Centennial Square design charette [updated May 9, 2009]

April 12, 2008 at 5:13 am 3 comments

Yesterday I was invited to take part in a design charette in order to determine the best way to spend the $1 million designated for rehabilitation of Centennial Square (built 1963) and the installation of Butch Dick’s new five meter tall Spirit Poles.

We were split into three groups. Mine included original Centennial Square architect Alan Hodgson, Councillor Young and Mayor Lowe, a City Planner and Parks employee and two facilitating architects.

Our meeting space in the Macpherson upper lobby overlooking the square served as a good vantage point for the seven-hour excercise. By the end of the day we had three tangible plans to revitalize the west side of the square, all of which were financially viable according to Mayor Lowe.

Now the architects are combining the data we created yesterday and will produce a report to Council, who will then decide on how to proceed with the construction.

Although we did brainstorm concepts for the Douglas Street side of the square as well as transit hub opportunities on Pandora, the focus was the area under the City Hall Annex and the Macpherson theatre due to the constraints of the budget. When the parkade is demolished (likely within five years) and plans are finalized for a library on the site, the completion of Centennial Square will be realized.

Sketch created April 10 by one of the three teams showing the west side of the square.All plans saw the existing knot garden replaced by seating/steps with a stage or performing area behind the Macpherson where the unsightly fenced-off platform is. A small water park would entertain kids and adults when there was no programming on stage. Visions for the space under the City Hall Annex ranged from a glassed-in Civic office space, a cafe or a pathway suspended above a reflecting pool.

UPDATE May 2009:

Demolition of Knot Garden

Demolition of Knot Garden

In this photo, taken May 9, 2009, the changes to Centennial Square are beginning with the destruction of the 60s era Knot Garden which will make way for the public seating space/performance stage/water spray park.

Entry filed under: architecture, City Hall, urban design.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vancouver needs a new square, too « Robertrandall’s Weblog  |  September 29, 2008 at 8:24 am

    […] 29, 2008 You might recall my earlier post on the Centennial Square Charette I participated […]

  • 2. robertrandall  |  April 18, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Work on the new square has begun with the demolition of the Knot Garden.

  • 3. robertrandall  |  April 7, 2010 at 11:56 pm


    Here is a flickr photo of the new square taken in March 2010. The spirit totems are visible beside the water feature. The tents next to the fountain are temporary. The stage is off to the right of the photo and can be seen here during a rally. There are other good photos of the new square elsewhere on flickr.

    Do you think the redesign was a success?


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