The applause for charrette leader Andrés Duany at the close of a two-hour presentation on Tuesday night was genuine. Many in the 150-person-strong crowd had attended multiple meetings throughout the week and were appreciative of what they saw as a steady evolution culminating in the images and ideas in the wrap-up presentation.
Duany returned the compliment. “What is exciting about working here,” said the renowned urban planner, “is that the city is willing to lead the planning.”
What was accomplished over the intensive week could be tweaked, said Duany. “Some things could get a little better. Some could get a little worse,” he said. “But I would just call a council meeting and get on with it.”
Gian-Carlo Carra, the Calgary alderman who has been the Calgary Council’s biggest supporter of the Mission Road Main Street Innovation Project, said the core ideas of the charrette will be reviewed by appropriate City agencies as early as July, adjusted as needed, and then taken before the Council in the fall. The goal for the planning model pioneered during the charrette, said Alderman Carra, is “to enable it maximally and to hinder in minimally.”
For the alderman’s overview of the charrette’s goals, check out the column to the right. And for coverage of each step in the process on the way to Tuesday night’s final presentation, read the posts preceding this one.
The big attractions in Duany’s presentation were evocative illustrations of how the Mission Road neighbourhood might evolve if the team’s proposals came to pass. Below is a selection of images from the presentation with captions. For the complete presentation, click the graphic above or visit DOCUMENTS for everything from the past week.
The proposed plan for Mission Road and surrounding area. Includes an enhanced urban environment connecting the neighbourhood with LRT via Mission Road and 39th Avenue, the restoration of Burnsland Road as a fully functioning street, and the relocation of the LRT station. Click for larger view.
An aerial view of what ultimately emerged as the full project area. Details are shown in the following series of images. Click for larger view.
Current site of the ENMAX utility building, redeveloped as a small office building with terrace roof and adjoining community gardens. Click for larger view.
Looking down Parkhill Street at the proposed tower which, through its siting, terminates the view of both Parkhill, looking north, and Mission Road, looking west from Macleod Trail. A small cafe or similar neighbourhood-serving enterprise is included. Click for larger view.
The much-discussed residential, with its English mews-style rear units, on the north side of Mission Road. Mews units lay flush against the required retaining wall, separating lower residences from those up the hill. Click for larger view.
Redevelopment at the corners along Macleod Trail allows current automotive businesses to remain operating while creating a more pedestrian-friendly gateway to Mission Road. Click for larger view.
This Mission Road pedestrian plaza, just east of Macleod Trail, improves the walkable connection with the LRT. Click for larger view.
Approaching the proposed LRT station, moved from its current location to one between Mission Road and 38th Avenue. This stretch of Burnsland Road, reconfigured as a fully functioning street, is envisioned as a flexible, low-investment business incubator environment, reflecting a style described by Duany as "very Granville Island." Click for larger view.
39th Avenue, configured to connect Burnsland Road with an expanded Parkhill Community Hall, which would then serve as a visual focal point for both 39th and Parkhill Street. Click for larger view.
Your and everyone’s participation has been invaluable to this process. Please don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts and reactions below.
Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, the Mission Road project team presents the products of seven days of study and design to enliven the high-potential/low-performing district around the intersection of Macleod Trail and Mission Road.
Over the last week, a design team led by Andrés Duany has listened to residents and business people, consulted with City of Calgary staffers and tested and refined ideas. The Tuesday-night presentation features the results of that process.
For a look back at the steps that have led to the team’s concluding proposals, check out the posts immediately preceding this one. Session presentations and summary notes can be found in the DOCUMENTS section. And an overview of the goals of the project is in the column to the immediate right.
The original study area of the district has expanded during the week to include some of the adjacent neighborhoods, including an industrial area to the east of Macleod Trail. To further bolster the energy of the revamped Mcleod Trail/Mission Road hub, the team supports a move of the existing transit stop farther north towards the intersection. And designers are introducing a London mews-style architecture in units behind modest proposed retail on the north side of Mission Road.
Among the true innovations in the Innovation Project proposal is the potential to address one of the property owners’ and developers’ big gripes: the onerous nature of the permitting process. Even the City of Calgary staffers who attended during the week were eager for alternatives.
The team will propose incentives for plans that meet the City’s requirements for an Innovation Project — essentially those that help create a complete neighbourhood with walkable access to a variety of commercial options as well as retail. If the project satisfies City goals, it will enjoy expedited permitting.
