Demonstration Projects Update

28 Jan 2020

As part of the Main Street Appearance Project, staff from Vancouver’s Downtown Association (VDA) and City of Vancouver worked with the Downtown Stakeholders Forum and VDA Design Committee to form working groups to lead planning and ultimately implementation of three important demonstration projects. Brief descriptions of the projects are below.

12th & Main Artlet and 4-Way Stop:

The “12th & Main Artlet” project will install a parklet with artful treatments at an important downtown intersection, along with complementary painted crosswalks and bulb-outs, a new 4-way intersection stop, and the artful treatment of the blank facade of an adjacent parking structure.

A working group of interested stakeholders was challenged to select a location along the project area (Main Street from 5th to 15th) and develop a demonstration project that would improve the appearance, activity, business connectivity, and visitor experience. This would be accomplished through improvements that could be implemented over the next year and serve as an example of how changes could positively impact the look and feel of Main Street. The group selected the 12th and Main intersection and decided that art and creativity should serve as the foundation of improvements planned for the demonstration project.

The improvements would emphasize creative art treatments to develop a gathering space that would enliven an intersection that is currently devoid of any specific public art at this time. The improvements would be designed to tie together the north, south, east and west sides of the intersection by utilizing artful treatments throughout. The project has been named the "12th and Main Artlet" in recognition of how art will serve to elevate the area as an important stop along the MSAP area. The artlet will include:

1) New bulb-outs painted on the asphalt of the intersection's four corners and connected to painted crosswalks. Not only would the asphalt painting add some color and vibrancy to the intersection, but it would also add a traffic calming effect to create a safer pedestrian crossing. The bulb-out and crosswalk designs would be provided by an artist selected specifically for this project.

2) Enhancement of the blank walls of the above-ground parking garage ("Menashe Building") at the intersection's southeast corner with 2D or 3D public art that could range from a mural, sculpture or other artful treatments that would be designed by or in collaboration with the artist designing the painted bulb-outs and crosswalks.

3) A new gathering area at the southwest corner designed as an extension of the painted bulb-outs to bleed the art onto the adjacent sidewalk and "no parking” areas. The result would be similar to a "parklet" furnished with informal seating, planters, shade, lighting, and other elements that are designed with artful touches to complement the bulb-outs, crosswalks, and other art elements. The gathering area would serve as a place for visitors to enjoy a hot dog from the stand across the street, await their turn into The Source Climbing Center next door, or relax while awaiting a performance at the Magenta Theater right down the street. This space could also include a public art feature integrated into the design to perform some function, such as cover from inclement weather and/or seating to allow usage of the gathering spot year-round, while also serving as a focal point for photo-taking and integration with social media.

* A parklet is a sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people using the sidewalk and street areas. Usually parklets are installed on parking lanes or non-utilized street areas that are used to extend out from the sidewalk at the level of the sidewalk. Parklets are intended for people and offer a place to stop, sit and rest while taking in the activities of the street and adjacent ground level commercial uses.

Bike Art Park on Main:

The “Bike Art Park on Main” project will install two bike corrals on Main Street. The corrals’ bike racks are planned to be custom-designed and incorporate artistic features that celebrate architectural designs from local, historic buildings as well as cultural icons of Downtown Vancouver, along with complementary street art murals painted on the asphalt beneath the corrals. In order to increase multi-modal connectivity and enhance the designated Vancouver Arts District, the new bike corrals will include functional bike racks, creative street murals, and artistic protection from vehicular traffic.

The locations for corrals are on the Main Street corridor:

1) the SE corner of Main and 8th Street, in front of the Vancouver Commerce Centre

2) the SW corner of Main and 12th Street, in front of The Source Climbing Center.

The Bike Art Park on Main Project will serve as a destination and educational point of reference for all users that travel on Main Street. Stemming from the City's standard bike corral design, each corral generally will have six individual bike racks (serving a total of 12 bikes) and incorporate an artistic feature into the rack design that designates a sense of place and identity for Downtown. To define the corral area, a unique street mural will be painted on the street asphalt that designates the protected area and connects to the City's history and culture. The underlying street mural art for the two corrals would be designed by an artist selected specifically for this project.

The Bike Art Park on Main Project falls within the Vancouver Arts District. Created in 2014, the intent of this district is to enhance the City's heritage and arts. By creating the Bike Art Park to connect to the City's culture and heritage and increase functional bike parking stock, the project will help attract consumers and businesses to Downtown. A future phase may provide additional corrals and grouped bike parking in other Main Street locations, as well as utilize the individual bike rack design at single rack locations along the street.

Storefront Activation:

Another working group is concentrating its efforts to select locations along Main Street between 5th and 15th that would activate static or inactive storefronts or the sidewalk and plaza areas in front of them as a way to improve Main Street’s appearance. Various treatments are being considered, including art/heritage installations within storefront windows, refreshed landscaping, new public art on sidewalks or buildings, removing reflective materials on windows, graffiti removal, and others.

Demonstration Project Progress:

· Leaders of the project working groups meet monthly, while working group meetings are generally held either monthly or quarterly. If you have an interest in joining one of the working groups, please contact John Collum at

· The 12th & Main Artlet and Bike Art Park projects have both recently received $10,000 Culture, Art & Heritage Project Grants from the City of Vancouver in 2019.

· A “Call for Artists” Request for Qualifications has been issued for the 12th & Main Artlet and Bike Art Park projects, with responses due by February 10, 2020.

· Once artists have been selected, conceptual designs for the two projects will move forward during the first quarter of 2020. Implementation and project installation is targeted for completion during the second quarter of 2020 in hopes that the projects can be enjoyed beginning in Summer 2020.

· Storefront Activation ideas are currently being considered and its working group hopes to submit for a 2020 Culture, Art & Heritage Project Grant in Spring 2020. Implementation/Installation is anticipated during Spring, Summer and Fall 2020.

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