Exploring Alberni Street: from Denman to Lost Lagoon
Story & Photos by Dianne Maguire
Alberni Street in the West End of Vancouver is a street you might not discover until you’ve lived in the area for years. If you haven’t been there in decades, you’ll find it has been updated with new luxury buildings and bike lanes for your leisurely cycle to Stanley Park.
The Lumiére is the first major development on your right at 1863 Alberni Street. Built in 2002, it is one of the more recent changes to the street. The sounds of water tinkling into a tranquil trough are from two features either side of the front door, in which two sets of four arching spews of water aim their fine jets toward each other in an arrangement reminiscent of classic French fountains. If your curiosity is piqued by the blue-tiled shallow pool that runs along the walkway toward the back of the building, remember that it is private property. Be sure to ask before you go looking for the source of the playful gurgle coming from a cascade fed by an oblong bath at the back of the building.
Almost directly across the street is another delightful source of splash. The impressive building at 1888 Alberni, at the corner of Gilford, is one of the taller edifices in the area, with its pointed, shiny cone-topped roof. The water feature is an interesting contrast to the brick and glass architecture of this 1992 structure. Older pictures of the building suggest that this water feature is a more recent installation. Shielded from the corner traffic by rich groupings of foliage, the river rock-filled stream bed is hidden from the street. Spouts of water shooting into the air are spaced around the curve of the building. On the other side of the entrance, a similar arrangement echoes the splashes.
Laguna Parkside is another relatively new development, built in 2007. The buildings consist of a tower and townhouses. Either side of the tower entrance are troughs of water fed from elongated channels. Between sections of the townhouses, there are delightful arbor-like structures that join buildings with arches of greenery in the summer and blooming cherry trees in the spring. At each end of the archway of boughs are bowl-shaped concrete fountains with Romanesque-styled notched edges. Water flows from vigorous spouts splashing to fill the bowls to overflow into square troughs beneath them.
The water flow from the farthest fountain cascades down ever-wider slopping levels into a trough that runs from one such feature to the other. These can only be seen from the walkway that separates the back of these private properties and West Georgia Street. To get there, turn right at the end of Alberni Street.
Dianne Maguire is a freelance writer and novelist who is still fascinated by the hidden visual treasures to be found in and around the West End, even though she has lived in the area for more than twenty years. She will be writing more about her discoveries and favourites in coming months.