Tuesday-night attendees will also see a variety of illustrations that better illustrate the proposal and some of the architectural options, which Mayor Nenshi reviewed Monday evening:
With the Mission Road charrette entering its final phase, the project team presented its latest versions of design approaches to the community on Sunday afternoon. The presentation represented refinements of ideas tested on Saturday. And the version at Tuesday night’s wrap-up at 7:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn will integrate the community’s input from throughout the week.
Charrette leader Andres Duany told attendees that the week’s discussions with community members and City of Calgary staffers had convinced him to propose approaches that take advantage of the City’s invitation “to experiment outside the system that now exists.” Chief among the experiments will be a request to establish an Innovation Neighbourhood designation for projects like the Mission Road district, exempting them from several layers of regulation.
That’s a proposal that’s intended to address some of the district property owners’ suspicions that plans emerging from the charrette might get bogged down in red tape before they have the chance to prove themselves. If the planning is in harmony with the City’s broader goals and can demonstrate community support, “the City should just get out of the way,” said Duany.
Among the ideas attendees reviewed on Sunday were:
The team’s refinements of designs for retail frontage along the north side of Mission Road with residences patterned after London mews behind the commercial buildings.
An expansion of the study area to include a half-mile “pedestrian shed” from the key intersection of Macleod Trail and Mission Road.
A proposed move of the transit station closer to the Macleod/Mission Road crossroads to further enliven the commercial potential of the district.
You can review the presentation images and meeting notes from the presentation by going to the DOCUMENTS section in the toolbar above.
For the most part, community attendees seemed pleased with the suggestions and the images Duany presented. What persists, however, are worries over traffic congestion, particularly in adjacent neighbourhoods where cars often cut through to avoid back-ups on Mission Road.
“I cannot promise you there will be less traffic,” said Duany. In a successful mixed-use district, “there will always be more traffic. But we can suggest better ways to manage the flow.”
The team is exploring the use of traffic circles at key points and restrictions against using certain routes through neighbourhoods at rush hour times.
Come to the final presentation on Tuesday night to see how the ideas evolve over the next two days. And please share your comments and ideas below.
Saturday morning’s charrette show-and-tell provided Mission Road district residents and business people their first look at how the project team is responding to what they’ve heard so far.
The session is one of two “pin-ups” in which charrette leader Andrés Duany tests designers’ interpretations against community goals and the economic realities of development and redevelopment in the current era.
On Sunday at 2:30 p.m., also at the Holiday Inn, Duany re-presents a new stage of work in progress, integrating corrections and refinements offered by community members during the Saturday session.
Some core convictions behind the designers’ work:
There’s untapped commercial opportunity in the four corners formed by the intersection of Mcleod Trail and Mission Road. Retail analyst Tom Leung told the consulting team that the corner’s potential is unrivaled in all of Calgary. (See Leung’s video in the DOCUMENTS section in the toolbar above.) That commercial potential can be a significant driver for walkable, mixed-use development in the sector.
The City of Calgary understands that in order to achieve more appealing, higher-performing neighbourhoods, changes have to be made in ways planning policy is made and enforced. The Mission Road Innovation Project is considered a pilot in that City-driven effort. For an overview of that commitment, see the column to the immediate right. See how that idea has been playing out in the charrette so far by checking out the posts immediately preceding this one.
On Saturday, Duany presented designs he wished to test, then engaged in a vigorous discussion with attendees about what might and might not work along Mission Road and in their adjacent neighbourhoods. (For notes from the session, see the DOCUMENTS section.)
Try-out designs showed a conversion of the McLeod/Mission Road intersection to a more intensely commercial crossroads capable of attracting regional shoppers. There were experiments with residential configurations to offer more attractive and economically viable choices. Well-thought-out retail space on the north side of Mission Road can expand those choices.
The presentation accompanying Duany’s comments can be reviewed here. (4.4mb .pdf)
A reminder: Resident Steve Sparks, who is also a real estate developer, cautioned his neighbours not to “fall in love or hate” with any specific designs at this stage, since everything is evolving towards a wrap-up presentation on Tuesday night.
Comments from attendees helped Duany identify aspects of the design that needed tweaks. Many of his responses, along with those of Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra, targeted community members concerns that the City would indeed follow through on charrette results and that the project team was indeed taking climate and topography into their thinking.
The presentation at 2:30 Sunday afternoon will advance many of the design ideas. So even those who attended on Saturday will find new material to react to.
By Monday morning, we will have posted comments and images from the Sunday pin-up. For now, share your own ideas and reactions below.
Since more than 100 people had to be turned away because of space limitations Friday night at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, Andrés Duany is re-presenting his lecture on “Agrarian Urbanism” tonight (Saturday, June 18).
The event takes place in the ballroom at the Holiday Inn on Macleod Trail. It begins at 7:30 p.m.
Thanks largely to Duany, the argument for threading properly scaled farms and gardens throughout the full range of urban and sub-urban neighbourhood has become a hot topic in planning circles. His presentation tonight incorporates his latest thinking on economic and social trends that are making local food production not only an appealing amenity for redevelopment in cities but also a necessity for sustaining communities over time.
Mission Road residents and property owners made it clear during Wednesday-night and Thursday meetings that they could be enthusiastic about a vision to convert the Mission Road sector into a more active mixed-use environment. For them, the big IF had to do with what they perceived as a City bureaucracy that might resist change.
On Friday, the City staffers who enforce the rules that shape development and redevelopment joined the discussion. And they seemed as eager as property owners and developers to try a different route. It helps, of course, that the staffers’ bosses, the City’s Board of Aldermen, have heard the cries of frustration from their constituents and are endorsing a pilot process to simplify rules and expedite development that meets community standards.
The Mission Road charrette is that pilot process. “You have a mayor and a city council that’s determined to make (those changes) come about,” said Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra. To get a sense of the City’s commitment, check out the overview column to the immediate right by Carra, and from the mayor here.
So now that everyone — the community, developers and property owners, and City officials — seem on the same wave length, what happens next?
Saturday, the project team will react to what they’ve heard with tentative sketches and coding approaches. They’ll literally pin-up the ideas for the community to critique. And from that feedback, the team will correct and refine the work in progress for a similar Sunday pin-up. Go to the SCHEDULE + DIRECTIONS tab on the toolbar above for times and places.
The end product of all that testing and refinement will be the final presentation on Tuesday, June 21, at the Holiday Inn.
To catch up quickly on the process so far, peruse the posts preceding this one and check out the meeting reports in the DOCUMENTS section. Come to the pin-ups on Saturday and Sunday to give the project team your feedback. And don’t miss the Tuesday wrap-up presentation.
By the end of the day on Thursday, those attending special topic sessions of the Mission Road charrette were zeroing in on what has become the project’s biggest challenge: Getting veterans of past planning wars to believe that outcomes will be different this time.
The scene-setter for the day was the morning session led by retail analyst Tom Leung, president of Global Retail Strategies. Intelligently planned and managed, said Leung, the Mission Road section of Calgary can become a “Mission Node” for “urban cool” mixed use. (See a pdf of Leung’s presentation, a video interview and notes from all the day’s sessions under the DOCUMENTS section tab. We’ll post Friday’s session notes in the same place.)
“If we do this right,” said Leung, the right combination of the right commercial offerings at the right scale can “it will serve as the spark to reinvigorate the whole node.”
The potential of retail helping to energize both commercial and residential redevelopment in the district was a theme that carried through the other two meetings during the day. The key will be to integrate an ambitious vision with pragmatism. “The numbers have to work,” said Leung.
And the process has to produce the opportunities it advertises.
That sentiment was clear in the final meeting of the day. Property owners, including several who controlled large blocks of real estate that could be pivotal in charrette plans, contributed their thoughts. Their bottom line: If you want us to take a leap of faith in a new plan and a new process, we need to believe they’ll work.
Community association members, business people and others who’ve participated in meetings so far echo that feeling. Other visioning and planning processes in other years raised expectations that were never quite realized — a familiar dilemma in complicated land use policy throughout North America. Some veterans of multiple efforts call it “vision fatigue.” Everybody yearns for processes that produce results that carry through to implementation and regulatory enforcement.
It’s encouraging that key property owners, who are frank about their suspicions, are still willing to invest their time in this new effort. Leaders of the Mission Road initiative promise a pay-off for that faith leap.
Today, two more meetings — primarily with City policy-makers and permitting officials — will complete the listening phase of the charrette. By the weekend, the project team will be offering their first drawings of ideas for community critiques. For times and places, go to the SCHEDULE + DIRECTIONS tab in the tool bar above.
If you can’t attend in person, remember to check back here on the website regularly, making sure to leave your ideas and comments. And tell your friends.
So what’s likely to provoke the most controversy during this week? What are you most afraid of?
