First thing on our schedule was a tour of Olympic Village with Debra and Tina. Olympic village, a neighborhood built for athletes who will participate in the pass Olympic, focuses its attention on pedestrians and bikers. Cars would rarely pass by the neighborhood. Joggers and bikers enjoys a wide variety of infrastructure made for public use such as benches and bridges. With concrete roads and biking paths, the Olympic Village was the perfect place for the professional athlete. The place was magical, easily sustainable with the help with of the Skytrain and its Waterfront stop. It has an attractive quality to it too. The cleanness of the place as well as both its artificial and natural sites engaged with its residents and tourists.
I thought that MakerLabs would be the center of attention and right at the center of downtown. However, it was quite unexpected to see the lab to be near factories. Though there the MakerLabs felt out of place, a few moments of thought fixed me. I quickly found out why I shouldn't question the placement of the buildings in Vancouver. The reason was urban planning, which help place buildings in their respectable place. For example, nobody would want a factory in the middle of downtown, nor do people want to live in a house surrounded by factories. The MakerLabs was surprisingly close to Chinatown, making it an ideal place for people to go to when they need to work on a project.
In the lab we created a variety of objects using their laser cutter and wood. Despite the lack of knowledge we had on their tech stuff and computer applications, we were able to create some fancy laser-cutted pieces and then a very plain box with nails protruding out on its edges.
We walked through the Olympic Village with Tina and Debrah today. They are the planners for Olympic Village. We waited for them in a public place, in the park they have 2 giant sparrows. They also told us that, during night time they put on a light show. Sadly, we were not able to see it. Then we walked by the seawall. The seawall is big, they can put a pedestrian lane and a bike lane. They have lots of public seating too, like chairs that spin, seat for you to look at the sky, and wield looking ones. I personally enjoy this place because I can walk along in peace and it is a great place to bike.
There were also buildings near the waterfront, but it is very expensive to rent it. There is also a park next to this place and inside there is a statue. The statue is made out of metal people. Another is a waterfall fountain, it is water going down a metal side. I think this is a great way to make kids drink water. While we continued walking down the park, I noticed that there is two different dog parks. One of them is for big dogs and the other is for small.
After the tour ended, we went to Maker Labs. It is a place where we can create anything we want, with the tools they provided. I learned how to use a laser cutter while I was there and with that we were able to make a small wooden figures. Our main goal there was to make a wooden box. This may not sound that hard, but it still took us about five hours to make it. After we finished the box, the screw were sticking out. So we had to cut them out with a hacksaw. In the end we finished what we came for.
Just like the previous days of our trip in Vancouver, we took the Skytrain to get to our destination, and for today’s agenda it is the Olympic Village. As we were shivering in the cold, windy weather waiting for the landscapers Debra and Tina to give us a tour around the Olympic Village and False Creek area, we continued to observe our surroundings in the open space area. When we first met Debra and Tina, they informed us about the background history of the formation of the area that we were standing on. Taken by its name, the Olympic Village was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics that was held in Vancouver. At that time, the city wanted to create a continuous seawall similar to the concept of Stanley Park, which is a public park that is surrounded by the Vancouver Harbour. This became what is known today as the Olympic Village, an open space area that is both pedestrian- and cyclist- friendly.
The small and narrow roads in the False Creek area were designated for pedestrians and bikers to travel across the park area. The visibility of the bike signs and continental crosswalks on the ground is high enough for people to see from far away distance and indicates where pedestrians should cross and where cyclists should bike. This design is called the “corner bulge,” where it minimizes four traffic lanes to two and thus decreases the crossing time for pedestrians, often with a pedestrian light activation. At the center of the Olympic Village, also knows as The Plaza, we saw a large open space area with many resting stations with tables and seating areas for people to stay in and enjoy the scenery of the park. A several sparrow figures are displayed throughout The Plaza as it adds extra visuals for the area. The parks in Olympic Village seems like a fairly quiet area for people to come and relax, although we didn’t really see much people in the area besides our own group.
Compared to the parks in San Francisco, Olympic Village seems to have a larger surface area, also welcoming bikers to spend their time with nature in the park. Instead, the parks in SF are more designated for families or groups of young ones to go explore. The parks that I see in SF usually have slides and swings that are designed for children to play on. Some larger parks in SF also have tennis and basketball courts, and this was something that I haven’t seen in Vancouver (yet?) from the places that we have explored so far. There are also parks in San Francisco that are designed for outdoor activities such as barbecue. I feel that the parks in the Vancouver Olympic Village are more quiet and peaceful, and that would attract more tourists, whereas the parks in San Francisco seem more as a location for family days or group bondings for many locals. Nonetheless, the parks in both cities are places where people spend their leisure time and have an opportunity to relax and breathe in some fresh air!
As we followed Debra and Tina on a tour around the Olympic Village and False Creek area, I found many interesting and unique features that make the area more aesthetic. Besides these well-designed visuals, we also passed through many rocks, islands, and even a small tunnel to reach the other side of False Creek, which is near the water. As we proceed, we see a structure that is constructed with metal pipelines where there’s water running through from the top and slightly slanting to the bottom. We learned from Debra and Tina that this is actually a type of stormwater management. Water is stored during rainy seasons and they will run through these pipelines occasionally. Besides this, I feel that the structure itself provides another for the area’s visitors. A similar concept can also be implemented in the open space areas not just only in San Francisco but also in other cities throughout California that are also experiencing the drought. San Francisco is actually a unique city because it has several water treatment plants throughout the city that stores our wastewater, one especially for rainy seasons. Moreover, adding more facilities that will serve both the purposes of water treatment and tourist attraction is a great way to benefit our city and utilize our open space areas. Overall, Olympic Village is a nice place to explore and can furthermore increase our knowledge on city planning and development. I think that it is an open space are designed for both tourists and locals, yet I feel it attracts more tourists.
While we were eating lunch at a local chinese restaurant owned by one of our friend’s uncle in Chinatown, we had a nice conversation about starting business in Vancouver. Then we headed to our next station on today’s agenda: Makers Lab! When we arrived at the location, we walked in the doors with a mixture of excitement and exhaustion. With the project that we had in mind, we listened carefully to the instructions for the machine usage provided by the staff in Makers Lab. Then we began working on our project first by drawing out our ideas on butcher papers and measuring wood pieces. We split ourselves into two groups working on different projects: a box that can also be opened up to be a platform as streets for pedestrian safety, and figures and signs that are relevant to promoting street safety. We hope to make good use of this time and opportunity that we have to produce something that is useful to our program and the community in the future.
As we were working on the box and drawing blueprints, we also walked back and forth from our working station to the laser cutter machine. The machine was something new to me and I was amazed with the work that it does with our wood pieces. We first saved our pictures and load them into the computer that is connected to the laser cutter. Then we searched for the wood pieces and the right thickness that we wanted to use as the material of our finished product. I find it fascinating that we were able to eyewitness the whole process of our designs being cut out by the machine. First, lines are drawn on the wood pieces into the designs that we have. Then the cutter comes along and cuts along the lines. Something interesting that I learned today is that you can actually fix or change the speed of how fast the machine cuts the wood pieces. You can choose to witness the laser cutter cutting the wood pieces at a slower pace so you can see each step it takes, or you can speed it up as if you are fast forwarding a DVD movie. After numerous hours of working in a dusty wood environment, we have yet to finish all the pieces of our project but at least completed most of it due to time limitation. I think that this was a very great and eye-opening experience for me to be able to see our ideas from scratch slowly being built from our hands into real three-dimensional objects and figures! If I have the opportunity to visit a Makers Lab again, I would want to make name plaques for myself and my friends and family with a several designs that represent us.
After spending a whole afternoon in the Makers Lab, we all felt tired and hungry. We later settled down to eat dinner at a fancy chinese restaurant. Before we end our day and go back home, we shopped around a local T&T Supermarket for snacks! This supermarket also brings me back memories since I used to shop in it a lot whenever I travel to Canada to visit my relatives. And now I feel glad and excited to revisit this supermarket again in three years! Here, I also found my favorite ramen noodle snack and as well as some Calbee chips (that I call chinese cheetos haha). Besides the snacks, another thing from the supermarket that also brought me delight was a strawberry cake dessert filled in a small doraemon cup. When I received this adorable cup, I was surprised and amazed by its appearance as I see it as an art piece. This present was a total surprise to me and it surely did made my day!
- Shirley Tsang
Our day started off with a cold, breezy wind at Olympic Village. We met with two landscape architects to learn about the history and designing process for the Olympic Village. We found out that Olympic Village used to be the area where Olympic athletes lived in. Now, it is a open space and residential area for locals. During the tour, I observed the surrounding. I noticed how there were many children playing with the mini water slide and climbing on the structures at the park in Olympic Village. This reminded me of Yerba Buena in San Francisco because Yerba Buena have a park where many kids do the same activities as the kids in Vancouver. Thus, I felt that the parks in Olympic Village as San Francisco.
After the tour ended, we went to MakerLabs to make a box with figurines that was relevant to pedestrian safety. We wanted to create something that can help people understand our presentations relating to the by using visuals. One thing that I learned from MakerLabs was that a laser cutter doesn’t take a short period of time to cut a piece of wood. If I revisit MakerLabs in the future, I would want to make a 3D sculpture of a mustache because mustaches are gorgeous.
Olympic Village, the look and the atmosphere of it just has a similar feeling to San Francisco’s Mission Bay. It has a professional sports field nearby, expensive condominiums, waterfront walk and view, and close-by transit. When I walked along its waterfront, I looked around and notice that all of these features will most likely rise land value to a very, very high cost. From that assumption, I may assume that people of the higher tax bracket are taking up residence in this area.
Anyways, the most important thing about this area that may be applicable to San Francisco is its waterfront open space. They have an array of different seating, structures, and greenery that adds to the atmosphere more than takes away. For example, the spinning chair, the rigid sunbathing chair, and a pseudo roof that makes you feel like you’re at home and the variety of flowers makes you just feel at peace while listening to the waves of the water. I feel like this should be installed in more areas along SF’s waterfront to make it a more comfortable and zen area instead of one feeling like a commercial area.
The most iconic thing about the Olympic Village, to me, was its public art. When we walked around the village, we saw a combination of public art that is built into the area instead of just standing out on its own. For example, in the neighborhood’s plaza, there were two giant sparrows. They provided much needed shade on a hot summer day. This shows that art can also be used for typical usages instead of just being for show.
After Olympic Village, we went to Vancouver’s MakerLabs that was still in its pre-opening which was cool to see because we were able to see that there is a lot of people already interested in it even though it wasn’t even open yet. Personally, I really enjoyed this stop because I love making things, especially with cool tech things like the laser cutter they had. Even though we made the most simplest thing ever, a box, we still had the time of our life walking around the workshop, making our design on the computer, and learning how to use the laser cutter. I hope to actually attend the MakerLabs in San Francisco one day and make more things to give to my friends and family.
Today we headed out for the place where competitive people from all around the world came to run and play sports, the Olympic Village. The village is surrounded by three parks, a body of water and a cool looking science building.
From the looks of it after entering, it seems to be full of locals. I'm impressed that a place designed to attract the world is now the place where locals come daily. Due to the high amount of greens, construction of a community center and many interactive things to do at the village makes the whole village very welcoming.
On our walk there were perfectly planted trees to provide natural shade on the big spaced pedestrian walking area. Also there could be no sound of a car engine nearby, which was really sweet. The community center had open restrooms so you could basically hangout at the village the whole day. Then there were these chairs around the seawall and I sat on them really fast to realize I spun myself. I continued to distract myself by having David Trang spin me like crazy and then I concluded that this place is awesome.
Majority of the people around the village are located near the Sparrow park. I wondered why and asked a senior couple, who were local, why they chose this park out of the other three to rest and they replied with the park being more populated and you could see more people especially kids.
My final remarks of Olympic Village is that it's like a smaller, and more peaceful Presidio.
After Olympic Village, we went to Vancouver's Makers Lab which turned out to not be open yet but we were special enough to have the chance to see the activeness of the place already. Everyone in the Makers Lab gave me a hardworking and creative vibe. I was designing wooden figurines and learned that adding too many detail in a art piece could prolong the process of laser cutting to an extra hour. In the end, it was awesome to see our art work come to life as wooden objects. Next time, I'd like to use the 3d printer with designs already made.
-Andrew( Liang Fu) Wu
Waking up to our first morning in Vancouver, it was nice and refreshing to actually sleep and wake up in a room that had an bearable temperature, good ventilation and a comfortable mattress. So first things off, our first stop of the day was to going to the Carrall Street Greenway which was close to Vancouver’s Chinatown for a tour provided by one of the people who actually worked on it in its early stages. His name is David Yurkovish. He provided an excellent tour and great insight of the planning of the greenway.
The Carrall Street Greenway felt to be a great inspiration for street planning that takes in the consideration of all users of the street, pedestrians, drivers, and bikers. I also believe that the design of it is also the most aesthetically pleasing street that I have seen on the trip. Although the design and infrastructure of the greenway provides equal amount of safety for all users, the problem I found with the greenway was that is very dependent on the way the streets are used in that area. For example if the street is crowded and high populated by only pedestrians and vehicles like Stockton St. in SF, it may pose the problems of having highly congested street and overcrowded sidewalks. The Greenway design can be best implemented in San Francisco Chinatown’s Grant Ave because of its small street size and it high pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.
Anyways, going along with our day, we went on a Chinatown tour provided by the “Tour Guys.” It was a very insightful tours of the history and culture of Vancouver’s Chinatown with a seemingly strong theme on “Old vs. New, but I found that the tour wasn’t about conflicting differences between the times. It was more about how the changes in the city and the country shaped and how the neighborhood changed. It was about how the city rising anti-Asian sentiment brought the rise and fall of gates of Shanghai Alleyway. It brought a stronger pan-Asian identity with Chinese joining forces with Japanese. This is what I felt helped shaped the neighborhood and with our own Chinatown, I feel like with similar forces against it helped shaped it too.
Next stop for the day was meeting was with two planners who worked in the city, Helen and Wesley. They provided us a presentation on their plan to revitalize Chinatown and its economy called the “Chinatown Neighbourhood [Ooh notice the “u” in neighbourhood. We are for sure in a foreign country.] Plan & Economic Revitalization Strategy.” It seems too early for me to say anything about the plan, but I feels like it has a lot of potential. The daunting thing about the plan to me is the possible result of gentrification to the community, but I might be assuming too much because of me living in San Francisco where gentrification is at a high.
After that, we went to an upcoming youth group in the Chinatown neighbourhood in a little bakery restaurant. It was nice to seeing a local’s own perspective of about current standing of Chinatown. During the meal, I think we gave as much of our own knowledge of how youth groups work, so it all we can do for you now is just hope you guys can do the rest.
Today we met David, he was one of the project designer. He helped with the greenway system, a system that will help make the streets safer. He also talked about the water collection. It looks like a drain, but it is near trees and bushes. But people tend to kick dirt and small rocks into these drains, so it is not functioning as efficient. They are planning to remove the things that clog up the drains, as soon as possible.
Then we rushed to a tour given by "Tour Guys". Even though we tried to get there as quick as possible, we were still late. When we caught up to tour, I was surprised. There were at least 30 people in the tour. In the tour we talked about the Shanghai Alleyway, an alleyway where many of the Chinese were living. When the American started losing their jobs, they blamed the Chinese. One day, they decided to attacked this alleyway. This fight was very uncalled for, so the Chinese lost. But, this was not enough for the American. They started to head toward the Japanese for another attack. This time the Japanese were informed, so they were armed with rocks and sticks. But, this is still no match for guns. Then they talked about the buildings in Chinatown and how they avoided the hight tax. In order for the government to tax a building each floor have to be 7 feet or higher. So many of them built their floors 6 feet high. At the end of the the tour, they told us that their favorite place to end their tour is Sun Yat Sen Garden. It is a very nice garden!
After our tour we went to a cafe, there we met Doris. She told us about why they wanted to start a youth program and how they are going to start.They told us that they are going to play mahjong with the seniors. To start getting people to notice their program. After they told us what they want to do, we shared our tips with them. Then, the day ended just like that.
An early start to a busy day, this is perhaps the most compact day of our trip.
“Rise and shine everyone, we’re leaving the house at 9:00 for Dim Sum!.” Okay, that actually didn’t happen but it sure was supposed to. Everyone woke up late and we ended up just cooking noodles at the house for breakfast. Looking back, I’m sure that Dim Sum would have kept us much more awake and trust me, we needed that energy.
We rushed to our first stop, the Carrall Street Greenway immediately after breakfast. The greenway system is an eco-friendly street project built along various streets throughout the Vancouver area. The greenway was built in hopes of maintaining pedestrian safety, creating open and flexible spaces, and balancing the streets for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers. Anyway, we met with David, one of the greenway project designers. Under our time constraint, he provided a short tour for us and I have two major takeaways. First are the huge, separated bike lanes that I dream for in San Francisco(sadly, this might be a bit hard to implement in SF..). Second is the water collection system built along the greenways. This was a great idea in theory, but negligence and improper maintenance eventually led to it’s downfall. Sadly, the water collection system no longer functions.
