Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Further to the Smart Growth Urban Design Charette of March 2009, we have initiated a blog on Urban Design in Yellowknife. You are hereby invited to participate online for its official launch on January 1, 2011, and get involved with a preview of the posts throughout the month of December

In January 2011, the blog will be publicly released. From that time forward during the following calendar year, the posts you can see today will be released gradually over the year, and we are asking you to provide monthly commentaries to generate the discussions we hope to accomplish. We truly wish with your help to hear from the community at large, and from them - through you - what seems to be significant to the people who call Yellowknife their home, in terms of how they read the urban environment they experience everyday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


JMB: More distinctive even than the 5km/hr lower posted speed limit in urban areas, snowmobile and all-terrain quads on the streets join float-planes and boats on the lakes to create an urban experience entirely unique to Yellowknife.

Moreover, the road system in Yellowknife is its greatest strength for urban design and stands to support one of the most successful urban form anywhere.
The urban network could be otherwise unremarkable for those who neither ride nor fly, with a hierarchy of roads typical of suburban cities, if it were not for the amazing choice given by lake-covered bedrock the city calls home, with ice surface in the winter and green shortcuts in the summer.

Pathways are usually a less efficient alternative to the vehicular network, but here in Yellowknife, lakes must be circumvented by roads, so lakeshore pathways in the summer, and iced lake surface in the winter, provide shortcuts for pedestrian and snowmobile alike.

In Old Town, the lake is part of the network to the point where even in the summer, it is the site of houseboats that sit off the shore.

Networks and the road system are the "seams" in the "urban fabric."

Yellowknife is a much different town whether you walk, ride, boat or fly, or whether you commute. All the same, Yellowknife is a pocket size metropolis, with one - just one - of everything. A divided urban arterial links downtown to the subdivision which it bisects with the Strip. On the other side of downtown, road access into Old Town is a winding delight of narrow one-way lakeshore access, which culminates with the bridge across the peninsula at the iconic Old Float Plane base.

The progression of the urban network in Yellowknife as it winds and weaves around the Lakes is perfectly suited to a well orchestrated experience of urban space. Views unfold at selected locations, while the pattern of urban districts is distinct and recognizable. The hierarchy of roads matches well both the change in urban texture and the sequencing of districts. And road design is significantly distinct to express a unique reference to each urban space.

If this really successful network were to be adequately supported with focal points and nodes, the experience of urban form in Yellowknife would be greatly enhanced to the point where blighted areas would be de-emphasized and given an incentive for revitalization.

Functional traditions in Yellowknife would also find numerous outlets as a result, through urban form, given the unique components of our northern lifestyle, the best example of which is currently the iconic buses that make the transit experience in this city.


JMB: Few towns are defined by Open Space like Yellowknife - possibly because of the stark contrast with its modern functional design.

Open Space in Yellowknife blends through the urban environment. The open space is made up of boreal vegetation - black spruce and aspen - the hilly bedrock of the canadian shield, and lakes everywhere. Yellowknife sits on the shores of Great Slave Lake, and five major lakes organize the city's footprint: Frame Lake, Jackfish Lake, Range Lake, Niven Lake and Long Lake. In addition, Kam Lake to the South defines the southern boundary.

The Tin Can hill area, as it is known sports a communication tower which can be seen, slender-like from just about all parts of the town. It sits on a bluff on the edge of marshy grounds that define the southern edge of suburban residential areas and the Con Mine site, and separates them from the shores of Great Slave Lake.

The interminable beauty of the wilderness creates a special experience of the urban place, which follows the climate, daylight and the seasons, even where it meets - as in this view - with the unforgiving utilitarianism of foreboding towers at the Con mine site.

While they can be called anything but beautiful, the towers and the mine site are a part of the meaning, history and culture of the town, as are the weather and the isolation.

In the winter, when the mercury drops well below -40C, the air takes on an indescribable quality - all is still, and the light plays off in pinks and blue through the frost from a sun that strays never too far, nor too long from the horizon.

From Old Town, the Canadian shield provides contrasting views as the weather changes, and urban developments terminate at the Niven Lake Subdivision.
This part of the open space marks the dividing line between Old Town which sits on the shores of a peninsula on Great Slave Lake, and the town which has developed around Frame Lake.

A rest stop on the outskirt of town gives the visitor a delightful view to Jackfish Lake. The lake shore and bedrock are all accessible in minutes from downtown via marked wilderness trails that wind up and down the bedrock.

This continuity with the wilderness brings everyone a sense of freedom known only to northern towns.

