Tuesday, February 24, 2009

James Bay - The High Rises

The 1970s were not kind to James Bay. There were numerous tall apartment buildings constructed during that era - great for density, but they are not great in building community and neighbourhood.

If you look at Orchard House and Robert House - I know we would prefer not to - the building loom over everything around them. Not only do they loom, they are surrounded by dead green space. Each tall building has been constructed as an island in the middle of a green patch. This green space is utterly dead and without community life.

Just behind South Park school there is wonderful set of heritage houses, problem is that they have Orchard House looming over them completely ruining any sense of scale of the buildings.

The green spaces around these buildings can take up to several acres of land. No one sits on these lawns, there are no playgrounds or trees, there are no playing fields. They simply exist to take space. This land needs to be made into real community parks for the people of James Bay, maybe even allotment gardens.

The ground floors of these huge buildings are not connected to the street. The building offers nothing to the neighbourhood. I am not sure how one would retrofit these buildings and fix this problem, but some sort of community use of retail use would bring the space alive. Offices could also be a good use for the first couple of floors, their daytime use would bring life to the buildings and area during mid day when they can be very quiet and forlorne.

Over between Michigan and Simcoe and Menzies and Oswego, there are a series of high rises. Between them them they have 8.5 acres in dead green space and paved parking. 3.7 acres of this is contigous with Irving Park. If one could work on a parkcade in the area for the people that live there, though with some space for people shopping in James Bay, and allow for a lot more land to be used as park in the centre of James Bay. You could make it function as the town square of James Bay and hold the market there.

We can compare these 1970s buildings to Shoal Point you can see how much better use the land use. Shoal Point is not dead on the ground level and is not surrounded by this sterile grass area. It has the lower floors dedicated to retail and offices. It also has a lower height than the buildings from the 1970s.
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