Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing a SERIES OF POSTS about Gesamtkunstwerk, the exhibit which is set to open this weekend. Earlier this morning they held a media unveiling in which architects Bjarke Ingels and Jim Cheng along with Westbank Development’s Ian Gillespie shared their thoughts on this project which is set to transform not only the skyline, the underside of the Granville Street bridge and the neighbourhood it’s in, but the city itself.
The exhibition space is designed to look like the BIG Architecture office in Copenhagen and is essentially opening the hood on a design and development project that’s been in the works for seven years now. Focusing on the evolution of Vancouver architecture and city-building and including an original 1955 pencil sketch from Arthur Erickson, it tells the story of how this oddly shaped piece of land next to the Granville Street bridge will be evolving in the coming years. Early sketches are pinned here, varying degrees of completed scale models there, and all throughout you feel as though you’re being given a look at the process as well as a glimpse at what the final product will be.
At the reception Cheng likened Bjarke’s sensibilities around density to those of Arthur Erickson, and the Dutch architect spoke to that in a roundabout way as he mentioned the project is “picking up on a trajectory that started 6 decades ago, but adding an extra layer to it”. I’d argue that there are layers upon layers upon layers here, from the striking architecture to the activation of the underside of the bridge which Ingels hopes to be “the Sistine Chapel of street art”. Walking under the bridge is meant to be a “genuine urban spectacle”, and the entire thing stands to be just that. While speaking with Gillespie after the reception he noted that his company, Westbank, has completed more than 50 projects and that this one has been pure joy for him personally. Not just anyone could have come up with such a solution for this piece of land and, as he puts it, “You cant become a brain surgeon reading Gray’s Anatomy”.
I didn’t take a load of photos because I didn’t want to spoil it for you, but I thought you might enjoy the overview and this tiny section of one of the many architectural models in the space.