We don’t want this to feel like a mall,” insists its architect, Howard Elkus. Pedestrian passageways cut through the building, extending the streets indoors, and a succession of great glass walls turn window-shopping into a spectator sport. The liveliness engine is on the fourth floor, where a collection of informal but high-end food outlets curated by Danny Meyer looks out over the central plaza—“Eataly on steroids” is how one Related executive describes it. Above that are more expensive restaurants and a ten-screen multiplex. Stroll out the western side of the shopping center toward the central plaza, walk diagonally across to 30th Street, halfway between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, and you come to the most intriguing and mysterious element of Hudson Yards: the Culture Shed. Having set aside a parcel of land for cultural use, the city put out a call for ideas. Elizabeth Diller and David Rockwell answered with an amalgam of architectural and institutional innovations: a flexible gallery complex to accommodate traveling exhibits and nomadic performing events. Together, they designed an enormous trusslike shell that could fit over the galleries or roll out like a shipyard gantry to enclose a vast performance space. The city refuses to discuss architectural details, how the still-theoretical organization will function, or who would pay to build and operate it. But it’s easy to imagine it being used for film premieres and high-definition broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera or as a permanent home for Fashion Week, which now camps out in tents. The Culture Shed can give Hudson Yards the highbrow legitimacy and cutting-edge cool it needs to become an integral part of New York, and also create a cultural corridor running from the Whitney Museum at Gansevoort Street (now under construction), through Chelsea’s gallery district, and up to Lincoln Center. The project may be in the wishful-thinking stage—it could still get scaled back or dumbed down, or it could vanish altogether. But it does have one crucial booster: the Related Companies. “The Culture Shed is critically important,” says Jay Cross, the executive who is running the Hudson Yards project. “We’re going to be major supporters because we want and need to see it come to fruition.” Hudson Yards is getting much more from the city than just the Culture Shed. While planners keep working out ways to weld the complex to its environs, the West Side has already begun to embrace its coming addition. New rental towers have sprouted in the West Thirties and burly office buildings will soon rise along Ninth and Tenth Avenues. “There are communities around us—Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown South, West Chelsea, New Jersey to the west—that if we do a great job are just naturally going to flow in and populate that space,” says Cross. The site as a whole is a yawning pit, not so much a blank slate as an empty socket, surrounded by amenities and infrastructure just waiting to be plugged in. Hudson River Park runs along the western edge (set off by Twelfth Avenue), the High Line spills in from the south, and the future Hudson Park and Boulevard will swoop down from the north. The No. 7 subway-line extension is on the way to completion, the Javits Center is being overhauled, and maybe one day Moynihan Station will even get built. In all, $3 billion in taxpayer-funded improvements encircle the Related fiefdom—not including city tax abatements. “Where else have you ever seen this kind of public money for infrastructure to service a whole new development, in the heart of the city, with that much land and no obstacles?” Ross asks. His vocal enthusiasm for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s small-*government credo evidently hasn’t curbed his appreciation for public support. Although it’s the next mayor who will cut the first ribbon, in the long run Hudson Yards may well be the grandest and most dramatic piece of Michael Bloomberg’s legacy. It’s been on the city’s to-do list for almost a decade, ever since Bloomberg hoped to draw the 2012 Olympics to New York with promises of a West Side stadium. The fact that London won the games was a disappointment to him but a stroke of luck for the West Side, scuttling what would have been a disastrous stadium plan, while at the same time calling attention to the value of the real estate above the tracks. Eager for space to put up high-rises and now prompted by a big hole on Manhattan’s western flank, the city focused on a rezoning that is gradually pulling midtown’s center of gravity westward. There are two ways to conceive such a monster project. One is for a single architectural overlord to shape the whole shebang, as Raymond Hood did at Rockefeller Center. Steven Holl, whose offices overlook Hudson Yards and who has designed two similarly gargantuan complexes in China, submitted an entry that might have resulted in a work of thrilling coherence, with the same sensibility imbuing every detail, from door handles to office blocks. But the auteur development also risks yielding a place of oppressive uniformity, where each aesthetic miscalculation is multiplied many times over. Related chose the second option: recruiting an ensemble of brand-name designers. That approach emulates a sped-up version of New York’s gradual, lot-by-lot evolution; the danger is that it can produce a jumble. “Sometimes architectural vitality leads to messiness, or varying degrees of quality, and we’re trying to avoid that,” acknowledges Cross. “Every building is going to be best in class. That’s the common thread.” But bestness is not actually a unifying concept, and when the city held the competition to award the development rights in 2008, the Related entry failed to wow the city, the public, or the critics. “With a drop-dead list of consultants, contributors, collaborators, and anyone else who could be thrown into the mix … [the company] has covered all possible bases with something dreadful for everybody. This is not planning, it’s pandering,” wrote the critic Ada Louise Huxtable in The Wall Street Journal. None of that mattered: The project originally went to another developer, Tishman Speyer, and when that deal fell through, Related scooped it up. Architecture had nothing to do with it. Yet nearly five years later, with contracts signed and money starting to flow, that gold-plated crew of designers, working in separate studios, with different philosophies and, until recently, little consultation, has nevertheless produced a kind of haphazard harmony. What unites them is their taste for complexity and the deftness with which they maneuver conflicting programs into a single composition. Just past the Culture Shed, on the 30th Street side of the site at Eleventh Avenue, is the eastern half’s only purely residential tower, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with David Rockwell. It’s an architectural griffin, grafting together rectilinear rental units on the lower floors with flower-petal condo layouts up high—about 680 apartments in all. The fantastically idiosyncratic bulges and dimples join in complicated ways that make the glass façade look quilted. Now walk north, back across the plaza and past a still-to-be-designed café pavilion, and you come to another tower with a textured exterior—vertical folds with stone on one side and glass on the other, as if a palazzo had merged with a modernist shaft. Actually, the building is even more hybridized than that. David Childs, the architect of the Time Warner Center and One World Trade Center, had to shoehorn a large Equinox gym plus offices, an orthopedic hospital, a sports emporium, a hotel, and a condominium into a curved base and a slender tube. “Hudson Yards is a city within a city. This tower is a city within a city—within a city,” he says. The most delicate, crucial, and treacherous design problem at Hudson Yards isn’t a building at all but the public space, and especially the five acres in the middle, an expanse about as large as Bryant Park. Done right, it could be the most vibrant gathering spot on the West Side, a New York version of Venice’s Piazza San Marco. Done wrong, it could be a windswept tundra populated only by office workers scuttling between the subway and their desks. It’s worrisome that Ross and his team postponed thinking about that void until so much of the architecture had been designed, but heartening that they are intensely focused on it now. Related has given the job to the talented Thomas Woltz, whose quietly refined restorations of gardens and college campuses may not quite have prepared him for the fierce pressure of shaping New York’s most ample new public space. It’s not just a place for people to mingle but for the relationships between the various buildings to express themselves across the connecting plaza. “One of the paintings I admire most is The School of Athens,” says KPF’s William Pedersen, referring to Raphael’s klatch of bearded philosophers chatting beneath noble vaults. “You have great historical and intellectual figures gathered together in dynamic groups of interchange, gesturing to each other. That’s the architectural assignment for each of us.” David Childs phrases a similar thought in a way that graciously defers to Woltz even while sending the message: Don’t screw this up. “We have an obligation to create great architecture, and all the buildings have to be related to the space in the center,” he says. “The void is the most important part.” Woltz has gotten it wrong once. In his first presentation, he placed a plush lawn at the center of the complex, and Ross nearly kicked him out of the room. What Ross wants is not a place to toss a Frisbee, but a town square alive with purpose and electricity. That’s a spectacular challenge; there are few great models for a European-style piazza within a ring of skyscrapers. For now, Woltz’s solution is a paved ellipse, outlined by a perimeter of trees cultivated with geometric severity—given “the Edward Scissorhands topiary treatment,” as one designer puts it. The idea is to create a verdant transition from the human scale to that of glass-and-steel giants. “In an open space next to 1,000-foot towers, our tallest tree is going to be like an ant next to a tall man’s shoe,” Woltz says. But the most maddening paradox of Woltz’s assignment is that he must tailor an open space to the motley public—in ways that will please a potentate. Like some fairy-tale monarch, Ross has dispatched his counselors to find an artist capable of supplying his modern Trevi Fountain. What he wants is something monumental enough to focus the entire project, a piece that’s not just watery and impressive but so instantly iconic that people will meet by it, shoot photos of it, notice it from three blocks away, and recognize it from the cover of guidebooks. You get the feeling that Ross is hedging his bets: If Woltz can’t deliver a world-class plaza with his trees and pavers, maybe a Jeff Koons or an Anish Kapoor can force it into life with a big honking hunk of sculpture. A giant puppy can’t solve an urban design problem, though. It’s nice that a hardheaded mogul like Ross places so much faith in the civic power of art, but he may be asking it to do too much. The plaza is the node where the site’s conflicting forces reveal themselves: the tension between public and private, between city and campus, between democratic space and commercial real estate. Occupy Wall Street’s takeover of Zuccotti Park last year pointed up the oxymoron inherent in the concept of privately owned public space: You can do anything you like there, as long as the owners deem it okay. Childs hopes that his client’s insistence on premium-brand design won’t make Hudson Yards just the province of privilege. “We want this project to be laced through with public streets, so that everyone has ownership of it, whether you’re arriving in your $100,000 limo or pushing a shopping cart full of your belongings.” The plans include drop-off lanes, so the limos are taken care of. But if the shopping-cart pushers, buskers, protesters, skateboarders, and bongo players start feeling too welcome at Hudson Yards, Related’s security guards will have a ready-made *argument to get them to disperse: This is private property.