Office Mural Celebrates the History of Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood
October 26, 2023 3 Minute Read
If you find yourself strolling around Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, you're bound to come across a striking new addition to the neighbourhood: an impressive mural spanning the four-storey façade of the new OFISWERKS office project.
More than just an intriguing work of art, the mural, entitled Heritage, carries a deeper meaning.
The idea for it originated when James McKenny, vice president of sales and marketing at FORMWERKS Boutique Properties, a CBRE client, looked up at the exterior wall of their new strata development, OFISWERKS, and saw the potential to create something unique and eye-catching on this sizeable blank canvas.
“We’d never done anything like it before,” says McKenny. “But we knew we wanted to create something memorable while celebrating the local community.”
“Mount Pleasant has historically been an industrial neighbourhood dotted with textile manufacturers, auto repair shops and warehouses,” Ferreira says. “Few of those are left today with Vancouver’s real estate prices being so high, so recognizing their legacy is very important. If we know where we came from, then we have a good sense of where we’re going.”
Putting Down Roots
While traditionally focused on residential developments, FORMWERKS decided to diversify their portfolio and make their first foray into the office market with OFISWERKS.
“We wanted to build an office that our people would want to go to,” says McKenny. “It needed to be close to transit, amenities and our employees.”
Mount Pleasant ticked all the boxes, given its proximity to Vancouver’s Seawall and to a variety of shops, restaurants, breweries and transit. And with the upcoming Broadway Subway Project — an extension of the existing Millennium Line – set to be complete by 2026 – the OFISWERKS development also represents a promising long-term investment, despite it being brought to market in a challenging time for the office sector.
“Mount Pleasant is a fast-growing neighbourhood that’s attracting a lot of young people, tech firms and life science companies,” says Ferreira. “There aren’t many opportunities to own a flex office in such a central location in the Lower Mainland, so OFISWERKS has a lot of appeal.”
And now with its new mural, it’s even more alluring.
A Leap of Faith
The creation of the mural came with its share of challenges.
“There’s more to it than just paint and a paintbrush,” says McKenny. “There was a lot of planning happening behind the scenes to make this project possible.”
FORMWERKS collaborated with the Vancouver Mural Festival to orchestrate the artwork, obtain the necessary permits, acquire the equipment, and find an artist who could deliver the desired look and message. FORMWERKS also had to relocate vehicles using the nearby parking lot for the duration of the process.
There were a number of unknowns regarding the final result. Would it turn out as planned? Would the community react favourably? There was no way to know until they got it done. “We took a leap of faith and it paid off,” says McKenny.
Creating a Landmark
The mural was painted by France-based artist Oscar Maslard (who goes by the handle SCKARO), with the help of his brother Arthur Maslard (known as RATUR), who lives in Vancouver. Painted by hand in the August heat, they took 15 days to complete the entirety of the four-storey mural.
“It was an honour to participate in this project and work alongside my brother,” Oscar Maslard says over a video call from Paris. “It was truly a unique experience.”
The mural – depicting the historic Vancouver Salt Co. Building amid a colourful smattering of flowers and marine vegetation – honours the history of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood while paying tribute to the dynamic spirit of the local creative community.
“The piece makes a statement while telling a story,” says FORMWERKS’ McKenny. “You can see something different every time you look at it; it really makes you think.”
Encouraged by the success of the project and the positive feedback received from the community, FORMWERKS is planning on commissioning another mural for their next development.
“FORMWERKS has taken a lot of pride in every aspect of this building,” says Ferreira. “It’s their first project in the neighbourhood and it’s already become a real centrepiece.
“I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Mount Pleasant community.”
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