Ian Gillespie’s rental tower project to enrich scarce public art in Vancouver’s ritzy West Point Grey hood

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      As a developer, Ian Gillespie pays attention not only to the buildings he erects.

      The founder of the Vancouver-based Westbank Corp. also makes sure that his projects come with gems of public art.

      An example is the 52-storey Vancouver House, which has the Spinning Chandelier artwork under the Granville Bridge as bling.

      One of Gillespie’s upcoming projects, a rental tower on the west side of the city, will be no exception.

      That’s 3701-3743 West Broadway, where Westbank will develop a 14-storey building.

      Vancouver city council approved the rezoning application for the property on October 29, 2020.

      The affirmative vote came amid strong opposition from many residents in the affluent single-family home neighbourhood of West Point Grey.

      A public petition opposing the project described the proposed development as “disrespectful of surrounding neighbourhood context and character”.

      Westbank had the option to either provide public art on site or make a cash contribution to the City of Vancouver for an off-site public art.

      Gillespie’s company chose to have the public art on site.

      Public art consultant Reid Shier Inc. submitted a report included in the April 12, 2021 agenda of the city’s public art committee.

      The report stated that the developer chose to pursue onsite work to “ensure the highest quality and ingenuity of the public artwork”.

      “The developer and design team are looking forward to working with the City of Vancouver and the chosen artist to facilitate a notable public artwork that will enrich the experience of the neighborhood and contribute in a meaningful way to the artistic and cultural landscape of the city,” the paper noted.

      The Reid Shier Inc. report took note of the project’s “innovative staggered building design” on the northwest corner of Alma Street and West Broadway.

      “It presents a unique opportunity for a public artwork visible on the corner of the intersection in an area with very little public art,” the report stated.

      The public art has a budget of $249,735.61.

      “There is very little public art in the immediate area,” the public art consultant’s report said.

      It noted that the closest artwork is at nearby Jericho Beach, a 1978 bronze sculpture by artist Letha Keate entitled Continuity.

      “The design team has identified the corner of Alma and Broadway as the most visible and appropriate location for the public art,” the report said.

      It noted that the street corner is “accessible to pedestrians and sits on a key transit corridor that includes the busiest bus route in Canada, the 99 B-Line”.

      Four potential sites for art are outlined on the southeast corner of the building:  ground plane, parapet of the fifth floor balcony, parapet of the 11th floor balcony, or on the roof.

      An artist selection process as well as community consultations will be held as part of the public art process.

      An artist is expected to be selected in July 2021.

      The public art will be installed on one of these four spots at the building.