By the end of 2014, construction may be underway to replace the patch of soggy bark mulch of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s north plaza with a permanent public square.
The city is holding two open houses this week and launching an online survey to gather public input for phase one of a $3.2 million redesign of the Plaza between Hornby, Georgia and Howe streets.
The plaza started as an open area for ceremonies in 1911 behind what was then the city’s courthouse. More recently it has been a popular spot for gatherings such as the 2010 Olympic celebrations and has been a favourite destination for demonstrations including the Occupy encampment back in October of 2011.
According to the city’s director of Facilities Planning and Development , architect Danica Djurkovic , the open houses will feature three early concepts that include water and sculptural elements, a reflective pool and work with lighting. She stressed there is plenty of room for public input to be incorporated.
“It is a very important space for people,” she said. “We’re not married to any of these ideas.”
Waterproofing has long been an issue at the site with water currently leaking into the underground art gallery space below, and this will have to be addressed as part of the redesign, she said. The mulch was put in prior to the Olympics and it has not been possible to put the lawn back.
Djurkovic said there have been meetings between staff and key stakeholders, such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, to ensure that construction is not disruptive to events.
“The message to stakeholders has been ‘we will work around you,’” she said.
The city currently leases the north plaza from the province, which must approve any proposed changes.
So far there have been two public meetings about the plaza and a survey of 2,000 locals seeking direction for the space.
The north plaza open houses take place Oct. 1 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Oct. 5 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at UBC Robson Square. An online survey is also available starting Oct. 1 at vancouver.city.ca/block51
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