Station Square in Burnaby is now home to a unique piece of art created by the famous visual artist and novelist Douglas Coupland, who is also -- among other things -- known for popularizing the term "Generation X."

The 50-ft piece sits on the high-traffic intersection of Kingsway and McKay Avenue, where Coupland himself, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, and city councillors were on hand to unveil the installation earlier this week.

The art installation is named Fordite and includes four separate pieces. The tallest one, which is 50 ft tall, looks almost like a totem pole, except consisting of various multi-coloured pieces that look like oddly-shaped marbles. Coupland designed it to look akin to the gemstone-like material that's created when automotive paint slag is built up and hardened, a material called fordite.

Fordite station square ribbon cuttingLeft to Right: Eric Carlson, Douglas Coupland, Mike Hurley, Ryan Beedie (Image: Anthem Properties)

Why did Douglas Coupland choose that very-specific design choice? It's actually a nod to the long history of the site where the burgeoning Station Square now sits.

That history goes back as far as 1938, when the Ford Motor Company purchased a farm at Kingsway and Silver Avenue to develop a new assembly plant. That plant stayed for 50 years, until it was demolished in 1988 to make way for a retail and residential development: Station Square.

By the aughts, the brick-coloured Station Square was home to a large Save-On-Foods, a Red Robins diner, as well as a Future Shop, before the property was acquired in 2004 by Anthem Properties and Beedie Living. Anthem and Beedie worked with the City of Burnaby to propose a sprawling redevelopment of Station Square that would turn it into a modern and bustling hub for urban living, taking advantage of its convenient location next to Metrotown, the fifth-largest mall in Canada, as well as a major transit hub.

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Construction began in 2013. In 2014, Station Square was recognized as Western Canada's most successful real estate development by sales volume. By 2015, residential and retail doors opened, including a Best Buy, a Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and others. Since then it has also won the 2021-2022 UDI Pacific Region award for Best Mixed-Use High-Rise Development.

Douglas coupland station square burnaby art installation 12004 vs. Renderings (Station Square)

"It is fitting, that what was once a car factory, then a vacant lot, then a strip shopping centre, and now the modern urban village of Station Square -- a comforting place for thousands of people’s daily use -- is symbolically graced by this amazing piece by Douglas Coupland,” says Anthem Properties CEO Eric Carlson.

“With the large number of new homes, retail, and office space in Station Square, I think it also speaks to the evolution of the neighbourhood and of the Lower Mainland", added Beedie Living President Ryan Beedie.

Now complete, the 12-acre Station Square consists of nearly 2,000 homes, 30,000 sq. ft of restaurants, 300,000 sq. ft of shops and services, and 150,000 sq. ft of office space.

This article has been updated to reflect that construction has completed.