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  1. Carte intéressante sur la répartition des types d'industries par arrondissement : Via Montreal Gazette : http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/maps-whos-putting-montrealers-to-work Maps show who's putting Montrealers to work ROBERTO ROCHA, MONTREAL GAZETTE Published on: October 23, 2014Last Updated: October 28, 2014 2:06 PM EDT If you want a job at a clothing store, you’ll have better chances finding work in St-Léonard. But if working at a private residence is your thing, Hampstead is a good place too look. Data released by Montreal’s statistics bureau breaks down the number of jobs in each industry, for every borough and demerged suburb. The data confirms obvious truths — that the main industry in Dorval is transportation, and that manufacturing is heavy in St-Laurent and the east end — but it also offer some surprises. The data details the number of jobs in each type of industry and workplace. These are jobs that exist inside a borough’s or city’s borders, not the jobs of residents who live in those places. There’s a large swath, stretching from Pierrefonds to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where the dominant industry is health care and social services. And though it’s no surprise that places like Ville-Marie and Westmount would be heavy in professional services, but Sud-Ouest is less obvious. We can assume the condo boom in Griffintown, as well as the gentrification of Pointe St-Charles created demand for skilled workers. However, only 13 per cent of jobs in Sud-Ouest are in that field, which suggests the borough has a rich diversity of jobs. However, this maps only gives us a big-picture view of general industries. The data also breaks down the number of jobs by more granular workplaces. Here’s another map, this time by type of employer. We see that the boroughs where health and social services are strong are split between hospitals and schools as main employers. Banking, not surprisingly, is the main employer downtown, while the top job in the Plateau is in restaurants. Surprisingly, it’s the same in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. And did you ever imagine so many people in Montreal-East worked in furniture stores? Or that the federal government employs lots of Westmounters? A curious outlier is Hampstead, which has, as the dominant employer, private households. These refer to domestic labour, like cleaners, maids and cooks. “Being a city with one of the highest incomes in the region, it’s plausible to find so many jobs in that sub-category,” said Yan Beaumont, researcher at Montréal en statistiques. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue also stands out, with colleges and CEGEPs being the main employer. The tiny, partly rural city is home to John Abbott College and Gérand Godin College. Here is the summary of the data for the three levels of the Montreal area. [TABLE=class: grid, width: 600] [TR] [TD][/TD] [TD]Montreal metropolitan region[/TD] [TD]Montreal agglomeration[/TD] [TD]City of Montreal[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest industry[/TD] [TD]Retail[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second-largest industry[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Manufacturing[/TD] [TD]Professional, scientific, and technical services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest employer[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second largest employer[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] Full data sheet at the end of the article
  2. Article intéressant dans le NYMAG : The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings By Jacoba Urist April 12, 2016 10:56 a.m. <cite class="credit">Photo: Philip Laurell/Getty Images </cite>New Yorkers have long bemoaned their city being overrun by bland office towers and chain stores: Soon, it seems, every corner will either be a bank, a Walgreens, or a Starbucks. And there is indeed evidence that all cities are starting to look the same, which can hurt local growth and wages. But there could be more than an economic or nostalgic price to impersonal retail and high-rise construction: Boring architecture may take an emotional toll on the people forced to live in and around it. A growing body of research in cognitive science illuminates the physical and mental toll bland cityscapes exact on residents. Generally, these researchers argue that humans are healthier when they live among variety — a cacophony of bars, bodegas, and independent shops — or work in well-designed, unique spaces, rather than unattractive, generic ones. In their book, Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment, Tufts urban policy professor Justin Hollander and architect Ann Sussman review scientific data to help architects and urban planners understand how, exactly, we respond to our built surroundings. People, they argue, function best in intricate settings and crave variety, not “big, blank, boxy buildings.” Indeed, that’s what Colin Ellard, a neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo and director of its Urban Realities Laboratory, has found in his own work. Five years ago, Ellard became interested in a particular building on East Houston Street — the gigantic Whole Foods “plopped into” a notoriously textured part of lower Manhattan. As described in his book, titled Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life, Ellard partnered with the Guggenheim Museum’s urban think tank to analyze what happens when someone “turns out of a tiny, historic [knish] restaurant” and encounters a full city block with nothing but “the long, blank façade of the Whole Foods Market.” The Whole Foods on Houston. In 2011, Ellard led small groups on carefully planned Lower East Side walks to measure the effect of the urban environment on their bodies and minds. Participants recorded their response to questions at each stopping point and wore sensors that measured skin conductance, an electrodermal response to emotional excitement. Passing the monolithic Whole Foods, people’s state of arousal reached a nadir in Ellard’s project. Physiologically, he explained, they were bored. In their descriptions of this particular place, they used words like bland, monotonous, and passionless. In contrast, one block east of the Whole Foods on East Houston, at the other test site — a “lively sea of restaurants with lots of open doors and windows” — people’s bracelets measured high levels of physical excitement, and they listed words like lively, busy, and socializing. “The holy grail in urban design is to produce some kind of novelty or change every few seconds,” Ellard said. “Otherwise, we become cognitively disengaged.” The Whole Foods may have gentrified the neighborhood with more high-quality organic groceries, but the building itself stifled people. Its architecture blah-ness made their minds and bodies go meh. And studies show that feeling meh can be more than a passing nuisance. For instance, psychologists Colleen Merrifield and James Danckert’s work suggests that even small doses of boredom can generate stress. People in their experiment watched three videos — one boring, one sad, and one interesting – while wearing electrodes to measure their physiological responses. Boredom, surprisingly, increased people’s heart rate and cortisol level more than sadness. Now take their findings and imagine the cumulative effects of living or working in the same oppressively dull environs day after day, said Ellard. There might even be a potential link between mind-numbing places and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. In one case, physicians have linked “environmental deprivation” to ADHD in children. Homes without toys, art, or other stimuli were a significant predictor of ADHD symptoms.Meanwhile, the prevalence of U.S. adults treated for attention deficit is rising. And while people may generally be hardwired for variety, Dr. Richard Friedman, director of the pharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, makes the case that those with ADHD are especially novelty-seeking. Friedman points to a patient who “treated” his ADHD by changing his workday from one that was highly routine — a standard desk job — to a start-up, which has him “on the road, constantly changing environments.” Most ADD is the result of biological factors, said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD, and co-authored numerous books on the subject, such as Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life With Attention Deficit Disorder. But, he explained, he sees a lot of socially induced ADD, too, a form of the disorder that makes it appear as though you inherited the genes, although you really haven’t. And one way you might have the socially induced condition, according to Hallowell, is to suffer severe boredom or live in a highly nonstimulating environment. “It makes total sense that for these people changing where they work or live to add more visual stimulation and daily variety could be extremely helpful,” Hallowell said. At the same time, many adults may feel they have ADHD because the world has become hypersaturated with constant texts, emails, and input. For them, life has become too adrenalizing. “They don’t have true ADHD,” Hallowell said, “but, rather, what I call a severe case of modern life.” So the trick, it seems, is to design a world that excites but doesn’t overly assault our faculties with a constant barrage of information: Scientists aren’t proposing that all cities look like the Vegas strip or Times Square. “We are, as animals, programmed to respond to thrill,” said professor Brendan Walker, a former aerospace engineer and author of Taxonomy of Thrill and Thrilling Designs. In Walker’s University of Nottingham “thrill laboratory,” devices gauge heart rate and skin conductance to see how people respond to adrenaline-producing experiences such as a roller-coaster ride. And he’s reduced “thrill” to a set of multivariable equations that illustrate the importance of rapid variation in our lives: A thrilling encounter moves us quickly from a state of equilibrium to a kind of desirable “disorientation,” like the moment before you rush down the hill of a roller coaster. “Humans want a certain element of turmoil or confusion,” he said. “Complexity is thrilling whether in an amusement park or architecture.” Environmental thrill and visual variety, Walker believes, help people’s psyche. As many of us instinctively feel a wave of ennui at the thought of working all day in a maze of soulless, white cubicles, blocks of generic buildings stub our senses. It’s not only that we’re genetic adrenaline junkies. Psychologists have found that jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring moments — picture the exhilarating view of the Grand Canyon or Paris from the Eiffel tower — can potentially improve our 21st-century well-being. One study showed that the feeling of awe can make people more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to help others. In an experiment, researchers showed students 60-second clips of waterfalls, whales, or astronauts in space. After only a minute of virtual images, those who said they were awed also felt less pressed for time. In a second experiment, individuals recalled “an awe-inspiring” event and then answered a range of survey questions; they were also more likely to say they’d volunteer for a charity, as compared to those who hadn’t spent time thinking about a past moment of awe. And in yet another variation, people made hypothetical choices between material and experiential goods of equal monetary value: a watchor a Broadway show, a jacket or a restaurant meal. Those who recently “felt awe” were more likely to choose an experience over a physical possession, a choice that is linked with greater satisfaction in the long run. In other words, a visual buzz — whether architectural or natural — might have the ability to change our frame of mind, making modern-day life more satisfying and interactive. It’s important to note, however, that architectural boredom isn’t about how pristine a street is. People often confuse successful architecture with whether an area looks pleasant. On the contrary, when it comes to city buildings, people often focus too narrowly on aesthetics, said Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Through Urban Design. But good design is really is about “shaping emotional infrastructure.” Some of the happiest blocks in New York City, he argues, are “kind of ugly and messy.” For instance, Ellard’s “happier” East Houston block is a “jumbled-up, social one”— the Whole Foods stretch, in comparison, is newer and more manicured. Sometimes what’s best for us, Montgomery explained, just isn’t that pretty. His research also shows cacophonous blocks may make people kinder to each other. In 2014, Montgomery’s Happy City lab conducted a Seattle experiment in which he found a strong correlation between messier blocks and pro-social behavior. Montgomery sent researchers, posing as lost tourists, to places he coded as either “active façades” — with a high level of visual interest — or “inactive façades” (like long warehouse blocks). Pedestrians at active sites were nearly five times more likely to offer help than at inactive ones. Of those who helped, seven times as many at the active site offered use of their phone; four times as many offered to lead the “lost tourist” to their destination. Fortunately, it’s not necessarily a dichotomy — new architecture can achieve the optimal level of cacophony and beauty. Take the 2006 Hearst Tower in midtown Manhattan. From the outside, the façade is likely to jolt city dwellers — if anything will — from their daily commutes, while “thrilling” employees who enter it each morning. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning architect Norman Foster, Hearst Tower is a glass-and-steel skyscraper, 40 stories of which are designed in a triangular pattern contrasting the 1920s Art Deco base. For many who walk by, Hearst Tower’s design may not be the easiest to understand; it’s both sleek and old. The top looks like it traveled from the future. Inside, workers travel upon diagonal escalators, up a three-story water sculpture, through the tower’s historic atrium” flooded with light. It’s not the view from the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon, but it’s probably as close a modern lobby can come to awe-inspiring. Few New Yorkers who pass by would find this building boring. And they’re likely happier — maybe even nicer to each other — because of it. <cite class="credit"></cite>
