They can’t seriously be closing Vancouver’s geodesic dome

Bloedel Conservatory Dome

City of Vancouver, why not just demolish the Planetarium, too, and all our other iconic, distinctive buildings while you’re at it? Do we even deserve architecture in this town? See news story here. In short, last night it was decided in a 4-3 vote amidst raucous public opposition that the dome should be closed. This decision should be appealed.  The Bloedel Floral Conservatory is a beautiful glass conservatory sitting at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park which is situated in a high, disused quarry with a panoramic view of the city in all directions. (PS Technically, as a nerdy aside, the dome is a triodetic and not a geodesic dome.) The Vancouver Parks Board has already removed the fantastic 60s/70s minimalist wooden pavilions and water features that surrounded the conservatory, and now they actually want to close it permanently, which will no doubt also mean its demolition. It needs a 2 million dolllar roof re-fit, it’s true, but the cost of re-modelling the top of the park will cost much more than that. The city and province are currently awash in shortsightedness and ideological budgetary inanity. They like to claim “expense” and “recession” but they can’t even turn their own stunning assets into worthwhile ventures because they put dusty, creativity-deficient accountants in charge of civic life and aesthetics, and they support the wrong things. This building is a huge asset and any other city would be capitalizing on it. City of Vancouver, take over responsibility for the Conservatory from the Parks Board, which clearly doesn’t have the budget or the vision, and do the right thing – you have an enlightened mayor, finally, so perhaps we can be hopeful. What this city really needs is an advisory group of experienced architects and artists who can actually provide some informed guidance – developers and accountants have run the city long enough. If you care, sign the petition. Photos by nepkeepitsurrealeldanworldofjanarsidubu, and marcinchady.

Bloedel Conservatory

Bloedel Conservatory

Bloedel Conservatory Dome


Bloedel Floral Conservatory


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10 Responses to “They can’t seriously be closing Vancouver’s geodesic dome”

  1. Alex Morrison Says:

    NOOOOOOO!!!! This is madness!

  2. Wayne Says:

    This seems like an incredibly short-sighted move on the part of the Parks Board. If the plants and birds are removed the obvious next step would be demolition. How much would that cost? To knock down the building and restore the area would, I’m guessing, cost millions of dollars. Once the plants are gone it would be almost impossible to find the money to re-establish this mature tropical environment. One likely scenario is that the building will close, there will be no money for demolition and the building will sit, unoccupied and in increasing disrepair for years.

    The amount of money they are trying to save in the overall scheme of things is relatively small.

    My sense is the conservatory is a victim of a certain amount of neglect which may or may not have been intentional.

    I acknowledge the need for council and the various boards to manage their budgets but closing the conservatory will be viewed in future, by boards and citizens in general as insane. What’s the rush? I’d have thought it might have been prudent to postpone the vote while launching a focused campaign to promote the conservatory during the Olympics.

  3. Gentress Myrrh Says:

    Terrible news. The Conservatory is a place I make a point to visit every time I come to Vancouver, and honestly is always a highlight of my trips. It is disheartening to watch the past being relentlessly dismantled to eventually make way for what will most likely be yet another cheaply made (of particle board and vinyl) “Family Fun Center”. I signed the petition, and I hope something can be done!

  4. knitgirl Says:

    such rubbish!!!!

    How can Vancouver be broke?
    and no thanks to the NPA for allowing this structure to fall into such disrepair.
    for shame!!!!!

  5. Anja Noel Says:

    What a bunch of BS. Vancouver is slowly dismantled of its beauty. Our famous mountain view is blocked by an ever-growing forest of highrises and what ever is visible is no longer a pretty sight either – welcome to West Vancouver’s own shanty-town-look. Now the closing of the Conservatory – where did all the money go that was raked in?

    What I find appalling is that Vancouver has no heroes – developers and realty firms made a killing over the last few years – is there no firm or firms who would become a sponsor? I just had a horrible thought – is the rush to demolish the Conservatory related to establish housing for the poor (haha) – can you imagine the value this land has and all the many $$$ it would bring? Condos on Top of the Hill overlooking Vancouver…..

    And as for tourists, I guess sightseeing tours have to expand their territory further from Main and Hastings over to Powell Street and perhaps include back lanes in Chinatown to see discarded animal parts.

  6. Joanne Manley Says:

    Saw it once again last summer, after many years away. As beautiful as ever. Can’t imagine how
    anyone could think of losing something so valuable.

  7. Vancouver Says:

    I really hope this doesn’t happen, it’s such an awesome building.

  8. LB Says:

    One of the arguments against the tropical conservatory is the cost of heating it. Well, the solution is obvious. Make it a properly Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest biosphere; forget the tropics. Repatriate the plants and the birds in a fundraising private auction – I’m sure there are private buyers who’d want some of the amazing trees for their large Vancouver houses. The birds could be donated to aviaries or trained owners. And the Parks Board should work with its own botanists or the forestry/botany departments at the universities to do great displays that could be tended by students. Anything. Come on, Vancouver, you can be more creative than this. Don’t just knock it down. So it’s a little colder in winter in there… people will arrive in coats and can keep them on. And there could be a cafe there, and it would still be romantic. You can still have birds – local birds. Rufous-sided towhees, for instance, might like it, or song sparrows, or other birds having a tough time competing with the common sparrows. I’m sure it could be done. It could have a fantasy component – hologram of Gassy Jack dispensing wisdom, sparrows alighting on his hat… oh, you know what I mean. Figure out a way, Vancouver.

  9. Kevin Lee Allen Says:

    Wow, what a magnificent structure. I hope you are able to preserve the building and its function. Are there any interior photos or photos of the lost pavilions?

  10. LB Says:

    Yesterday City Hall declared it a heritage structure so it will be saved in perpetuity. Whether it will continue to be a tropical conservatory is another question; the energy use is extremely high. BUT IT’S BEEN SAVED. Phew.

    I have no photos of the removed wooden walkways and pergolas and water features… does anyone?

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