PORTFOLIO OF RECENT WORK PRIOR TO STARTING MATTHEW THOMSON DESIGN
Park Place Plaza
While at DIALOG, Matthew contributed Urban Design and Landscape Architecture to Park Place Plaza project.
With the Client’s ambition to make 666 Burrard Street their new head office and main campus, and with the existing membrane coming to the end of its life, the opportunity to enhance and re-activate this valuable publicly accessible downtown outdoor space was apparent. With new restaurants, programmed events, improved connections and places to sit and enjoy city life and good solar access being just some of the key contributors to the success of this future vibrant shared urban room.
Smithe and Richards Downtown Public Park
While at DIALOG, Matthew led the multidisciplinary design team in developing an exciting new public park in the heart of a downtown Vancouver. Working closely with the Vancouver Park Board staff, the project team orchestrated a thorough public and stakeholder engagement process which shared 4 park concepts, and culminated in community support for the preferred conceptual design option.
The Smithe and Richards Park design offers a variety of amenities and programmed areas, from a small cafe kiosk that activates a sunny events plaza at the south end of the park, to a destination play area in the centre of the Park. Bridging the entire park and providing unique vantage points to the activities below is a universally accessible elevated walkway with netted hammocks to allow hangout spots and potential for future installations to be suspended from below. There are also 5 'sky-frames' designed to hold public art or lighting installations curated by the city or future partners.
The much anticipated Construction of the Park is expected to begin towards the end of the Summer of 2019
As part of the multidisciplinary DIALOG team, Matthew contributed Urban and Landscape Design as well as graphic facilitation to help create the Vision and Master Plan for the Arbutus Greenway.
Working closely with multiple city departments, public and stakeholder groups and city staff members, Matthew helped facilitate a process that explored numerous design concepts towards a final Greenway Master Plan that received unanimous support from Mayor and Council and be awarded the PIBC 2019 Planning Award for Excellence in Policy Planning .
The first image in this sequence captures the recent creative spirit of the corridor, with creative and mostly unsanctioned activities popping up along the corridor since rail traffic tailed off over the past decades. Some manifest as guerrilla art upon old Canadian Pacific Rail relics others as scarecrows or garden plots, but all can be regarded as indicators of how this forgotten and re-wilding crack within the formal engineered framework of the city has been discovered, occupied and loved over recent years.
How then as designers, engineers and regulators of public realm do we honor the relatively recent communities and neighborhoods that have lived along the woolly edges of this route, as well as the ones that lived, hunted and gathered food along this route thousands of years before rails were ever laid?
And how do we provide the appropriate catalysts, ‘invitations for future participation’, without over designing or prescribing, that enable the recent free-spirited civic pride and creativeness to continue.
What are the spacial, environmental, ecological and regulatory considerations required to enable this corridor to successfully and safely function as a multi-modal route, while enabling enough breadth for citizens and visitors to engage with the corridor, and one another, in ways that can not yet be imagined or planned for?
unknown corridor guerrilla artist
Township of Ladysmith & Stz'uminus First Nation
As part of the Dialog team, Matthew helped facilitate a Community Engagement and Master Plan process for the waterfront area that enabled the neighbouring communities of Ladysmith and the Stz'uminus First Nation to co-create a shared vision for their waterfront. Much of the area had suffered from post-industrial contamination and through a series of hands-on workshops and community meetings ideas and solutions were prioritized that restored the ecological fabric of the land and water, as well as methods to revitalize the economic, cultural and social dimensions of the area.
The resulting plan landed strategies for an extensive environmental rehabilitation of the foreshore and Slack Point Park, as well as improving the commercial fishing dock and other marine based enterprises, expanding the significant opportunities for cultural facilities as well as appropriate sites for future residential and live-work development sites. Lastly, a continuous publicly accessible promenade and park system was envisioned to extend along the entire water front, stitching all the elements of this working waterfront together.
False Creek Flats
While at DIALOG, Matthew contributed both Urban and Landscape Design Concepts to the False Creek Flats Project. Working closely with a number of City of Vancouver departments I helped facilitate workshop events and the design explorations towards creating the FCF Public Realm Guidelines for the Innovation Hub, the first of 7 acres of city owned land that will be developed as part of the larger Industrial False Creek Flats Area.
Matthew and Nathan Lee of Contexture Design collaborated on a Public Art Proposal for on-street art installations that would utilize the added bulge-outs created for the new bus stops on Lonsdale in North Vancouver.
Inspired by some of the first transportation infrastructure on the north shore, the the log flumes, as well as the first and last cattle drive that took place between Lillooet and North Vancouver where it is reputed out of 200 head of cattle that had set out, only 2 surviving to reach North Vancouver.
While at Dialog, Matthew helped facilitate the collaborative process for the Vision and Master Plan for Lansdowne District. Through a series of rigorous workshops with multiple city departments, a successful Vision and Site Framework was reached, enabling an amendment to the OCP and further design developments to occur. The primary drivers to the process were; capitalize on central urban by locating residential density within the walk-shed of the rapid transit station, contribute quality public facilities and amenities within the cities vibrant downtown core, improve the ecological and sustainable systems, and design a complete community with equitable access to day light and open space.
The extensive public realm pivots off the a new city plaza space at Lansdowne and Number 3 road, with a series of smaller urban spaces leading you to the central park space, with a network of retail streets further expanding out to connect with the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Consideration was given to find opportunities to place make and build on the unique identity of the district, as well as measures to increase the biodiversity and habitat value of the 58 acre site by suggesting designs that celebrated the site specific hydro-logical character of the Richmond, by bring the water to the surface through a series of planted swales and urban conveyance canals.
As Lead Landscape Architect at Dialog Matthew helped develop the Site Plan and Landscape Design for Seapan’s new head office.
Given the remote site location much of the site accommodates surface parking. The team worked to incorporate new surface drainage that would charge a central planted storm-water swale, helping to clean and cool the site storm-water before passing through the separator and being discharged into the Burrard Inlet.
Matthew also worked closely with the project Environmental Consultant to improve wildlife habitat along the foreshore as well as increase site biodiversity through native planting beds in and around the car parking.
A viewing deck with a BBQ hookup and bar-like seating was also introduced at the south end of the building, and has become a popular social amenity for the Seaspan staff during summer lunch breaks.
Telus World of Science Outdoor Park
While at PFS, and as Lead Landscape Architect, Matthew had the unique opportunity to work with the talented and eclectic staff at the Telus World of Science to develop the design for the outdoor science park and roof terrace.
Extensive Public and Stakeholder engagement helped the design team arrive at the preferred Park design, and although the science exhibits inside the park receive most of the attention from paying visitors, it was the perimeter boundary that received most of the design attention during the process. It was important to create a boundary that was secure and safe, but also provide an experience that was engaging for the passers-by. Integrated interpretive exhibits and a number of visual access points at key moments along the constructed park boundary were developed, with opportunities such as the viewing deck overlooking the wetland across to centre-stage (designed by Public Architecture)
or the Community Plaza at the north end of the science park where large gates open to invite passersby inside to participate in special events or exhibits, creating a unique Vancouver seawall experience.
With support and funding from the City of Vancouver ‘Viva' Vancouver’ program and the local BIA, Erika Mashig, James Simon and Matthew (and numerous volunteers) designed and built a small Parklet in the South Vancouver/Fraser neighbourhood called ‘Hot Tubs’
Matthew collaborated with Nathan Lee of Contexture Design on a Public Art piece at the Rocky Point Park overpass in Port Moody.
Knots is a kinetic sculpture, influenced by the on and off-shore winds, and is paired with its heavy concrete counterparts in the nearby storm-water channel, called ‘Creek Dwellers.’
Inspiration stems from on the rich marine life and numerous creeks and watersheds that enter the adjacent bay, as well as a reference to the historic and present day industrial, commercial and recreational vessels navigating these waters.
Nate and his team at Pure Landscapes as well as the project engineer Paul Henry helped tremendously in their design and construction of the required foundation necessary to pull this off.
Parkit Competition, Surrey
Erika Mashig and Matthew collaborated with Contexture Design and Fricia Construction and were the winning entry to the City of Surrey Parkit competition. Erika’s idea to theme the installation with the iconic folded card take out containers became the basis- ‘Take Out’. Using recycled post construction lumber and the pieces of the old sails from Canada Place we built a temporary popup installation that helped activate an area under the sky-train causeway for food trucks as a community food hub.
While at PFS studio, Matthew worked closely with the client to create the Site Plan and Garden Design for the Rowland family residence in the Southlands area of Vancouver.
The House and Stables Building were already located, and required a Site Plan that located arrival driveways, swimming pool, pool house and terraced patios, as well as a vegetable garden, covered dining area and orchard. With a lush and expansive flower garden and wetland pond located beyond.
While at PFS studio and in collaboration with Perkins Will and Public Architecture and Communication, Matthew helped create a series of design concepts that explored locating mixed-use development south of Fort McMurray’s downtown core. The opportunities to re-connect the city to the historic lifeline that was the Clearwater River, and more recently orphaned body of water called the ‘Snye’ were evident. A linear park running the 2 mile portion of the river was envisioned as was extending the existing street grid south, to re-engage the city with this park, with further opportunities to provide safe access to the river and Snye year round by way of a multi-modal promenade.
A community centre, plaza, public art, warming huts, pavilion structures and other programmed facilities were also located strategically along this river edge park.
Sustainability and resilience being a constant design lens with the knowledge that whatever was proposed had to be designed and located to withstand the rivers extreme natural forces, with seasonal flooding and powerful ice-jams occurring.
While at PFS Matthew worked with Henriques Architects to explore early design concepts as part of the proposed renovated Oakridge Mall Development. With the proposed introduction of residential towers and improved and expanded mall, these studies sought to explore opportunities to incorporate a network of publicly accessible pedestrian shopping streets, plazas and a roof top park spaces.