March 31, 2021

My First Minute in the 800-Block Robson

It’s open!  The block in Robson Square from Hornby to Howe has been closed for about a year and a half for reconstruction (it’s complicated when you’re rebuilding a road on top of an underground building, I guess) – but now Arthur Erickson’s original vision for the square is complete.  Pedestrians (and bicycles) only.

And it’s a bigger space than I anticipated:

That means there will be lots of things happening simultaneously – demonstrations, performances, exhibitions, people hanging out, eating, ‘gramming, meeting, just trying to get someplace else.  And then being distracted by some of the best people-watching in the city.

Here’s a 360-degree video of literally my first minute in the square:

I love how the movement flows almost as if directed – the people walking and eating, the cyclists circumnavigating, the guy in the chair giving hand signals, the skateboarders performing almost on cue, the man on his laptop, and then back where we started.  Even the sirens and boarders providing the soundtrack.  None of it planned, all of it naturally choreographed.


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  1. Thanks for the post. It looks really “the place to see and be seen”.
    Thanks to the Vancouver public space Network for pushing this to happen for so long.
    Thanks to the landscape architects for a design that is aesthetically compatible with the heritage building.
    Thanks for overriding the rigid piffle that sometimes goes over the top on not wanting to confuse the new with the old.
    Thanks to the lord for not seeing a repeat of the pistachio pastiche camouflage of the North Plaza

  2. I dunno, as far as the street life goes it looks pretty much the same as I remember it, except that now there’s a construction fence blocking access to the south side. Hopefully that will be gone by the time the warm weather arrives and the place gets busier.

  3. It’s lovely.

    The question of course is why it took so long AND why it is not extended all the way to the stadium to the south and Stanley park in the north ie a true pedestrian mall full of entertainment, restaurant patios, food vendors, gardens, benches etc ? Where is this vision, or is there none at all? All European cities have it but not Vancouver? Why not ? We need a road there and parking ? Seriously? How about an e-shuttle or a few e-bike, bike, e-scooter or scooter stations along the way too?

  4. WOW. A whole block. Only 2 years.

    Where is the rest of the vision for Robson Strasse, ie a pedestrian mall all the way from Stadium to Stanley Park, with gardens, outdoor dining, food trucks and entertainment, plus a few e-shuttles?

    It would a major destination & tourist attraction in boring & fairly unattractive downtown Vancouver.

    Where is the vision in Vision Vancouver?

  5. Wonderful. Robson Square will certainly evolve into the central zocalo Vancouver has always lacked. FYI the guy in orange directing ped traffic is a special opening day guest: Commercial Drive’s own infamous Intoner, out on a field trip to irk the citizenry. Thank you for documenting this delightful slice of unrehearsed life.

  6. Its just so gray. And why weren’t the same paving materials used from the plaza on the Georgia Street side to tie the two spaces together?

  7. A visit to the plaza may help, the concrete does have a very slight pink hue as does the granite relief pattern inset blocks. It looks to be well thought out. I’m looking forward to seeing the landscape replaced ASAP. I was there last Thursday and didn’t see any landscaping activity at all.
    And oh yes, the cyclists were weaving in and out in a very uncoordinated manner with the pedestrian movements. I guess they considered making a specific lane or path for cyclists but you know how it is if someone dares to stray into a lane designated for cyclists. Especially if they are not wearing a mask.

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