Toderian, interviewed at the end of our research, in many ways blew our central argument out of the water. With energy use no longer a serious problem because of newer green techniques, and a growing awareness of streetscaping and the necessity to foster urban life, why not allow height as part of your city’s toolbox?
"Towers often get a bad reputation based on how they land and often that’s true. But I just as often see mid-rise buildings land poorly," said Toderian. "This isn't the tower vs. mid-rise issue, this is the how you do the ground plane well, a universal question no matter what form you’re designing." (italics added)
The trick, he explained, is to be very rigorous with urban design standards and planning out the where, why and how of siting skyscrapers. “We likely take more of a design approach to the height question than any other city in North America, and we regulate, locate, shape and even limit height more than other cities, based on our civic values and goals,” he explained.
I couldn't agree more with Toderian about "the ground plane." which suggests that what is most important about how a building "lands" is whether it needs to and/or does adhere to the 3 Rules.
But a fine point — I am a bit puzzled a the shift: Toderian explains (para 2) the importance of the ground plane (i.e. what happens at the street level) and then moves (para 3) to siting of skyscrapers.
So far as I interpret him, what's most important is not the location of a the skyscraper but whether, in a given location, any proposed building should be designed to meet the ground for pedestrian comfort. Of course in an urban location, every building should meet it thoughtfully and the only issue is the degree to which it must have ground-floor commercial, (which may in some unusual location need not be desirable or feasible.) So if the ground plane is pre-eminent, then why have strict control over height?
And I am also a bit curiuous about how percisely one can regulate "based on our civic values and goals" and wonder how such broad and abstract strictures work fairly. Of course zoning has never been precise and public administration is not like managing a machine shop. But the enormous discretion allowed by regulation "based on our civic values and goals" can lead to who-knows-what. Then again, so far, Vancover has done a pretty good job and so far as I can tell, without any or much accusation of unfair administration.