  3. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/good-architecture-pays-french-expert <header class="entry-header" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 15px; line-height: 24px; font-family: BentonSans-Regular, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The good, the bad and the ugly: French expert assesses Montreal architecture MARIAN SCOTT, MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Marian Scott, Montreal Gazette Published on: April 13, 2016 | Last Updated: April 13, 2016 7:00 AM EDT </header><figure class="align-none wp-caption post-img" id="post-783124media-783124" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="http://wpmedia.montrealgazette.com/2016/04/montreal-que-april-6-2016-emmanuel-caille-is-an-edito.jpeg?quality=55&strip=all&w=840&h=630&crop=1" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text" itemprop="description" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Emmanuel Calle, editor of the French architecture magazine "d'a", at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Caille shared his thoughts on Montreal's architecture. MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER </figcaption></figure>SHAREADJUSTCOMMENTPRINT What would an international expert think of Montreal’s recent architecture? To find out, the Montreal Gazette took French architecture critic Emmanuel Caille on a walking tour of downtown and Griffintown. He also visited the $52.6-million indoor soccer stadium that opened last year in the St-Michel district. Caille, the editor of the Paris-based architecture magazine “d’a”, was in town to take part in a panel discussion last week on architectural criticism, organized by the Maison de l’architecture du Québec and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). Caille’s verdict on our fair city ranged from a thumbs-up for the pricey new soccer stadium to shocked incredulity over a new hotel annex to the Mount Stephen Club, a historic mansion at 1440 Drummond St. <figure id="attachment_783141" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 1000px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> The Mount Stephen Club. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>Built from 1880-83 for Lord Mount Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, it has been in the news recently after suffering structural damage during construction of the annex. Caille, an architect as well as an editor, did not comment on the structural problems, but he did give a visual assessment of the hotel addition, an 11-storey cement-panel structure tucked behind the mansion. “It’s quite brutal in the city,” he said. From de Maisonneuve Blvd., the hotel addition presents a view of three blank walls with a shed-style roof. “It’s astonishing. It’s bizarre,” he said. Caille was also perplexed by the front façade, dotted with small windows of different sizes. “What is not obvious is what relationship there is between this building and the mansion. I don’t see any,” he added. The hotel addition shows why projects should not be conceived in isolation, Caille said. City planners should have put forward a vision for the entire block, which includes an outdoor parking lot on de la Montagne St. that would have made a better site for a high rise, he said. Interesting alleyways and outdoor spaces could have been included, he said. “Everybody is turning their back to one another,” he said of how the different properties on the block don’t relate to each other. At the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Sherbrooke St., Caille said a glass condo addition completed in 2013 is a good example of how to update a historic building for modern use. But he criticized white PVC windows on the hotel’s Sherbrooke St. façade for their thick frames and mullions, which don’t suit the building. “That’s horrible,” he said. “Windows are the eyes of a building. When women use an eye pencil to emphasize their eyes, it changes everything.” <figure id="attachment_783158" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 997px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Construction workers work on the District Griffin condo project in Griffintown. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>In Griffintown, Caille was unimpressed by the banal architecture of condo towers that have sprouted in recent years in the former industrial district, which is undergoing rapid transformation. But the former Dow Planetarium at 1000 St-Jacques St. W. caught his eye. Built in 1966, it closed in 2011. The city turned it over to the Université du Québec’s École de technologie supérieure in 2013. ÉTS announced it would transform the building into a “creativity hub” but so far the building has sat vacant. Caille said the domed landmark has great potential to be recycled for a new vocation. “When a building is dirty and dilapidated, people don’t see its beauty. You have to see the beauty underneath the neglect,” he said. Today there is a consensus that older heritage buildings should be preserved but it’s still difficult to rally public opinion behind buildings from more recent eras, like the 1960s, Caille said. <figure id="attachment_783147" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 1000px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> The 26-storey Deloitte Tower between Windsor Station and the Bell Centre. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>The Deloitte Tower, a new 26-storey glass office tower between the Bell Centre and Windsor Station, is nothing to write home about, in Caille’s opinion. “It’s developer architecture,” he said. “There’s nothing interesting about it.” Built by developer Cadillac Fairview, it is part of the $2-billion, nine-tower Quad Windsor project. That includes the 50-storey Tour des Canadiens, which will be Montreal’s tallest condo tower for about a year, until the even taller nearby L’Avenue tower is completed. Most people don’t notice the difference between good and bad architecture when a building is new, Caille said. But over time, the defects of bad buildings grow increasingly obvious, while the good ones become beloved monuments, he said. “People go to New York to see the architecture of the 1920s and 30s,” he said, referring to landmarks like the 1931 Empire State Building and 1928 Chrysler Building. “Good architecture always pays off in the long term.” Unfortunately, much development is driven by short-term considerations, he said. While a developer can walk away from a mediocre building once it’s sold, city-dwellers are stuck with it, he said. “For him, it’s no problem. But for the city, it’s a tragedy,” he said. “Today’s architecture is tomorrow’s heritage,” he noted. Caille is a strong proponent of architectural competitions, which he sees as a way to seek out the best talents and ideas. “It forces people to think and it shows that for every problem, there are many solutions. It’s a way of accessing brainpower,” he said. <figure id="attachment_783196" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 1000px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Kids arrive at the the new soccer complex at the Complexe environnemental St-Michel. PHIL CARPENTER /MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>The St-Michel soccer stadium has been criticized for its high price tag but Caille hailed it as an example of excellent design. The ecological building designed by Saucier & Perrotte has three glass walls overlooking a park in the St-Michel environmental complex. Caille said the stadium could be a catalyst for improvements in the hardscrabble north-end neighbourhood. During Tuesday’s panel discussion, Paul Goldberger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former architecture critic for the New York Times and the New Yorker, said that unlike other types of journalists, architectural critics rarely have an immediate impact on public opinion. “Architectural criticism must take a very long view,” he said. “One learns to think of one’s influence as more gradual, as shifting tastes and judgment over time.” Goldberger, author of books including Why Architecture Matters, published in 2009, has written that the critic’s job is not to push for a particular architectural style, but rather to advocate for the best work possible. He said the time in his career when architectural criticism enjoyed greatest prominence was following Sept. 11, 2001, during discussions over the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. “It was a time when architectural criticism really was, I think, front and centre in the public discourse,” he said. “There it was so clear that an issue of architecture was intimately connected to significant world affairs and one did not have to struggle to help people understand the connection between architecture and the rest of the world,” said Goldberger, who now writes for Vanity Fair and teaches at The New School in New York. In a 2011 review of the new World Trade Center for the New Yorker, Goldberger said the design by architect Daniel Libeskind “struck a careful balance between commemorating the lives lost and reestablishing the life of the site itself.” The panel discussion followed the awarding of two $1,000 prizes to young writers for architectural writing on the topic of libraries. The winning entries by Marie-Pier Bourret-Lafleur and Kristen Smith will be published respectively in Argus and Canadian Architect magazines. [email protected] Twitter.com/JMarianScott
  4. http://www.citylab.com/politics/2014/07/paris-wants-landlords-to-turn-vacant-office-space-into-apartmentsor-else/374388/ Paris Wants Landlords to Turn Vacant Office Space Into Apartments—Or Else The city has a surplus of empty commercial buildings that could better serve as residences. And it plans to fine owners who don't convert. FEARGUS O'SULLIVAN <figure class="lead-image" style="margin: 0px; max-width: 620px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Oxygen, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px;"><figcaption class="credit" style="color: rgb(153, 153, 153); font-size: 0.82353em; text-align: right;">Justin Black/Shutterstock.com</figcaption></figure>Leave your office space unrented and we’ll fine you. That’s the new ruledeclared by the city of Paris last week. Currently, between six and seven percent of Paris' 18 million square meters of office space is unused, and the city wants to get this vacant office space revamped and occupied by residents. The penalties for unrented space will be as follows: 20 percent of the property’s rental value in the first year of vacancy, 30 percent in the second year and 40 percent in the third year. The plan is to free up about 200,000 square meters of office space for homes, which would still leave a substantial amount of office space available should demand pick up. The city insists that, while the sums involved are potentially large, this isn’t a new tax but an incentive. And, if it has the right effect in getting property re-occupied, may end up being little-used. Landlords' groups are taking the new plan as well as can be expected. They’ve pointed out that, while the cost of the fines might be high, it could still cost them less to pay them than to convert their properties to homes. According to a property investor quoted in Le Figaro, the cost of transforming an office into apartments can actually be 20 to 25 percent more expensive than constructing an entirely new building. Many landlords might be unwilling or unable to undertake such a process and thus be forced to sell in a market where, thanks to a glut of available real estate, prices are falling. There is also the question of how easy the law will be to enforce: Landlords could rent out vacant properties at a token rent simply to avoid the vacancy fine. <aside class="pullquote instapaper_ignore" style="font-family: Bitter, Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 2.11765em; line-height: 1.05556; border-top-width: 5px; border-top-style: solid; border-top-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); padding: 25px 0px; margin: 30px 0px;">As Paris becomes a laboratory for new legislation to make homes more plentiful and affordable, other European cities would do well to watch it carefully. </aside>It’s too early to see if these predictions will come true, but past experience in smaller French property markets suggests it won’t. The fines have already been introduced elsewhere in France: in the country’s fourth city of Lille (governed by the Socialist party) and in the Parisian satellite town of St Quentin-en-Yvelines (governed by the right wing UMP). So far, neither has experienced a legislation-exacerbated property slump. It’s also fair to point out that Paris is asking for a round of belt tightening from pretty much every group involved in the city’s real estate. The new levy is part of a plan announced last month that will also pressure state and semi-public bodies to release Parisian land for home building. Paris has some fairly large reserves of this, including space currently owned by the state health authority, by the national railway network and by the RATP—Paris’ transit authority, on whose unused land alone 2,000 homes could be built. In the meantime, stringent planning laws are also being relaxed to cut development costs for office converters. They will no longer, for example, be obliged to provide parking spaces for new homes, as they had been until the law change. Finally, starting next year, landlords will get an incentive to rent their properties to financially riskier lower-income tenants by having their rents and deposits guaranteed by a new intermediary, a public/private agency called Multiloc. Coming on top of laws that have relaxed building-height restrictionson the Paris periphery, it’s clear that, for Paris developers and landowners, there’s a decent ratio of carrot to stick. But will it all work? At the very least, Paris deserves recognition for being proactive, especially on a continent where many cities’ grip on the property sector is floundering. Berlin has recently had major new homebuilding plansrejected by residents (for good reason—they were due to get a bad deal), while the U.K.’s number of newly built homes has actually gone down, despite property prices continuing to rise sharply. As Paris becomes a laboratory for new legislation to make homes more plentiful and affordable, other European cities would do well to watch it carefully. (Photo credit: Justin Black/Shutterstock.com)
  5. 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.
