Vancouver Art Gallery and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square
The Vancouver Art Gallery is housed in a neo-classical courthouse at the heart of Vancouver’s downtown. Its large stone staircases to either side of the building have long been used as a setting for events, protests, and gatherings. The plaza to northern side of the historical building is the heart of civil assembly in Vancouver. In 2013, the city unveiled renovation plans to enhance the safety and utility of the plaza. When the upgrades were finished, the square was renamed “šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square.” The new name is takes from the languages of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsliel-Waututh nations, and refers to a place of cultural gathering.
The 2013 plan for the Art Gallery’s northern plaza included the concept of an “edge enclosure.” Porosity of an edge allows for people to move into and out of a space easily. The closure of an edge defines the space. In šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square, a fixed edge also allows flexibility in the center space. Movable chairs and tables can be distributed for people meeting for lunch or a coffee, and then removed for large events. With music, art, protests, and markets all possible uses of the open center space, it was important to the city that the edge enclosure sometimes allow cars and trucks into the plaza. For the space to be functional and safe, however, it must be clear to all that regular parking is not allowed.
The City chose the R-8464 retractable bollard to allow authorized vehicles in, while keeping all other vehicles out. The brushed 316 stainless steel, sleek and understated, allows the bollards to blend in with the other artistic aspects of the permeable edge. Permanent benches and a sculptural shelter bring interest and function to the perimeter design. The simplicity of the columnar bollard echoes the supports on the shelter and the circularity of the bench, enhancing the modern feel.