Throughout February, we’re commemorating Black History Month by sharing a behind-the-scenes look at designs that celebrate and serve predominantly African American and African Canadian communities while honoring their unique histories. Last week, we shared the renderings for Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza in Greenville, North Carolina. Zena Howard, African American architect and leader of our North Carolina cultural practice, is the project’s principal in charge, working collaboratively with lead designer Michael Stevenson. — check it out here!
Today, we are sharing the renderings for Vancouver Main Street blocks, a remembrance project focused on the story of Hogan’s Alley, a once vibrant neighborhood that was home to Vancouver’s largest African Canadian community from the 1920s through the 1960s. Zena Howard is working alongside principal in charge David Dove, lead designer Kenneth Luker, and urban designer and project manager Viren Kallianpur.
The neighborhood was destroyed in the late 1960s when the plans for a freeway and elevated viaducts cutting through Hogan’s Alley were approved. The viaducts are now coming down and Vancouver’s planning and development officials are developing a new urban plan that will honor and celebrate the interrupted traditions, displaced people and cherished places demolished decades ago.
The remembrance design team is leading a comprehensive urban planning, design and remembrance process with Vancouver’s African Canadian community and the city. They began the process by hosting a series of “visual listening” sessions, encouraging community members to bring in and share historic, artistic, sentimental, and personal images of importance to them with the entire group. This generates the sharing of stories and emotions that helps inform the next steps in translating the history and stories into an authentic, distinctive vision for the future. The conversations then translated into design charette’s with everyone working together drawing, to express how these ideas and images reflected on paper.
Following the sessions with the community, a vision for the built and natural environment of Hogan’s Alley emerged. The design calls for several buildings with varying heights, reaching up to 14 stories. At the center is a unique plaza space and pedestrian experience with surrounding markets, retail spaces, and restaurants.
Central to the design is a dynamic mix of uses and buildings including affordable housing, local artist galleries, independently-owned retail spaces that spill into the street like they once did 50 years ago, and designs inspired by the porches, terraces, rooftop gardens, and building forms found in the original Hogan’s Alley.
Overhead foot bridges, inspired by power line pose so common to Vancouver’s historical streetscape will provide connection between buildings.
At the western end of the new Hogan’s Alley and fronting onto Main Street, there will be a cultural center and office space for community-focused nonprofits. A daycare center is also planned.