River District

Location: Vancouver, Canada
Project Categories: UrbanismCodes
Year Started: 2005
Status: planned
Size: 129 acres

The River District plan brings together the design principles of traditional neighborhood development with taller buildings, ‘green’ building principles and environmentally sustainable strategies. Incorporating a balance of innovative urban housing forms with a complete commercial town center, East Fraserlands will be a vibrant addition to the City of Vancouver. Covering 130 acres, it includes 7000 homes, shops, restaurant, schools, daycares, parks, and a community center.

Situated about 10km southeast from downtown, the site housed a sawmill for nearly a century. However, the operations were discontinued, and the existing mill buildings were dismantled. The site has since been undergoing remediation, and is now one of the largest undeveloped waterfront sites within the City.

Watch the video above to relive our East Fraserlands/River District Charrette with us, and learn about the DPZ Charrette process from one of our valued clients.

DPZ created five different plan options for the site, each of which would divide the site into three distinct neighborhoods, comprising a town center and two sub-neighborhoods. All plans followed the local policy statement targets, which urged environmentally-friendly and innovative development. In all five plans, the neighborhoods were defined by two significant and generous north-south ecological greenways, running the entire width of the site. In addition, a smaller sequence of green spaces and pedestrian mews connect the neighborhood centers to one another. Each neighborhood has been designed with equal consideration given to its urban fabric and public realm, with specific sites and open spaces reserved for their civic and public functions.

Each plan option aims to accentuate and maximize public views of the water and the parks, as well as offer a range of recreational opportunities within the parks and open space system. A continuous, publicly accessible pedestrian path lines the site’s entire river edge, and both the west and east neighborhoods will have multiple vehicular, bike and pedestrian connections to their immediate neighbors. Block sizes within the neighborhoods reference the typical Vancouver block size, all of which are further defined by expansive views of the river.

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