World renowned Gen X author Douglas Coupland to create sky-high painting on West End landmark

A prominent but decades-old Vancouver rental building will be getting a facelift from a world renowned author and artist, after the City of Vancouver approved a new public art work by Vancouver’s Douglas Coupland.

According to a statement Thursday, the city’s approval means Coupland will be using The Berkeley building as a canvas for a painting commissioned by the building’s original owner Reliance Properties.

The edifice of mostly rental apartments has been a landmark at the corner of Denman and Davie streets for 60 years and is undergoing some major upgrades to prepare Coupland’s canvas.

“This would be the first time that an entire building serves as my canvas,” said Coupland, who will be turning 60 this year.

The futuristic yet traditional vision for The Berkeley at the corner of Denman and Davie as proposed by world famous author and artist Douglas Coupland. (Douglas Coupland)

The Vancouver-raised artist is better known as the author of the 1991 international best-seller Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, which propelled Coupland to the world stage.

He has written more than a dozen titles, including Shampoo Planet and Life After God.

In 2016, Coupland was commissioned to create another public art installation called The Golden Tree at the corner of Marine Drive and Cambie Street. 

The 13-metre-tall sculpture is an exact, to scale, replica of Stanley Park’s Hollow Tree but coated in a gold finish.

Thursday’s statement said the work will start following public notification and permit issuance, after which a crew of painters will scale the building’s four facades, as well as the rooftop, to execute Coupland’s vision.

The property management company’s CEO Jon Stovell said the work’s concept is a “quintessential Coupland with a distinctive combination of colourful geometric patterns that are at once old-fashioned yet futuristic.”

“Douglas Coupland was an obvious choice because he’s a globally celebrated local artist and The Berkeley has had a strong local presence for more than 60 years,” Stovell said.