Friday 2 December 2016

Further Concerns about the East Tower, River Landing, Saskatoon


Concerns continue to be raised about the proposed design of the East Tower at River Landing in Saskatoon (River Landing Proposal = Bird Hazard).

Richard Huziak, a member of the Saskatchewan Light Pollution Abatement Committee (Royal Astronomical Society) and the Northeast Swale Watchers, shared the letter he sent to the Meewasin Valley Authority. Outlined below are portions of his submission.

Bird Collisions
What measures have been taken to avoid bird collisions since there seems to be no design features that would break the solid reflective appearance of the building window facings? Collisions are a daily and nightly ongoing concern where possibly hundreds of birds may die per building per year and peak during spring and fall migration seasons.

Is there any part of the design where bird-visible window glazings are used or other anti-collision features incorporated?

With uni-body glass designs, buildings simply blend reflectively into the background sky though lack of visual relief. Being in the Central and Mississippi Flyways and being adjacent to the water, bird-friendly design must be considered.

Glare: Since the building is all glass, and from the architect’s rendition, all inside lights will shine out unabated, unless interior lighting fixtures are shielded from shining outward. Has the visual impact of the huge glass profile been considered for the effect of the view from the riverbank and residences across the river? The large area of windows had the potential of being a “glare-bomb” if all lights are on and there are no louver systems to direct the light downward instead of outward.

Crime Prevention: Although parroting a very poorly written outdoor lighting requirement of the South Downtown plan, lighting is expected to "reduce crime" and this implies that outdoor lighting could be over-bright.

Light does not prevent or reduce crime. To reduce crime the plan should include the installation of video surveillance cameras, since plaza streetlights do not testify in court. If CPTED features are to be designed in, do not rely on lighting – use line-of-site visibility and surveillance recommendations. 

Dark-Sky Compliant: Lighting should be of “regular” downtown brightness suitable for the specific purpose, and not more. Lighting fixtures should be full cut-off shielded design and directed down to the ground, including all pole, accent and decorative lighting. Up-lighting of monuments or side-facing spotlighting and wall-pack lighting should be avoided since all lighting applications can be accomplished with full-shielded, down-facing lighting if good design practices are adhered to, and this is doubly important because all of the glass facings are highly prone to adding unwanted reflections.

The design shows a shadowing plan for surrounding buildings (page 15) but does not provide a "forward reflectance" plan. This is especially important because some faces of the building are slanted downward (“canted facades”), so the concentration of sunlight on nearby paved areas and sidewalks during the hottest of summer days (and when the sun is highest in the sky) will be additive through about a 70% solar grazing reflection, raising the local sidewalk temperatures by some significant number of degrees. The reflection power will be about 800 watts/m2, so it is possible that a 10- to 15-degree rise in local temperatures in front of the building will occur.

With a paddling pool and adjacent plaza, the added window reflections might cause the possibility of uncomfortably high temperatures in the area. (In the future, this area is nestled between three glass building walls.) In addition, huge forward-facing reflections will follow the sun throughout the day.

What is the impact of these reflections on surrounding properties, such as the glass entranceway of Persephone Theatre or glass-faced Art Gallery overhang and other downtown buildings even if mullion caps are used?

Smallest of Three
Rick Huziak concludes his letter by saying, “Please note that the current application refers only to the smallest of the three building in the grouping, and both other buildings are much larger and will have much environmental impact.”

Speak Out
If you are concerned about the development plans at River Landing or in other locations around the city, speak out by contacting your City Councillor as well as the Meewasin Valley Authority Board.

Further Information
River Landing Proposal = Bird Hazard
The High Cost of Lighting up the Night