The future of one of Vancouver’s most iconic pieces of public art could be in question.
The City of Vancouver has approved a development permit, with conditions, for a 10-storey building on the lot immediately in front of the the East Van Cross.
The conditions require the applicant to refine design plans to confirm compliance with height and density requirements and an improvement to its north and west frontages.
The East Van Cross, an illuminated cross designed by artist Ken Lum and modeled on a historic piece of East Vancouver graffiti, was erected in 2010 at the corner of Clark Drive and East 6th Avenue and shines west across the False Creek Flats.
That area is at the centre of a major City of Vancouver development plan and remains one of the last industrial areas in Vancouver.
The new development, proposed by Dialog Design, will act as a headquarters for organic food company Nature’s Path, which is currently based out of Richmond.
The city does not own the land up for development but does own the land where the cross currently stands.
“While a proposed development will redefine the immediate surroundings of the monument, the city and the artist were aware that this land would be developed at the time the work was sited,” states a report to the Development Permit Board.
“And the architects are making efforts to protect certain views and provide design elements that act as a buffer between the monument and the new building.”
“The city has requested sight lines from the northwest to the monument should be protected, including those from the Expo Line,” adds the report.
WATCH: First look at plans for Vancouver’s False Creek Flats
According to the report, the new building would obstruct the cross from some angles but would maintain views from other vantage points.
The report says the new development would create 124,000 square feet of ideally located job space immediately adjacent to a SkyTrain station and will act as a “catalytic project at one of the gateways to the False Creek Flats.”
It says public art planners are currently looking into relocation opportunities for the cross.
The City of Vancouver said once the applicant has revised its application to meet the conditions it will be able to apply for a building permit.
Ken Lum declined to comment, but referred Global News to a previous interview, in which he said a development that blocked the cross would essentially ruin the piece.
“I told them I couldn’t see how the cross can function if you can’t even see it,” he said.
Lum has also resisted the idea of moving the sculpture, saying it would amount to admitting that development takes precedence and is more important than culture.
He has also rejected the idea of incorporating it into the building design for similar reasons.
Ironically, he said the piece had been designed to highlight issues of affordability and development.
“The division between affordability and non-affordability, the haves and have-nots…all those kinds of fractures are embodied in the work,” Lum said.
“It’s kind of comical that it would be shadowed by more development.”
—With files from Kristen Robinson and Sean Boynton
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.