ed. Eidse et al, Vancouver Matters

I had such very high hopes for Vancouver Matters. This little volume was co-edited by five people connected to the UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture (James Eidse, Mari Fujita, Joey Giaimo, Lori Kiessling, and Christa Min, to give them their due), and it promised to look materially at Vancouver through a number of lenses. It sounds like a cool way to organize some ways of seeing (Blackberry, Freeway, Hedge, Stucco, and so on), and I was excited.

The first essay/element - Andesite, a type of BC stone used for building some of Vancouver's more iconic buildings - was excellent, as were a few others (notably Grass and Sugar). Others were very good, well worth reading more than once (Blackberry, Heritage and Trees). Some of them, though, were irritating in their pretentiousness (yeah, I'm looking at you, Hedge), others were so brief as to be little more than space fillers (View), and still others numbing in their detail (Stucco).

On the whole, I came away from this book tired and disappointed. I recognize that I'm not the target audience for an urban/urbane book like this, but frankly I'm in the next audience over. I'm not sure why I'm so unexcited by Vancouver Matters, but the thing is, I don't really care enough tonight to spend time figuring it out. It's a well-intentioned book, certainly, but it feels more like a secret handshake than it does an introduction of the UBC school to a wider group. And that's a damned shame, because it's clear that there's a lot of talent here, and I for one was ready to learn. I just don't see the readership for the book that could have reached out from them to the rest of us.


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