  6. Read more: http://sports.nationalpost.com/2010/09/10/with-leafs-its-never-too-early-to-brainwash/#ixzz0zBLVTio4
  7. Trouble on The Main The former home of American Apparel on St. Laurent Blvd. now carries a For Rent sign. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic,” says Dan Abenhaim, the chain’s Canadian regional director. Other shop owners say the recession and high rents have hurt business on along the strip. Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette By Irwin Block, The GazetteApril 24, 2009 The former home of American Apparel on St. Laurent Blvd. now carries a For Rent sign. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic,” says Dan Abenhaim, the chain’s Canadian regional director. Other shop owners say the recession and high rents have hurt business on along the strip. It’s known to generations as The Main and it’s as Montreal as smoked meat and the Habs. St. Laurent Blvd. is us, and in tribute to its Portuguese component, city officials on Friday inaugurated a dozen marble-topped benches between Bagg and Marie Anne Sts. But things are not going that well for some merchants, especially on the trendiest part of the street between Sherbrooke St. and Pine Ave. It’s still home to such fancy eateries as Buona Notte and Primadonna, but in the past months several major tenants have closed. They include an American Apparel store and a Mac Cosmetics outlet; the space formerly occupied by Sofia Grill at the northwest corner of Prince Arthur St. and St. Laurent is for rent, as are several other shops farther north. Dan Abenhaim, American Apparel’s Canadian regional director, said that after five years the firm decided not to renew the lease. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic and we decided we want to open in another location.” He also said that over five years “the street has changed and the traffic is more north of Pine Ave.” However, clothing shops are also hurting north of Pine, where Adam & Lilith has closed one of two adjoining shops on St. Laurent. According to assistant manager Carmel Pacaud, people are still attracted to the street but they are not buying as they used to. Other shop owners blame almost two years of disruptive road repairs that ended last year, as well as the recession and high rents. “The city has murdered the street,” said one real estate agent, who spoke on the condition his name not be used. People who were put off by the construction are not coming back and there is a moratorium on new restaurants and bars between Sherbrooke and Mount Royal Ave., he added. Rent at the former Mac Cosmetics store is about $7,500 a month for 1,600 square feet. Rents tend to decrease north of Pine. “It’s a little distressing, slower than usual” remarked Marnie Blanshay, who owns Lola & Emily ladies wear just south of the abandoned American Apparel. Many who were discouraged from shopping there by the ripping up and repaving of the strip have not returned, she observed. And because few retail clothing shops remain, hers is more of a “destination store” with fewer shoppers coming by to go from store to store checking out and comparing. “It reminds me of Crescent St. in the 1990s,” she said, adding that “the landlords believe it’s better than it is and need to reduce rents.” When rents go down, the creative people will return to reinject the street’s normal vitality, she said. “St. Laurent Blvd. is not a street where chains succeed.” Apart from Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix, American Apparel was the only chain outlet on the street, noted André Beauséjour, executive director of the Société de développment du Boulevard St. Laurent. He said the vacancy rate between Sherbrooke and Mount Royal is a “normal” two per cent. A stroll up the boulevard yesterday indicated that many stores that have become institutions – Bar Bifteck, Salaison Slovenia, Schreter’s, Coco Rico, Moishe’s, Segal’s grocery, Berson Monuments – are still going concerns. And there was the proverbial lunchtime lineup inside Schwartz’s. But if you have a concept, there is lots of space for rent, including the former Laurentian Bank at St. Laurent and Pine. – all 5,400 square feet. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  8. Note Personnelle: Cet articles va à tout ces gens négatifs qui visites trop souvent ce forum. Peut-être qu'on pourrait transformer "La Féria du Vélo" en élément touristique, imaginez cette année 33k cyclistes mais d'ici quelques années, un événement d'une semaine avec championnat du monde (comme en ce moment, mais en plus gros) un tour du Québec qui termine TOUJOURS à Montréal, prélude au tour de France (début Juillet). et un grand tour de l'île avec 100 000 cyclistes de partout dans le monde. c'est pas le grand prix, mais ça serait l'fun quand même. Et imaginez, ce commentaire viens de moi qui n'a pas embarqué sur un vélo (qui n'était pas stationnaire) depuis probablement 10ans. Source: The Examiners: NY I've just returned from a cycling paradise, and it’s got a French-Canadian accent. If you don't approve of adjectives like "magnificent," "joyous," "awesome," and "delightful,” better stop reading now, because all of them apply to Montreal's Tour de L'Ile, one of recreational cycling's greatest events in one of the world's greatest cities for bicycling. Yesterday this spectacular rally celebrated its 25th year. More than 33,000 riders took part in the 52 km. ride, according to Joelle Sevigny, executive director of Velo Quebec, the organization that produces the ride, and it seemed as though every man, woman, boy and girl participant wore a smile as part of their attire. It’s not my style to enjoy riding in the company with thousands of strangers. Not my style to bike on a rented utilitarian hybrid so uncool it had a kickstand. Not really my style to go overboard with praise. But I can’t help myself. Good golly, Miss Molly -- do these folks know how to throw a party! Cirque du Soleil stunt riders at the start, Quebec singer/songwriter Daniel Belanger at the finish, and miles of car-free mostly flat roadway in between, patrolled by singing, horn-tooting, chanting volunteers…. That’s a blueprint for a perfect bicycle Sunday. Oh, and the weather was perfect. Around 70 degrees and sunny, with a nice breeze. The ride slowly unfurls Montreal’s parks, high-rise downtown, chic shopping districts, ethnic neighborhoods and rivers like a beautiful multicultural flag. If you have never done this ride, write “Montreal” on your early June 2010 calendar now. When it comes to metropolitan biking, Montreal gets it. The city has tons of bike lanes. It’s got “Bixi,” a brand-new bike-sharing system. It has ferries with an entire deck of bike racks. I’ve rarely been in a big-city environment with such courteous auto drivers, respectful cyclists and an overall joie de vivre that is as infectious as it is real. The Tour de L’Ile in Montreal reminds us of what biking is all about – physical fitness, fresh air, and most of all, fun.
  9. http://www.thestar.com/travel/northamerica/article/805447--echoes-of-montreal-in-louisville
  10. APRIL 8, 2009, 9:14 PM ET It’s not too surprising that microprocessor guru Marc Tremblay has decided to leave Sun Microsystems, which was experiencing challenges and executive departures well before the brouhaha over stalled takeover talks with IBM. More intriguing is the fact that he is going to Microsoft, which is not exactly a center of chip design. Tremblay, in an email, referred questions to a spokeswoman for Microsoft. She could only provide a statement with a few boiler-plate facts about his new job: He will hold the title of distinguished engineer in the “strategic software/silicon architectures” group under Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer. Marc Tremblay This is not a group that many people knew existed. The spokeswoman could not answer when it began operating, or how many people are in it. But she said Tremblay will manage a team of technologists “who will help set the company strategy for software and semiconductor technologies, as well as maintain relationships with semiconductor companies.” Stepping back, it’s easy to see how a person with Tremblay’s talents could help the company. Microsoft’s Xbox division, for example, has to think about which microprocessors to consider in designing a follow-up to its current gaming console. Its Windows group, meanwhile, has to design new versions of the operating system for the rapid proliferation of chips with many electronic brains rather than one or two. Tremblay, who was chief technology officer of Sun’s chip unit, certainly has the credentials. During 18 years at Sun, he amassed at least 100 patents–the most of anyone at Sun–and led the development of several important members of a chip line called Sparc that has long powered Sun’s flagship server systems. That hardware represents a sliver of the market compared with machines based on x86 chips, the kind sold by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. But Sun in recent years put out an eight-processor Sparc chip–part of a line that had the code name Niagara–that has sold very well for small servers. Tremblay, whose departure was reported Tuesday by the New York Times, is more closely associated with a chip called Rock that was designed for high-end machines. And Rock has not been such a happy story; in February, Tremblay told reporters that the chip, which will have 16 processors, won’t be ready until the second half of 2009–compared to an original arrival date of the second half of 2008. And that part of Sun’s server line faces long-term questions, whether or not IBM decides to buy the company. Billings for those systems declined 32% to $662 million in the second quarter ended in December, while the Niagara-type machines grew 31% to $369 million. (Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for pointing out that Tremblay hails from Quebec, not France). Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  11. MONTREAL — Add “promoter of international soccer matches” to the dossier of the Montreal Impact. The Impact has officially landed Montreal France’s Champions Trophy, a one-game final between the winners of the French Championship and French Cup to be held on July 25 at Olympic Stadium. It will be the first time the Champions Trophy has been held outside France, and past winners include Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes and Monaco. “The Impact is the promoter,” Impact vice-president Richard Legendre said. “As (Impact president) Joey Saputo has said, we think it’s the right timing to bring international soccer to Montreal. We think there’s a market for that and we’re at a better place to organize it. “It’s in our mission to promote and develop soccer here, and this is a very good way to do so. We went after it. We worked on it, and it’s up to us to promote it. Hopefully we can also bring new sources of revenue. There are costs, but we think the revenue will be higher than the cost.” The Champions Trophy (officially Le Trophee des Champions) brings together the winner of France’s Ligue 1, currently being contested between Bordeaux and Marseille, and the winner of the French Cup, which is competed for by all divisions. Ligue 2’s Guingamp won the French Cup on May 9, beating Rennes 2-1 on a pair of goals from Brazilian striker Eduardo in front of 80,056 spectators at le Stade de France. Guingamp, the first Ligue 2 team to win the tournament-format French Cup in 50 years, will face either Bordeaux or Marseille in Montreal. Bordeaux, which Thursday announced it had signed Yoann Gourcuff to a four-year contract, ending the possibility of the French international playmaker going to AC Milan, needs only one point against Caen Saturday night to secure the Ligue 1 crown. A record crowd of 55,571 was at Olympic Stadium last February to watch the Impact play a CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final game against Mexican first-division club Santos Laguna. While it remains to be seen if two visiting French teams can attract a similar crowd in Montreal, Legendre is confident the interest will be there. “We think it’s an important event with a lot of stature, certainly from the interest we’ve received so far. The fans of international soccer, and of course the fans of French soccer, I think will be very excited to attend,’’ Legendre said. “We haven’t set any specific objective in terms of numbers, but think that such an event should draw 30,000-plus. That’s why we’re holding it at Olympic Stadium.” Montreal Gazette
  12. Cirque du Gourmet Montréal’s Jean Talon Farmers’ Market is a feast for the eyes, too By Matt Scanlon You can’t beat the people-watching at Café Italia on Boulevard St. Laurent in Montréal. From the coffeehouse’s small sidewalk tables, an observer can take in the city’s swirling blend of color and culture: a Rasta-capped dad pushing a tandem stroller; a reed-thin, ghost-pale city girl; a man-sandaled Red Sox fan, presumably from the States; a fiftysomething Asian woman in a sky-blue business suit. One thing unifies this disparate urban crowd: loot from the Marché Jean Talon. Grasping sacks filled with guava, pineapples, wedges of cheese and the requisite torpedoes of French bread, the shoppers spill out of one of the best open-air farmers’ markets in the city . . . some say the continent. To those who’ve fallen prey to the Jean Talon addiction, the place is much more than an opportunity for bag filling. Since its opening in 1933, the market has been an impromptu park: part “Where am I?” landmark for tourists, part political forum and part all-day hang-out for everyone from skateboard kids to fashionistas. Think of a circus with much better food . . . and no clowns. Situated between avenues Casgrain and Henri-Julien, closest to the Jean Talon metro stop, the Marché Jean Talon is one of only two large farmers’ markets in Montréal — the other is Atwater in the Westmount neighborhood. However, many locals feel Jean Talon represents a more faithful adherence to the “buy local, sell local” motto. Its 300-odd stalls — shaded from the sun by a roof without walls, train-station-style — overflow with cheese, meat, produce of virtually every shape and description, freshly cut flowers, fish just plucked from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Québec crafts such as hand-woven hats and rugs. The outside edges of the market hold restaurants, larger food stores and a raft of cafés. Though the market resides on the northwestern edge of Little Italy, the neighborhood vibe is more Gallic than Latin, and the happiest customers are those who can at least introduce their inability to speak French . . . in French. Stylish epicurians are quick to note that the Atwater market, with its tonier locale, has more cachet these days, and for people less eager to immerse themselves in Québécois culture, its largely Anglophone location is certainly American-friendly. But that’s just the point: When we go to Montréal, it’s because we want to get away. And Jean Talon has plenty of exotic tastes, including Québec favorites such as Rougemont and Mont-Sainte-Hilaire apples, lamb and pork from the Rigaud hills, and chèvre and Pied-de-Vent cheeses. Open year-round, a market of this size naturally has its share of imports, too. You can grab a Florida orange for nostalgia’s sake, but really. Fromage fans in particular have good reason to make the journey to Jean Talon. Though we have plenty of fine unpasteurized cheeses in Vermont, the market is a prime place to sample Québec’s offerings. Purists believe heat kills much of the earthy texture and place-presence (or terroir) of cheese, and after a hockey-puck-sized serving of a goat’s milk variety called “Tome,” it’s difficult to argue the point. Grassy, sharp and with a white-wine-like finish, it’s a revelation. Such bliss comes with a side order of caution; unpasteurized milk is more prone to have listeriosis and E. coli passengers on board, and pregnant woman should abstain. Though there are at least a dozen great places to buy, Fromagerie Qui Lait Cru — a nifty pun that means both “raw milk” and “Who would’ve believed?” — has a particularly garrulous staff when it comes to answering questions. There are few better examples of Jean Talon’s emphasis on local flavor than Porc Meilleur. Supplied by a family-run farm of the same name in the Maskoutan region, its hormone- and antibiotic-free meat comes from pigs that are fed a combination of grains, yogurt and milk — the proportions are a house secret — and the results are the stuff of local legend. It’s not uncommon for shoppers to come from as far as Ottawa for the bacon, and a shortage of chops can be cause for a near-riot. If veal is your thing, Veau de Charlevoix, just a stone’s throw from Porc Meilleur, is just as passionate about animal raising and quality. Les Délices de la Mer has the unofficial designation of the go-to place for fresh fish in the market. You’ll know it by the number of people standing nearby eating fried fillets out of paper wrappers, eyes turned heavenward in appreciation. Les Délices sells and cooks what’s in season, of course, and at the moment turbot is in abundance. A relative of the flounder, this 10- to 30-pound bottom dweller is prized for delicate (if firm) flesh and a decidedly non-fishy flavor. More than anything else, though, what you see in the market is produce, and again, as long as the harvest lasts, local fruits and vegetables are the stars of the show. For sheer scale and diversity, start with Sami Fruit, just off the market on Rue Jean Talon South. Portage potatoes look appreciably different from their Idaho cousins, while Reliance peaches and Nova Scotia grapes put many in the States to shame. Though these staples of Jean Talon anchor the day, the best part of the market is the unexpected. One day an intrepid shopper might find a small stall offering fresh lobster; the next, a display of crayfish; the next, kosher pickles manufactured by the remnants of the area’s once-sizeable Jewish community. Each visit is different, and as you dip your baguette into a jar of brandied strawberry puree over the low notes of a Mexican guitarron, suddenly the ennui of the border crossing seems worth it. Fruit Flight What’s the point of filling your bags with the wonders of Québec if they end up in the hands of customs agents? Crossing the border is nervewracking enough without worrying about the rules regarding the legal importation of Canadian goods, and the trouble is that these regulations change constantly. With every new potato worm, fruit fly or blight, products that were acceptable yesterday become illegal today. Generally, though, things play out like this: Prepared items such as jam, jelly, sauce, olive oil, mustard, honey, wine and vinegar are permissible, with the very strict exception of anything containing meat. Importing a meat product of any kind is forbidden. For the sake of your stomach, and because it generally falls under the meat heading, leave the fish on your plate, too. The rules are a bit more relaxed regarding Canadian fruit and vegetable importation than with flora of Mexico, Central America or Europe. As long as your plunder is not exotic (eat the last of that pineapple before you leave) and/or bears a “grown in Québec” label either on the fruit or on the bag, you’ll most likely be OK. To be safe, don’t mingle different types of fruit in one bag. Hard cheeses, even those containing raw milk, are generally allowed, but no soft varieties — sorry, Brie lovers. Be further advised, though, that any customs agent can decide for any reason that an item is inadmissible or exceeds the maddeningly vague “reasonable amount” rule. Don’t press your luck by proclaiming your rights — you really don’t have any when it comes to this stuff — or doing your Alan Shore impersonation from “Boston Legal.” Smile, surrender the olives, and move on.
  13. Montreal goes to Chicago Windy City gets its own comedy festival Montreal’s prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival is spreading its wings – with a new festival in Chicago. The 25-year-old event, a long-time favourite of talent-spotting American TV executives, has teamed up with the TBS network for the new festival in summer 2009. It comes after the rival HBO cable network cancelled its comedy arts festival in Aspen, Colorado, in favour of a less industry-orientated event in Los Angeles. Ellen DeGeneres will headline the five-day event, but the rest of the line-up – including stand-up, improv and sketch shows, plus Latino and black showcases, will not be announced until the autumn. Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, sad: ‘We couldn’t be happier that the enormously talented and always funny Ellen DeGeneres is on board. Just For Laughs: A Very Funny Festival is a perfect opportunity for us to showcase some of the best talents in the comedy industry.’ Just For Laughs president Gilbert Rozon added: ‘Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Just For Laughs started out as a small local comedy showcase and has grown and evolved to become one of the biggest producers of comedy in the world. We are thrilled to be involved in this endeavour with TBS, and to have Chicago as our flagship comedy event in the US.’ Chicago has an illustrious comedy heritage, especially with improv and sketch acts, with comedians such as John Belushi, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, and Steve Carell starting their careers there. http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2008/02/20/6439/montreal_goes_to_chicago?rss
  14. China’s Stock Market Passes US as Leading Indicator Published: Wednesday, 4 Aug 2010 | 12:43 PM ET By: John Melloy Executive Producer, Fast Money China may be the second biggest economy in the world behind the US, but it is No. 1 in terms of influence over global stock markets, analysts said. “The Chinese equity market has shown signs of ‘leading’ global equity markets at turning points over the past three years,” wrote Geoffrey Dennis, Citigroup’s emerging markets strategist. “As a result, the 13 percent rally in the Shanghai Composite since early-July has been a major support for improved overall global sentiment over the past month.” It’s only natural China’s stock market would take a leading role following structural changes such as a jump in listings and the allowance of short sales. After all, the economic influence speaks for itself. Among other things, China is the biggest consumer of energy products, accounts for 70 percent of iron ore demand, and in 2009, became the No. 1 auto market, according to analysts’ reports. The Shanghai Composite Index has led the US market back from its 2010 low. It’s no coincidence that the leading US stocks during this comeback have come from the stocks in the industrial and raw material industries such as Caterpillar [CAT 71.56 -0.40 (-0.56%) ] and Freeport-McMoRan [FCX 74.61 0.54 (+0.73%) ]. Ford [F 13.04 0.06 (+0.46%) ] shares are up 30 percent in one month. “China’s rapid growth in auto sales is merely a reflection of the rise of middle class consumption patterns,” wrote Marshall Adkins, Raymond James energy analyst. “Add in increasing Chinese trucking, petrochemical and aviation consumption, and total Chinese oil demand growth in 2011 should be well north of 500,000 barrels per day and could drive over half of the global oil demand growth next year.” It’s no coincidence then that oil topped $80 this week before retreating today. The iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index [FXI 41.95 -0.08 (-0.19%) ], an ETF traded here on the NYSE, is supposed to be a direct play on the Chinese market, but it has underperformed China’s local market over the past month. The ETF contains only the large Chinese stocks that are listed as ADRs on US exchanges. What this data shows is that you may be better off buying a US index fund, industrial stocks or a broader emerging market ETF if you believe China is going higher. Citigroup sees the Chinese stock market rising five to 15 percent higher by the end of the year as fears of an economic slowdown are priced in. "Based on a 'no double-dip' scenario, solid growth in emerging markets, low interest rates 'for longer' and attractive valuations, we remain bullish on emerging market for the long-term, including Chinese equities," wrote Citi's Dennis. The closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange used to ripple through the rest of the world, dictating trading in Australia, Asia and Europe that followed it. No longer. The US traders’ day may be decided before he or she even wakes up. http://www.cnbc.com/id/38558580
  15. January 20, 2009 ARCHITECTURE REVIEW | COPENHAGEN CONCERT HALL For Intimate Music, the Boldest of Designs By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF COPENHAGEN — It’s usually considered an insult to say that an architect designs pretty packages, let alone that he borrows ideas from a dead genius. But Jean Nouvel should be forgiven for resurrecting old ghosts. His Copenhagen Concert Hall, which opened here on Saturday evening, is a loving tribute to Hans Scharoun’s 1963 Berlin Philharmonie, whose cascading balconies made it one of the most beloved concert halls of the postwar era. And Mr. Nouvel has encased his homage in one of the most gorgeous buildings I have recently seen: a towering bright blue cube enveloped in seductive images. It’s a powerful example of how to mine historical memory without stifling the creative imagination. And it offers proof, if any more were needed, that we are in the midst of a glorious period in concert hall design. Like Frank Gehry’s 2003 Disney Hall in Los Angeles and Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie, now under construction in Hamburg, Germany, Mr. Nouvel’s new hall demonstrates that an intimate musical experience and boldly imaginative architecture need not be in conflict — they can actually reinforce each other. The Copenhagen Concert Hall has the ugliest setting of the three. In a new residential and commercial district on the outskirts of the old inner city, it is flanked by boring glass residential and office blocks. Elevated train tracks running to the old city swing right by the building; swaths of undeveloped land with tufts of grass and mounds of dirt extend to the south. Approached along the main road from the historic city, the hall’s cobalt blue exterior has a temporal, ghostly quality. Its translucent fabric skin is stretched over a structural frame of steel beams and tension cables that resembles scaffolding. During the day you can see figures moving about inside, as well as the vague outline of the performance space, its curved form embedded in a matrix of foyers and offices. It is in darkness that the building comes fully to life. A montage of video images is projected across the cube’s fabric surface at night, transforming it into an enormous light box. Drifting across the cube’s surfaces, the images range from concert performers and their instruments to fragments of form and color. This is the intoxicating medium of late-capitalist culture. You can easily imagine boxes of detergent or adult chat-line numbers finding their way into the mix. Yet what makes this more than an advertising gimmick is the contrast between the