The plaza in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery has always been a popular gathering place in Vancouver … but never an especially convenient one.

For starters, there’s a big fountain in the middle of it that eats up lots of the available space. Scraggly trees offer some leaf cover but create a claustrophobic feeling. And then there’s all that bark mulch on the ground, which no one has ever liked.

These shortcomings and more are addressed in a new plaza redesign proposal currently being considered by the city. The plan, submitted by Nick Milkovitch Architects, calls for completely opening up the plaza and creating an airy, European-style public setting. It’s minimal, straightforward and quite possibly exactly what the site needs. 

The fountain is gone and so are most of the trees – and the difference (at least in the artist’s renderings) is amazing. The plaza looks huge and inviting: a natural spot for public gatherings, festivals and demonstrations. Meanwhile the art gallery building itself looks positively regal, freed from the clutter that currently surrounds it.

Vancouver Art Gallery Today.

Best of all, that ugly mulch has been replaced by handsome stone pavers, which cover the entire plaza from edge to edge.

Other touches create a more convivial spot to stop and linger. Along Hornby Street, plans call for keeping the existing trees and adding two more rows, creating a mini “forest” in the heart of the city. The new proposal also features something in short supply at the current plaza: benches. Wooden benches will be placed along the edges of the plaza, while two long benches will run through the Hornby Street “forest.”

I pulled this off Inside Vancouver. You can read the rest of the article here: