Like any rapidly growing city, the running joke here in Vancouver, Canada, is “It will be a nice city … once it’s finished.’

Until the spring of 1986, Vancouver was a sleepy, somewhat shy and perpetually overlooked resource-focused city located on a gorgeous spot of Canada’s west coast. Initially settled by Canada’s first settlers, the sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples of Turtle Island, the still unceded territory of Vancouver proper became incorporated on April 6, 1886. One month later, much of the city burned to the ground in what became known, no surprise, as The Great Fire of June 13, 1886.

One hundred years later, Vancouver hosted the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication (Expo for short), and overnight, Vancouver was on the global map. The city was nudged out of its slumber and quickly became the fastest-growing city in Canada and a mecca of real estate investment. Construction exploded, the funky early and mid-20th-century architecture vanished, and sky-high towers of gleaming glass and steel sprouted up like daisies in spring.

Suddenly Vancouver became the international go-to spot. Thanks in no small way to this newfound visibility, the city made a successful bid for an equally successful hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The photo at the top of this post was taken on a crisp and sunny late winter day (March 9, 2022) in the courtyard of one of Vancouver’s latest residential additions, the aptly named ‘Vancouver House.‘ The building itself gives this eery but wonderful sense of something huge, defying the fundamental laws of gravity. It seems to grow as it reaches for the sky and is an excellent example of balancing artistic form with practical function.

In particular, as shown by the design of this courtyard-level building that sits on a triangular slice of land between Granville Street proper and its western onramp, no bit of land is left to waste. As the city grows, making every little bit useful has become the mantra of the city’s urban planners. Sadly, however, the building is devoid of green space, which, especially at night, gives it a dystopian feeling the city planners perhaps now regret.

Click on the image above to check out the pricing options for this print. As with all of my photos, I will only print a limited number of copies. Each image uses heavy stock archival paper, is signed by me, is numbered and comes with a signed certificate of authenticity attesting to its uniqueness.

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