Douglas Coupland’s new Metrotown sculptures are a nod to Ford’s factory past (PHOTOS)

The pedestrian-oriented streetscape of the now-completed Station Square redevelopment has recently seen a further enhancement of its public realm with significant works of public art.

Anthem Properties worked with renowned local artist Douglas Coupland to create four sculptures, spread across two sites of the redevelopment.

Three sculptures stand outside JJ Bean Coffee on the northwest corner of the intersection of Kingsborough Street and Silver Drive, while one sculpture – the tallest at 50ft tall – stands at the southeast corner of the prominent intersection of Kingsway and McKay Avenue.

The sculptures are designed to resemble the gem-like material that is created by the buildup and curing of automotive paint slag, called Fordite.

‘Fordite’ public art sculptures by Douglas Coupland in Station Square. (Properties of the anthem)

fordite douglas coupland station square burnaby metrotown

‘Fordite’ public art sculptures by Douglas Coupland in Station Square. (Properties of the anthem)

fordite douglas coupland station square burnaby metrotown

‘Fordite’ public art sculptures by Douglas Coupland in Station Square. (Properties of the anthem)

fordite douglas coupland station square burnaby metrotown

‘Fordite’ public art sculptures by Douglas Coupland in Station Square. (Properties of the anthem)

fordite douglas coupland station square burnaby metrotown

‘Fordite’ public art sculptures by Douglas Coupland in Station Square. (Properties of the anthem)

Coupland notes that the appearance of stacked colorful gems is an explicit nod to Station Square’s historic past as the site of a car manufacturing plant for the Ford Motor Company.

The factory opened in 1938 and closed in 1968. The building remained on the site until 1988, when it was demolished for the multi-phase development of the first iteration of the Station Square mall, according to the city. of Burnaby.

Fordite, aptly named after the automaker, is the term mineralogists have given to the hardened layers of paint found under old paint spray booths at Michigan’s Ford factories. The chunks of layered automotive enamel paint are often up to 20cm thick, and they told experts what car model was used and what year it was sprayed.

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Example of Fordite gems. (Urban Relics Design)

ford factory station square metrotown burnaby

Ford Motor Company car manufacturing plant in 1938, located where Station Square is today. (City of Burnaby)

ford burnaby factory station square 1938

Ford Motor Company car manufacturing plant in 1938, located where Station Square is today. (City of Burnaby)

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Ford Motor Company car manufacturing plant in 1938, located where Station Square is today. (City of Burnaby)

ford plant station square burnaby 1938 assembled car

Ford Motor Company car manufacturing plant in 1938, located where Station Square is today. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

“These layers of colored paint are not unlike the layers of the Grand Canyon and, as with most sedimentary forms, can be called minerals, in this case an ‘anthropogenic’ or man-made mineral. Chunks of fordite, when broken and polished, become extraordinarily beautiful gemstones and are highly sought after in the world of gemology,” Coupland said.

“So for the Station Square site, I created piles of polished Fordite gemstones that are deliberately bold to remind people in a jubilant way that we once lived, not even that long ago, in a world where car colors were used as they still are in fashion, to hasten a vehicle’s shortened lifespan and create expectations for newer, more differently colored cars.

After acquiring Station Square in 2004, Anthem Properties embarked on a multi-year planning process to redevelop the mall into a high-density, mixed-use neighborhood that is part of the city’s eventual Metrotown Downtown plan. city ​​of Burnaby. Beedie is also a development partner.

The original Station Square shopping center before redevelopment in 2011:

station square burnaby 2011

The original Station Square in Burnaby’s Metrotown in 2011. (Google Maps)

The Place de la Gare redevelopment under construction at the end of 2020/2021:

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The new Station Square redevelopment in Burnaby’s Metrotown under construction in December 2020. (Google Maps)

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Station Square in October 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

station square october 2021

Station Square in October 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

After a decade of construction, the new station plaza was officially completed in August 2022. There are five towers with approximately 1,800 homes, plus 450,000 square feet of commercial and office space in the catwalks and on the level of the street, effectively activating the pedestrian-oriented audience. the spaces. Major tenants include Price Smart Foods, representing the return of the former Save-On-Foods through its sister brand, as well as WeWork, Cactus Club and Earls restaurants.

The redevelopment was designed by local firm Chris Dikeakos Architects and New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

The previous iteration of Station Square consisted of low-rise structures, with most of the 12-acre footprint being used as parking. It was anchored by Save-On-Foods, sadly remembered for its roof collapse minutes after grand opening in 1988. The collapse of a 6,400 square foot section of the roof crashed 20 cars in the store. . There were no fatalities, but 21 people were injured.

The first iteration of Metropolis at the Metrotown Mall opened in 1986, adding to the area’s existing Sears Canada department store and a supermarket. The SkyTrain Metrotown station opened the previous year in 1985, as part of the original segment of the Expo line between Waterfront and New Westminster stations in time for Expo ’86.

Burnaby’s Metrotown area in 1985:

metropolitan city burnaby 1985

Burnaby’s Metrotown neighborhood in 1985. The first iteration of Metropolis at the Metrotown Mall opened the following year in 1986, and the first phase of Station Square opened later in 1988. (City of Burnaby)

Burnaby’s Metrotown area in 1985:

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Burnaby’s Metrotown neighborhood in 2016. (City of Burnaby)