In Vancouver, Developers build-in a community voice

In Vancouver, Developers build-in a community voice

A watercolour rendering of a new development designed by Acton/Ostry Architects for Rize Alliance at Kingsway and Broadway in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.

For many architects, the community planning process can be a daunting one. The idea of design by committee, where hundreds of residents contribute their two-cents worth on new projects, can often produce dubious aesthetic results.

But for Vancouver architects Mark Ostry and Russell Acton, whose firm Acton/Ostry had to accommodate neighbourhood input on the proposed Rize Alliance project at Kingsway and Broadway in Mount Pleasant, the process was a unique kind of “crystallization” of community needs and concerns.

The process was often fraught, with the proposed mixed use tower and low-rise development in many ways a “guinea pig’ for the new Mount Pleasant community plan introduced in 2010. As such it was the focal point for a broad range of concerns about affordability and livability and arguably faced increased public scrutiny in an area that now has several high-density, mixed-use projects in development.

Those include a new Aquilini project at Main and 2nd by Francl Architects that had its building, massing and public space redesigned after Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee input as well as a new nine-storey building by Arno Matis at Main and 7th.

In what has now become the norm for the area, The Beedie Group is beginning community outreach on their plans to densify and redevelop the early seventies era Kingsgate Mall years ahead of a likely rezoning application.

And Mr. Ostry himself – whose firm designed the Stella – a 13-storey high-rise that, since no rezoning was required, was erected in 2008 without much public fanfare a few hundred metres from the Rize Alliance site – is at work on another mixed use housing project for Edgar Development at 11th and Kingsway.