Large street-side utility boxes in downtown Vancouver, once popular targets for graffiti, are transformed into public art through a joint initiative of Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. Called WRAP, the project is now in its third year, with 11 new designs unveiled in December.
Located along 10 blocks of sidewalk on Granville Street, the 11 utility boxes are each covered with a uniquely designed vinyl overlay created by students from Emily Carr’s illustration program. Susan Stewart, dean of the university’s faculty of community and culture, says the project has three benefits: it gives students the opportunity to showcase their work to a large audience; it contributes to downtown Vancouver’s expanding free public art collection; and it solves a community problem by helping to curb graffiti on iconic Granville Street. After the first WRAPs were installed two years ago, graffiti incidents on the boxes were reduced by more than 50 percent, says Charles Gauthier, president of the business improvement association.