Big W beckons shoppers again

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Stuart Davis

Crowds gathered to celebrate at the Woodward’s development in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Friday, as the lights on the big, iconic W atop the development were turned on. Photograph by: Stuart Davis, PNG, Vancouver Sun

The Big W is once again shining over the city at the Woodward’s site.

New customized low-energy red lights that decorate the replicated steel structure were turned on as part of the official opening of the Simon Fraser University Woodward’s Contemporary Arts complex.

From 1944 to 1993 the big red W, perched on top of an Eiffel Tower-like structure, beckoned shoppers to the Woodward’s department store, where the Downtown Eastside meets the business district.

Now, a new W sign is the centrepiece of a $330-million, mixed-use condo development including 536 units of market housing, 200 units of non-market housing, government offices, community space, retail stores and a new SFU campus.

The W weighs more than 2.5 tonnes and has 6,000 LED lights made to look like the old fashioned light bulbs of the past.

It remains on top of the tower but this time around it will be overshadowed by 42-and 32-storey condominiums.

The SFU campus will house a new theatre for performing arts and be home to a number of art displays. On Friday, SFU hosted the Arts and Architecture of Woodward’s, complemented by the lighting of the W– 17 years to the day after it last went dark.

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