Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A Reflection on Jane Jacobs' Contributions to Urban Planning

Jane Jacobs' Toronto Forum, Hosted by: the Centre for City Ecology, September 15, 2011, photos by Olga Goubar, wobuilt.comPhoto-Collage: Jane Jacobs' Toronto Forum,
September 15, 2011, OISE Auditorium;

On the occasion of the release of the
50th Anniversary edition of Jacobs' classic book,

The Death and Life of Great American Cities;
Hosted by: the Centre for City Ecology.

Photos: Olga Goubar @
Jane Jacobs' Toronto
Event date: Thursday, September 15, 2011, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Location: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, OISE, Auditorium, main floor, 252 Bloor St. West at St. George subway
On the occasion of the release of the 50th Anniversary edition of Jacobs' classic book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, join the Centre for City Ecology and four of Toronto's past Mayors for their reflections on the impact of Jane Jacobs on our city.
* David Crombie, Mayor of Toronto, 1972–1978
* John Sewell, Mayor of Toronto, 1978–1980
* Art Eggleton, Mayor of Toronto, 1980–1991
* Barbara Hall, Mayor of Toronto, 1994–1997
Jane Jacobs arrived in Toronto in 1968 and lived here until her death in 2006. These four Mayors knew Jacobs personally. They will discuss the impact of her work on the city and her influence on their leadership of it.
Presented by Centre for City Ecology, Cities Centre, Canadian Urban Institute, SaloN cAmDen.

Last week I went to a discussion to celebrate Jane Jacobs' urbanism hosted by the Centre for City Ecology. Four past mayors John Sewell, Art Eggleton, David Crombie and Barbara Hall all retold their dealings with and admiration for the woman who was instrumental in shaping Toronto as a City.

My architectural education was from Europe and though I had heard of Ms Jacobs, I was not familiar with her work. Listening to the mayors who knew and worked with Jane Jacobs was an eye opener. Many of her ideas resonate with me.

Her four main urban planning principles mentioned were:
  • Mixed uses.
  • Short blocks.
  • Buildings of various ages & states of repair.
  • Density.
The third point: buildings of various ages and states of repair is especially interesting for us. We, as a company, are great believers that cities grow and evolve; hence giving a sense of history. Generally we are not in favour of tearing down old buildings without looking into the possibility to keep, add and improve them first. In past postings we looked at the rational of combining old buildings with new architecture. We believe strongly that marrying old with new can revitalize buildings and in extension communities. However, we also believe that buildings should be kept in good repair, even though a run-down building might bring more flavour to an area.

Re-evaluating Ms Jacobs' ideas for the next phase of Toronto's development is a must in our opinion. And it is timely. As the Toronto Official Plan is being discussed again, there are opportunities to re-look at some of the recommendations, zoning and transportation needs and adjust them for Toronto's ever changing development. The preservation of neighbourhoods as viable living, working and playing areas is important, but we have to incorporate change that is suitable for our ever growing city.

Future posts will look at our take on mixed use and density.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Combining Old and New: Keeping the Neighbourhood and Community Thriving Do Industrial Buildings Have a Future? Aspects of Longevity of Design: How to Design Timeless Spaces Architecture: Combining New and Old Obituary: Jane Jacobs
Urban philosopher and activist with an intimate interest in how things work

by Veronica Horwell, The Guardian, Friday 28 April 2006 Project for Public Spaces: Jane Jacobs
Biography • Perspectives • Quotable • Publications • Links • Contact PPT Planning Glossary: How we talk about how we build. Responses to Jane Jacobs' Toronto event last night
Posted by Heather Ann Kaldeway on September 16, 2011

@spaikin: ex-mayors crombie, sewell, eggleton, and hall discuss jane jacobs' contrib to urban life.
by Steve Paikin from TVO's "The Agenda with Steve Paikin" managed to tweet while moderating the conversation between the Mayors.

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