Douglas Coupland art installation unveiled in Burnaby’s Station Square

Station Square in Burnaby is now home to a unique work of art created by the celebrated visual artist and novelist Douglas Couplandwho is also – among other things – known for popularizing the term “Generation X”.

The 50ft piece sits at the heavily trafficked intersection of Kingsway and McKay Avenue, where Coupland himself, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley and city councilors were on hand to unveil the facility earlier this week.

The art installation is named Fordite and comprises four separate pieces. The largest, which stands 50 feet tall, almost looks like a totem, except it’s made up of various multicolored pieces that look like oddly shaped marbles. Coupland designed it to resemble the gem-like material that is created when automotive paint slag is built up and hardened, a material called fordite.

Left to right: Eric Carlson, Douglas Coupland, Mike Hurley, Ryan Beedie (Image: Anthem Properties)

Why did Douglas Coupland choose this very specific design choice? It’s actually a nod to the long history of the site where the thriving Station Square now stands.

This story dates back to 1938, when the Ford Motor Company purchased a farm at Kingsway and Silver Avenue to develop a new assembly plant. This factory remained for 50 years, until it was demolished in 1988 to make way for a commercial and residential development: Station Square.

Back then, the brick-colored Station Square housed a large Save-On-Foods, a Red Robins restaurant, as well as a Future Shop, before the property was acquired in 2004 by Anthem Properties and Beedie Living. Anthem and Beedie have worked with the City of Burnaby to propose a sprawling redevelopment of Station Square that would make it a vibrant, modern center for city life, taking advantage of its convenient location next to Metrotown, the fifth largest shopping mall in Canada, as well as a major transit center.

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Construction began in 2013. In 2014, Station Square was recognized as Western Canada’s most successful real estate development by sales volume. In 2015, residential and commercial doors opened, including a Best Buy, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and others. Since then, it has also won the 2021-2022 UDI Pacific Region award for best mixed-use high-rise development.

2004 vs. Renderings (Station Square)

“It’s only fitting that what was once a car factory, then a wasteland, then a shopping mall, and now the modern urban village of Station Square – a comforting place for thousands of people every day – should be symbolically honored by this incredible Douglas Coupland piece,” said Anthem Properties CEO Eric Carlson.

“With the large number of new homes, retail and offices in Station Square, I think it’s also a testament to the evolution of the neighborhood and the Lower Mainland,” added Ryan Beedie, President of Beedie Living.

Construction of the remaining phases is still underway, but when complete, the 12-acre station plaza will include nearly 2,000 homes, 30,000 square feet of restaurants, 300,000 square feet of retail and services, and 150,000 square feet office squares.

Howard is an editor at STOREYS. He is based in Vancouver, BC and has also written on media for One Zero and international politics for WhoWhatWhy. Prior to STOREYS, he was also associate editor of 604 Now.

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