Vancouver Umbrellas may be both a fashion statement and a daily essential in Vancouver, but the idea of building one to cover downtown's most prominent landmark is causing some unease. The three-block Robson Square, which was built in the late 1970s, was designed by Canada's best-known living architect, Arthur Erickson. But after three decades of use and abuse as a public gathering place, Robson Square is looking a little faded. The provincial government wants to do a full-scale makeover, while others are arguing for a little nip and tuck. The government's planned revitalisation of Robson Square is slated to cost C$87 million (HK$685 million). Most people have no problem with spending the estimated C$22 million for a spruce-up of some parts of the square. Nor do they dispute the C$23 million to be spent on a new Asia Pacific centre, which will act as a hub for commercial and trade links. But the supposed need to spend C$42 million on a clam-shell-style roof is raising eyebrows. The provincial government wants the covering to extend over what is now an open square to make the place weather-resistant and more convenient for festivals and other events. But the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) said the province must not be hasty. 'I describe Robson Square as an architectural landmark because of its uniqueness as an architectural and an urban design solution,' RAIC president Kiyoshi Matsuzaki said in a letter to British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. 'Please do not rush into a quick solution to construct a roof structure that may not be reversible, appropriate or sustainable just to impress the world during the Olympics.' Appropriate consultation must be taken to ensure a long-term architectural legacy for the city, wrote the RAIC president. The lattice wooden roof would be built of timber to showcase British Columbia's forestry industry and rise 10 to 15 metres above Robson Street. Underneath the arch will be an expanded skating rink. The former skating rink, a below-street-level affair, evokes a strong sense of nostalgia among residents. It was shut in 2000 due to government budgetary restraints, in spite of a fund-raising campaign to keep the facility open. With C$1.6 million in sponsorship from General Electric, via its corporate holdings in 2010 Olympic broadcaster NBC, the plan now is for a much grander skating rink. 'Prior to the Olympics coming here, we would hope this is reinvigorated and revitalised as a gathering place for all British Columbians,' said Mr Campbell. Although the government touted the backing of the original architect, Mr Erickson, he has since distanced himself from the revitalisation project. Both Mr Erickson and Mr Matsuzaki said that before the project gets the green light from the government, there should be lots of public input. Some members of the public have already weighed in, wondering why such a structure is needed in what was originally supposed to be an open plaza. An enclosed space providing shelter from the rain will no doubt find fans among at least one growing segment of the Vancouver population. The city's homeless will be watching with interest.