Urban Design Visionaries Speak Out Against Stadium

Erickson and Thom Agree that Comprehensive Plan is Needed for Central Waterfront

World renowned architects and urban design experts Arthur Erickson and Bing Thom have come forward to voice their opposition to the proposed Vancouver Whitecaps stadium.They were prompted to speak by their concerns about the stadium’s location, the failure of the stadium’s design to create a positive link between Gastown and the waterfront, and the negative impacts the stadium would have on the local heritage buildings. Both men are calling on city council to delay any decision on the stadium until a comprehensive plan is in place for the entire area.“We need a comprehensive plan for the whole waterfront,” says Thom. “This is our last piece of undeveloped waterfront and we cannot allow it to be developed in a piecemeal basis. We need a plan.”
“It has been proven in so many other situations – we need to be respectful in terms of how we develop our waterfront,” says Erickson. “Without a proper plan for the area, you might as well throw away all the good work that has been done in Vancouver to properly develop our waterfront and ensure that the public has access to these areas.”

Their comments echo the findings of the recent Policy and Technical Analysis of the stadium proposal, which concluded that problems with the proposal could only be resolved ‘if the Stadium is included as a use in a comprehensive plan for the entire area that includes the full rail yard, the Port’s Central Waterfront lands, Waterfront Road, and adjacent streets and properties’.

Both architects remain skeptical about the need for another downtown stadium and whether there isn’t a more suitable location for a project of this size somewhere else in Vancouver.

“When I look at what is being proposed, in my opinion they have located it in the worst place possible,” says Erickson. “It’s crazy and just doesn’t make sense.”

“The first thing that should be done is to establish whether there is a real need for a third stadium in the downtown area and that hasn’t been done yet,” says Thom. “Even if they could establish an actual need, I still don’t think this is the best location for a project of this size and scale.”

The Policy and Technical Analysis also expressed concerns about the location of the stadium and noted that the proposal had “fundamental flaws … that could not be resolved if the building must remain on the specific proposed six-acre portion of the rail yard”.The stadium proposal is slated to come before city council in mid-June.

Bing Thom is the principal of Bing Thom Architects, which he founded in 1980. He has established a reputation for innovative design on a wide range of projects including the Central City development in Surrey and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC. He has been awarded the Order of Canada for his contributions to architecture and the Golden Jubilee medal for outstanding service to his country.

Arthur Erickson is an internationally celebrated architect who is known for his modernist concrete structures that are designed to respond to the natural conditions of its location, especially climate. Among his many projects are the Vancouver Law Courts, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 1986, he was the first Canadian to be awarded the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the highest honour bestowed by the AIA. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1973 and promoted to Companion in 1981.

Read the Vancouver Sun coverage here. 

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