Triumph of the Technocrat by Vancouver artist Reece Terris is the featured artwork at the outside ground level of The Lauren at 1051 Broughton St. The interior design of the building is by Westbank and the architect is Henriquez Partners. The Lauren is touted as “the first new high rise purpose-built market rental building to be built in the West End in decades.”
Terris’s sculpture is constructed from reclaimed wooden girders salvaged from St. John’s Church, the previous occupant of the site from 1906-2011. The church is commemorated on a tombstone-like structure in front of the building.
Triumph of the Technocrat has a symmetrical beauty which is enhanced by a circular reflective pool it sits atop. The water streams into a channel much like a little creek, which spirals downward in front of the property till it fills another circular pool. The sculpture itself is two intersecting circles that in turn are mirrored by both circular pools and other circular elements in the ground landscape creating quite a beautiful effect. The pools, water channel and landscaping were designed by the Vancouver architectural firm Durante Kreuk.
The side of the water channel is inscribed with text written by Greg Snider, Vancouver sculptor and installation artist, in conjunction with Reece Terris. It expresses, in a flowing narrative poem, how developments like the Lauren impact our culture and are a triumph of a sort for technocrats who have created its ilk. The intersecting circles of the sculpture could be seen as worlds colliding – that of development and that of the traditional culture it disrupts. The spiraling channel could signify growth, flux and evolvement while the intersecting circles also form a kind of gyroscope to focus a subtle balance in the face of all this change.
There are many ironies in the art and the building project itself. On The Lauren website the building is described as embodying the principles of gesamtkunstwerk, a harmonious blend of design that takes into account the building, its grounds, the environment, artwork, the local community, etc. To some extent this has been achieved – but it ignores the fact that there was much controversy during development of the project over community consultation, the height of the building and its consequent shadowing. There were also promises of community use in the building, but no agreement was reached. Furthermore, the artwork described above in the sculpture and water channel, although beautiful, has a dire comment on the negative impacts of the development process.
The Lauren was built under the STIR project to stimulate affordable development of rentals in the city where we have such low vacancy rates. Elements of the STIR program include a lot of incentives for developers: development cost levy waiver, parking requirement reductions, discretion on unit size which can be as little as 320 sq. ft. under current regulations (like Rental 100 which has replaced STIR), increased density which allows more height than current zoning, and expedited permit processing. At The Lauren these incentives have produced the following “affordable” housing units. A one bedroom plus den ranges from roughly $1800- $1975, depending on the floor level. Although square footage is no longer listed, a spec sheet given out has some footage penciled in. A generous calculation would probably be around 350 sq. ft. for the one bedroom whereas a two bedroom plus den ranges from $2200 to $2925 for roughly 500 sq. ft. Although there are some deals on parking and temporary deals on Internet, you can pay an extra $100 for parking below the 20th floor, hydro is not included and insurance is mandatory. Conservatively speaking, this means you could be paying between $24,000 and $36,000 a year for “affordable housing.” And prices may increase in the near future. However, it is possible to save money on furniture since you can’t fit much into these spaces. The den, for example, consists of a 28 square foot windowless closet. You might be able to squeeze a queen size bed in one of the two-bedroom units with a small end table or two. The living room area would best be suited to a love seat, and a group of 4 for dinner would amount to a flash mob.
The Lauren website also touts their adherence to minimalist housing in alignment with the city’s former STIR mandate. Minimalism basically means doing more with less, and this seems to have been interpreted as doing more money with less space. Another triumph of the technocrat!
For more information on Reece Terris: reeceterris.com