Gastown Urban Design Study

  • Category: Community
  • Address: Gastown, Vancouver
  • Date: 2020

This Urban Design Study is a response to potential impacts of City of Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 Plan and the Gastown Transportation Plan on the neighbourhood’s roads, sidewalks, lanes, and public realm infrastructure. These City Plans aim to reduce congestion and emissions and provide a viable transportation system that supports the economy and people. Working toward these broader goals, ph5’s Urban Design Study identifies specific opportunities to improve the functional, social, cultural and historic aspects of the public realm in Gastown for the benefit of residents, visitors, property owners, businesses and their employees. Gastown is a distinct, diverse and beloved neighbourhood. It’s rich in First Nations and Settlers history and a neighbourhood that has undergone many changes through the decades. It is also notably a provincial heritage area and National Historic site. Embracing the full extent of Gastown’s character, the Urban design study takes a comprehensive approach to analysis and exploration of the public realm opportunities. It considers measurable data such as use, traffic flows, pedestrian movements, as well as qualitative observations of the unique environmental, social, historic, and cultural aspects of the neighbourhood. The study consists of three parts, a public realm analysis, a design workshop with knowledgeable professionals, and ph5 recommendations for a comprehensive approach to public realm improvements. Part I, the Public Realm Analysis, includes a summary of applicable policies and reports, an analysis of Gastown and the surrounding area, and results from an Urban Survey conducted by Ph5. Part II A focused consultation workshop was held, bringing together the ph5 team, selected Gastown BIA members, community representatives, knowledgeable professionals, and City staff involved in the transportation plan. The workshop was designed to orchestrate focused discussions, identify synergies, and consider urban design responses to public realm opportunities and challenges. Part III, recommendations by Ph5, is based on the public realm analysis, workshop results, direct observations of Gastown, and an analysis of all information collected and research undertaken. Recommendations considered how the public realm design could benefit businesses, workers, residents and visitors. The Urban design study was intended to assist the Gastown BIA develop an advocacy position in regards to the Gastown Transportation Plan. Some of its recommendations from the study are being realized as pilot projects throughout the neighborhood, such as expanding pedestrian spaces at Maple Tree Square and locations of temporary patios. These two pilot projects aim to foster the environmental and social well-being of the neighborhood by introducing traffic calming measures, increasing pedestrian networks, and other strategies to enhance the quality of the public realm.

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