By the end of this month, an under-utilized public plaza in downtown Vancouver will receive a makeover that helps activate the space.
The six concrete cylinder columns of Cathedral Square — the northeast corner of the intersection of Dunsmuir Street and Richards Street, just across from Holy Rosary Cathedral — will be used as a blank canvas for First Nations-themed murals.
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The installation is organized by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and the Vancouver Mural Festival, and the design is a collaboration between Musqueam artist Debra Sparrow, Squamish chief Janice George, and the Tsleil-Waututh’s Angela George. This is deemed as the first large-scale public art collaboration between weaving artists.
Blanketing the City is the fourth installation of a First Nations mural series started by Sparrow. Past works were applied to the two pillars of the Granville Street Bridge below Granville Island and the southern facade of the former Biltmore Hotel at 395 Kingsway, now used as supportive housing.
Installation work is scheduled to begin on May 15 for completion before the end of the month. An official unveiling ceremony is tentatively scheduled for late June.
Cathedral Square was completed in 1986, just in time for the World’s Fair, as a component of a major BC Hydro underground substation on the site.
Just north of the reflecting pool and fountain, the pillars support a canopy structure over a paved, terraced area with seating. The canopy previously had protective glass for inclement weather protection, but it was removed due to upkeep costs.