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Old January 7th, 2008, 03:43 PM   #1
polelum
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VANCOUVER | Robson Square Renovation | U/C

Umbrella to cover Robson Square
'The Clam,' the brainchild of Premier Campbell, controversial addition to a city landmark

Miro Cernetig, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, January 07, 2008


It's hard not to love Robson Square, that landmark of modernist concrete with a waterfall created by Arthur Erickson in the heart of downtown Vancouver. But our political leaders are aiming to improve upon the master architect's work.

Plans are now circulating inside the provincial cabinet to erect a giant wooden roof over the square. It's a secret project, being fast-tracked by Premier Gordon Campbell himself. Only a select few have yet seen it.

But if the provincial cabinet greenlights it, as it likely will in the next few days or weeks, it's going to be a controversial addition to the city skyline.

The artist's drawings I've seen bring to mind a giant wooden clamshell arching between the steps of the art gallery and Erickson's famous waterfall, covering Robson Street.

Truth be told, it also seems a bit like a giant outdoor skating arena, with a roof but no walls, suddenly going up in the middle of the city.

The skating rink, already on the site but underground and no longer used for skating, is to be refurbished. Looking up from its surface, people will see a complex sort of wooden latticework -- a design from northern Europe, I understand -- that you often see on large wooden buildings.

The premier's plan is to have the massive roof built by the 2010 Olympics, for celebrations during the Games. And -- here's where things get interesting -- keep "the clam" around permanently. It's hard to say whether this thing is a stroke of architectural brilliance or a disaster in the making.

It's always hard to predict response to such public projects. This may turn out to be our version of New York's Rockefeller Centre, a great urban square that also has a skating rink, or an eyesore.

But it might be a good idea to get this bold concept -- which won't come cheap, incidentally -- out for some public input. If built, this will change the look and feel of downtown Vancouver's skyline for years to come.

The premier's idea is primarily inspired by the Olympics. He wants to have a roofed public space -- another so-called Olympic livesite -- where the public will gather free of charge during the Games and watch events on giant screens and celebrate as a community. The idea -- also being worked on with the federal government -- is to perhaps link up similar venues set up in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square, Parliament Hill, Montreal's Vanier Park and other similar locations around the country and province. CTV, the official broadcaster of the Olympics, would likely be in charge of the video feeds.

Another part of the plan, however, is business.

The province hopes to show the world a signature piece of "wood" architecture from Vancouver. This is a theme the province has been pushing hard, to try to stimulate sales and new markets for the beleaguered forestry industry. The B.C. pavilion being built near Tiananmen Square for the Beijing Olympics is going to have a massive wooden facade. A similar log house was a hit in Turin, Italy during the last Winter Olympics.

An even better idea -- I'd say it's the one that should go ahead even if the roof idea collapses -- is that the province will also set up a permanent Asia-Pacific centre on the edge of Robson Street. It will be near where the current Sears store is and is intended to be a high-tech centre to facilitate trade with Asia and build cultural and commercial ties across the Pacific. It's a wonder we don't already have such an institution given this province's links to Asia.

Still, erecting a massive wooden umbrella above Robson Square, despite some of its potential merits, also raises a lot of issues.

Will it detract from the wonderful design of Erickson? Robson Square is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vancouver. Can engineers even build such a heavy structure on the current site? Will it attract the homeless, who want to get out of the winter's rain? And if we need an enclosed area for Olympics celebrations, can't we just save millions of dollars by putting up a temporary tent for a few weeks? Another thing you've got to wonder is whether such a massive structure can be built in time.

This giant roof, which would entail a major overhaul of Robson Square, would have to be approved by the province and then go through Vancouver's planning department and city council. Olympic organizing officials insist there would be enough labour to get the job done on an accelerated schedule, now that construction on Games venues is winding down. But it's anyone's guess if the city and province's bureaucrats, not always known for easy cooperation, could actually get this built in time for 2010.

mcernetig@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Sun 2008
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Old January 7th, 2008, 07:15 PM   #2
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I guess it would have to be pretty high to cover the trees and knoll on the south side of Robson?

