A Park for the Nostalgic

Mid Main Park / all images from Hapa Collaborative

At Main Street and 18th Avenue in Vancouver, the Palm Dairy and Milk Bar, an old ice-cream shop, was a popular spot for more than 30 years, until it closed in the late 80s. In its place, Mid Main Park speaks to what must be the community’s nostalgia for that community gathering place. Landscape architecture firm Hapa Collaborative worked with the Vancouver Park Board and local residents to create a one-of-a-kind park that harks back to that old Milk Bar. This new gathering spot is part of Vancouver’s “greenest city” initiative.

The history of the place is found everywhere in the new park. Within the concrete paving are “large, random ‘milk bubbles.'”


The trellis looks like giant “bendy-straws.” (The trellis itself supports kiwi vines growing fruits locals can snack on).

And, lastly, there are dairy-bar stools set within the park, even with spinning seats. All powder-coated steel elements are painted with Palm Dairy’s orange-red color.

The space taken up by Mid Main Park was an “underused slip lane” set within the Main Street right-of-way. It was transformed with curvy seat-walls, earth mounds, layered plants, and lighting schemes. The designers tell Landezine they used rounded paths to take the edge off an awkward triangular site.

The park also has lots of sustainable design features. According to Hapa, permeable concrete paving convey stormwater into a “detention gallery buried in the central mound behind the main seatwall, reducing runoff rate and quantity discharged into the city’s storm sewer.”

Fun, sustainable, and popular.

7 thoughts on “A Park for the Nostalgic

  1. Rocky Thokchom 03/27/2014 / 2:04 am


  2. Owen Dell, RLA, ASLA 03/31/2014 / 8:09 am

    Only one (possibly) sustainable feature is mentioned. Considering the massive amounts of concrete, steel, paint, etc. visible in the photos, there is nothing remotely sustainable about this lovely project. I am really tired of all this hype about sustainability when very few projects could pass any reasonable test of sustainability. Let’s all be honest, shall we?

    • Tom Mortensen, RLA, ASLA 05/28/2014 / 5:48 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Owen. The word sustainable has been misused and overused for too long now. Nothing that humans do is sustainable, it can just be a little less non-sustainable.

  3. Hmmmmm 03/31/2014 / 9:39 am

    I think if you go thru thru park design documents


    you will see that the project reduces impervious surfaces, adds plants and canopy trees and encourages pedestrian travel. Not every project is a home run. It takes a lot of singles to win the game.

    The park looks attractive and lively and will likely be a much utilized site. All good outcomes.

  4. Owen E. Dell RLA, ASLA 04/02/2014 / 9:44 am

    Hmmmmmm indeed. Looking at the design documents I see only one more-or-less sustainable feature – the rainwater system. Am I missing something?

    We need to set a high standard for sustainability and not make claims that are not justified by the realities of the project. To do less is greenwashing. This is a very attractive project and no doubt will be a fine addition to Vancouver’s beautiful park system. But it is not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that.

  5. Kent Worley 05/21/2014 / 3:58 pm

    Please tell the reading audience what else could have been done. I think they have done a wonderful job here, and it is easy to see the public loves it.

  6. Abi 12/11/2014 / 10:12 pm

    Another typical Vancouver “great in the summer, dead in the” wasteful project.

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