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Coquitlam woman wins Olympic medal for plan to turn a 'gloomy' car lot into an accessible park

'You need to build the city for everyone,' says recent architectural grad who is now working for the City of Coquitlam on park projects that promote inclusivity and accessibility

A Coquitlam architectural student working for the City of Coquitlam says she is no athlete but is thrilled to win an Olympic bronze medal.

Narita Ico was recently flown to Cologne, Germany where she was honoured for her architectural re-design of two under-utilized parking lots on Vancouver’s struggling Granville Street strip.

Her Granville Gateway, featuring recreational spaces, trees and pathways, was honoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS).

The architectural competition is an effort to advocate for “excellence in the visioning, design and operation of fully inclusive and universally accessible indoor and outdoor facilities.”

Ico’s submission was chosen because of how it turned an “under-utilized and gloomy space into a vivid and translucent facility that provides a range of activities, green pocket parks and service facilities for the benefit of the local communities.”

Ico told the Tri-City News she was thrilled at the honour and excited to attend the gala along with many other notable architects.

While not an athlete, Ico said she strove to make the Granville Gateway accessible for all because it’s important to ensure everyone is included, especially in recreational activities. 

“You need to build a city for all,” said Ico, who is currently working for the city of Coquitlam on several inclusive park programs, including new universal washrooms that were recently installed at Town Centre Park.

Ico who obtained her bachelor bachelor of design in architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism at UBC, plans to complete her masters in architecture at the Vancouver university.