One of Vancouver’s largest public spaces in the heart of the city core will undergo a complete retrofit over the next eight months: Vancouver City Council has unanimously approved a $5.7-million contract to rebuild the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
For more than half a decade, the 4,800-square-metre (52,000-square-foot) plaza has been covered with a temporary bark mulch surface for special events and activities. But that will soon disappear, along with the fountain, to create a more attractive and flexible event-friendly space.
Local architectural firm Nick Milkovich Architects’ design for the revitalized public space blankets the plaza surface with a unique pattern of stone paving, such as granite, to provide the space with the appearance of a web of trapezoids. As well, the pink stone paving already found at Robson Square will also be extended along the sidewalk perimeters to establish a proper identity for the three-block-long courthouse and Art Gallery precinct.
The edge of the space, framed by city streets, will be lined with large bench seating and trees, but on the western end along Hornby Street the trees are densely lined to create a bosque. Additionally, a pavilion on the eastern end of the plaza facing Howe Street will double as both a covered bus stop and a location for food and beverage services to set-up during events.
The new open and flexible space design enables events and festivals to use the plaza space in a more optimal and efficient manner. To support the plaza’s role as a venue for public functions, there will be power connections at several locations, tall light poles on either side of the plaza, and moveable seating within the core space.
City councillors followed staff recommendations with choosing Jacob Bros. Construction Inc. as the contractor of the project. With bids ranging up to $7.5 million, the Surrey-based firm offered the lowest bid.
Construction is scheduled to begin later this month for a completion in February 2017, just in time for Lunar Fest Vancouver, which has been held annually at the plaza since the Olympics.