|35 weeks ago I read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneur’s equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I get the idea, 50 coffees is far easier than practicing something for ten years, and while I’m far from lazy I decided to set out on a fairly simple mission: over 50 weeks I’m inviting 50 interesting Vancouverites, most of whom I have never met before, to go for coffee. I’m using this as an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also using it as a platform to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.
Meet Robert Fung. President of The Salient Group (a neighbour of ours just a few blocks away in Gastown), member of UBC’s Board Of Governors, three time offender on Vancouver Magazine’s “Power 50″ list and an advocate for heritage buildings in our city. Robert runs his development company out of what is unarguably one of the most precious buildings in Vancouver, and we met next door at The Coffeebar, a retail tenant in a building which he also helped breathe new life into.
You might recognize The Salient Group’s name from the recent POST we did on their Trapp + Holbrook highrise project in New West, but unless you looked closely you might not have clued in to the fact that their work involves taking heritage properties and rehabilitating them. THAT IS SO AWESOME! Last year they received top honours from Heritage BC for their work rehabilitating large parts of Gastown, one part being the block pictured below which includes the aforementioned “unarguable” building officially known as The Alhambra which Gassy Jack has been standing in front of for decades.
Synonyms of the word “salient” include “important”, “striking” and “remarkable”, all of which I would equate with the work that Robert and his team do, as well as the opinions that he shared with me over coffee. As I learn more and more about development in our city I’m surprised by the amount of compassionate, forward-thinking folks involved at every level, especially the top as is Robert’s case. Having a degree in anthropology under his belt, I imagine it helps educate his work as he takes every human component into consideration to make sure the developments he’s working on benefit the entire community. Working with the delicate fabric of a city, keeping its past, present and future in mind are what I see as key factors in Robert’s work having positive impacts on our city. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more from him and The Salient Group in the future.