The City of Glass, With a Twist

Bjarke Ingels’ Vancouver House When Douglas Coupland called Vancouver the “City of Glass” in a 2000 book of the same name, the moniker stuck – not because the author/artist was making some kind of metaphorical statement about the city’s character, but because it was literally true. Vancouver’s 30-year housing boom, which started in the mid-1980s […]

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Rising With the Sun

Jet lag affects everyone differently, but I often hear stories of people waking up in the middle of the night, unable to return to sleep. For me, an inveterate night owl, the effect is to impose a schedule that most other people would consider normal: asleep before midnight, rising not long after the sun. That […]

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Food Trucks in Five Cities

It was one of my most memorable meals in Canada: fried, profoundly sweet local beets; a spicy stir-fried mélange of brussel sprouts and cauliflower; and British Columbia haddock served with naan and rice in a coconut curry. And it all came from a truck — actually, two trucks, to be precise, Le Tigre and Vij’s […]

The Seawall in all its Incarnations

Walking the length of Vancouver’s Seawall is a lesson in design fads and fashions. The Stanley Park stretch dates back to 1914 and is elegant in its simplicity; a rough-hewn stone wall threads its way around the park’s craggy shoreline, rainforest on one side and cool Pacific waters on the other. Near Granville Island, the […]

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Sakura Space

Human life and natural life are often seen to be at odds, so the points where they intersect — urban beaches, wall trees, overgrown vacant lots — feel wonderfully transgressive. Cities are such regulated environments that the intrusion of a self-governing natural element is disruptive and thrilling. That’s especially true around this time of year, […]

The Space Between Notes

Rendering of the Xiqu Centre Early December was a busy time for Bing Thom. First, there was his 72nd birthday, followed shortly by an announcement that the renowned Canadian architect had won the competition to design the new Xiqu Centre in Hong Kong, the first of 17 cultural venues to be built in the West […]

Vancouver’s Point Man

Over the past 30 years, Vancouver has transformed itself from provincial outpost to globally-renowned metropolis — a crucial link in the Pacific Rim necklace of capital, culture and migration. The change has been physical. Since 1990, more than 150 skyscrapers have been built on the Canadian city’s downtown peninsula, creating a densely-built environment that has […]

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Ode to an Eyesore

Eaton’s in 1984. Photo by Gregory Melle Columnist Alan Fotheringham called it an “unending urinal wall.” That somehow filtered down to the Vancouver population as “the upside-down urinal” or the “great white urinal.” But the name-calling won’t last for much longer. Next year, the great white windowless box that dominates the corner of Robson and […]

Don’t Touch the Art

The scene plays out hundreds of times a day, like a sad rendition of Groundhog Day. With nowhere to sit, a weary passerby leans against the leg of Happy Man, the nine-metre-high sculpture by American sculptor Larry Bell that stands in front of the Langham Place shopping mall at the corner of Argyle and Portland […]

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Alone at the Beach

Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver English Bay Beach, Vancouver

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Neon’s Slow Exit from Hong Kong

Yue Hwa in 2005. Photo by choco_late The Yue Hwa Chinese Products department store has stood at the corner of Jordan and Nathan roads for decades — and for decades, so did its big neon sign, a sentinel that marked the passage north into the seedy streets of Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. Sometime […]

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Urban Pastoral

It comes to me whenever I am in Vancouver: an urge to watch the sunset. Pulled by memories of blue Pacific waters buffeting a tangerine sky, I make my way to English Bay Beach, where I find a seat on one of the large pieces of driftwood that have been arranged on the sand, and […]

The Robson Street Lawn

Vancouver is working hard to shake off its reputation as a somewhat pious city that values good mountain views over vibrant streetlife. Its architecture has seen a shift away from the back-to-nature style of the 1970s, 80s and 90s towards something bolder and more urban, like the recently-completed Woodwards redevelopment. There seems to be more […]

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Photos of the Week: Reflections in Transit

“Ghost train,” Vancouver, c_c_clason

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