On the one hand, I like to think I know a fair amount about this city; on the other hand, I’m constantly shown new things that highlight my veil of ignorance. Vancouver’s City Square shopping centre is an example of the latter. Despite being open since 1989, I’ve only just been “woke” to this place’s existence. That’s quite shocking given that I’ve frequented the general area of City Square for many a year. I suppose I could argue that City Square – up to now – has just been one of those places I’ve seen but not really seen. Confused, yet? ;)
Anyway, my partner and I were walking down the street after successfully patronizing Goldilocks Bakeshop. We wanted to visit a Dollar store to pick up a few small sundry items. Google directed us to one on West 12th Avenue – about a 20 or so minute walk from the Bakeshop. Thus, we began our leisurely stroll and eventually came upon our destination, which was located inside City Square. “What’s this?” thought ol’ PookyCake, “City Square? Why have I not heard of this place before?” So, we entered the shopping complex and completed our Dollarama adventure (great success!).
While the shops and services offered at City Square aren’t particularly noteworthy, the atmosphere and architecture of place and space totally drew me in. Designed with “European village flair,” City Square masterfully combines the classic and modern into a beautiful gestalt. In bringing two heritage buildings together – the “Model School” (1905) and “Normal School” (1908) – under a single space, the architect was able to develop something new from old while concomitantly “saving” the two classic edifices. The large glass atrium, which frames the entire complex, adds a modern touch without detracting from the heritage within.
For those interested in the “now,” City Square is a mixed-use building; that is to say, it houses shops, services, private offices and a food court. Businesses of note include: A&W, Bubble Waffle Café, Kim Son Vietnamese, Salad Farm, Starbucks, Subway, Teya Grill, Axiom Salon & Spa, Dollarama, Kin’s Farm Market, Canada Post, FedEx, UPS, Hot Yoga 101, Blanche Macdonald School (over-hyped), and Scotiabank. I will note that I appreciate the slight lean towards Asian food offerings at the food court vs. your typical large MNC options.
In summation, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit City Square; however, if you happen to be in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out – even if just for the unique architecture and story. In terms of shopping experience, I think this place is more of a “locals” mall in that it’s primarily patronized by people who live or work within the vicinity.