The Hubbub Around Huburbs

Author: Jake Tobin Garrett

They didn’t really look like much. The four Google Earth images projected up onto the screen showed low-density, sprawling suburbanism in all its horizontal glory. But they also represented four locations out of 51 that Metrolinx has designated to become “mobility hubs” in The Big Move, the agency’s ambitious transit plan for the GTA.

Richard Sommer, dean of the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, was showing the images to introduce Huburbs, a symposium on mobility hubs put on by the school and sponsored by Metrolinx this past weekend. “The challenge,” he said, motioning to the screen, “is to take these strange Petri dishes and turn them into a live organism.” (For those of you who haven’t heard Richard Sommer speak before, the experience is like having a vial of masculinity poured directly into your ear. His voice is deep and rich, the kind of voice that makes you want to grow a beard and then maybe build something. But alas, he was not at the forefront of this symposium and merely there to frame the day’s discussion.)

For the next eight hours, we were going to hear international and Canadian speakers discuss the economics, politics, and design involved in creating efficient, sustainable mobility hubs, while also creating vibrant places of community.

But we can already here you asking: what is a mobility hub and, more importantly, what is a huburb?

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