Urban Utopia

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Jay Valgora enjoys designing on the edge—of urban environments that is. As founder and principal of Studio V Architecture, a firm that specializes in unique urban and public design projects, he asserts that by bringing together different retail uses via innovative design, underutilized spaces on the outskirts of cities once again can become vibrant and even sustainable markets.

During his session “Designing at the Edge: Innovative Retail Environments at the Industrial Edges of Cities” on March 29 at Globalshop 2011, Valgora shared several projects that Studio V currently is working on. “Big box retail can be misaligned with urban environments and some of the few markets that aren’t open to them, but these spaces provide an area for big box and other stores to live,” he says.

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One prime example Valgora shared was the Niagara Falls Downtown and CN Rail Site project in Niagara Falls that plans for a unique outlet retail village on the site of an old train junction. Comprised of a series of liner buildings, amenities will include a hockey arena, indoor ski facility, commercial buildings, and surface parking. Buildings will be mostly one-story and incorporate green roofs or solar panels, all knit into the surrounding fabric along a new rail line. An existing a one-story transit customs house will be incorporated into the design as a restaurant.

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Furthermore, Studio V is collaborating with city and rail leaders on transforming a downtown abandoned railway bridge into a foundation for a conference center, with a museum and 27-story hotel attached on the mainland. The project will rest on both American and Canadian soil, with main road access from Canada and pedestrian access from both.

–Stacy Straczynski

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