What, in any city, is the most important public space?
Why, the street, of course. Streets comprise the largest percentage of a city jointly owned and occupied by its citizens. No streets, no city.
So the layout is critical: the surveyor, or whoever first lays out the connected system of arterials, determines how every generation thereafter will function in the city. No other urban designer will be as influential in creating a mental map and sense of place.
North American cities, particularly those beyond the initial east-coast settlements seemingly laid out in random patterns, are usually gridded. The first street will be parallel to the waterfront, with inland streets either parallel to the first or at perpendicular angles – until the coastline shifts. In our case, when Alexander Street meets Water Street, the road shifts at an acute angle, creating a triangular lot and an opportunity for a flatiron-style edifice.
Or Hastings at Burrard, where the slight…
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