The rush continued. We made our way towards Downtown Eastside to catch a tour from “Tour Guys”, and we caught them—just a bit late. The tour group was extremely huge, nearing 30-40 people at the end of the tour and there was only on tour guide. For such an enormous group, I must say that she did a fantastic job. The tour, as an overview was a walk from Downtown Eastside to Dr.Sun Yat Sen Garden(near the end of Chinatown). The supposed theme was old v.s. new Chinatown, but I also feel that racism is an essential theme. Our tour guide covered mainly the infrastructure and development of Chinatown, but what really struck me was her story of the Shanghai Alley. Shanghai Alley—a tiny alleyway that was once home to one thousand chinese residents. Everything was fine and dandy but in the beginning of the 20th century, anti-Asian acts started occurring. Jobs were obscure, and Asians were the first ones to be blamed. An anti-Asian group decided to raid and demolish the buildings of Shanghai Alley. Unfortunately, the residents were not ready for such a large-scale attack. There was resistance, but it’s hard to resist to firepower. That wasn’t enough for them. They went on to raid Japantown, and this time the Japanese were aware of the attack. They resisted the attack, and though they were unsuccessful, it is significant to that they banded together to preserve and protect their community.
Anyway, if anyone from “Tour Guys” is reading our blogs, thanks for giving us the amazing tour!
We headed back to Downtown Eastside to meet with two planners, Helen and Wesley. They presented to us their plan to revive Vancouver’s Chinatown, the “Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan & Economic Revitalization Strategy”. All the data and statistics are there, but it seems that the plan itself is still in brainstorming stage. I’m not going to go too in depth about the plan, but it’s a great start. There’s a long way to go, but the people that I met with today seem dedicated enough to make it happen. I wish good luck to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown!
The last stop of our trip was Gold Stone Bakery, where we met Doris and her soon to be(hopefully) youth organization. I have already shared most of my tips and personal experiences with them, so all I can offer now is my hopes and blessings towards the success of their youth group and of the revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Btw, I gave up on the Mcdonald’s count. Not that I lost count, it’s just—been a while…
Today is a good day, we are all heading out to see Vancouver Chinatown!
We got up early and went out quick to take the sky train then expo line to Chinatown and meet up with David Yurkovich who is a city landscaper that designed Carrall street. We got to the Carrall and Keefer intersection early and decided to freely investigate the area as we waited for him. I noticed that the streets are very green, bikers have a very protected lane thanks to bollards, and pedestrians can walk freely alongside them or rest while waiting for the light to change(Image below shows Lisa resting on the pedestrian seats).
Then David Yurkovich showed up and gave us a very brief tour about the design for the bike lanes. It was simple, he designed for protected bike lanes while keeping everything green and resourceful by having rain water drain into the trees providing natural shade for the bike lanes. The only problem was management as all drainage holes seems to be filled up by dirt or trash.
After that we went to see hop-in tour of Chinatown for free. During that tour I learned that the history of this Chinatown is very similar to ours as there was a lot of sojourners, miners, and haters. Many people came for labor on the Canadian Pacific Railroad and once that was done, the Canadian government wanted to keep the Chinese out with sedition laws. Besides the government going against Chinese Canadians, White Canadians also disliked them and destroyed Shang Hai alleyway which was the heart of Chinatown back in the days. Very similar to the story of Chinese immigrants in America to mine and build while suffering to Irish riots.
After the tour we went to see the city planners in charge of Chinatown district, Wesley and Helen. We learned about the situation of Chinatown and it's intense gentrification by large business. They showed us a map of the areas of Chinatown planned for demolishing and there were like eight or more areas being destroyed in the future for housing buildings. Then we learned about apartment complex owners changing the name of Chinatown's district to a different name to sell to other newcomers.
If I were to make a project to save Vancouver Chinatown, I would convince the Chinese restaurants scattered around the city to move into Chinatown instead. This would make Chinese food exclusive to Chinatown only, allowing economy to grow thanks to tourism.
Finally we see Doris, a youth from Chinatown. From her, we learned that most of the decisions made or seen by the community of Chinatown are from the seniors. They also tried inter-generational activities but struggled to get the youths to participate. My advice for Doris's struggle is do grants to rent a building and rename it to "youth center" where there are sofas and computers that also serve as a to hold meetings and do activities with seniors. Then have the youths plan with guidance of an adult to do activities with seniors. We continued to exchange informational and I asked about Chinatown's Night Market and was sad to hear it was no longer going to happen due to a redevelopment causing no power to the public at night. I was so bummed out because I saw pictures of it on google and it looked like a Hong Kong night market. Ugh.
This concludes this day's blog entry.
Trivia: The restaurant Dinesty has some very pushy and aggressive people.
-Andrew(Liang Fu) Wu