Andrés Duany, co-founder of the respected DPZ planning firm and director of the weeklong Mission Road charrette, asked those questions at the end of his standing-room-only Wednesday-night presentation. Actually, it was less presentation than vigorous discussion. And attendees seemed delighted with the opportunity.
Responding to Duany’s invitation to come clean about what most concerns them, attendees emphasized issues that had thread their ways through the evening’s conversation: Worries over cut-through traffic in residential neighborhoods, concerns about an imbalance in retail and entertainment options in the Mission Road area, parking management issues. But one specific comment got nods of recognition around the room:
What if residents and business people invest all their hopes in this process and are then frustrated by follow-through efforts that go nowhere?
Duany acknowledged that threat. It exists with every project dependent upon committed officials and planning staffers to carry out the plans’ goals. But Duany promised that the team intended to devote a substantial part of its efforts to not only producing inspiring plans but also to embedding strategies for successful implementation.
There will be a clear path to enacting and enforcing regulatory measures that will insure future development and redevelopment in line with what the community says it wants. Given the complex, sometimes contradictory rules now in place, clarity alone should make for more predictable decision-making.
“I’m here to unconfuse things,” said Duany.
What will unfold over the next six days is likely to put even more pressure on follow-through efforts by Calgary officials and city staffers. That’s because the team will encourage rising expectations. But the collaborative process should also build support for follow-through.
That trust-building phase begins in earnest today with a series of five focused topic sessions that continue through Friday. Duany and other members of the team will lead check-in conversations with community residents, business people and city staffers to make sure everything that can help or hinder the planning effort is on the table. These are public sessions. To check out participation opportunities that work for you, go to the Schedule & Directions tab in the toolbar above.
By Saturday and Sunday, the team will have work in progress to present for community critiques. Those “pin-up” sessions are used to test ideas. Based on feedback from community participants, the ideas can be refined in time for Tuesday night’s final presentation.
Remember, if you can’t be at the charrette studio in person, you can follow all the action in the daily posts on this website, and can comment on each one with feedback and ideas of your own. In fact, you can start right now. Have thoughts on last night’s meeting or ideas and concerns you’d like to throw into the mix? Share them below.
The official kick-off of the Mission Road Main Street Innovation Project is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on 4206 Macleod Trail. (NOTE: This is a necessary change from the previously scheduled Parkhill Community Hall.) Everybody’s welcome.
Over the next week, a team of international experts will join City of Calgary staffers and officials, Mission Road property owners, business people, and area residents in a charrette to explore ways to make Mission Road a more welcoming and prosperous link between key Calgary neighbourhoods. For the overview of project goals, see the column to the immediate right.
With the exception of studio work time for the team of designers, just about everything during the week-long charrette is open to the public. In fact, the City and the consulting team is counting on community collaboration to produce results that are well-informed and implementable.
Here’s how to pick your times for participating:
First, check out the week’s schedule. In addition to tonight’s opening, there will be several opportunities over the next few days to contribute ideas directly to the team and to participate in testing concepts. On Thursday and Friday, there are five meetings designed to focus on specific topics, such as: Commercial business opportunities and challenges, transportation choices, development options and planning policy issues.
While everyone is invited to participate, the meeting facilitators will keep the discussions concentrated on the topics at hand. So if you have a special interest in any of those subjects, pick the corresponding meeting.
On Saturday and Sunday, the team physically pins-up work in progress for a community critique. Team members will explain their approaches and discuss them. Here’s your chance to see how designers and planners are responding to community concerns and to help the team refine ideas.
On Tuesday, June 21, the concluding presentation offers what amounts to a rough draft of the best ideas and strategies as they’ve evolved over the week.
If you can’t attend these events in person, you can follow along each step of the way here on the website. We’ll be posting images, interviews and works in progress. And you’re invited to comment or ask questions at the bottom of each post.
So join in the fun. We’re creating a new model not only for Mission Road but also for collaborative planning in Calgary. We need your participation.
This is the moment we’ve all been planning towards.
Beginning Wednesday, June 15, 2011, citizens, landowners, and City staff sat down with an international consulting team to translate years worth of lessons learned into a plan for healthy growth along Mission Road. Just as important, they used this week-long planning workshop as a test run for how Calgary's residents, business people, and government might better go about charting the future of our neighbourhoods together.
That’s why we’ve described this project as: Neighbours on a mission. In reality, we’re all neighbours. And we have to work together to get where we want to go. Read more here.
MOVING FORWARD We've now got our first approved project for Mission Road and 34th Ave. Read all about it here.