More Awesome Now has won the 2019 IOC IAKS Bronze Award from the international sports community. The two laneway activations in the heart of downtown Vancouver transformed underutilized laneways into engaging public spaces. The project was designed in collaboration between HCMA Architecture, the Downtown Vancouver Business improvement Association (DVBIA) and the City of Vancouver.
Presented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS), the award is considered one of the world’s top international prizes for sports, leisure, and recreational facilities.
Of the 98 entries submitted from14 countries, seven facilities were recognized by the jury with the Gold award, six with Silver, and seven with Bronze.
“This award recognizes the profound impact that the re-imagined laneways can have on the City of Vancouver,” says HCMA architect Paul Fast, principal-in-charge of More Awesome Now. “These are spaces that will change the way in which we move, live and work. They provide an opportunity to reconnect neglected urban spaces to the fabric of the city and to create environments that are inviting to all.”
One of the laneways is Alley-Oop on Granville and West Hastings in the business district. It comes with basketball hoops and hopscotch courts, while its bright, pink-and-yellow walls have also made it a popular Instagram haunt.
A few blocks away, behind Orpheum Theatre, is Ackery’s Alley, named after the Orpheum’s famous impresario and manager, Ivan Ackery. The alley features a red ground, walls painted with an ‘S’ pattern, and gold panels, plus an interactive light installation called FIELD.
The project is a result of Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver, a public engagement project by the DVBIA where more than 11,000 people shared what they wanted for the city. Among those ideas was the need for more welcoming public spaces, and More Awesome Now was born.
People from all walks of life are now using the laneways, from servicepersons and commuters, to professionals, students, and tourists. Since opening in 2016, hourly traffic at Alley-Oop has more than doubled, while the number of female users has increased by 50 per cent.