disorienting ethereality of the images and the Platonic purity of the cube. For decades architects have strived to create ever more fluid spaces, designing ramped floors and curved walls to meld the inner life of a building with the street life around it. The ideal is a world where boundaries between inside and out vanish. Yet Mr. Nouvel’s box is more self-contained and arguably less naïve: its solid form, bathed in tantalizing images, is in stark opposition to the sterile desolation around it. That impression grows once you enter the building, where more projected images blend with real, living people coursing through it. To reach the main performance space, concertgoers can either ride up escalators directly in front of the main entrance or turn to climb a broad staircase. Just to the left of those stairs are elevators that shoot up to the lobby and upper-level foyers, whose ceilings are decorated in fragmented, overlapping panels. As video images wash over the panels, the pictures break apart so that you perceive them only in fragments, like reflections in broken glass. More images stream across the walls. The effect is a mounting intensity that verges on the psychedelic. None of this would be effective, however, without Mr. Nouvel’s keen understanding of architecture’s most basic elements, including a feel for scale and materials. The towering proportions of the lobbies, for example, seem to propel you up through the building. When you reach the upper foyers, you feel the weight of the main performance space pressing down on you. At the same time, views open up from the corners of the building to the outside world. It’s as if you were hovering in some strange interstitial zone, between the banal urban scenery outside and the focused atmosphere of a concert. This complex layering of social spaces brings to mind the labyrinthine quarters of an Arab souk as much as it does a high-tech information network. That’s largely because Mr. Nouvel’s materials put you at ease: elevator shafts and staircases are clad in plywood, giving many of the spaces the raw, unpretentious aura of a construction site. The building’s concrete surfaces are wrinkled in appearance, like an elephant’s skin, but when you touch them, they feel as smooth as polished marble. By contrast, the main performance hall wraps you in a world of luxury. Like Scharoun’s cherished hall, Mr. Nouvel’s is organized in a vineyard pattern, with seats stepping down toward the stage on all sides in a series of cantilevered balconies. The pattern allows you to gaze over the stage at other concertgoers, creating a communal ambience. Because the balconies are stepped asymmetrically, you never feel that you are planted amid monotonous rows of identical spectators. Yet Mr. Nouvel’s version is smaller and more tightly focused than Mr. Scharoun’s. The balcony walls are canted, so that they seem to be pitching toward the stage. A small rectangular balcony designed for the queen of Denmark and her immediate family hovers over one side of the hall, breaking down the scale. The entire room was fashioned from layers of hardwood, which gives it an unusual warmth and solidity, as if it had been carved out of a single block. The result is a beautifully resilient emotional sanctuary: a little corner of utopia in a world where walls are collapsing. And it underscores what makes Mr. Nouvel such an ideal architect for today. Though he is a deft practitioner of contemporary technology, his ideas are rooted in the historical notion of the city as a place of intellectual exchange. His best buildings hark back beyond the abstract orderliness of Modernism and neo-Classicism to a more intuitive — and human — time. Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS First Look Help Contact Us Work for Us Site Map
  16. January 11, 2009, 10:00 pm What Will Save the Suburbs? For a long time now I’ve been obsessed with suburban and exurban master-planned communities and how to make them better. But as the economy and the mortgage crisis just seem to get worse, and gas prices continue to plunge, the issues around housing have changed dramatically. The problem now isn’t really how to better design homes and communities, but rather what are we going to do with all the homes and communities we’re left with. In urban areas, there’s rich precedent for the transformation or reuse of abandoned lots or buildings. Vacant lots have been converted into pocket parks, community gardens and pop-up stores (or they remain vacant, anxiously awaiting recovery and subsequent conversion into high-end office space condos). Old homes get divided into apartments, old factories into lofts, old warehouses into retail. Projects like Manhattan’s High Line show that even derelict train tracks can be turned into something as valuable to citizens as a vibrant public park. A brownfield site in San Francisco has been cleaned up and will house an eco-literacy center for the city’s youth. Hey, even a dump (Fresh Kills, on Staten Island) is undergoing a remarkable metamorphosis into a recreation area. But similar transformation within the carefully delineated form of a subdivision is not so simple. These insta-neighborhoods were not designed or built for flexibility or change. So what to do with the abandoned houses, the houses that were never completed or the land that was razed for building and now sits empty? Lands cleared to make way for houses that were not (and may never be) developed. (DigitalGlobe, Sanborn, GeoEye, U.S. Geological Survey; 2008 Google Imagery) Cover of Julia Christensen’s “Big Box Reuse.” Take as an analogous example their symbiotic partner, the big box store. As I learned in artist Julia Christensen’s new book, “Big Box Reuse,” when a big box store like Wal-mart or Kmart outgrows its space, it is shut down. It is, apparently, cheaper to start from scratch than to close for renovation and expansion, let alone decide at the outset to design a store that can easily be expanded (or contracted, as the case may be). So not only does a community get a newer, bigger big box, it is also left with quite an economic and environmental eyesore: a vacant shell of a retail operation, tons of wasted building material and a changed landscape that can’t be changed back. The silver lining in Christensen’s study are the communities she’s discovered that have proactively addressed the massive empty shells they’ve been left with, turning structures of anywhere from 20,000 to 280,000 square feet into something useful: a charter school, a health center, a chapel, a library. (And, in Austin, Minn., a new Spam Museum.) The repurposing of abandoned big-box stores is easier to wrap one’s head around: one can envision within a single volume (albeit a massive one) the potential to become something else. But exurban communities are a unique challenge. The houses within them are big, but not generally as big as, say, Victorian mansions in San Francisco that can be subdivided into apartments. So they’re not great candidates for transformation into multi-family rental housing. I did visit a housing development last year that offered “quartets,” McMansions subdivided into four units with four separate entrances. These promised potential buyers the status of a McMansion with the convenience of a condominium, but the concept felt like it was created more to preserve the property values of larger neighboring homes than to serve the needs of the community’s residents. There has been a nationwide shift toward de-construction (led by companies like Planet Reuse and Buffalo Reuse, the surgical taking-apart of homes to salvage the building materials for reuse, but often the building materials used in these developments aren’t of good enough quality to warrant salvaging. I don’t have the perfect solution for how to transform these broad swaths of subdivisions, and while I’ve heard much talk of the foreclosure tragedy, I’ve heard nary a peep about what to do about it. A recent article in The Times spotted an emerging trend of kids usurping the abandoned pools of foreclosed homes for use as temporary skate parks. (Interestingly, this was big in the ‘70s, as you can see by watching the rad skate documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys.”) It’s a great short-term strategy for adolescent recreation (and for ridding neighborhoods of fetid pools, which often harbor West Nile virus), though it’s not a comprehensive solution to the problem of increasingly abandoned, ill-maintained and more dangerous streetscapes. But there are some interesting avenues to be pursued. Part of President-elect Obama’s proposed massive public works program, for example, is to be dedicated to clean tech infrastructure. Included in this is the intent to weatherize (that is, make energy-efficient) one million low-income homes a year. One can already see how those in the construction industry can begin to make the shift from new construction to home retrofitting. It’s the centerpiece of “The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems,” the best-selling, Al Gore- and Nancy Pelosi-endorsed book by environmental activist Van Jones. Though we hear a lot in the news about new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design/) buildings and incentives for implementing the latest green technology, it’s often the case that fixing leaks and insulation are just as effective in reducing the carbon footprint of single-family homes (which account for about 18 percent of the country’s carbon footprint). As people increasingly stay put — and re-sell homes less — this retrofit strategy makes sense. Millions of homes, not just low-income ones, are in need of the sort of weatherization the Obama plan describes. The non-profit Architecture 2030, established in 2002 in response to the global warming crisis, is leading a major effort in this arena with the goal of dramatically reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the building sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed. And after decades of renovation-obsession that has simply gotten out of hand, it seems a prudent time to swap Viking ranges for double-paned windows and high-efficiency furnaces. It’s the perfect moment to fix what we’ve got. Despite their currently low numbers, green homes typically re-sell for more money than their conventional counterparts. I still dream that some major overhaul can occur: that a self-sufficient mixed-use neighborhood can emerge. That three-car-garaged McMansions can be subdivided into rental units with streetfront cafés, shops and other local businesses. In short, that creative ways are found not just to rehabilitate these homes and communities, but to keep people in them. __________________________________________________________ “The Ponzi State” New Yorker, February 9, 2009, p. 81 ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about Florida’s real-estate market and the economic downturn. Writer visits a number of inland real-estate developments near Tampa, Florida. Developers there dreamed up instant communities, parceled out lots, and built look-alike two-story beige and yellow houses. The houses sold to some of the thousand or so people who moved to Florida every day. Now many are ghost subdivisions. In one community, Twin Lakes, property values dropped by more than a hundred thousand dollars in the past two years. Writer interviews Angie Harris, a Navy veteran and mother of five, who says of her neighbors, “It used to be people would wave. Now they don’t.” In another community, Hamilton Park, the writer interviews a woman named Lee Gaither, whose only income came from Disability payments. She was facing eviction and planned to sell many of her possessions on eBay. Florida is one of the places where the financial crisis began. Gary Mormino, a professor at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, tells the writer that, “Florida, in some ways, resembles a modern Ponzi scheme. Everything is fine for me if a thousand newcomers come tomorrow.” The state depends for revenue on real-estate deals and sales taxes. By 2005, the housing market in Florida was hotter than it had ever been. Flipping houses and condominiums turned into an amateur middle-class pursuit. Writer tells about Floridians with modest incomes who made money buying and selling real estate. Mentions one case in which a house appreciated in value by almost fifty per cent overnight. According to an investigation by the Miami Herald, government oversight of the real-estate market was so negligent that more than ten thousand convicted criminals got jobs in the mortgage industry. Flipping and fraud burst the bubble. But in places like Pasco County, it was the ordinary desire of ordinary people to buy their own home that turned things toxic. Tells about Anita Lux, who moved to Florida from Michigan with her husband, Richard. Gives a brief history of Cape Coral, Florida, which was first developed in the fifties by two businessmen from Baltimore. Writer interviews a number of Florida residents who have lost their jobs or homes. A Fort Myers real-estate agent named Marc Joseph tells the writer, “Greed and easy money. That was the germ.” By last year, the highest foreclosure rate in the country could be found in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Mentions other indicators of the economic hard times, including the closure of auto dealerships and the theft of copper. Writer visits the office of Tampa’s mayor, Pam Iorio, who is determined to build a light rail system to revive the city’s fortunes. A number of people in Florida told the writer that the state needs a fundamental change in its political culture.
