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Landscape as landmark

Laura Kloeser

The historic port of Vancouver will be transformed into a sustainable mixed-use area. NBBJ designed a special wayfinding system, that focuses on the landscape as landmarks.

The historic Port of Vancouver will be transformed into a sustainable multi-use-area. Visualizations: NBBJ

The Port of Vancouver Waterfront Development Master Plan defines a framework for a dynamic mixed-use redevelopment centered around the adaptive re-use of the historic 1923 Terminal 1 Building as a new market square. The original Terminal 1 Building and pier structure constitutes an impressive landmark and a gateway to Washington State along the Columbia River, providing direct access to the City of Vancouver, the downtown City Center and the amenities along the Columbia River.

In collaboration with the City of Vancouver, the Port of Vancouver has carefully analyzed the market and infrastructure requirements to accommodate a new waterfront development that engages and excites visitors and residents alike; considering appropriate land uses, infrastructure and transportation needs to create a major attraction along the Columbia River waterfront. The Master Plan utilized an objective analysis and an informed consensus-driven process among Port Commissioners, the City and interested community members to create a shared vision of the waterfront development. Additionally, the Master Plan aims at promoting wise sustainability measures and economic development goals, as well as access and mobility facilities for all users to create a high quality standard for the Port waterfront and the City of Vancouver.



Visualizations: NBBJ

Phase II of the Waterfront Development Master Plan encompasses the Conceptual Development Plan and entitlements, including preliminary engineering design of the overwater structure, urban design guidelines and sustainable development strategies focusing on recognizing the port’s long-standing maritime heritage and culture as a key placemaking strategy. A key element for the project’s success will be the development and programming of several public plazas and a series of pedestrian alleyways that connect each use within the site, as well as links to the downtown core and the adjacent waterfront development.

A new way of finding the path

NBBJ’s approach to design the Port of Vancouver wayfinding system resulted from a workshop with clients to uncover ideas for the Port of Vancouver waterfront site. The atmosphere of the new waterfront is social and casual while including the history of the place.

Impressive pier-like reclaimed lumber sculptural signs were designed as large landmark identifiers, defining the waterfront district boundary as well as providing orientation to visitors. Each sign is a different combination of long-distance mark, art, history, other information, and/or directory depending on the location.

The effective wayfinding system is both intuitive and easy to remember. Traditional wayfinding is purely informational (i.e. street signs and indicators) whereas the proposed wayfinding system is landmark-based. Creating impressive hubss by which people can navigate through the space allow new visitors to quickly go from point A to point B and back without any confusion. Landmarks can include public art, murals, quirky signs, or sculptures. Incorporating directional information into these landmarks helps to create a holistic and memorable wayfinding system. Research in neuroanthropology supports landmark-based wayfinding as a more intuitive and effective way for people to navigate in an urban space.