Vancouver Day-trip

March 12, 2010 at 12:18 am | In architecture, vancouver | Comments Off on Vancouver Day-trip

A daughter doesn’t turn 16 every year, so I made a special effort to get over to Vancouver to have lunch with E., who’s studying at UBC. She had enough time for a leisurely early lunch at Vij’s Rangoli, followed up by coffee and (birthday) cupcakes closer to UBC.

Then I hied myself as fast as I could to the Woodward’s. (Wikipedia entry here, commercial website here.)

The still-under-construction atrium showcases Vancouverism, an exhibition subtitled “Architecture builds the city” (till 3/27). I had to see that – and it was worth it.

But the real thrill was the atrium itself, which features a huge (seriously huge) back-lit photograph I initially took to be by Jeff Wall. It is, however, a “30 by 50 ft. piece by Vancouver artist Stan Douglas. named Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 depicting the Gastown riot in 1971 and completed in 2009″ (source).

I took some photos (also all in an album here, with the last 2 photos from an SFU student show at W2):

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This one is much the same, just framed a bit differently:

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I was completely underwhelmed by the historic facade left standing at the corners of W. Hastings and Abbott – I can see the point of keeping it, but the thoroughness with which everything else beyond the facade was erased really made me wonder how exactly the rationale behind keeping it worked.

The old facade is basically directly outside/ attached to the (new) commercial building that faces inward on this atrium (not visible in my photos). I couldn’t enter the new building, but presumably it’s of the same caliber and feel as the atrium. The old facade meanwhile is four or so stories of brick. Again: I’m not against saving it, but the contrast is a bit out of synch right now. There might still be some work that needs doing before the marriage between exterior facade and new innards appears consummated.

If you were to walk straight through to the doors below Douglas’s photo-mural, you would reach an open courtyard, which is flanked by the new SFU arts center on your left and a very funky, engaging-looking new condo tower on the right. Here are a couple of views of that courtyard and the new condo tower, which is rather breath-taking – if only because it’s so different from the usual clear-glass and steel condo construction in Vancouver. This one is openly …decorative, perhaps playful, and seemingly allusive. Very different.

Some final pictures.

First, the courtyard with a view of the exterior image of Douglas’s photo-mural:

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Next, the new building’s modern touch in meeting the podium and courtyard area, followed by a reveal of its decorative tower:

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Architect: Gregory Henriquez

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