Over the past few months in Vancouver, an intriguing idea was spelled out at the North end of the Granville Street Bridge. The word Gesamtkunstwerk was emblazoned in tasteful neon, atop a copper-clad building easily visible to all southbound traffic. So what was the meaning of this 15-letter German Scrabble masterstroke?
Gesamtkunstwerk is defined as ‘Life as a Total Work of Art’. To their credit, the developer, Westbank, and the architect, New York based BIG, actually created an engaging, intelligent space that merged architecture salon and sales center. Upon entering the museum-like hall, visitors (after registering of course) were welcome to browse a free exhibition of ‘Vancouverism’ featuring a genuine 1955 Arthur Erickson sketch. Through a complimentary audio tour, visitors also experienced firsthand the challenges and dedication involved in bringing a residential tower to life on a unique building site.
A series of events was held in the space, featuring visionaries such as James K. M. Cheng, Larry Beasley and Mike Harcourt. Almost 20,000 people attended the exhibit and events, becoming immersed in the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, and in its expression as Vancouver House – a gravity-defying 52-storey tower that rises from a triangular footprint to form a curtain-like gateway to the downtown peninsula.
Vancouver House is also one of the first developments to feature an innovative social housing model that buys a home in a third-world country for every home purchased here. World Housing, the brainchild of real estate marketing gentleman Peter Dupuis, gifts a micro-home to a worthy family living in a dump community through an amazing group of dedicated partnerships and people.
Yes, the end result is indeed, another tower. But by offering a free, inclusive look at a larger architectural vision that also celebrates Vancouver’s origins, a greater sense of grandeur, presence and even social license has been created. The exhibition has now evolved into a display of the fine detail and finish of Vancouver House, and no doubt a fair number of the almost 20,000 prospects will be interested in investing.
The true market for Vancouver House is global, but by offering to educate, illuminate and include Vancouver citizens, Westbank and Vancouver House have also paved the way for success right here at home.
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