I'm sure this would be usefull on rainy days, but it would be a shame to shade that whole area in the summer.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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Have to see the renderings before can form an opinion.
In principle, I'm for it.
Wood does not seem very permanent and will probably require alot of upkeep and may clash with the concrete art gallery and other structures already there esthetically.
I could envision something more like the law courts with concrete, steel and lots of glass.
Like Vanlaw said, some transparency to the structure's roof to allow light would be nice.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 11:47 PM   #4
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If the aim is to showcase BC wood products (esp. beetle kill a'la Richmond Oval), they should just erect a big roof over the empty lot (old bus depot) beside QE Theatre that will be the gathering place/"Live Site" for Olympic events/concerts. Make it a temporary thing. Perhaps build it so it can be dismantled and sold off in small souvenir parts after the games or something like that. Agree with DrT - need to see some renderings.
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Old January 19th, 2008, 11:05 AM   #5
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Meet the $40-million giant clam of wood and glass
Plans for Robson Square include a new Asia-Pacific Centre and a reopened skating rink

Miro Cernetig, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008

So here's the latest on the clam, that giant roof envisioned for downtown Vancouver.

The B.C. government is still dreaming of creating a massive roof -- price-tag in the neighbourhood of $40 million -- to arch over Robson Square. It believes we need a place to gather out of the rain for festivals and cultural events. (they mean protests don't they? -_-)

But the clam's going to be made of glass and high-tech wood. And it won't be going up until after the 2010 Olympic Games.

That's the news that came out of a tour of Robson Square on Friday with Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen, who had a half-dozen government officials and architect Clive Grout in tow.

The structure, which would rise 10 to 15 metres above Robson Street, is seen as a way to create a civic gathering spot in the downtown. It is also going to include a reopening and expansion of the skating rink, which has been closed for years, but is being refurbished with with the help of General Electric.

The plans, part of which you will see above, do involve a major structural revision to Robson Square, designed by Vancouver's renowned architect Arthur Erickson. In addition to the massive roof, which is to be partially made of a wooden lattice to highlight the utility of B.C. forest products, we will see the creation of an Asia-Pacific centre on the square. It's meant to emphasize the province's commitment to fostering trade and cultural ties with Asia.

As the facelift goes ahead, there will also be a replanting of the garden. Some of the trees are too big, the officials said, and need to be replaced. Some of the trees, in fact, wouldn't fit under the roof that's being talked about.

Although Erickson has said he has had minimal involvement with the revamping of his creation, both Hansen and Grout said they will listen closely to the octogenarian to ensure one of Canada's great pieces of architecture isn't compromised.

"I will work very closely with Arthur," promised Grout.

In the run-up to the Olympics, the public can expect to see a major refurbishing of Robson Square, said Hansen. Even with the erection of the roof put off, leaky foundations and cracked concrete need to be fixed by 2010.

The idea, Hansen said, is to be able to finish refurbishment work before the Games, have the skating rink in operation and create an Asia-Pacific centre that leaves no doubt the province has set its sights on the other side of the Pacific.

When -- or if -- the roof goes up, Hansen said it might even help with global warming. Since it's glass, he said it might even be a source of solar power.

mcernetig@png.canwest.com


© The Vancouver Sun 2008





I'm not so sure about it now...only 10-15 metres tall? That's only 30-50 feet??? There certainly is a need to revive Robson Square, but i'm not quite sure if this is it....but then again, we need renderings to actually see what is planned!
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"Preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics are progressing so well, it's boring. We'd like there to be some challenges, so we [the IOC] could shout at them." - IOC (Sept. 2007)


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Old January 20th, 2008, 12:19 AM   #6
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Posted by marmarek:





after seeing the diagrams, i actually quite like it. I don't understand why after 2010 though....we have an opportunity to show the world something very unique here.
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"Preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics are progressing so well, it's boring. We'd like there to be some challenges, so we [the IOC] could shout at them." - IOC (Sept. 2007)


"In medieval Europe if you didn't like somebody's argument and couldn't think of a real response you called them a witch and demanded they be burned at the stake. In the US you call them unpatriotic, and in Canada you call them racist."
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Old January 20th, 2008, 05:03 AM   #7
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Wow, I like it! With Erickson involved, can't be too shabby.
As Vanlaw pointed out, the importance of light, this will deliver with a glass roof.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 10:31 AM   #8
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Construction over that part of robson st. may cause massive backup of traffic in that area one would presume and that would be so inconvenient during a high profile time like the Olympics. Could that be why they might want to wait until after 2010? I remember when they were doing roadwork just across from Chapters and Sears and that area was quite hellish for that 1.5 weeks.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 10:45 AM   #9
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They would stop construction for that period if it ever came to that.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 11:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nova9 View Post
Construction over that part of robson st. may cause massive backup of traffic in that area one would presume and that would be so inconvenient during a high profile time like the Olympics. Could that be why they might want to wait until after 2010? I remember when they were doing roadwork just across from Chapters and Sears and that area was quite hellish for that 1.5 weeks.
if there's a will, they could start construction over the next few months so that the roof will be completed in time for 2010.

