Jim Paquette of Gemstone Masonry and Landscape Supply in Langley has just three and a half days to transform BC Place into an Italian piazza for the Luxury Design and Home Show. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

VIDEO: Landscaper transforms BC Place into Italian piazza

Jim Paquette has just three days to build an authentic piazza for the Luxury Home and Design Show

It would normally take two to three months to build a project of this size.

But Jim Paquette has just three and a half days to transform BC Place into an Italian piazza for the Luxury Home and Design Show.

“Just the size of it is overwhelming,” said Paquette, a lifelong Surrey resident who is the owner of Gemstone Masonry and Landscape Supply in Langley.

“It has to be done in such a time — the show has to go on, and we have to be ready for opening night.”

Running June 21 to 24, the Luxury Home and Design Show features some of the top artisans and designers in the world.

“The aim of the Luxury Home and Design Show is to create a one-of-a-kind experience for guests,” said show spokesperson Lauren DePhillips.

“It illustrates the power of design, the story behind craftsmanship, creativity, the stewardship of old ways with pioneers of innovation. We’re bombarded in this world with one trend after the other, (and) for us we really want to bring this concept of luxury that connects the human to the object.”

The central piazza — a concept by designer Bianca Fusco Zanatta — provides the foundation for the Renaissance-themed show, and will mimic an authentic gathering space in Italy. It features 9,200 square-feet of pavers, benches, water fountains, 1,000-pound urns holding six-foot tall trees, coffee vendors and gelato stands. It will take roughly 45 people to bring it all together.

“It’s going to be pretty realistic,” Paquette said.

“We’re trying to duplicate an authentic Italian piazza. An Italian piazza is a gathering place that the people in the town or the city go to. It’s a park, but it’s usually within the confines of the city or small towns, so all the neighbours would go there every evening to relax and let the kids play there — that’s what we’re trying to create.”

With 38 years of experience building outdoor living spaces, this is one of the biggest shows Paquette has taken on. He has also built displays for the BC Home and Garden Show and the Vancouver Boat Show, and even created a 4,000 square foot “Gemstone Gridiron Deck” party space at BC Place for the BC Lions.

Although difficult to do, Paquette says it’s the challenge he enjoys most.

“I love what I do. If you don’t get up everyday and enjoy going to work, something is wrong. And I can honestly say there’s good days and bad days of course, but to be able to create something that is going to live on for other people to enjoy — it’s pretty fulfilling,” he said.

“And people say, ‘You’re crazy, why would you do that to tear it all apart?’ That’s why we do it. Because it’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s a wow factor for other people to showcase their products. Not everyone can do this project, and I feel honoured that I was asked. And I’m excited about doing it.”

For more information on the Luxury Home and Design show or to purchase tickets, visit www.luxuryhomeanddesignshow.com.


miranda@langleytimes.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter