This month, the Jack Chow Building was the winner of the 2016 Excellence in Live Design Award for Architainment. This unique landmark in Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is already famous for being the world’s skinniest commercial building, recently become backdrop to a dynamic sound and light show. The blending of dramatic audio-visual effects, lit up against the unusual architecture of this heritage site, are a visual treat that leaves passers-by entertained and delighted.
The History of the Jack Chow Building
The “Jack Chow Building” was built in 1917 on a bet. At the time, the city had expropriated much of the land to widen West Pender street, leaving the original owner with only a six feet wide piece of property. Annoyed by his loss of land, and motivated by a wager with his professional associates, the owner had an architect design a two story building on this small property that become home to thirteen businesses. Jack Chow bought the building in 1985, restored it to heritage status, and has ran his successful insurance business out of the small space ever since. Although another building was eventually built into the adjacent space, the tiny original building (measuring only 4 feet and 10 inches wide) still remains its own separate structure.
The Light Show
In 2010, the Jack Chow Building was updated to include a glass vestibule that extends onto the front sidewalk, allowing visitors to pass from one side of the building to the other. This new addition was part of a transformation and re-imagining of the building, by designer Rod Chow, that has turned the site into a colourful public attraction. Hourly shows, that are synchronized to music, now illuminate the vestibule and other glass features of the building with a mesmerizing animation of coloured lights and video. The light shows artistically tell stories of the love, magic, history and modernization of Chinatown.
Control System Design
Eugene Mendelev, of Eos Lightmedia, worked collaboratively with Rod Chow on this project, as the control system designer and programmer. The control system effectively integrates interior and exterior lighting to accentuate the colourful features of the building, provide functional illumination, and to run the light show. LEDNeonflex lights were used throughout the project to create a neon-like lighting effect, a modernized version of the historic neon lights of Chinatown’s past.
To learn more about the Live Design Excellence Awards, visit livedesignonline.com.
For more information about Jack Chow Insurance and the Jack Chow Building, visit jackchow.com.