The eggshell yellow surfaces on the exterior of The Berkley tower at the prominent corner of Davie Street and Denman Street in downtown Vancouver’s West End will become a giant canvas for new murals by renowned local artist Douglas Coupland.
This public art will be applied onto all four sides of the 16-storey tower as part of its extensive renovations, and in the process it will turn the building — given its location on the English Bay waterfront — into a striking landmark.
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Coupland’s mural design is described as a “distinctive combination of colourful geometric patterns that are at once old-fashioned yet futuristic,” creating a “jewel box.”
The colours and shapes are inspired by his travels, especially the tilings of buildings in Spain’s coastal cities.
“Vancouver is a young city and there are many future opportunities to define what it becomes,” said Coupland in a statement.
“The overall effect of this public artwork will be as an anchor point of where the city meets the ocean, and it will make a person feel like they are at the heart of something. The building will redefine English Bay’s skyline and become a mandatory tourist stop for photos. I want people to daydream about living at The Berkeley.”
The mural also serves to compliment the iconic laughing men statues (“A-maze-ing Laughter”) across the street, providing them with a colourful backdrop.
Coupland’s design has already been approved by the municipal government. Painting is expected to start in June, pending issuance of a permit and public notification.
Jon Stovell, the president and CEO of Reliance Properties, says the mural was not a requirement of the municipal government, but they wanted to enhance the visual prominence of the building.
The developer acquired the 1958-built, 58-unit rental building at 1770 Davie Street in 2016 for $43 million. Renovations on the tower began in 2019, targeting extensive improvements to the building envelope, life-safety equipment, and energy systems.
Previous tenants were provided with an assistance package to leave the building, and they have the first right of refusal to return at market rents, based on the provincial government’s rules. Pre-leasing of The Berkeley will begin in January 2021.
There are three other tower-sized murals in the city, including the 416-ft-tall “Finger Paint” on a slither of a side of The Charleson at 499 Pacific Street, the 15-storey “The Evening” on the south side of The Duke at 333 East 11th Avenue, and Shepard Fairey’s 20-storey “Earth Justice” on the western side of the 1030 West Georgia Street office tower.