LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE | QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK RESERVOIR PLAZA REDO by PERRY + ASSOCIATES

Above: Henry Moore’s sculpture, “Knife Edge (Two Pieces),” as it appeared in the 1970s in Exploring Vancouver 2 by Henry Kalman with photographs by John Roaf (AIBC 1971).

When the Bloedel Conservatory and its magnificent plaza were unveiled in 1969, it was if the future itself had landed.

The fountain was gorgeous. Its lights had quarter-moon fiberglass spheres over them … they looked like dozens of mini Conservatories hovering in the dancing waters.

The fountains shot up and thien spilled over the edges at strategic points, feeding into ground-level steams with several arched bridges.

At night, especially, it was magical. The glowing Conservatory looked like a space station on the moon (Armstrong had just landed up there in July).

Or maybe a UFO had landed to take in the amazing view from this Vancouver power point.

All this. And a Henry Moore, too.

ABOVE: No patina: Knife Edge (Two Pieces) in ’69

BELOW: The plaza as it appeared under construction and in ’69

The largest development and civic gift at the time [came] in December 1969. Prentice Bloedel gave over $1 million toward the development of a new plaza, covered walkways, fountains and the domed Bloedel Floral Conservatory. An avid collector of modern art, Mr. Bloedel further enhanced the new plaza with the gift of the Henry Moore sculpture Knife Edge – Two Piece giving focal point to the vast concrete landscape.

City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

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The redo of the plaza, completed in 2006 by Perry + Associates (for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation; with Henriquez Partners Architects), is a perhaps a more functional space and, while beautiful in owns own refined way, lacks the verve and sensuality of the original 60s Space-Agey free form groove.

Zeitgeists change.

Between 2003 and 2006 the park’s two earthen reservoirs were reconstructed by the Greater Vancouver Regional District to bring them up to current earth quake standards.

The newly redeveloped plaza was officially opened in April 2007. The cost for the reconstruction was $6 million and encompassed a 1.2 hectare area including seven covered Tai Chi arbours, the 93 m² (1,000 ft²) Celebration Pavilion and a fabulous dancing fountain – recirculating 85,000 litres of water through 70 jets.

Henry Moore’s imposing sculpture Knife Edge – Two Piece has been elevated to a more prominent position adjacent to the fountains.

City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

Photo > Courtesy Coupar family via The Vancouver Courier


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