Why can’t the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza be like Bryant Park?
A few days ago, I was returning from my lunch break to my office in Downtown Vancouver and I passed through the front plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Maybe it was the warm weather, but it seemed ridiculous that this large, central, sunny public space in Vancouver was practically empty. And, the only place people could sit was on the few measly rows of steps outside the Gallery. Surrounding these steps are interconnecting concrete paths, bark mulch and a noisy fountain that seems like more of an irritant that a pleasing piece of public art (it’s pretty noisy, right?).
Just Passing Through: The Art Gallery Plaza (photo courtesy of The Georgia Straight)
When I got back to my office, I put out a tweet out into the universe:
Walked through the Vancouver Art Gallery ‘lawn’ today. Such a huge public space in the sun and barely anywhere to sit! What’s the deal?
To my surprise, the Vancouver Art Gallery (@VanArtGallery) responded:
Thanks for your question about the plaza. Working on getting you some info.
Numerous urban enthusiasts, impassioned public space advocates and Vancouverites in general have bemoaned the lack of one large, central public plaza in Downtown Vancouver. In fact, most of our gathering places are seawalls, urban parks and shopping streets. Recently, Spacing Magazine launched in Vancouver and announced the top public spaces in Canada. Here are the Vancouver ones that made the list:
- Granville Island
- Stanley Park
- Vancouver Art Gallery Stairs
- Pioneer Place/Pigeon Park
- Commercial Drive
- English Bay First Beach
- Victory Square
- Kitsilano Beach Park
- Robson Square
As I mentioned, most of these public places are parks, seawalls, and commercial streets - except for the Art Gallery Steps and Robson Square, which are basically connected to the Art Gallery’s front plaza and could all be considered one big public space. Together, these places comprise the only central public plaza in Vancouver.
Could this public plaza be better? Absolutely.
Earlier this month, I wrote about Robson Square and the improvements being made there, including potentially closing the 800 block of Robson Street (which cuts through Robson Square) to cars and buses.
Now on the other side of Robson Square, we have the Art Gallery Plaza looking pretty dismal these days.
BUT, the more I think about it, could this space not be as vibrant as Bryant Park in New York City? Sure, it is not as big. But the Art Gallery Plaza is similar to the steps of the New York Library. Except the New York Library steps are surrounded by a lush green park with trees surrounding its perimeter and lots of SEATS.
Bryant Park: what could be better than seats and trees?
So, that is all I am asking for really with the Art Gallery Plaza: a tree lined perimeter, some grass and seats.
What do you think?
I’ll let you know when I hear back from the Art Gallery.
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