800 Robson Plaza
We are constructing a new permanent public plaza on the 800-block of Robson Street.
During the summers of 2011-2015, the block was transformed into a pedestrian plaza by the VIVA Vancouver Program.
Recognizing the success of the summer closures, in September 2012, Council decided to close the block to vehicle traffic until the end of 2012, and asked staff to investigate the public's interest in using the space as a permanent pedestrian plaza.
The road re-opened to vehicle traffic in January 2013, while the investigation continued and VIVA Vancouver created another temporary plaza for the following three summers.
Council voted to open the block permanently as a public plaza in April 2016 and staff launched an engagement process to find out how the public wanted to use the space. The feedback informed the design concept, which was further informed through consultation with key area stakeholders including the Vancouver Art Gallery, UBC Robson Square, the Province of BC, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, City advisory committees, and advocacy groups.
The final design offers a single, level surface and an open, flexible space for lingering, gathering, relaxing, and eating, for musical, cultural, and community events, and for demonstration.
šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square
šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square, formerly the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery, completed renovations in June 2017.
With this redevelopment work, our goal was to create a plaza that reflects the needs and desires of the public, respects its location at the historical entry to the Vancouver Art Gallery building and its relationship to Robson Square.
Because the plaza needed to undergo critical maintenance to repair the membrane protecting the lower levers of the art gallery beneath the plaza, we took the opportunity to launch a consultation to inform the redesign of the site.
šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square is owned by the Province of BC and leased to the City for use. Activities on plaza are currently coordinated and permitted by the City.
In June 2018, the former Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza was renamed as part of the City of Reconciliation initiative.
28 November 2012 - In summary of the Block 51 consultation, we hosted two public events at the Vancouver Art Gallery seeking ideas on how both sides of Block 51 could be used in the future. The events were attended by 165 people and participants worked with architect Stanley King’s Co-design team. Illustrated ideas around use of space were then incorporated into an online and intercept survey, which was open to the public from November 1-12th, 2012. This resulted in over 2100 completed surveys. One of the key findings from the survey was that 64% of respondents had a preference for 800-block Robson to function as a permanent public space, while 17% preferred a summertime public space and 19% preferred only occasional closures of the street to traffic for special events.
We hosted a stakeholder workshop on October 4, 2012, which was attended by 22 people representing a broad range of stakeholders, including TransLink, business associations, public space and active transportation advocates, the adjacent Robson Square facilities, seniors living in the West End, Tourism Vancouver, the local design community, the Province, and the Court Services Branch. Based on the key issues raised, staff conducted four smaller, more focused stakeholder meetings throughout the Fall with youth, the downtown and west end business communities, the adjacent Robson Square facilities, and seniors living in the West End. The key issues identified by stakeholders on the creation of a year-round public square relate to: 1) the downtown transportation network, 2) the overall ‘look and feel’ or design of the space and 3) programming for the space. The resolution of these issues is critical to the long term success of a permanent public square, thus demanding a flexible and incremental approach to planning.
15 October 2012 - Public event - “A Look Back”: Hosted by CBC Radio 1’s Shiral Tobin, included a screening of the 1973 National Film Board of Canada film Chairs for Lovers.
This was followed by a panel conversation with Stanley King, local architect who led a similar Co-Design process in the 1970s to gather input on the Robson Square development, as well as members of Arthur Erickson’s design team for Robson Square, Bing Thom, Alan Bell, and Nick Milkovich.
17 October 2012 - Public event - “A Look Forward”: Hosted by local inter/multi-disciplinary artist Vanessa Richards, included short and inspirational presentations that explored how this block has been used over the years, while drawing on experience from other cities.
- Civic historian John Atkin
- Lon LaClaire, the Manager of Strategic Transportation at the City of Vancouver
- Jenniffer Sheel and Krisztina Kassay from the City's VIVA Vancouver program
- Heather Forbes from the Vancouver Public Space Network
- Matthew Blackett from Spacing Magazine
- Pop Rocks designers Matthew Soules and Joe Dahmen
Both events ended in a Co-Design process, led by Stanley King, where artists illustrated participant’s thoughts on what future uses the 800-block of Robson and the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza could accommodate.
These events were presented in partnership with Spacing Magazine, the Vancouver Public Space Network and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In four follow-up stakeholder sessions, City staff consulted with:
- The business community, including the Robson Street Business Improvement Association, Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and West End Business Improvement Association.
- Robson Square facilities, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, UBC Robson Square, the Law Courts and the Province.
- West End Seniors
View illustrations and event photos