Week 6 wrap-up: aged buildings and concentration


Blog round-up

  • The Urbanist on Chapter 6 – The neighbourhood: Is it the centre of the world?

    One of the most enduring and pervasive ideas in urban policy is that cities should consist of numerous self-contained and self-sufficient neighbourhoods. With urban villages anchoring each neighbourhood, residents could work, shop, study and play locally, thereby saving on travel and building a strong sense of neighbourhood community. I’ve long been dubious about this romantic notion. To me it harks back to a rural provincialism that’s the antithesis of what cities are actually about. But I was surprised on reading Jane Jacobs’s 1960 classic, The death and life of great American cities, to see that she was well ahead of me.

  • Upper Toronto on Chapter 8 – A temporal take on streetscapes

    Suddenly, the city — articulated as a web of sidewalks, streets, and public spaces — looks toward time as its primary dimension and traffic flows as its constant. People are recognized as variables, opening the idea of “neighbourhood” to far more than a place for residents to dwell. The built environment is a series of avenues and containers to facilitate movement and usage, and it’s arguably this animacy rather than the physicality that makes up the city itself. Read more »

  • The Walking Bostonian on Chapter 10 – The need for aged buildings

    I find this chapter of Death and Life to be the most depressing. Not because of its tone or content necessarily, but because of its implication. Three of the four characteristics of successful districts–mixed uses, small blocks, and density–can be encouraged or developed in the short term through thoughtful action, deregulation or planning. But there is only one way to get aged buildings: time.

  • City Love on Chapter 10:

    City Love on Chapter 10


Recommendations on aged buildings and concentration from the Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St. now houses the collection of the Urban Affairs Library, formerly located at Metro Hall. As a specialized collection devoted to all aspects of urban planning and local government, the library contains far more than the materials cited here. Titles were selected by librarian Cynthia Fisher to give you an overview of some new and some old books and reports that you can find at the library to complement (and perhaps contradict) some of Jane Jacobs’ views. When viewing the catalogue records for the books, click on some of the subject headings to give you a broader range of materials.

The need for aged buildings

Whose urban renaissance? : an international comparison of urban regeneration strategies

Researchers in 21 world cities examine specific cases of urban regeneration. They focus on the policies driving the process and the way these policies work, on instances of opposition and active struggle, and on the occasional policy interventions that are used to ameliorate the  negative impacts of gentrification. Borrow it from the library or buy it on Amazon!

Urban regeneration : a handbook

A comprehensive and integrated primer on regeneration. The various chapters: review the history and context of urban regeneration; consider funding implications; look at environmental, social and community issues, as well as employment, education and training; focus on managing urban regeneration; consider land use issues; and discuss monitoring and evaluation. The book concludes with a comparative analysis, with examples from America and Europe, and a discussion of future trends. Borrow it from the library or buy it on Amazon!

Walking home : the life and lessons of a city builder

Ken Greenberg, one of the world’s foremost urban designers shares his passion and methods for rejuvenating neglected cities and argues passionately for the importance and possibilities of their renewal. Borrow it from the library, buy it at Swipe Books + Design, or buy it on Amazon!

Toronto Entertainment District Master Plan

The Toronto Entertainment District Master Plan was prepared for the Toronto Entertainment Business Improvement Area of Downtown Toronto. Read Downtown [where all the lights are bright], a post on the Toronto Public Library’s blog about it. Read it online or borrow it from the library.

Commercial change in Toronto’s west-central neighbourhoods

This study explores how commercial change contributes to wider processes of exclusion and gentrification, as well as the resources available to counter this trend. The researchers studied three commercial strips in Toronto’s downtown West-Central neighbourhoods (West Queen West, Roncesvalles Village, and Bloordale Village), representing different characteristics and stages of commercial gentrification.

The report focuses on themes such as ownership structure in relation to local investment; the politics of strip “branding,” and the role of immigrant-owned businesses in building social cohesion; the role of Business Improvement Areas in promoting local development and fragmenting the urban landscape; and the challenges and opportunities for business finance. The report concludes with some recommendations for policy and community organizing. Borrow it from the library or read it online (PDF)!


The need for concentration

Implementing residential intensification targets : lessons from research on intensification rates in Ontario

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006), the Province of Ontario’s growth plan for the Toronto region, requires all municipalities to accommodate growth by first looking inward to their already-urbanized areas before considering greenfield development. This principle is formalized through an intensification policy and target. However, Ontario municipalities had not been tracking residential intensification in a uniform manner before the policy and target were put in place, so there were no records of just how much intensification was already occurring.

This paper describes how the Province’s intensification target works both in principle and practice through an examination of historical rates of intensification.  It takes a closer look at the concept of defining the urbanized boundary for the purposes of implementing and measuring the intensification target. Although the research is primarily directed to Ontario municipalities that are in the process of implementing the intensification target and developing a strategy for intensification, the findings of the research will interest all planners and policy-makers who are striving to achieve more compact and sustainable development. Borrow it from the library or buy it from the Neptis Foundation!

Designing high-density cities for social and environmental sustainability

Compact living is sustainable living. High-density cities can support closer amenities, encourage reduced trip lengths and the use of public transport and therefore reduce transport energy costs and carbon emissions. High-density planning also helps to control the spread of urban suburbs into open lands, improves efficiency in urban infrastructure and services, and results in environmental improvements that support higher quality of life in cities. Encouraging, even requiring, higher density urban development is a major policy and a central principle of growth management programmes used by planners around the world.

However, such density creates design challenges and problems. A collection of experts in each of the related architectural and planning areas examines these environmental and social issues, and argues that high-density cities are a sustainable solution. It will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in sustainable urban development. Borrow it from the library or buy it on Amazon!


Spacematrix explores urban density as a tool for urban planning and design. Examining the logic between urban density, urban form or layout and the performance of the urban, this long-awaited manual is an indispensable resource for architects and urban planners, as well as developers, economists, engineers, policymakers and students. Borrow it from the library or buy it on Amazon!

Getting density right : tools for creating vibrant compact development.

Put together by the Urban Land Institute and others from both the public and private sectors, this book describes tools used nationwide to better support compact development, including visioning, planning, and new regulations. Includes customizable presentation or narrated DVD. Borrow it from the library or buy it on Amazon!



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