Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mr. Spock's Tree-Topped Condo

Vancouver, December 29, 2009: I was rushing downtown to the West End to see if I could take in the final hour of the afternoon before the sun set. Tough goal to meet as the December sun sets just after 3:30 PM. Vancouverites get the lost daylight back in the June when the sun stays up past nine and twilight paints the sky orange for another hour more. I missed the sunset that day in December, but I did get some decent photos from Sunset Beach. Amazing how much light a digital camera can pull out of a dim winter evening. 

Eugenia Place on Beach Avenue. Named after the developer brothers’ mother, this condominium tower was designed by Richard Henriquez with a 30 foot (10 meter) live pin oak tree planted at the top. The top of the tree represents the height of the original old growth Douglas firs that grew in this part of Vancouver before they were logged in the 19th century. At the base of the tree is a concrete platform that resembles the plunger of a syringe that encapsulates the fa├žade of the building with the “needle” firmly plunged into the earth at the entrance.

Some interpret this “syringe” as a symbol of injecting new life back into Mother Earth. There is also an unsubstantiated story around that the architect having a substance abuse problem that he attempted to work out through this design. My favorite, yet unsubstantiated story about this building is that the penthouse was once owned by Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame. More likely, he went forth and prospered elsewhere. The first photo is mine, I captured the second two from Google Earth.

Close up look at the oak tree, living in what has been called the world’s largest flower pot.

Just down the street from Eugenia Place, I came across a street performer. This guy was truly athletic and funny 
These guys know how to pull in an audience and, then, take their act to a point beyond what anybody normal in the audience would consider trying themselves. “Don’t do this at home,” are the operative words here, folks. Juggling baseballs and bowling pins aren’t good enough, no, they have to be lit torches that go around his back, under his leg, then way up in the air. Tricks that take years to learn.

See the structure on the right, above? Those platforms are neither glued nor bolted together. No way I’d be going up there.

The performer showed off his extreme sense of balance as he walked that ladder over to the balanced structure. And he made it look like it was nothing. Darn camera batteries went dead just before the finale, where he stood on top of a loose skate board, that was balanced on top of a suitcase, that was balanced on top of the two platforms (there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza (folksong that came to mind, just now.)) Then, he juggled the lit torches before putting them out inside his mouth. Didn’t say, “ouch.” And when I gave him a tip after the show, he had no trouble saying, “thank you.”

From the audience, this man’s face and body language accurately captures the emotion that went through my mind while watching this act.

After buying new batteries, it was dark and a good time to look at the lights.
Everywhere, you’ll find trees with Christmas lights. The lights on this enormous cherry tree on the right are strung up each November with the aid of a fire truck.

I tried to get both lit trees into the same photo. Next time, I’ll bring a tripod.

Copyright © 2010 David G. Kelly

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