Visual arts building to be razed for subway
Equinox Gallery owner doesn’t believe other options were seriously considered
The provincial government is going ahead with plans to demolish an industrial building housing two of Vancouver’s top art galleries to build the Broadway Subway.
Equinox Gallery and Monte Clark Gallery have until 2020 to move out of 525 Great Northern Way, located directly to the north and behind the new Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
The Vancouver Sun received an emailed statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure saying that razing the building has been identified for “approximately 10 years, prior to the galleries leasing ” their spaces from the Great Northern Way Trust in 2011.
“There is not a feasible alternative alignment at this location because of the adjacent active rail right-of-way and the new Emily Carr University building to the south,” the ministry said in a statement this week.
Andy Sylvester, owner of Equinox Gallery, said he believes it’s nonsense that the City of Vancouver, TransLink or the provincial government ever seriously considered an alternate alignment.
He said he thinks the subway extension is part of a real estate play that doesn’t take into account the building ’s relationship to the city’s visual arts community or to Emily Carr University.
“My instinct is that people are going to wish that they had left a building like this in place, and many other buildings like it as time goes on,” Sylvester said.
“I think people will look back at this time and say: ‘What the hell happened?’”
Emily Carr University ’s previous president, Ron Burnett, suggested 525 could be saved if the subway extension started its entry underground further east in a vacant lot used for parking by the Masters in Digital Media building. The ministry statement did not address that suggestion.
The ministry also said the subway “project team has supported discussions with the City of Vancouver and Great Northern Way Trust to help identify possible solutions for relocating the galleries.”
Sylvester said he’s not aware of any solutions for relocating the galleries. “I have no idea what they’re talking about,” he said. “That hasn’t happened.”
Monte Clark, owner of the namesake Gallery, said the statement from the ministry shows that they understand the cost of what they’re doing, but not the value of what has coalesced around the university. “It just seems that they keep missing the point about what it is they’re getting rid of,” he said.
Demolishing 525 Great Northern Way threatens a key part of the visual arts hub that includes all the art events at the university and its Libby Leshgold Gallery, along with several nearby galleries such as Macaulay & Co Fine Art, grunt gallery and Gallery Jones. For openings at the galleries, sev- eral hundred people can show up to see new work by artists such as Gordon Smith, Fred Herzog, Karin Bubas and Graham Gillmore.
Clark said he and Sylvester knew demolition was a possibility, not that it was a certainty, as the ministry statement says.
“We did not know for sure — that’s not true,” he said.
The building, measuring 18,700 square feet, is one of the last examples of False Creek’s industrial past. Part of a larger Finning International complex, it was built in 1964 for welding and painting equipment and engines for industrial customers.
Construction of the Broadway Subway is planned to start by 2020 and finish in 2025. It will cost $2.83 billion to extend the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark to Arbutus.
The building at 525 Great Northern Way will be demolished to make way for a subway.