Vancouver 'legacy' park to be built by U.S. firm behind High Line

In northeast False Creek, 21 acres of public space up for renewal

A New York City design landscape firm will shape 21 acres of public space in downtown Vancouver that will open to renewal once the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are torn down.

The Vancouver Park Board selected the proposal of James Corner Field Operations, the architects behind Manhattan’s High Line, to design the new 13-acre Creekside Park Extension in northeast False Creek for a cost of $875,000. Adjacent land, including Andy Livingston and Creekside parks, will undergo a renewal. An elevated pedestrian and cyclist bridge is also part of the plan.

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Vancouver city councillors voted 5-4 in 2015 to dismantle the viaducts, the only piece of an extensive and controversial freeway system built in the early 1970s. Phased removal of the twinned bridges will begin in 2018.

The land encompasses some of the last undeveloped waterfront in downtown Vancouver, and Park Board chairwoman Sarah Kirby-Yung said Wednesday she expects the new park to have a big impact.

"This project is a legacy to the people of Vancouver for generations to come," said the NPA commissioner. “This will add vital green spaces and gathering places to the emerging neighbourhoods of northeast False Creek, connecting them seamlessly with the waterfront and downtown.”

The fee will pay to contract the U.S. firm for one year and does not include material or construction costs.

When demolition begins in 2018, improvements will be made to the Seawall and the remaining construction will continue through 2024.

According to a Park Board news release, James Corner was chosen from a field of 14 firms from Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. They designed the eye-catching High Line, 23 blocks of former elevated railway which they transformed into a linear park that winds through Manhattan’s west side.

“The High Line is acclaimed for redefining public open space in modern cities and as a catalyst for community and inspiration to cities worldwide,” states the release.

high line landscape architecture
High Line, in Manhattan, was inspired by the plants that grew spontaneously on the elevated rail line in the 25 years after trains stopped running on the tracks.

At an unveiling Wednesday near Science World, the firm’s founder, James Corner, described the project as an exciting opportunity.

“We are thrilled to be part of a project which presents a very exciting opportunity to connect existing and emerging Vancouver neighbourhoods to one another and to the water,” he said. “Our design will weave layers of history, community and ecology into a rich fabric that will be unique to northeast False Creek.”

The Creekside Park Extension is the first Vancouver project for the celebrated firm. The architects spearheaded a multi-year project in Seattle, leading an extensive rebuild of the city’s downtown after the Alaskan Way Viaduct was dismantled in 2011.

“In Vancouver, as in Seattle, [the firm] is working at the forefront of an international trend of replacing aging infrastructure with a mix of public amenities and new development,” read the Park Board news release.

James Corner will partner with Vancouver landscape architectural firm PWL Partnership, which designed Hinge Park in southeast False Creek, among other parks in the city. According to the Park Board, all other experts on the team are from Vancouver.

mstewart@vancourier.com

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