And in your backyard, the parking lot or on the pathways, count you will run into a fox and her brood, a bobcat, even sometimes a bear, maybe wolves in the distance, and ravens always and everywhere.


JMB:"Everything in its place, and a place for everything..." and every place buffered with open space. That is the credo behind districting.

And zoning - the creation of districts - is the common denominator of urban form in a modern town, where "live, work and play" merge a motto into a mission.

Each zone exhibits a pattern that speaks to the district where it belongs. Districting is largely responsible for texture and content of urban form - what is commonly referred to as the "urban fabric."

Institutional districts provide the community with distinctive buildings, urban amenities and features. A totem pole -bear, whale and eagle - stands in front of City hall.

The totem pole is the original tall structure, the first skyscraper. It is a symbol of community, of heritage and of a sedentary lifestyle. It is evidence that urbanization - as a human need for social gathering - predates the technologies of construction.

Social gathering translates into densification, which in turn causes a need for building and servicing and ultimately gives birth to civilization, literally the organization of social communities into cities.

Urban identity though calls for more than a generic vision, and districting cannot carry alone a community's expectation for urban form. What zoning starts in plan must be completed with strategies in the third dimension to provide a total experience of the urban place.

Located on the shores of Frame Lake and adjacent to City Hall and Federal buildings, the Heritage Northern Light Centre is an earth building fitted in the landscape typical of the architecture in Yellowknife's "Capital Area." Capital Area is the institutional sector in Yellowknife where downtown merges the Territorial, the Municipal and the Federal.

Capital Area stands at the heart of Yellowknife's existence, and expresses the necessity for city building to gather and coordinate.

One other institutional area in Yellowknife includes the Arena and the Swimming Pool, at the entrance to the core and the shores of Frame Lake, with the Hospital in the background, accessible from the Strip or by walking along the Lake.

The grouping of these institutional buildings creates an area of open space. They give as well the opportunity for some interest in the urban fabric. A more utilitarian building for the arena flanks the modernist design of the swimming pool with the hospital behind, set off against green open space in the background and built parking open space in the foreground.

The end result effectively punctuates and gives rhythm to the boulevard on the way between Downtown and the Strip.

Undoubtedly, there is an opportunity here for improved images of Yellowknife as a City in this strategic and key node in town - which would start with resolving the open space and by articulating the connection with Frame Lake and the pedestrian short cut to the Strip and downtown, so good design supports function.

Downtown Core
The office towers of the downtown core are consistent with the image of Yellowknife as a modern city. It complements the institutional and government service sector in and around Capital Area, for business in the North.
The downtown core is made up of high-rise office towers, low rise shopping malls, and apartment buildings, interspersed with some single detached buildings and mix-use lots, quite typical of a North American city. However, the immediacy of bedrock and boreal open space is altogether unique. Several design strategies could be implemented to emphasize and harmonize the contrast and juxtaposition. The weather plays a significant role in the enjoyment of city streets downtown. On clement days, long-rayed low-angled sunlight can enhance the experience. Downtown is moderately busy, and continues to be a centre of entertainment once traffic calms down past Yellowknife's "rush-minute." The combination of a modern city street with Northern Arctic parkas is only found here in Yellowknife. Life goes on double-digit below freezing, for all age groups and activity types. Other northern towns and metropoles around the Arctic Circle have their distinctive styles - and this is Yellowknife's. In this case, it's the lifestyle which gives us the clues to our identity within this frame of reference.

Could anything be done to our urban core to match the lifestyle more? And then, would we take more pride in keeping it in better condition, and prevent - both in the middle of downtown, and at the entrance to Old Town - blight and derelict buildings from conveying a strange message and urban experience, all the stranger when one sees the remarkable number of outstanding, unique and original private and public architecture around town?

Residential districts in Yellowknife are consistent with a Canadian town. The material, texture, form and context of this house are all congruent with a mature neighborhood. The gambrelled roof, natural wood siding, mature trees carefully preserved on site, living quarters and deck above the garage make this house the perfect accent at this T-intersection. It is consistent with single detached developments on either side which - if not exactly specific to Yellowknife - are typical of a Canadian neighborhood that fits perfectly this far north.

Once decried the social ghettos of the industrial revolution, zones - in industrial societies come of consumerist age- are simply too simplistic to resist.
It is easier to train the urban rat to race a square maze than to come up with better cheese. Cheaper too.
Zoning is a powerful determinant of urban form. It is ordered, repetitive and - most significantly - predictable.

