The artist rendering (right) supplied by the City of Vancouver a year ago shows the original concept for Vancouver House, the city's showcase pavilion. According to Vancouver Public Library board meeting minutes from last April, Vancouver House would overtake the Central Library promenade, and it would be "an inclusive, interactive experience".
We know now that this didn't happen, and I write about the "political meddling, last minute changes and wasted tax payer dollars" involved in creating Vancouver House in my latest 24 Hours column.
The approval of the location at the VPL Central Branch by city council in February 2009 was a curious one, given that it's next to a key Federal government building. While it would have been amazing to see Vancouver celebrated in this iconic structure, all adorned with unique lighting and video displays outside, one wonders how they would have pulled it off without disrupting library services during the Games.
The saga of Vancouver House includes many strange twists, such as last summer's decision to move it from the Central Library to LiveCity Downtown, the secure site on West Georgia & Cambie. Of course, the marketing brochure for Gregor Robertson's "Green Capital" concept ended up at LiveCity Yaletown. As I said in the 24 Hours article, one disappointment about the house was "there was no reference to what really makes Vancouver great – its history, its neighbourhoods, or its people."
However, this council report from last spring proves that there was a much more proud and robust representation of the city planned for the pavilion:
Vancouver House will provide the City of Vancouver with an outstanding venue to promote Vancouver’s assets to the world – our people, our community and our vibrant local economy. It will do so within the context of the magnificent indoor and outdoor public spaces at the Library Square.
Located steps away from the downtown live site celebration site and the two Olympic venues (Canada Place and BC Place) – Vancouver House will showcase our City’s leadership in the areas of new media innovation and sustainability; to business and industry leaders, the world’s media and our own community.
The report goes on to describe what would have been an amazing display of what makes Vancouver great:
The Vancouver House will be an immersive, interactive experience, set in the dramatic atrium of the downtown central library. It will be open to the public daily, from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, February 12 to 28, 2010 and free to all.
The Vancouver House will be about Vancouver’s heart and soul, as defined through the expressions of our people, art and culture: from our First Nations beginnings, through our multicultural evolution, to a vibrant cosmopolitan city of creativity and vision, driven by a sustainable ethos. It will combine discovery and interaction with an immersive lightmedia experience.
Not only will our House showcase the latest successes in Vancouver’s digital business community, it will also demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness and creativity, by providing a world-class experience while retaining the essential function of the host environment as an accessible library and public space. Library patrons will continue to have unrestricted access and normal library operating hours and services will be maintained.
On the east side of the venue, the areas leased to the existing businesses will be delineated by a flowing light wall, allowing for their continued operation.
The themes were in place to show off a city that is diverse, and innovative. They titled it "The World Lives Here" and "The World Creates Here". I think of those 2 guys from Punxsutawney, PA that I met on the Aquabus who had fallen in love with Vancouver. I wonder what they would have felt if they had seen a Vancouver House that really reflected my city.
Of course, it's all woulda, coulda, shoulda now. Vancouver House would have been more suitably named Gregor's Green House, and not after our city. As I state in the 24 Hours column today, perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this story is that the city will not even have a representative pavilion during the Paralympic Games. We're the Host City – how does that make sense?