HAPA Collaborative and Vancouver Park Board consulted with Mount Pleasant residents and business people, and produced three park visions. Based on community response, a preferred hybrid concept was generated, with refuge, gathering, connections and site history as its main principles. Hapa was there from public engagement to construction completion, collaborating closely with the client as well as our subconsultants. For what was previously an underused slip lane within the Main Street right-of-way, Hapa produced a scheme that sits comfortably between a new six-story commercial and residential building and busy Main Street. The composition of paving, curvaceous seating walls, mounded earth, layered planting and lighting shortens the awkward long and triangular site, and encourages slower, circuitous passage with places to linger adjacent to the action of the street.
The concrete paving is patterned to the grid of the adjacent city sidewalk, but is overlaid with large, random “milk bubbles” rendered in stained concrete, that blur the edge between street, development site and park. Pathways curve through the park, offering the option to depart from the city sidewalk. Plaza and planting are separated by a series of curving cast concrete seatwalls that feature a custom bullnose to deter skateboarders, and continuous LED lighting at night. The seatwalls along Main Street include long, continuous yellow cedar bench backs. Bands of permeable cast concrete paving—the first installation in a Lower Mainland pedestrian plaza – convey stormwater to a detention gallery buried in the central mound behind the main seatwall, reducing runoff rate and quantity discharged into the city’s storm sewer.
Plantings buffer the interior of the park from the busy street. Within these areas, over 90% of the existing street trees were retained, with further soil and irrigation improvements to bolster their health. In addition to the Chinese elms and littleleaf linden trees retained along Main Street, snowbell trees were installed for spring colour and eventual succession. The ground plane is richly planted with a mix of grasses and perennials.
The signature of the park is the “bendy-straw” trellis, a whimsical reference to the former Palm Dairy and Milk Bar that occupied the site from 1952 to 1989. Kiwi vines at each end will eventually drape the trellis with lush green foliage, and provide a free lunch to passers-by. North of the trellis, matching barstools recall the interior of a mid-20th-century dairy bar (complete with spinning seats), and are updated in powder coated steel to withstand the elements. Hapa worked closely with the steel fabricator to ensure the design vision successfully made it to the site. All steel bears the Palm Dairy orange-red colour, featured prominently on their logos and branding, right down to the hubcaps of their milk trucks. The trellis generates buzz, adds to the eccentricity of the street and makes the new Mid Main neighbourhood instantly memorable.
The result of a highly collaborative client-consultant process, Mid Main Park has become a neighbourhood gathering spot, an important connective site on Main street, and a local and city-wide conversation piece.
Landscape Architecture: HAPA Collaborative
Project Name: Mid Main Park
Project Location: 3333 Main Street Plaza
Year of construction: 2013
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