Zoning alone has shortcomings. All urban design strategies affect the modern town. This snapshot of a manufactured residential neighborhood could be anywhere, North America. That is its purpose.

Commercial Districts - The Strip
The Strip in Yellowknife is a functional area that responds effectively to the needs of a consumer market place. Chain brand box stores articulate with strip malls. And it is adequately supplemented with convenience services, entertainment and professional buildings.

The area is tucked between Frame Lake to the East and residential neighborhoods to the West. The divided boulevard provides the necessary thoroughfare at an urban scale. This gives it great connectivity both at the pedestrian and the vehicular level. Little is needed to make it an attractive urban form, which could become a template applicable elsewhere in North America.

However, commercial malls today are undoubtedly areas in transition. While box stores and parking lots fit an economic rationale, box stores are not socially sustainable and parking lots are not environmentally sustainable.

The Strip is an American invention - unfortunately, American towns have turned their back on it, and it has been replaced with the Shopping Mall. The Strip once orchestrated culture and community and celebrated the automobile. It seems we feel social guilt and even shame from the automobile which becomes the ultimate scapegoat of the unsustainable lifestyle - even though we continue to impact urban space with big parking lots around the shopping malls, can't kick the commuting habit, and still lust after the biggest possible vehicles.

The Strip celebrated the automobile as personal private space in public areas and tarmac as the ultimate urban surface. The nostalgia for roller skates and mini-skirts, dinner trays and loud speakers hung from car windows, large animated electric billboards and back seat family planning does not exactly make for good design today. Still, one cannot but ponder at the inefficiency of commuting and parking, and how today little use is made in fact of the automobile as personal private space.

Personal transportation is far more sophisticated today than it ever has been. Baroque writers used to complain the fifty kilometres from Paris to Versailles were chock-a-block with palanquin chairs, from where they did absolutely everything - from creating literary and musical masterpieces, to eating, negotiating politics, even once giving birth - and in which they could be taken anywhere, indoors and outdoors. We since replaced human palanquin bearers, and draughthorses with rubber wheels, but not before first inventing train transportation and public transit.

The parking lot and commuting could soon be a thing of the past - and while commuting and parking makes way for information technology and docking, offices, commercial areas and multi-family residences could be significantly transformed. Automobiles today have everything: from heated seats to on-board computers, to viewing screens, trays, cup-holders, reclining seats, on-board communication and internet. They morph, and store and fold - and the new hybrid and electric vehicles spend no energy and no emission on idle. How incredibly useful and sustainably effective a stationary vehicle could be today. We could do so much from our vehicles before even driving them anywhere, if our social patterns and urban systems were adapted to do so.

Yellowknife could take a significant lead in this, our incentive being the weather, and the opportunity we already have with an outstanding urban network - after all if we fail to plan for the new demands of the world, we plan to fail for the demands of the new world, just as surely as if we trail the leading edge today we become the trailing edge tomorrow.

The industrial sector in Yellowknife is represented by the service industrial to the local and professional community, and to the aviation industry.
It can be made more pleasant with improved signage and adequate site standards. A long term vision may see the development of an upscale industrial park to substitute the current industrial subdivision. But the current subdivision responds to the needs for a service sector with additional impacts such as noise, truck traffic and yard storage. If it is maintained free from pollution and odours, it is an adequate urban form with an eye to the future.

Zoning and urban design
Urban design by zoning is predicated upon imposing design requirements that apply to each property. It is then assumed these will multiply to produce form.

The difficulty with this approach is two-fold. First, zoning implements minima - it cannot implement the ultimate vision of urban form. This only happens in planned units of development, and mass-produced new subdivisions - and it doesn't work well with infilling and retrofitting. It takes for all properties on a block to develop according to plan so as to produce the expected net positive result. Until that happens, the lack of uniform design standard on neighboring property is not met by uniform regulations. And subsequently, excellence in urban form is subjugated to the cyclical economics of urban renewal - which means it falls short and it falls behind.

That is most likely the major complaint registered with planning departments anywhere from residents who question why they should be subjected to increasingly exacting standards when run-down non-conforming properties next door drive down the neighborhood while they are themselves required to spend more than they were prepared to invest.

Second, good design is not just the quality of the development. It is development that orchestrates on a backbone of key design elements that take advantage of, draw meaning from and emphasize the experience of urban space.

This is accomplished by identifying urban corridors, places of assembly, strategic landscaping, vistas and focal points, and by concentrating urban revitalization accordingly. These can be defined further with theories and methods of urban design such as pattern language, elements of urban form, determinants of urban space, implements of urban forms, mental maps, and townscapes [1].

To the risk of overextending a metaphor into an analogy, if we look at districts as urban fabric and streets as seams, we need to tailor our towns to geography and landscape, fit them for the weather, outfit them for social activities, and make them stylish to express our urban identity.

The urban whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. So many neighborhoods in Europe and Asia have deteriorated for decades, even centuries - yet, the grand overall design provides an experience of the urban space at the human scale which is still unmatched in the modern town.

There is no doubt the quality of housing and the office environment is far superior in North America, and has become the worldwide standard for a modern lifestyle. Vitality and lifestyle in the urban space however does not compare, and American cities still need to come up with formulas which will open up the town to culture and community. It is the Indoor/Outdoor and the Private/Public dichotomies that are the two major stumbling blocks, and Yellowknife is no exception.

Yellowknife is a metropolis with an outstanding architectural stock, a strategic urban network and incomparable open space. American municipalities share the same mission to make the urban environment efficient and functional. But excellence in a city is the expression of a vision. And excellence of urban form will be met with guidance for urban design, and incentives for urban renewal at all levels of implementation so that it becomes the expression of a collective consciousness. Regulations are insufficient. And regulations alone might stifle, sterilize and paralyze.

Yellowknife has a unique opportunity as a modern metropolis: the vision for our community should express our northern identity, our tie to the landscape and our unique lifestyle.

[1] Footnote:
Pattern language (or linguistics of urban form): rhythm, accent, emphasis, punctuation, delineation and destination.

Elements of urban form: networks, built form, open space, urban furnishings.

Determinants of urban space: indoor/outdoor, private/public, collective/personal, social/cultural, function/form.

Implements of urban form: architecture, urbanism, landscaping, engineering, socio-economics, administration and politics.

Mental maps: focal points, nodes, paths, edges and districts.

Townscape: serial vision, place, content, function and tradition.

Friday, May 15, 2009


JMB: There is a unique quality to the air in Yellowknife. Especially when the air on the edge of dawn, and a heartbeat to noon, as in this drawing in January, freezes with glee below the mercury.

The town sits in a dish on the edge of the lake with a slow barren hill as a sentinel. A skirt of jack pine and sparse aspen punctuate the horizon.

Some sense the city's harsh modernity in the landscape, like towers that spur through the rock.

Still, it is an object of beauty.

From Jackfish Lake, the city's skyline peeks above the crest of the lakeshore for a softened view of the modern architecture. It harmonizes in this instance as a backdrop to the bedrock and waterline. It is important to realize how modern images of the city can in fact play off the wilderness all around.

The glow of Auroras over the winter northern landscape brands the experience of life in Yellowknife.

Many travel from far and wide for this spectacle that is a gift to the residents. This most complete view from the end of the Strip, is only equaled in the summer when the waters of Frame Lake mirror the city's skyline.

This other view of the city's skyline is enjoyed from the downtown residential core. It outlines the major destinations to downtown - office buildings and shopping centers - as well as the pedestrian jaunt over bedrock that can get you there.

From Old Town, the view of the skyline is restricted to a narrow field of view. And the topography again limits this view of the skyline which can only be seen from the Old Float Plane base, where it sets against the marina and the bay in the foreground, with the east end of downtown and adjacent residential neighborhoods tumbling down to the water's edge.

In this skyline view the Northwestel Tower, Scotia Center and Bellanca Building are still visible behind the YK center and flanked with the Coast Fraser Tower.

In the view from Old Town the variable late winter sky accentuates underexposure of the skyline, which only ever gets lit by the early summer sun from the east. This skyline extends to the north with the Niven Lake residential subdivisions and the crest of the bedrock as it carries off the shores of Great Slave Lake.

The Yellowknife skyline is made up of four principal high rises that can be seen from all viewpoints: the Bellanca Building, blue with a Canada sign; the twin Scotia Centre and Precambrian Building, white with vertical striped glazing and dark violet caps; and the Northwestel Tower, teal green with vertical striped windows and distinctive green Northwestel logo. They are the focal points that define Yellowknife's urban silhouette.

This hidden part of town is School Draw. The view from School Draw is to Great Slaves Lake. It is the end of the skyline.

Five more multi-storeyed structures come in and out of view to complete the skyline from four distinct viewpoints in the City.

Two viewpoints are located by the Strip, a third one directly south of downtown, and the fourth from Old Town.