  17. via The Gazette : The Restaurant Scene in Montreal : Boom Equals Bust Lesley Chesterman Montreal Gazette Published on: November 21, 2014 Last Updated: November 21, 2014 9:14 AM EST Le Paris-Beurre is an excellent neighbourhood bistro that Outremont residents are lucky to have called their own for more than thirty years. The braised leeks with curry vinaigrette, the goat’s cheese salad, the famous gratin dauphinois and côte de boeuf for two, plus the best crème brûlée in town, make this restaurant a sure bet. Yes, the wine list has been on the predictable side for a decade too many and maybe the soup has a tendency to be a little watery, but the terrasse is divine and the dining room offers the ideal out-of-a-Truffaut-film bistro setting. If Le Paris-Beurre were located in Paris, it would be frequented by both locals and tourists looking for that fantasy French bistro. In Montreal, Le Paris-Beurre has relied on locals to fill its 65 seats. And increasingly, those locals are often grey-haired, owner Hubert Streicher said in a recent interview. Now after 30 years in business, Le Paris-Beurre will be serving its last bavette and duck confit on Dec. 23. Streicher still hopes the restaurant will be sold, yet he’s not holding his breath. “Our sales fell over the last three years,” he said. “We have a very loyal customer base, but those customers are aging. And younger customers are now heading to bistros on Avenue Bernard.” Normally, the closing of this Montreal institution would come as a surprise, but considering the number of iconic Montreal restaurants that have shuttered this year – big players including Le Continental, the Beaver Club, Globe, Le Latini and Magnan’s Tavern – Le Paris-Beurre is just another establishment to give up on the increasingly volatile Montreal restaurant scene. Driving around the former popular restaurant neighbourhoods of our city, and seeing locale after locale with rent signs in the windows, it’s obvious the restaurant industry is hurting. It’s one thing when the bad restaurants close. A regular purging of the worst or the dated is to be expected. But now the good restaurants are hurting as well. There are too many restaurants in Montreal and not enough customers” – Restaurant owner Sylvie Lachance Upon closing, restaurants like Magnan’s Tavern and Globe issued press releases that raised many of the same issues: road work, tax measures, staff shortages, skyrocketing food costs, parking woes, the increasing popularity of suburban restaurants and changing tastes. Add to that list a shrinking upscale tourist clientele, and there are sure to be more closings on the horizon. People have less cash to spend and more restaurants to choose from. Competition is fierce. Tourism Montreal notes that ours is the city with the largest number of restaurants per capita in all of North America. According to François Meunier of the Association des Restaurateurs du Québec, the number of new restaurants with table service increased by 31 per cent from 2005 to 2012 in Montreal. Yet people are spending less. “Sales are down 4.2 per cent in full-service restaurants from last year,” Meunier said. “People don’t have money to spend. We don’t always like to admit it, but Quebec is a poor province.” There’s a definite shift taking place on the Montreal restaurant scene and for many restaurateurs, the obstacles are looking insurmountable. Up the street from Le Paris-Beurre is the restaurant Van Horne. Owner Sylvie Lachance was so discouraged by how the restaurant scene is evolving that she sent an open letter outlining her exasperation to various media outlets last May. “There are too many restaurants in Montreal and not enough customers,” her letter began, before outlining several trends she believed were holding her back from garnering the attention she deserved. Of her chef, Jens Ruoff, she wrote: “(He) is not a hipster, has no tattoos on his arms and does not serve homemade sausage on wood planks.” Of Van Horne’s marketing approach, she said: “We do not have cookbooks for sale, nor a sugar shack, much less a television show. We do not personally know Anthony Bourdain or René Redzepi.” She closed with the final thought: “We are not dying at Van Horne but it is unfortunate, given all the hard work we do, to be forgotten so often.” Now, six months later, Lachance is still discouraged. “Are there too many restaurants in Montreal? Yes!” she said without hesitation. “Everyone is looking for staff. It has become the biggest problem. I have young chefs here who say, ‘I could go to you, Toqué! or Boulud.’ They can go anywhere. And I also see restaurants that open up that are constantly looking for chefs, waiters, bus boys. They don’t even staff their restaurants properly before opening. And as for chefs, they have to be everything these days: creative, good at marketing, eager to meet with suppliers, manage employees, calculate food cost. Good luck finding one who can do all that.” Across town, Carlos Ferreira is facing many of the same concerns at his famous Peel St. restaurant, Ferreira Café. The restaurant’s lunch scene draws the elite downtown crowd. Dinner is equally popular. Now going on 18 years in business, Ferreira should be leaning back, counting the profits, happy with his multi-restaurant empire. Not quite. “Montreal has become a restaurant city focused on fashions and trends,” he said between bites of grilled octopus at lunchtime recently. “New restaurants invest a lot in decor and ambience. In the past, the food in trendy restaurants like Prima Donna and Mediterraneo was very good. But today, it’s not serious. The ambience is exaggerated, the markups on alcohol too. A lot of those restaurants took their clients for granted and now they’re all closed. And today there is this new Griffintown phenomenon. If you don’t go to eat there, you are a loser!” When asked if he thinks there are too many restaurants in Montreal, Ferreira nodded. The problem, he said, is a lack of direction. “We’re losing sight of what a restaurant should be,” Ferreira said. “People are opening restaurants without knowing the business.” Ferreira does know the business – he’s been drawing in customers to enjoy his modern Portuguese food coming up on 20 years. Next year, though, he will be re-evaluating his entire business. “In 2013, we served 1,800 fewer customers,” he said. One of the problems now is that with the ongoing erosion of the high-end restaurant genre and the increasing popularity of casual dining, the middle ground is getting crowded. To Ferreira, restaurants can be divided into four categories: high-end (gastronomic), casual (bistros), cafés and fast-food. “The high-end restaurant is condemned,” he said, matter-of-factly. “They are too expensive and people say they’re very good but … boring. And if people go into a half-full restaurant, they don’t want to return.” Another highly successful Montreal restaurant, Moishes, celebrated its 75th anniversary this year but has faced its share of challenges. Yet owner Lenny Lighter is not willing to blame the lack of business on the booming number of new restaurants. “Competition always makes me nervous,” Lighter said. “And not just another steakhouse but anyone in my price category. But where is that ‘too many restaurants’ statement going? We live in a free society. Anyone can open a business. It’s not for us to tell people what to do. You know what’s not good? Not enough restaurants. The more choices people have, the more interesting the game gets for everyone.” To Lighter, there’s too much going on in Montreal lately to curtail entrepreneurial spirit. Young people willing to raise the capital and take the risk should do it, he said. “Some will close, there will be heartbreaks. But the ones that survive might just be the next big thing. We never know what the next Joe Beef will be or who the next Costas Spiliadis will be. Only the strong will survive. Competition is good. It raises the stakes.” And yet the hurdles in the game may also make for an uneven playing field. Next August, Ferreira will face a lengthy construction period on Peel St. and the makeover of Ste-Catherine St., both of which he is dreading. “I understand it has to be done,” he said. “But it must be done intelligently, so that there is still access to businesses.” The fear of being barricaded by a construction site is a prime concern for many a restaurateur. Even at arguably the city’s most popular restaurant right now, Joe Beef, construction worries loom large. “If the city ripped up the street in front of me here for three weeks,” said co-owner David McMillan, “I’d go under.” At Thai Grill on the corner of St-Laurent Blvd. and Laurier Ave., owner Nicolas Scalera watched his business come to a halt when the sidewalks were widened. For four months, the entrance to his restaurant was accessible only by a small plank set over a mud pit. Construction, estimated to last a month, started in August yet only finished in early November. Scalera said customers not only petered out, many called to see if he was closed. “I paid $68,000 in taxes to the city last year. It would have been nice to see a break during construction.” “I’ve been here for 17 years. I have some rights as well. But they don’t care,” Scalera said. “I had (city councillor) Alex Norris (for the Jeanne-Mance district) tell me right to my face that they don’t want people coming in from other areas or Laval to eat in restaurants in this area. He told me the Plateau is for the Plateau residents. I’d like the city to promote our restaurants instead of doing nothing to help us. Instead, I’ve seen a major decline in business. I will never open anything or invest in the Plateau again. It’s too risky. You could lose everything.” Norris, the city councillor in question, disagrees. “The Plateau gets hundreds of thousands visiting our streets,” he said. “We encourage people from all over the city to frequent our businesses. It’s a densely populated neighbourhood, so we’ve had to manage the relationship between commercial endeavours and residents. To suggest we don’t want people to visit our neighbourhood is absurd.” Inflated taxes didn’t help Le Paris-Beurre’s Streicher in Outremont, either. “I was charged $2,500 in taxes (this year) for my terrasse alone, and my terrasse is part of my restaurant, in the back courtyard, not on the street.” Van Horne’s Lachance is also disheartened by the lack of interest from the people who collect her tax dollars. “In Outremont where I am,” she said, “not one elected municipal representative has been to my restaurant. They go to the cheap restaurant down the street. I’ve served Tony Accurso, but I’ve never had any mayor or elected official in my restaurant. There is a lack of appreciation for our restaurant scene. People don’t talk about what show they went to anymore, but what restaurant they ate at. Restaurants are part of our culture now.” When asked if he frequents restaurants in his neighbourhood, Norris could name only one, L’Express. “There are others,” he said. “I’ll have to get back to you.” We’re losing sight of what a restaurant should be.” – Carlos Ferreira Even at the internationally acclaimed Joe Beef, Montreal officials have been scarce. “I’ve served three former prime ministers,” McMillan said. “The governor of Vermont has eaten at my restaurant four times, but not one Montreal mayor or one municipal councillor from my area has eaten at Joe Beef. The last five times I ate in restaurants in New York, three of the times I saw the mayor eating there, too.” “I have taken note of the comments, and I am pleased to see that the people at Joe Beef’s want to see more of me,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said via email on Thursday. “I was happy to see them recently at the Corona Theatre, where they catered an event celebrating David Suzuki. Unfortunately, the last time I was near Joe Beef’s restaurant, I was in a hurry and went to eat at Dilallo Burger.” “The city doesn’t understand how important the restaurants are in Montreal,” Ferreira said. Lighter is less dismissive, though he does see a lack of interest from above. “They’re not understanding the risk people take,” Lighter said. “There are payroll taxes, property taxes, operating taxes, school taxes. Government should be supporting you, not always policing you. And ultimately, with more sales, they get more taxes. Good business is profitable for them, too.” Despite the many factors hindering business, Montreal restaurateurs are not blaming customers. Client fidelity is at an all-time low, they say, yet they understand the desire to go out and eat around. “Montrealers follow the buzz,” Lachance said, “but they come back.” And yet there is one clientele all restaurateurs would like to see more of: tourists. “There is gigantic work to be done,” Ferreira said. “The summer of 2014 was the worst summer for tourists. Tourism Montreal says it was a record year, but they are drawing in the cheap tourists. These people aren’t spending.” Ferreira would like to see the city attract high-end conventions and tourists with money to spend by focusing more on the luxury market. “But no one will talk about that,” he said, discouraged. Pierre Bellerose, vice-president of Tourism Montreal, agrees the restaurant scene is hurting but with about 6,500 restaurants in the city, that’s to be expected. “We have more restaurants per capita than New York,” he said. “But we’re a poor city. Many close, many open. It’s a lot to ask the population to support the industry.” According to Bellerose, tourism is up 50 per cent from 20 years ago, and drawing visitors to the restaurant scene is one of the agency’s priorities. Bellerose said: “There is a good buzz about Montreal. It’s estimated that between 20 to 25 per cent of the clientele at high-end restaurants are tourists. There’s a lot of interest in food. But that interest varies. Some people just want smoked meat and poutine. And tourists are mostly circulating in the central areas of the city. We can’t follow them around and tell them where to go.” McMillan thinks Tourism Montreal could find better ways to promote our restaurant scene. “Tourism Maine and Tourism New York follow me on social media, but not Tourism Montreal,” he said. “And they keep paying for these bloggers to come in and discover the city. Instead, why not send some of us chefs out to promote Montreal restaurants abroad at food festivals or even in embassies? I’ve never been asked to promote my city or cook in an embassy – and if asked, I would do it.” And there is plenty here to promote. The New York-based website Eater.com recently dropped both their Toronto and Vancouver pages yet held on to their popular Montreal site. Though low on the high-end restaurant count, Montreal has an impressive number of chef-driven restaurants, with an increasing number of them drawing international attention to our scene. Plus, Montreal remains a far more affordable restaurant city than the likes of Paris, London or even Toronto – although the down side of being an affordable dining destination means less money in restaurant owners’ pockets (the ARQ estimates profits at a paltry 2.6 per cent). “We should be a premier destination,” Lighter said. “We have a unique culture, a great reputation. But Montreal has suffered economically. We’re highly taxed. There’s not a lot of disposable income and it’s expensive to eat out. I sense there is a certain defensiveness restaurateurs have with customers, but we have to learn from customers, too. We always have to have our eyes and ears open, ready to adjust.” Restaurants in Montreal: 6,500 People per restaurant in Montreal: 373 People per restaurant in New York City: 457 Increase in the number of new restaurants in Montreal from 2005 to 2012: 31 per cent Decline in sales at full-service restaurants in 2013: 4.2 per cent Sales at high-end Montreal restaurants from the tourism industry: 20 per cent End-of-year profit margin on all sales for Montreal full-service restaurants: 2.6 per cent Restaurants closing this year : Le Paris-Beurre : The bistro on Van Horne Ave. in Outremont will close on Dec. 23 Le Continental : Closed in May Le Latini : Closed in September Beaver Club : Closed in March Magnan Tavern : Will close on Dec. 21 Globe : Closed in September
  18. http://www.playboy.com/playground/view/ben-affleck-batman-playboy-interview [h=1]PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: BEN AFFLECK[/h]by Michael Fleming[h=3]PHOTOGRAPHY BY LORENZO AGIUS[/h] PLAYBOY: The Sum of All Fears. AFFLECK: I met Morgan Freeman, which was great because I was able to ask him to work for free when we did Gone Baby Gone. We shot The Sum of All Fears in Montreal, and it almost killed me. That town never closes. The food is amazing, the drink is amazing, the girls are gorgeous. It’s not a place to focus on your work.
