The 17-foot tall metal sculpture called Leaves of Change, which depicts a butterfly flying from a spent cocoon
As renovations wrap up at Columbia House, passersby may notice a new art piece on the southwest corner of the assistive living community in Vancouver’s Uptown Village.
Vancouver Housing Authority commissioned Cobalt Designworks to make the 17-foot tall metal sculpture called Leaves of Change, which depicts a butterfly flying from a spent cocoon.
“Art is a wonderful way to improve the livability of our buildings,” said Development Project Manager Joshua Ollinger. “It’s first and foremost a way to bring creativity.”
Columbia House’s property manager reached out to residents who gave feedback on proposed sculptures. In the end, they went with Leaves of Change and its message of transformation.
“It’s a population where their circumstances are changing,” Ollinger said. “I think that kind of spoke to them in a sense.”
He said if toward the end of a project there are savings in certain areas the housing authority can add back amenities that didn’t fit in the original budget. For Columbia House, the housing authority was able to cover the costs of the sculpture and the concrete plaza it sits in at the corner of Columbia and 24th streets, as well as a paved walkway that winds around the building.
During Columbia House’s renovation, common areas and all 152 apartments were redone floor by floor, and fire suppression and safety systems were upgraded. Air conditioning was installed in each unit, kitchens were upgraded, storage was increased, and the apartments were reinsulated to increase energy efficiency. Originally built in 1975, Columbia House last had a major upgrade in 2003.
Husband and wife duo Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei built the sculpture at their Cobalt Designworks studio just seven blocks away from Columbia House. Their work is seen throughout downtown Vancouver and along the waterfront.
Leaves of Change is made of stainless steel, weathered steel and powder-coated aluminum with LED lights that change colors.
It was the couple’s first time making a sculpture for a public housing authority. Corio said it was a collaborative process. She loves how anyone driving along Columbia Street or walking through the neighborhood can enjoy it.
“We wanted it to have a good presence for the community because it’s a public art piece,” said Construction Project Manager Scott Davidson.
He said the sculpture sets the tone for the building and serves as a landmark.
Although Vancouver Housing Authority is relatively new to the local art scene, Ollinger looks to bring art to future development and redevelopment projects.
“It’s definitely something we’re hoping to do much more of in the future,” he said.
During a remodel of Van Vista Assisted Living in August 2020, the housing authority commissioned local muralist and art teacher Travis London to paint the state bird, the American Goldfinch, and the state flower, the Pacific rhododendron, on the side of the building.
Information provided by Vancouver Housing Authority.