The City of Vancouver has hired an American architect to help revitalize Hogan's Alley, after the Georgia viaducts come down.

Hogan's Alley was a four-block long dirt lane that formed the nucleus of Vancouver's first concentrated African-Canadian community.

Residents were gradually displaced in the city's attempts to revitalize the area from the 1930s onwards.

Hogan's Alley, 1958

Hogan's Alley, 1958 (City of Vancouver Archives)

"The difference with the black community in Hogan's Alley is that they were displaced and there was no geographic area where they went to and rebuilt that community," Zena Howard told The Early Edition host Rick Cluff.

Howard is an architect at Perkins+Will in North Carolina, who specializes in cultural facilities.

The focus of her work is on the history and context of communities that have been displaced.

"The need for space is huge …  it shows that people value a culture, or a people, or a generation." - Zena Howard, architect, Perkins+Will

"The need for space is huge … it's sort of an expression of identity. It shows that people value a culture, or a people, or a generation. When you have that space you can actually use that to share information, feel welcome, commune, feel comfortable," Howard said.

Howard is consulting with a city-supported working group to solidify a vision for the area once the viaduct has been removed, which could happen in 2018.

Although the goal is to resurrect Hogan's Alley as a cultural hub, she said the intention is not to make neighbourhoods exclusive.

"They're not meant to be just for the black community, it's for everyone, it actually shares the culture for the entire greater community and they're just wonderful places when they're done right and … in a manner that is really inclusive."

To hear the full interview listen to audio below:

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition