The CIP / PIBC Conference was held in Vancouver this year. The conference organizing committee wanted to move away from some of the traditional offerings of past conferences to engage people in the life of the city. Marta Farevaag from PFS Studio helped organize a series of conversations and dinners at local planning and design offices. The idea was that people would choose a topic of interest to them and join a small group at a local office for a look around and a chance to see some relevant projects. Once started, the conversation would move to a nearby restaurant for dinner and more conversation.
PFS Studio, with Marta, Jeffrey Staates, and Tim Smith of Urban Strategies as facilitators, offered a conversation on the topic of active programming of public plazas and parks. The group that gathered were typically working in this field and had ideas and examples that enriched the discussion. PFS showed images of planning for three recent projects that were designed for intensive and diverse programming: Southeast False Creek Plaza, Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, and a development proposal by Westbank at Beach and Howe in Vancouver that seeks to animate and program space under the Granville Bridge.
Dinner conversation continued with many more examples of innovations and challenges to programming open spaces, both in design and in operation, in communities across Canada. Clearly it is a topic of interest and complexity – we were the last to leave the 4th Avenue restaurant on a warm Sunday evening.