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Port Coquitlam glass artist to repair smashed Olympic cauldron

Business owner Naser Niki, who created the original textured glass for the 2010 Winter Olympics sculpture, was saddened to see the panels destroyed by vandals.

Naser Niki was thrilled when he got the call that his company, Studio G3 Glass Graphic Group Ltd., won the contract to provide the glass for the 2010 Olympics Cauldron.

The project to create more than 500 textured glass panels to adorn the four steel legs and cauldron was a labour of love for the Port Coquitlam glass artist.

But last weekend, the beautiful sculpture took a beating when it was damaged by a couple of vandals.

Now, Niki feels pressure to replace the glass panels.

He tells the Tri-City News he's already started the work, and wants to make the repairs as soon as possible.

"I was saddened to see it," said Niki, after visiting Jack Poole Plaza to make templates for seven new glass panels that were destroyed.

"People walking around the site want to know why this happened. They see the cauldron with the plywood — it’s not good looking. We are dying to get it done as soon as possible."

Act of senseless vandalism

An investigation into the vandalism is underway and the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has released a video showing one person smashing several panels while another appears to be taking a video.

You can view the VPD-released footage below.

It's the senselessness of the act that bothers Niki most.

"I don’t know why they did this, why try to show off and do such a thing?" he wondered.

Studio G3 Glass, which does a wide range of custom glass work, including sand blasting, casting and decorative features, is the perfect company for the job.

Niki has already ordered the glass, which will be fired in a special kiln, and has sample panels left over from the original project.

The memories of helping to create the Vancouver Olympic Cauldron 12 years ago are still clear in his mind. 

It was an important project for the Iranian immigrant who started his architectural glass company when he moved to Canada over 30 years ago.

Custom glass-work was 'exciting'

"I was so excited to be part of this journey," recalled Niki of the massive job done under a short timeline with strict security.

Niki specializes in large-scale abstract artwork, which is recognized for its vibrant colours, one-of-a-kind designs, organic flow and high-gloss finish.

At the time, his company was located in Coquitlam — it's since moved to 1225 Kingsway Ave. in Port Coquitlam — and winning the contract was a coup for the small business.

The specially textured glass was suppose to mimic a frosty icicle.

"They want us to come up with an icy, icicle type of look and, obviously, I’ve been working for glass for many years, so I created a few textures and also we provided the mock-up base, the actual scale," said Niki.

"They liked the texture I presented."

He had a team of about 10 to 15 employees working at the studio at the time and it was a complex project to create the templates, make and cut the glass and install the pieces.

For added secrecy, the installation took place under a tarp.

"It was supposed to be an Olympic surprise" Niki recalled.

Now he's extremely proud of the work, believing it to be his legacy to the City of Vancouver.

"I always look at it, I always enjoy it — It reminds me of a beautiful, exciting time."

— with files from Vancouver Is Awesome