Construction workers installing cedar benches stained pink, yellow, and green in the middle of Robson Square interrupted an otherwise dreary Thursday morning commute.
The cedar patio, named Corduroy Road after old plank and log roads used in the Pacific Northwest, will replace cars until Labour Day in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery between Howe and Hornby Streets.
It’s the fourth year VIVA Vancouver has shut the street to vehicles and opened it into a pedestrian plaza during the summer months, giving people the chance to lounge in the heart of downtown.
Designed by landscape architects at Hapa Collaborative and Fricia Construction, the benches follow 2012’s beanbag chairs constructed with old sails from Canada Place and 2011’s fake beach.
Chances are the benches will be easier to maintain and clean than the beanbags and the beach where some chose to sleep in previous years. It costs about $50,000 to construct and monitor the summer programs.
While the annual closure sparks irritation in some drivers and West End seniors whose bus is re-routed, pedestrians have filled the square year after year. Many paused to snap pictures of the half-complete installation before work, with a few pausing for respite under the giant yellow umbrellas.
The closure is part of the city’s strategy to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto sidewalks, bikes and buses. The city will monitor how the closure affects traffic and congestion in the downtown core. Organizations such as the Vancouver Public Space Network advocate for a permanent closure of the space.