either it will be completed before 2010 or construction will start after 2010....they cannot have a half-completed mass hanging over Robson during the Olympics.
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"Preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics are progressing so well, it's boring. We'd like there to be some challenges, so we [the IOC] could shout at them." - IOC (Sept. 2007)


"In medieval Europe if you didn't like somebody's argument and couldn't think of a real response you called them a witch and demanded they be burned at the stake. In the US you call them unpatriotic, and in Canada you call them racist."
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Old January 21st, 2008, 08:05 PM   #11
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I think its a great idea. It would add an urbane feel to the area. Although I like Robson Sq on Hornby, I think it is quite sterile looking on Robson. It is not street friendly and too alienating due to the concrete view from Robson.
If done well especially with wood it would be a great public venue and meeting place which Vancouver does not have.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 01:02 AM   #12
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I'm liking this idea more and more. They need to lose the glass boobs and open up the curved cement bits connected to them on the sidewalk by removing the hedges then people would be able to look down on the ice rink. Which will also be expanded several metres in length.

Did everyone see the video from the Premier's Office when he and GE did the GE Ice Plaza/Robson Sq presentation in Oct?

http://www.multimedia.gov.bc.ca/EN/r...robson_square/
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 02:11 AM   #13
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omg! you're right! they do look like glass boobs: http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Vancouv...&t=h&z=19&om=0

Even a ***** too, if you look at the different street colour of Robson Street at Robson Square.

great vid btw.
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"Preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics are progressing so well, it's boring. We'd like there to be some challenges, so we [the IOC] could shout at them." - IOC (Sept. 2007)


"In medieval Europe if you didn't like somebody's argument and couldn't think of a real response you called them a witch and demanded they be burned at the stake. In the US you call them unpatriotic, and in Canada you call them racist."
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 02:49 AM   #14
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wow u guys are creative -_-"
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 04:17 AM   #15
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I was bored so I decided to do a crappy design of Robson Sq.

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Old January 22nd, 2008, 04:29 AM   #16
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^ personally, i think the ice surface needs to be bigger....where the tip of the man's toque is.
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"Preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics are progressing so well, it's boring. We'd like there to be some challenges, so we [the IOC] could shout at them." - IOC (Sept. 2007)


"In medieval Europe if you didn't like somebody's argument and couldn't think of a real response you called them a witch and demanded they be burned at the stake. In the US you call them unpatriotic, and in Canada you call them racist."
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 04:37 AM   #17
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ya me too. I roughly took the length from the initial render. I think if they removed the glass roofs the ice would look surprisingly large.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 05:13 AM   #18
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Here's that render:


Comparing this render to the above picture, the render's scale is all wrong. The people are too big, and the pillars aren't that far away from the UBC entrance. The rink in reality is much wider.
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"Preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics are progressing so well, it's boring. We'd like there to be some challenges, so we [the IOC] could shout at them." - IOC (Sept. 2007)


"In medieval Europe if you didn't like somebody's argument and couldn't think of a real response you called them a witch and demanded they be burned at the stake. In the US you call them unpatriotic, and in Canada you call them racist."
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Old December 15th, 2009, 10:05 AM   #19
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I'm kind of surprised this thread hasn't been updated. Anyways... just to catch things up, here is the finished product. Great contrast to the photo above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yume-sama View Post
I went to Robson Square just as the sun was starting to set this afternoon. It was BUSY BUSY BUSY with a ton of people, it was GREAT to see. It's awesome that so many people of all ages are enjoying this new space It's also cool that there are long performances every day for people to enjoy. Also, I got to see the cute Orca Zamboni :P It doesn't do a very good job of cleaning the ice, but, whatever, it's an ORCA ZAMBONI.

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4162426986/

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4162436252/

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4161679915/
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yume-sama View Post
Gotta say, I really love Robson Square. I stopped by there tonight after the rink closed on the way home from a late dinner.

Click any of the links to view larger high quality versions

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4165239619/

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4165246043/

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4166003090/

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4166006090/

image hosted on flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/4165254129/
And now... they seem to be erecting a temporary roof structure over the plaza. A little shaky, taken in the afternoon:

image hosted on flickr

Via Deasine of Flickr
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Old December 18th, 2009, 05:18 AM   #20
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looks great. not too sure about the temporary roof structure thing tho lol
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