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London is looking for the “best and brightest” urban designers :yes:

Sat, June 2, 2007

By JOE BELANGER, SUN MEDIA



London is looking for the “best and brightest” urban designers to help develop a vision to make the city a place of class and beauty. :yes:

The city’s planning department is looking for volunteers to sit on a steering committee to oversee how best to implement the concept of urban design.

“It’s really about creating a city that has a beautiful, functional and economical public realm,” said Coun. Joni Baechler, who heads the city’s planning committee.

“It’s the basics of building a community that isn’t just concrete and mortar, but liveable and walkable with a strong aesthetic quality.” In recent years, city council — pushed by Baechler, Coun. Judy Bryant and Controller Gord Hume in the Creative City Task Force he chaired —has taken steps to try to incorporate urban design principles into new developments.

That means, for example, ensuring developments in older areas of the city respect the existing streetscape or architecture.

One recent example would be the Victorian design elements of the John Labatt Centre at the southwest corner of Dundas and Talbot streets. The rink’s exterior was designed to reflect the former Talbot block streetscape it replaced.

But it’s also about designing new neighbourhoods and applying design principles to the architecture, street layout and other elements.

“It’s really exciting,” said Baechler, chair of city council’s planning committee.

“Part of good urban design is respecting the natural heritage, the built heritage and cultural heritage. All world-class cities routinely engage and employ urban designers.”

During its budget deliberations, council approved the hiring of an urban designer.

The city is currently working with a development company, Z-Group, in a pilot project to design a neighbourhood with the help of urban designer Michael Hanay of Zelinka Priamo.

Several other projects either completed or under construction were also developed taking urban design principles into consideration.

City planner John Fleming is urging professionals with extensive design experience to join the steering committee, which will include representatives from city council, the Urban League of London, the London Development Institute and three members of the community at large.

“We need strong representation from the design community in order for this initiative to be successful,” Fleming said.

“You will likely all be impacted by the results stemming from this committee and we would love for the community’s best and brightest to be sitting at the table charting the way for the future.”

Anyone interested is asked to apply before June 15 by contacting the city clerk’s office or visiting the city’s website at

www.london.ca/Council/appointments.htm.
 
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