Located in the southwest corner of Canada’s British Columbia, Vancouver is a diverse city that offers just about everything you can imagine – an active downtown and waterfront area, notable architecture, a bounty of public art, eclectic shops and restaurants, scenic beaches, and mountains off in the distance. The culturally rich city is easy to pinpoint with its abundance of high-rise buildings, but sprinkled throughout, there are plenty of architectural gems and design-focused spots to give your attention. This guide is a great place to get you started on your next visit to Vancouver.
PS. If you’re heading to IDS Vancouver in a few weeks, be sure to bookmark this guide and explore some of the places mentioned below!
WHERE TO STAY
The Fairmont Pacific Rim, with its mesmorizing Bocci installation out front, and its downtown location overlooking the water, this luxe hotel has an incredible collection of art by Vancouver and international artists on display throughout.
The Shangri-La was designed by Vancouver architect James Cheng and the hotel makes a big impact on the city’s skyline, standing at 646 feet tall. A spot out front is reserved for local and international contemporary artists to create site-specific work in the heart of an urban city.
WHERE TO PLAY
The Vancouver Art Gallery boasts a permanent collection of over 10,000 pieces of art with about 3% of the works being on view. What stands out is the fact that they’ve amassed quite a collection of works by artists from British Columbia, continuing to preserve the history of art from the region.
The CAG (Contemporary Art Gallery) is a non-profit public art gallery that presents 10 to 20 exhibitions and off-site projects every year that focus on contemporary visual art from local and international artists.
Equinox Gallery is a modern and contemporary art gallery that is one of Vancouver’s oldest private galleries with an ever-changing roster of works by local and national artists.
Just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is not only filled with displays of world arts and cultures, but the Arthur Erickson-designed building is pretty spectacular.
Located on the water with mountains in the background, the Vancouver Convention Centre West features a 6-acre living roof, amongst the many other environmentally sustainable features, which is pretty cool to see.
Designed by Patkau Architects, the Beaty Biodiversity Centre is located on the University of British Columbia’s campus and houses a natural history museum, along with research labs and offices. The main exhibition hall for the museum is glass enclosed with a skeleton of a Blue Whale on display.
The Vancouver Public Library, designed by Moshe Sadie, feels a bit like the ancient Colosseum of Rome but with a contemporary spin.
The Interior Design Show Vancouver (IDS Vancouver) is the western version of the original IDS Toronto show, which showcases the best products and furniture from artists, makers, individual designers, and design-focused brands.
The Vancouver Heritage Foundation conducts house tours for varying types of architecture in the area, like mid-century modern homes.
Designed by Ste Marie Art Design, Osteria Savio Volpe feels like a Trattoria in the countryside of Italy with its simple and earthy elements.
The Simcic & Uhrich Architects designed Juniper restaurant has the feel of a distillery with copper elements seen throughout the modern space.
WHERE TO SHOP
Owned by architect Anne Pearson, Vancouver Special is a shop located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood that champions design-focused products, lighting, and furniture from local and international design brands.
It’s hard to miss Livingspace with its massive, geometric staircase that protrudes from the exterior of the building to welcome you. The store, which was designed by Bocci creative director Omer Arbel, showcases furniture, lighting, and accessories from top international brands in a two-level, 19,000 square foot showroom in Vancouver’s Armoury District.
Provide offers a curated selection of unique decor made in a variety of materials, like ceramics, glass, wood, metal, and textiles. Open since 2007, the shop’s founders stock designs they’ve discovered from traveling around the world.
Located in Yaletown, designhouse has been offering modern wares to the public since 1994, focusing on high-quality, great design that’s also a good value.
What else are we missing? Comment below with your favorite sites to stay, visit, and shop and we’ll check them out!