Vancouver launches public consultation for its own version of NYC's High Line Park

Sep 9 2019, 12:26 pm

The City of Vancouver is seeking public feedback for the design of the Dunsmuir Connection, a 750-metre-long elevated walkway, cycling path, and public space in Northeast False Creek.

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This so-called Dunsmuir Connection (DC) is necessary to create a transitional bridge for the 15-metre elevation difference as a result of the escarpment between the core of the city centre and Northeast False Creek.

It will be a linear public park that begins as an elevated pathway at the location of the westernmost end of the Dunsmuir Viaduct at Beatty Street, then it gently transitions to ground level near the future redesigned intersection of Quebec Street and Pacific Boulevard.

Dunsmiur Connection

Preliminary Dunsmuir Connection concept. (City of Vancouver)

The municipal government has plans to demolish both the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts to make way for expanded park space, a new and improved public realm, ample housing, and new retail and restaurant spaces that create an entertainment district.

The initial public consultation — an online survey — seeks general feedback on the types amenities, importance of placemaking, and the connections and accessibility the DC should have to area points of interest, such as Rogers Arena, the seawall, and Science World.

The DC is intended to be an additional gateway into downtown and the Creekside Park extension, echoing elevated public space pathways such as New York City’s High Line Park and the Seoul Skygarden (Seoul 7017).

The NEFC project already has a relationship with High Line Park, as the concept for the overall Creekside Park extension was created in 2017 by James Corner — the same internationally-renowned landscape architect behind the linear public park in NYC.

New York City High Line Park

The High Line is a popular linear park built on the elevated train tracks above 10th Avenue in New York City. (Shutterstock)

Seoul 7017 skygarden

Seoullo 7017 Skygarden is an elevated linear park in central Seoul, South Korea. (Shutterstock)

Three segments for the DC have been identified by city staff, according to a city RFP document earlier this year that sought a contractor to help create conceptual designs.

A wider pathway is envisioned for the area near Rogers Arena, which requires more space given the crowds that can be expected for events held inside the stadium. This larger space may also be suitable for programmable gatherings and major public event celebrations.

This ‘Downtown segment’ will be integrated with Rogers Arena, and it could include a weather-protected public pedestrian connection between the stadium and SkyTrain’s Stadium-Chinatown Station, with improvements potentially entailing a covered bridge and new station entry.

To the east, the ‘Pacific segment’ of the DC between Pat Quinn Way and the Carrall Greenway requires integration with the future residential towers that will be built in the area.

Dunsmuir Connection Northeast False Creek

Route of the Dunsmuir Connection elevated linear park in Northeast False Creek. (City of Vancouver)

The DC narrows in width as it travels eastward towards the ‘Park segment’ — the easternmost portion of the pathway. This portion has been deemed an integral part of the Creekside Park extension and is the location of the eastern entrance into the DC

“The underside of the Dunsmuir Connection will also be an important element of the design for the public spaces at grade which connect several areas of the city, including ‘Crosstown,’ ‘Gastown,’ ‘Chinatown,’ and the Downtown Eastside to NEFC and the waterfront,” reads the RFP.

“Landing in the Creekside Park Extension, the Dunsmuir Connection serves as a gateway to the new parks and open spaces and must be interwoven with the park design.”

Dunsmiur Connection

Preliminary Dunsmuir Connection concept. (City of Vancouver)

Dunsmiur Connection

Preliminary Dunsmuir Connection concept. (City of Vancouver)

Upon completion, the municipal government projects 10,000 cyclists per day will use the DC — up from the existing volumes of upwards of 7,000 cyclists per day past Science World and 4,000 cyclists per day on the Union/Adanac bike lanes.

A secondary component to the RFP is the ‘screening’ of 250 metres of the elevated SkyTrain guideway between the Carrall Greenway and Quebec Street, with two ground-level entrances into the new Creekside Park extension located at either end of this portion of the train tracks.

This section of the SkyTrain elevated guideway currently dips underneath the existing Dunsmuir and Georgia viaducts to near ground level, and there are no plans to rebuild this portion of track without the dip given the extreme construction costs and disruptions to train service that can be expected from such a project.

Dunsmuir Connection Northeast False Creek

Early conceptual artistic rendering of the Dunsmuir Connection integrated with adjacent developments. (City of Vancouver)

Early conceptual artistic rendering of the Dunsmuir Connection (left) and aesthetic improvements to the elevated SkyTrain guideway (right). (Concord Pacific / CIVITAS)

As the dip in track creates a physical and visual barrier between the future realigned Pacific Boulevard and the Creekside Park extension, city staff are pursuing immense aesthetic improvements along the entire stretch of this guideway.

In conjunction with the yet-to-be-named consultant, city staff are expected to return to the public with the first concept options in winter 2020 and the preferred design in spring 2020. Construction on the changes to Northeast False Creek, including the viaducts demolition, could begin as early as 2021.

Early conceptual artistic rendering of the Dunsmuir Connection integrated with adjacent developments. (Concord Pacific / CIVITAS)

Early conceptual artistic rendering of the Dunsmuir Connection. (City of Vancouver)

Dunsmuir Connection Northeast False Creek

Portion of elevated SkyTrain guideway that will be screened with aesthetic improvements. (City of Vancouver)

Early conceptual artistic rendering of the SkyTrain screening next to the Carrall Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

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