  19. MONTREAL - When James Essaris looks out over his flat concrete kingdom of 20 downtown parking lots that he started collecting in 1956, he sees a precious urban resource where others see ugliness. The much-maligned parking lot, long considered an urban eyesore and enemy of public transit, is becoming an increasingly rare feature on the downtown streetscape. Essaris, longtime owner of Stationnement Métropolitain, sees his barren concrete as more than just a chance for him to pocket some cash on the barrelhead: he believes in the good that parking lots do and considers the spaces to be the lungs of downtown commerce. “The City of Montreal should give free parking to come downtown. We’re chasing people out to the shopping centres,” he said. The new parking lot tax was adopted in 2010 and brings in $19 million a year to fund public transit. The tax is determined by a complicated formula that Essaris says in practice makes city taxes about twice as expensive on a surface lot as it would for another type of structure. The city held public hearings on the issue this spring and response to the surface parking eradication campaign — through the new parking tax and allowing larger-scale buildings on the empty lots — was greeted positively, according to City of Montreal Executive Committee member Alan DeSousa. “It brings more money into the city coffers and removes the scars in the downtown area,” he said. He said that some of lost parking spaces have been replaced by indoor parking in the various projects. But after seeing his taxes double in recent years, Essaris is now doing what many other parking-lot owners have done: He has started sacrificing his supply of parking spaces for housing, most recently building a 38-storey Icône condo tower at de la Montagne St. and René Lévesque Blvd. He has some misgivings, however, knowing that those spots will be sorely missed. “We cannot survive without parking in the city. I wish everybody could take the bus and métro, it’d make things easier, but you cannot force people onto the métro when they have a car,” he said. Urban retailers have long begged their merchants associations to create more places to park, perhaps no more than on the Main where about half of all members regularly plead for more parking, according to Bruno Ricciardi-Rigault, president of the SDBSL. “It would be really nice if we had a few more parking lots,” he said. However, the dearth of spaces is only going to intensify as the few remaining parking lots near St. Laurent Blvd. are slated to be redeveloped. Ricciardi-Rigault is bracing for more complaints from restauranteurs who have lost customers because their motorist clientele was fed up with circling the block. “Some people want to spend the whole afternoon, shop, go to Jeanne Mance Park, come back for a beer. Paying $20 to park on the street, that‘s asking a lot,” he said. Condo towers have been replacing lots in the downtown core at an impressive pace and the result is higher prices at indoor garages, reflected in a recent Colliers study that ranks Montreal as having the second-highest parking prices of any big Canadian city. Rates have risen an eye-opening 11 per cent since last year, as the average monthly price for an unreserved spot in a downtown underground commercial lot was $330.96 — $88 above the national average. The proliferation of private parking lots once inspired many to liken Montreal to a bombed-out city, but that is no longer the case. “We were spoiled by having tons of parking lots, now Montrealers will have to get used to much higher parking costs,” said Colliers representative Andrew Maravita. He credits a lower commercial vacancy rate for pushing prices higher. Up until the 1960s, Montreal tacitly allowed even historic buildings to be demolished and replaced by parking lots and until recently turned a blind eye to the countless rogue illegal lots that dotted the downtown core. For ages, Montreal surface parking lots were fly-by-night operations, changing ownership to avoid bylaw restrictions ordering them to be paved, landscaped. The city always said they couldn’t chase every owner down. But in recent years, authorities have increased taxes and cracked down on illegal lots, combining the stick of punishment with the carrot of juicy rezoning booty. In the past, many property owners failed to see the point of building on their parking lots, as the zoning frequently only allowed for small buildings. Those restrictions have been lifted on many of those properties, resulting in a bonanza for parking-lot owners whose land increased in value. The strategy was put into place with input from architect and former Equality Party leader Robert Libman, who previously served on the city’s Executive Committee. “A lot of projects going on now, on streets like Crescent and Bishop and that area, were previously zoned for two or three storeys. The urban plan capped those at a minimal height. The rezoning has made it more alluring for owners to build instead of leaving it vacant,” he says. Libman’s war against above-ground parking lots is personal. “They’re ugly and they undermine the downtown urban fabric,” Libman said. But he concedes that commerce relies on people being able to drive to a business. “You’ve got to find that careful balance between offering too much parking, making it too easy vs. your objective of discouraging people to take their car downtown and using public transit, that’s the fine line you have to find between the two,” he said. Developers are required to include parking in new projects, but the amount varies from place to place. In Laval, many projects are required to have two parking spaces per condo unit, while in the Plateau it’s close to zero spaces, although a typical recipe calls for one spot per two units. The one part of the city perhaps most challenged by a dearth of parking facilities is the booming Old Montreal area. The issue has long been considered such an urgent problem that one proposal from a decade ago even suggested that the massive silos in the Old Port be used to park cars. More recently, Old Montreal planners have installed an electronic billboard indicating where spaces could be found, but the pressure on parking endures, according to Georges Coulombe, whose real-estate company has been snapping up properties in the area for the last four decades. Coulombe concedes that area commerce has been hurt by a lack of space for cars. “People from places like Longueuil want to come shop on the weekend, but they can’t do it anymore, it’s too expensive to park, they end up going to malls closer to home.” He attempted to address the problem through a plan to build a high-tech robotic parking facility that could accommodate twice as many cars as a regular indoor lot. However, he did the math and found that it wouldn’t make sense because of city taxes. “I had a small 3,000-foot terrain that I would have turned into 300 spaces, but the city wanted to tax not just the building but the machinery inside. It made it impossible.” Much-hyped futuristic robotic parking systems are seen by some as a potential solution to parking woes and have actually been around for quite some time. The city has had at least three pigeon-hole parking systems as the earlier incarnations were known; one was opened on de la Montagne St. in the 1950s and another on Mansfield, where a worker was crushed by an elevator. A third more recent one was in operation at St. Jean and Notre Dame until a decade ago. Authorities frequently cite the fear of being unable to put out a car blaze in their opposition to such facilities. And although a few such high-tech robotic lots could elegantly alleviate parking pressures, one expert says that the standalone dedicated parking buildings will probably never get built. Chris Mulvihill, the New Jersey-based President of Boomerang Systems, a high-tech car-stacking parking lot system, notes that any landowner would most probably opt for a different sort of project. “Take any place where it’s very hard to get a parking spot,” Mulvihill says. “You’d think building a garage and charging for parking would be a good business model, but the economics dictate that if there’s a high demand for parking in that area, it’s because it’s a hot, happening place, so there are real-estate developers who want to build on that land. The demand makes it uber-expensive. A landowner could make a lot more money doing something other than parking on it.” © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Parking+squeeze+Downtown+businesses+feeling/7453989/story.html#ixzz2ASqBCwJE
  20. Works at le Bremner http://cultmontreal.com/2013/05/top-chef-canada-danny-smiles-le-bremner-montreal-chefs-canadian-cuisine/ Danny Smiles in the Le Bremner kitchen. Photo by Dominique Lafond. Danny Smiles is repping Montreal cuisine in this cycle of Top Chef Canada, and as the show hits mid-season, the le Bremner chef is well positioned to take the title, especially after winning last week’s elimination challenge. The challenge was to create Canada’s Next National Dish, with the carrot of a 10 G cash prize for the winner and the stick of two chefs’ elimination from the show. Smiles won the contest with his creation, which he calls the “Coast-to-Coast” roll — a shrimp and crab roll, served in pretzel hot dog bun with maple bacon and a side of house-smoked BBQ chips. The Coast-to-Coast roll. “It was a weird choice that I made, to do seafood. It was 40-something out, and we knew it was going to be hot. We knew it was going to be an outdoor event, and I was just like, I’m ready for the challenge. I wanted to go big or go home,” says Smiles, meaning it literally. “Those are the only options.” Smiles wanted to move beyond the usual signifiers of Canadian-ness — maple, pork and poutine. “That was the whole focus, a new national dish. I wanted to showcase fish. I’m a very fish-oriented chef,” he says, his point proven by the shrimp and albacore tattooed prominently onto one forearm. “There’s not a lot of countries that border two of the biggest oceans in the world, too, so that’s really cool,” he continues. “I used B.C. Dungeness crabs and Nordic shrimp from Quebec,” while the overall concept references an East Coast foodie fad du jour, the lobster roll. Smiles explains that he wanted to create a dish that draws not only on Canada’s geography, but its history as well. “Smoking fish and preserving goes back to First Nations; it’s a huge part of Canadian history,” he says. “I was trying to also come up with a story, something that realistically made sense with the history of our country. I’m a huge history buff, so I decided to go back a bit and readapt that into what I thought would be the new national dish.” Smiles may be following in the footsteps of mentor (and le Bremner’s executive chef) Chuck Hughes, who rose to celebrity chef status after becoming the first Canadian to win the US Top Chef — an increasingly necessary career move for chefs as they emerge from the obscurity of the kitchen and into the limelight of cooking shows, contests and book tours in order to establish themselves. Top Chef Canada made sense to him as a next move, he explains. “I liked the show, and also just wanted to see where I match up to the rest of Canada, almost like a personal challenge.” The best part of doing Top Chef Canada, he admits, is that it actually gives him room for his first love, cooking. “Unfortunately, being a chef, you’re not always focusing on cooking,” he says. “You’re lucky when you get into the kitchen and start cooking. That’s like a bonus, because there’s food costing, there’s menu planning; you’re plumbing, gardening. Those are all fun things that I love about my job, but in a small restaurant, you kind of do everything. And now, for six weeks, your main focus — you’re not contacting anyone, you’re not phoning suppliers; that’s all supplied for you, and you’ve just got to focus on cooking. So it’s like it brought me back to when I first started on the line.” ■ Top Chef Canada airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada.
