Expo 86 began this time 25 years ago. The Dependent remembers it’s first day.
Online voting. Vancouver city council approved a motion to allow online voting in the upcoming municipal elections. If approved by the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Vancouver will be the first municipality to allow online voting.
Videomatica. The Venerable film rental store, Videomatica will be closing shortly. Since 1983 the store has offered the widest selection of titles in Vancouver but has been suffering from competition from internet downloads. The owners are looking at finding a way to keep their collection available to the public in the future.
Ardea Books and Art is the latest indie bookstore to close.
Goodbye, W2 Storyeum. The Vancouver Film School has replaced W2 Community Arts as the tenants of the Storyeum building. During W2’s tenure the space hosted many arts and cultural events and will be missed in the local arts and culture community. W2 has now moved into it’s space in the Woodwards Building.
The last post. Derek Miller, author of the blog Penmachine succumbed to cancer this week. News of his passing reverberated across the blogosphere and his last post, aptly named “The last post” has had 8 million hits. He will be missed.
Architecture awards. Two buildings by the late Arthur Erickson have been awarded the prestigious Prix du XXe Siècle Award for ‘enduring excellence in Canadian architecture’.
Cambie Corridor. Stephen Rees looks at the difficult considerations surrounding increasing density around Canada Line stations while the Canada Line is already near capacity.
Image: gmcmullen via flickr
Read an fascinating story about the sad state of Winnipeg’s Public Safety Building in yesterday’s Globe and Mail. The modernist building was completed in 1966 as part of a pre-centennial government-building boom—a familiar story to us, sitting as we are in our own centennial-era building.
Today, the Public Safety Building’s limestone facade is crumbling; a grim, wrap-around awning prevents pieces from hitting pedestrians. The building’s occupants, the Winnipeg Police Service, will move out in three years, and after that, who knows? One city councillor says the city is looking at “disposing” of the building unless someone is interested in buying it and taking on the costly exterior repair work. The full story is linked here.
As reporter Patrick White notes, it’s just one of several endangered modernist structures in the prairie city. Winnipeg’s loved and hated airport terminal will be rendered obsolete by a new terminal set to open by the end of 2010. Despite an exhibit of the city’s modernist buildings in 2006—details in an archived CBC article linked here—and a newfound appreciation for modernist architecture in places like Azure, Dwell, and Metropolis magazines, it remains a hard sell to the masses, who view it as cold, imposing, even authoritarian. But popular or not, buildings like the Public Safety Building represent a important moment in Canada’s history; a time when money flowed for public spaces designed to evoke stability and permanence as a young country turned 100.
The public buildings found in Vanier Park rode that same funding wave. The building that houses the Museum of Vancouver and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre was built in the more decorative New Formalist style and completed in 1968, while buildings erected around us in the following decade, including the Vancouver Archives, the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory, and the Vancouver Academy of Music took on a more spare, brutalist form. Taken together, we form a suburban-style cultural precinct, connected by rolling lawns and parking lots.
Vancouver is perhaps only slightly more reflective of its modernist architecture than Winnipeg, owed to the internationally celebrated work of architects like Arthur Erickson and Ron Thom who practiced from here. It’s hard to imagine a Vancouver City Councillor speaking so candidly of demolishing a modernist building. Whatever the future holds for the PSB, and other buildings like it, we hope there will be some careful debate on its place in the city’s built history. For the record, we think it’s a place worth saving.
This Saturday, the Museum begins an eight-week run of cycling tours that examine the term “Vancouverism”—that mixture of urban design, architecture, and city planning that this city has become known for globally. Vancouverism encompasses everything from the architectural vision of the late Arthur Erickson, to green-glass towers that dot the north shore of False Creek, to developer-funded public parks and schools.
Where did the term originate? Best guesses indicate it came from architects and city planners who visited Vancouver in the 1990s and were inspired by its success luring people back downtown. A decade or so later, Vancouverism has become a political ideology, a lifestyle, and an export (see Dubai, San Diego, Toronto, and Seattle). It has also become a success story: Vancouver has more than doubled its downtown population in the past two decades, bucking the trend of many other cities.
The MOV tours deconstruct “Vancouverism” by looking at the term in practice, and the people behind the major examples. It starts at the Museum, crosses over the Burrard Street Bridge into the West End, then wraps around False Creek to Yaletown, Southeast False Creek (the site of Vancouverism 2.0), False Creek South, and back to the Museum. Our Velo-City exhibit is a fitting conclusion, exploring similar themes of livability and progressive city planning.
We hope you can join the conversation. Click here to register.
Image credit: Kenny Louie