January 24, 2019

Vancouver Art Gallery’s Newest Design, Newest Donor

I have been writing about the new Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) sporadically as new information comes up about the project. Everyone has an opinion on the design, the location, and how this building would connect with pedestrians at the ground level.

Five years ago Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were chosen to come up with a design for the new Vancouver Art Gallery to be located at 688 Cambie Street on land provided by the City on a 99 year lease.The original report to council in 2013 proposed a new art gallery that was double the size of the current gallery with 85,000 square feet of gallery space, with a cost of $350 million dollars in 2013. At that time the Federal and Provincial governments conditionally pledged 200 million dollars with the remaining 150 million dollars to be raised by private fundraising. That is a huge amount, and may be the largest sum raised privately in Canada.

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Thirty years ago the Public Art Program began at the City of Vancouver. It has supported local talent with  88% of civic commissions ,100% of neighbourhood grant projects and 75% of private development commissions being awarded to local artists.

One of the most talked about pieces of public art in Vancouver is Ken Lum’s large and recognizable “Van East Cross” located near 6th Avenue and Clark Drive. The Van East Cross was installed in 2010 and was part of the 2010 Winter Olympics Olympic and Paralympic Public Art Program, Mapping and Marking.

But one of the issues~and it has come up with the Van East Cross~what happens in a densifying city when a public art hallmark is going to be overshadowed?

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From our local correspondents Michael and Dianna:

Recently, in a break between rain squalls, Toronto transplant Himy Syed chalked an urban ‘labyrinth’, featuring our solar system.

With orbits looping across the pavers at the False Creek end of Manitoba Street, the elaborate chalk art includes a mysterious Kuiper Belt object thought to circle the sun, far beyond Pluto’s orbit.

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Singapore is hosting the annual i Light Marina Bay Festival which highlights sustainability in the country. This year the festival includes three 56 feet tall (that’s five storeys) sphere like globes, called “The Urchins”. The brainchild of Choi Shine Architects, these spheres have been hand crocheted and visitors are invited to interact with them.

The spheres move in the wind or by human touch, and are lit at night to cast shadows.  As My Modern Met observes these works “symbolize the beauty and diversity of nature” and use an old technology of string craft to provide a series of shadows and and light.

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This fall, we launched Price Talks, our new podcast series. Price Talks are conversations with past, current, and emerging leaders in urbanist thought across Vancouver and BC’s South Coast — in academia, advocacy, business, media, politics, and urban planning and development.

You can subscribe to Price Talks via Apple Podcasts, Google PlaySpotify or Stitcher – scroll down to see an episode listing and descriptions below.

We’re having fun with some fascinating guests, and we’ll close out 2018 with a dozen long-form conversations on the year’s top issues, and looking ahead to the new year.

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In this second part, Tim Davis takes a look at how Amsterdam priorizes pedestrians.  (I’ve left the emphases intact to capture some of Davis Speak.) 


For those who think that Amsterdam prioritizes cyclists over pedestrians, the *opposite* is true. In fact, the very center of Amsterdam is so dense (especially in summer, when these were taken) that NO ONE bikes.

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All the attention at the moment is on the TransLink wristbands, which for reasons beyond my comprehension seem to be crazy popular.  But it’s another example of how TL is upping their game, making small initiatives to improve the customer experience.  Like these:

Whenever a bus route had to make a diversion, TL would put up what looked like an illegal poster on the nearest pole.  If you could make out the hand-written scrawl, you might then figure out where to go, assuming you could figure out the date and time when the change was occurring.

Now there’s this:

A plasticized rain-proof sign, well-attached, with larger, clearer lettering, and headings that tell you what you need to know.  Obvious, I know, but a small change that makes a difference.

Here’s a sample of something that suggests the organization is getting more creative:


I don’t know whether this work by an Emily Carr student was commissioned for TL, or whether they just took advantage to mount this at the Chinatown/Stadium station:


Got my attention.



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