  21. Growth in mining sector reshaping Quebec economy BARRIE MCKENNA OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Blog Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:48PM EDT http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/growth-in-mining-sector-reshaping-quebec-economy/article2370299/ Think of the Quebec economy, and the traditional drivers are energy, forestry and manufacturing. But there’s a new engine in Quebec – mining – and it’s reshaping the economy of both the province, and the country. Investment in the province’s mining industry is expected to reach $4.4-billion this year, up 62 per cent from 2011. That’s nearly equal to the capital that will be poured into manufacturing ($5-billion), a remarkable 27 per cent of all business investment in the province and represents half of all mining investment in the country, according to a National Bank of Canada analysis of recent Statistics Canada figures. “That’s never happened before,” National Bank of Canada chief economist Stéfane Marion said in an interview. “It’s a huge growth driver for the province this year, and in the future.” It’s not the only first. Quebec will lead the country in mining investment this year, outpacing Ontario, Mr. Marion said. Mining investment is expected to hit $3.7-billion in Ontario, $2.8-billion in B.C. and $500-million in Alberta. For Quebec, the money pouring into dozens of iron ore, gold, copper and other mining projects could add a full percentage to GDP this year and cause an unexpected boost in royalty revenue for the cash-strapped government. It will also have spinoff benefits for Montreal-area manufacturers, who will help supply mining-related equipment. But Mr. Marion said there are broader implications. The Quebec economy is starting to look a lot more like the booming resource-rich provinces of the West. “This is a material change in the industrial structure of Quebec,” Ms. Marion said. “It brings the interests of Western Canada and Quebec into line. It’s not just a pure Western Canada story now. It’s spreading to Eastern Canada.” Quebec is also positioning itself to capitalize on the growing resource appetite in China and other fast-growing emerging economies, he said. And the good news: The mining boom is just getting started as Quebec plots its 25-year “Plan Nord” strategy.
  22. Some of the measures in the Snøhetta concept sound familiar... http://nymag.com/arts/architecture/features/times-square-2012-4/ Could it become a place where New Yorkers actually want to hang out? By Justin Davidson Published Apr 15, 2012 Snøhetta's plan for Times Square: a low-key, pedestrian-friendly base for the riot of lights above. (Photo: Rendering courtesy of MIR) For two decades, New Yorkers have viewed Times Square as the city’s heart of brightness, a candy-colored hellhole to be avoided whenever possible. At either end of a workday or just before curtain time, we may dart and jostle past slow-moving out-of-towners, but the notion of meeting friends for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe or whiling away a weekend afternoon held rapt by the symphony of screens doesn’t cross our minds. Starting next fall, workers with jackhammers will tear apart the bow tie, temporarily making it an even less congenial place to hang out. But one major goal of the $45 million construction project is to persuade New Yorkers to love Times Square—to convince them that it’s not just a backdrop for a million daily snapshots but Manhattan’s most central, and most convivial, gathering spot. Architects and visionaries have often addressed that old ambition with high-energy concepts that gave us the current high-tech razzmatazz. Even in this round of ideas, the city has fended off proposals for colored LEDs embedded in the pavement, for ramps, staircases, pavilions, digital information kiosks, heat lamps, trees, lawns, canopies, and, of course, more video screens. Instead, the city hired the architectural firm Snøhetta to produce a quiet, even minimal design that doesn’t try vainly to compete with the glowing canyons. Its beauty lies in dark, heavy sobriety and a desire to be a lasting pedestal to the frenzied dazzle above. In the most straightforward sense, the new plan enshrines a transformation that has already taken place. Ever since vehicles were banned from Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets, in 2009, Times Square has felt like a temporary art installation. Pedestrians have been able to step off the curb and into the weirdly motor-free street. Rickety red café tables, which replaced plastic beach chairs, dot a blue river painted on the asphalt. Streetlights, lampposts, mailboxes, hydrants, and pay phones remain clustered along the Broadway sidewalk, staying clear of nonexistent traffic. The new construction will eliminate that feeling of making do. Curbs will vanish. Pedestrian areas will be leveled and clad in tweedy concrete tiles that run lengthwise down Broadway and the Seventh Avenue sidewalks, meeting in an angled confluence of patterns. Nickel-size steel discs set into the pavement will catch the light and toss it back into the brilliant air. Instead of perching on metal chairs, loiterers will be able to sit, lean, sprawl, jump, and stand on ten massive black granite benches up to 50 feet long and five feet wide. Electrical and fiber-optic-cable outlets will be packed into the benches so that, for outdoor performances, special-event crews will no longer need to haul in noisy, diesel-burning generators or drape the square in cables and duct tape. Even on ordinary days, the square will be de-*cluttered of the traffic signs, bollards, cones, and boxes that cause foot traffic to seize up. With any luck, crowds will gather and mingle only in the center plain between the benches, leaving free-flowing channels on either side for the rest of us, who have somewhere to be, people! Originally based in Norway and now firmly ensconced in New York, Snøhetta in 2008 created one of the most successful public spaces in recent memory: the pedestrian pathway that winds its way around, inside, in front of, and on top of the firm’s new opera house in Oslo. It’s a cosmopolitan yet utterly local place, an exquisite juncture of sea, sky, and glacier-like building, which seems to be slipping calmly into the fjord. It suggests that the architects understand the interaction of local culture and public space. “We’re not trying to make an instant photograph of happiness,” says the firm’s co-founder Craig Dykers, explaining that Times Square needs a little grit. “There’s been quite a lot done to make the city feel more delicate, which is good, but we shouldn’t forget its industrial history. At Times Square, there were rivets on the old marquees, the steelwork on the signs was industrial, and the lighting was naked bulbs. We want that whole history to be reflected in the experience of the space.” That may be a lot to ask of benches and pavers. Toys ’R’ Us isn’t slinking back to the suburbs, and all the happy, shiny logos won’t be dimming anytime soon. But Times Square has always reinvented itself every decade or two, and it may be shifting again. It’s been the epicenter of the media world, but Condé Nast will soon be moving to the World Trade Center, and Google has settled in Chelsea. In the nineties, Times Square lured law firms and financial outfits with the city’s freshest, most technologically advanced office towers, but new models inexorably supersede the old, and this time they’ll be in lower Manhattan and Hudson Yards. This is not to say that the glitter is flaking off, only that the least likely option for the future is stasis, so Snøhetta had to design a permanent platform for the unpredictable. There are two distinct approaches to public-space renovations: the grand design and the perpetual tweak. If Snøhetta is pursuing the first path, the apostle of the second is Daniel Biederman, who led the fabulously successful renovation of Bryant Park in the early nineties and has been managing it ever since, filling it with activities, temporary structures, and retro details. “If I were the czar of Times Square design, I would do the traditional stuff: plants, kiosks, movable seating, games, programming—small touches,” Biederman says. “Most people look down as far as two feet from the ground and up to fourteen feet off the ground, so at Times Square they have a chance to waste a ton of money on a surface that nobody’s going to see.” Yet Bryant Park’s charms don’t constitute a recipe. Times Square is not a graciously bounded piazza, and it shouldn’t be a verdant oasis. It’s an accidental wedge formed by two major avenues. Seventh Avenue will keep its traffic, and so will the cross streets. Even below ground, ancient water mains, electrical lines, telephone cables, subway tunnels, and long-buried trolley tracks tangle chaotically. The square’s getting a face-lift and major surgery at the same time. Quaintness has no place here. Every bit of this area acts as a showcase of some kind. The new design is to the street what the M&M’s store is to candy and Good Morning America is to television: an urban launchpad for a global commodity. In this case, the product is the philosophy of public space preached by the Bloomberg administration’s impassioned transportation commissioner, Janette *Sadik-Khan. For decades, American cities have treated their streets as traffic conduits meant to speed cars along as efficiently as possible (which is often not very efficiently at all). Instead, the new thinking goes, they should be a flexible network equally comfortable for drivers and dawdlers, parents with strollers, cyclists, truckers, and anyone who would rather just sit for a while and rest. Until 2009, the theater district embodied the disjunction between the way streets were conceived and the way they were used, as Sadik-Khan points out with data-driven fervor. “Times Square had 137 percent more accidents and crashes than any other avenue in the area,” she says of the way she found it when she took office in 2007. “It was a hot spot of congestion. You had 356,000 people coming through on foot every day and less than 10 percent of the space allocated to pedestrians. It wasn’t working, and it was a problem that had been lying in plain sight for 200 years.” You remember: Crowds spilled over the curbs into the street, gridlock stranded taxis in the triangular crossroads, and hurried theatergoers battled through the stationary herds. The Times Square Alliance, which represents local businesses, suggested an incremental solution: Widen the sidewalks a little bit. Sadik-Khan one-upped them and completely closed five blocks of Broadway to traffic. The result was a harvest of happy data: fewer accidents, cleaner air, more satisfied survey respondents, and popular events like the Summer Solstice free yoga classes that last year attracted 6,000 people. (The 2012 edition takes place on June 20.) Clearing out cars also brought a surprising economic roar. Before, annual commercial rents in the area averaged about $800 per square foot. Last week, the eyewear emporium Oakley opened a new store, paying about $1,400 per square foot. Everyone in the Bloomberg administration is watching the countdown to the end of the mayor’s term, and Sadik-Khan’s Department of Transportation seems to be rushing to set her revolution in concrete so that her successor can’t merely paint it over. Times Square is only the most visible representative of a program that spans all five boroughs: Another 50 permanent plaza renovations are completed or in the works, from Madison Square to Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and Roberto Clemente Plaza in the Bronx. Uncharacteristically for a city agency, the DOT is resisting uniformity, trying to gear each project to local desires, so the Snøhetta design won’t be an archetype, but it will be a much-*scrutinized example. Tourists already make the crossroads of the world an obligatory visit, but Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance, wants to change both the composition of the crowds and the reasons they come. “Ten years from now, we want people to want to see what public art is happening here,” he says. There is of course the possibility that a rejuvenated Times Square will appeal to New Yorkers so intensely that it will once again become as unbearably crowded as it was before. That’s a risk the city is willing to take.
  23. Merci à MTLCity pour m'avoir aiguillé sur le sujet! http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/?p=49437&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter http://vtdigger.org/2015/06/30/vermont-pbs-soaks-up-montreal-qulture/
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