It’s the site of what is arguably Vancouver’s most notable event, a bitter battle between the Non-Partisan Association and an alliance of Strathcona activists and Chinatown business people – the Georgia Street Viaduct. Built as a first phase of a planned interurban freeway system, this minute stretch of freeway reaches like a tree root from the downtown core to Chinatown a now-gone neighbourhood of Vancouver known as “Hogan’s Alley” and home to the city’s only black church, the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel.
On the one hand, the viaduct is considered the single most ‘convenient’ way out of downtown. On the other, a complete waste of incredibly valuable space. It’s an unwanted shrine to a battle that kept the freeway from being built through downtown, allowing the city to become what it is today.
The City of Vancouver has decided it’s time for this shrine to go – though when and how and what will go there is yet to be determined.
They’re now calling on the public, artists, architects and designers to provide their input on what should be done with the viaducts and the Eastern Core. The Eastern Core stretches from Main Street to Clark Drive and is populated with production studios, workshops, artist’s residents, and multi-tenant studio buildings (well known for opening their doors during the East Van Culture Crawl each fall).
Re:CONNECT, as they’re calling the project, is a competition for ideas to generate “fresh, new ideas from citizens and design professionals” that will “spark dialogue and help inform and inspire planning for this part of Vancouver.”
They’re looking for how to connect this area to the downtown core, visualizing what the Viaducts will look like in their future, and pushing the envelope. Resources are available at www.vancouver.ca/reconnect.
Submissions due November 2, 2011.
Planning for the Viaducts and Eastern Core is now underway, and the strategy is expected to be out in 2012.