As you move from these viewpoints, the skyline immediately disappears from view, to be replaced by the immediate architecture that makes the various urban textures. This is an important feature of Yellowknife and the abrupt transition from these vistas with open space in the foreground to the urban fabric of each urban district can be emphasized, all the more since it is well supported by an equivalent transition in the road network, from boulevard to street.

Yellowknife's skyline is one of its urban design strengths. As we can see in plan, the foreground to all viewpoints are lakeshore and open space bedrock which are not likely to be either modified or built up. Similarly, revitalization and urban growth downtown can only positively contribute to the existing stock of high rises that define the skyline, and ultimately the city, with dramatic contrast against the natural setting.

The only element that will either detract or compliment this experience of the urban place is the texture of each district where these four strategic view points are located, and the progression in urban form from one view point to the next.

This is significant since it suggests that one strategy for improving and sustaining urban form in Yellowknife is to target the textural quality immediately adjacent to these viewpoints, with the quality of focal or nodal elements at or near these viewpoints, and how edges and networks connect these nodes and focal points. This in turn limits urban design interventions to these targets, with less attention needed for other areas.

These last views of the skyline are quite unique to Yellowknife but belong to the ice road, from Dettah and the houseboat marina. They show the Con mine towers lights and the Tin Can Hill Communication towner. At the other end, North of Downtown, street lights on 50th avenue link Franklin and Old Town.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


JMB: Old Town is individualistic, close-knit, unapologetic. That is where fish is sold, where house-boats sit on ice, and where pedestrians, cars and cross-country skiers alike borrow the frozen lake, until the bustle of long summer days.

Old Town is more than quaint: it is a legacy, a lifestyle, history and a tradition.

Boats in their frozen slumber still hibernate.

Meanwhile, the marina thawes ever so slowly.

Old Town docks to downtown. A floatplane and a boat come handy with the second car, a the attached garage. You can't simply buy into it: you must learn and grow with it, and as you free yourself from urbanized ties and civilization, the city becomes one more playground, a home close to home.

Unique architecture, lakes, bedrock and boreal vegetation are hallmarks of this winter city. Old Town takes the lead and examplifies it the most. It is difficult to single out any one building for its exentricity. This set of houses, stacked as it seems, clinging to the rock, will serve as some of the best examples.

The intricate gambrel of the upper roof delineates the simple line of the lower building. Modern lines, impeccable architecture, whimsy and orchestrated geometry play with the vertical expanse of the bedrock. A roof-top greenhouse confirms by the certainty of its design that nothing is left to chance, and that artistry is meant as a vehicle of congruity.

Old Town takes your breath away gradually. One-way traffic divides to the right, loops back to the left and climbs up the middle. The balance between the rocky promontory and this crafted residence provides bold yet delicate entrance images. The urban design is so significant that title to this house is nothing short of art ownership.

On the other side by the bridge, the transition from peninsula to islet at the old float plane base is the site of a remarkably unusual apartment building. Ship-like and like a wharf anchored to bedrock, it even sports upper living quarters in what at first looks like exagerated roof-top-units. It is not to everyone's taste. Nonetheless it is undoubtedly unique and in keeping with the rest of Old Town's one-of-kind architecture.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


JMB: Franklin Avenue, also known as 50th Avenue is the main axis in Yellowknife, from the entrance into downtown to where downtown ends by the lake as it turns into Old Town.

The first design elements at the entrance of town are symptomatic of the urban experience in Yellowknife. The diffuse urban context suddenly tightens. Residential images tumble to a stop at a church and a school around a bend in the boulevard.

Modern buildings and office towers are thrown at you, and the only reprieve comes from traffic lights and pedestrian crossings that give you a chance to absorb it all as they slow you down.

Mildred Hall Elementary School is a very modern building with unique - almost unusual architectural quality. It is fronted with a turn of last century log cabin.

The contrast in texture between the two is blended with bedrock that juts out of somewhat grassy, somewhat muddy ground. It is all enclosed with a jumble of chainlink fencing, distinctive light fixture and overhead power lines hanging off thick timber posts. There is a unique sense of pride, ambition and incompletion.

A finer and more detailed analysis reveals that Yellowknife's unique and bold choice of character and avant-garde architecture is undermined by the usual ills of the North American city: namely the grid, the back-alley and a lack of compact urban form, as the latter grew into a city from the former.

Outstanding architecture gets somewhat lost in the middle of holes in the urban fabric. And even with the utmost care and tidiness, the back-alley stays utilitarian before it becomes functional, and continuously competes against efforts to bring upscale quality to the front street.

In our modern towns the street - and ultimately the urban space - is not a social space. It is instead limited to being a functional thoroughfare for pedestrian and vehicles. Social activities are kept indoors - except for few annual events that hardly convert urban places to a cultural environment. And conversely, social spaces such as malls do not substitute for urban spaces.

The situation is compounded in Canadian cities, and all the more in Yellowknife, because of the weather. Yet, adequate urban design can make the urban space a center for social life, even in a winter city. Winter conditions actually foster the need for urban form at the pedestrian and human scale. But it is evident that our urban environments are not designed for the weather.

The grid is a winning formula for urban form at the small town scale - neat, tidy, orderly and business-like in a tendered hinterland. The challenge of the grid in the town that turns into a city, is that an investment in a town's architectural stock gets lost in the grid.
It requires for the whole grid to be re-developed for it to be revitalized. And as streets lengthen into avenues, the perspective becomes a set of lengthy corridors where buildings come in and out of focus as quickly as you go by them without hierarchy or anticipation.

In contrast, concentric cities from the nineteenth century in Europe require very little investment in their nodes for revitalization to be focused, immediate and successful. And these focal points continuously stand in the distance, no matter how far, and the more distant the more grand. Meanwhile, servicing is kept out of sight in the inner core of each city block.

Similarly, medieval walled cities in Asia, Europe or the Middle East provide a tight core which is a focus to the expanding metropolis they've become.

While the grid as a legacy from the Railway culture provides a unique and distinctive form at a smaller scale, it quickly exhausts itself in the modern metropolis. And because the grid is rectilinear, creating nodes will be more successful in providing punctuation and destinations than focal points.

To make matters worse, the geometry of the grid combine with the stack effect from tall building to effectively turn the street into a wind tunnel. The weather engulfs and augments from one end to the next, whirls at every crossing, while gusts slap down from above.

Similarly, the grid in Yellowknife makes it almost impossible to truly enjoy the remarkable architecture along Franklin Avenue. Instead, as it often happens in North American cities, the street becomes a long corridor, where run-down structures and utilitarian components such as communication towers compete with distinctive buildings.

That is truly unfortunate, since some significant buildings with bold and yet sensitive architecture punctuate the rythm and provide vital urban spaces. The Greenstone building depicted
here is the newest and most successful example.

Across the street however, blank run-down facades bereft of windows, with quasi boarded doors, shelter social tragedy as it finds harbour there since no-one else claims this key strech of the street. As such it pretty much sterilizes this unique urban space on the other side.

Nothing in this revitalized urban space provides relief from mother nature, so that this quite remarkable little urban square goes unused and stays empty. Additional design would capitalize on the positive social opportunities at the street level between the truly beautiful marriage between the Greenstone Building and the Northwestel Tower.

At the time of this writing though, a demolition permit is posted on the door of the derelict building (the Gallery), and the property is expected to be redeveloped with an office building. This will have a major impact on Franklin Avenue and downtown Yellowknife as a whole. The new building will combine with the new Greenstone building and the Northwestel tower across the street to create an major urban place in Yellowknife.

The linearity of Franklin Avenue notwithstanding, the sinuous weaving of 49th Avenue along Frame Lake's waterfront, to Capital Area and to one of Yellowknife's downtown gateway is another great opportunity for urban design in downtown Yellowknife.

By accentuating the street linkage between 49th and 50th avenues, a dynamic tension can be created to balance the entrance at Mildred School, the exit towards Old Town and the Gateway at Capital Area and the Explorer Hotel.

This dynamic tension can be used to orchestrate the reduction of blight, to guide meaning and accent with redevelopment and additions, and to complement existing social patterns downtown: school and family; business and office life; movie theater and coffee shop; lunch and drinks; malls and shopping; hotels, night-life and tourism.

As purposeful design melds function with tradition, meaningful urban form nurtures the rise of local culture from social events.

In this next view of Franklin Avenue, we see the remainder of the Avenue as it terminates at the other end of downtown from metropolitan to heritage cultural and the waterfront. The tight - albeit at times ragged - urban fabric of the downtown core dissolves just as suddenly as it had come together. It is an abrupt transition in land uses through urban edge and rural fringe without a design element taking a strong role either as a focal point or as a node.

From downtown though, the view is preserved as is the draw to Old Town. Pocket size metropolis with all three levels of government, headquarters for the Territory and gateway to the Arctic - Downtown may still ponder this connection to Old Town from umbilical chord to parade route.