NAOBIH O'CONNOR (VANCOUVER IS AWESOME) - Numerous architecturally interesting developments are proposed or coming to Vancouver.
Vancouver House, Westbank’s 52-storey luxury residential tower, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of the firm BIG, is largely finished at the north end of Granville Bridge. The first phase of residential occupancy is complete.
Aside from this high-profile building, numerous other architecturally interesting developments are proposed or coming to Vancouver. This isn’t an exhaustive look at upcoming projects but provides a peek at some of the buildings that will help shape the look and feel of the city in the future.
Type: 57-storey, 331-unit luxury condo tower (556 feet).
Location: 969 Burrard St.
The building: It’s being built behind First Baptist Church. The sculpted facade features high-performance curved double glazing with high-quality insulated precast white panels. The building includes “sky gardens” in open-air breezeways on each level, and tree planters on every third floor.
Status: City council approved the tower in July of 2017. Construction started in December 2018 with an anticipated completion date of 2023.
Developer/Architect: Westbank is the developer. Venelin Kokalov, the design principal of Revery Architecture (formerly Bing Thom Architects), is the lead on The Butterfly. It’s one of the last projects Bing Thom of Bing Thom Architects was involved in before he died in 2016. Kokalov worked closely with Thom for 16 years.
Type: 36-storey office tower.
Location: 1133 Melville St.
The building: Once completed, The Stack, will be the tallest office building in downtown Vancouver. The building features four stacked and rotated boxes with six outdoor decks and a roof-top patio for office tenants.
Status: City council approved the project at an April 2017 public hearing. Construction started in 2018. The building is expected to be completed by 2022.
Developer/Architect: It’s an Oxford Properties Group project. James KM Cheng Architects designed the building in collaboration with Adamson Associates Architects.
LULULEMON’S NEW HEADQUARTERS
Type: Office with retail and restaurant uses at street level.
Location: 1980 Foley St. at Great Northern Way.
The building: Carved-out sections, greenery on the exterior, and the “brise soleil” shading system make the design of Lululemon’s new proposed 13-storey head office stand out.
Status: Lululemon is seeking a rezoning text amendment to allow additional height on the site, as well as retail and restaurant uses. No additional density is being sought. A public hearing started Jan. 23, and is expected to wrap up Jan. 30, to determine if it's approved.
Developer/Architect: Morphosis Architects, led by Thom Mayne and based in Culver City, Calif., is the design architect for the project, while Francl Architecture is the local architect.
Type: Redevelopment of a shopping centre, which will include 10 towers of varying heights up to 44 storeys, midrise buildings with commercial, office and residential uses, a community centre, library, seniors’ centre, performance spaces, a daycare and a nine-acre public park.
Location: 650 West 41st Ave.
The building: Architect Gregory Henriquez has called the redevelopment a “mini-city” and “the biggest and most complex project I’ll ever work on in my life.” Futuristic buildings will transform the site and neighbourhood. Housing being built includes 2,000 market condos, 290 market rental units, and 290 below-market rental apartments.
Status: Construction work has started on the project, which is being completed in phases. Some retail and office space could be completed in early 2022, while the first residences are expected in late 2022.
Developer/Architect: QuadReal and Westbank are developing partners in the project. Henriquez Partners Architects is the design lead and Wonderwall out of Tokyo is designing the interior of the mall.
Type: 42-storey tower with 220 market strata units.
Location: 1515 Alberni St.
The building: The developer has described it as a three-dimentional sculpture.
Status: Council approved rezoning for the site in January 2018.
Developer/Architect: Bosa Properties and German “starchitect” Büro Ole Scheeren. Francl Architecture is the local architect.
NATURE’S PATH NEW HEAD OFFICE
Type: 10-storey office building.
Location: 2102 Keith Dr.
The building: Nature’s Path, an organic food company, is building its new headquarters on a site near the East Van cross. It will replace the company’s existing head office in Richmond. The new building will feature a honeycomb-like exterior. It remains to be seen what happens to East Van cross, officially known as the Monument for East Vancouver. It may stay in its current location or be moved elsewhere. City staff told the Courier late last year that the city is consulting with those involved and working toward a decision about its future.
Status: The City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board voted in favour of the development application for the building on Jan. 21, 2019. The project is in the permitting phase, so it’s unclear when construction will start.
Developer/Architect: Architectural firm Dialog is behind the design.
SQUAMISH NATION DEVELOPMENT
Type: The project will feature about 6,000 units of mostly rentals in 11 towers.
Location: An 11.7-acre Squamish Nation-owned site at the foot of Burrard Bridge near Vanier Park.
The project: Initially, Squamish Nation was considering a 3,000-unit development, but news broke last November revealing the new plan for 6,000 units. Squamish Nation Coun. Khelsilem told Frances Bula of the Globe and Mail that the towers were designed “to echo elements of totem poles and reflect the mountains and sky of the North Shore.”
Status: Squamish Nation members voted 87 per cent in favour of designating the land use for development in a Dec. 10 referendum, while 81 per cent voted in favour of the business terms for the development that will see Squamish Nation partner with developer Westbank. Construction for phase one could start in 2021.
Developer/Architect: Squamish Nation, Westbank and Revery Architecture.
NELSON STREET TOWER
Type: Proposal for a 60-storey Passive House residential tower with a building height of 555.5 feet.
Location: 1059 to 1075 Nelson St.
The building: The proposal is to build the tower to Passive House standards — an international standard for energy efficiency. The project would be among the city’s highest buildings if it’s approved and it also promises to be the tallest Passive House tower in the world. It features a wavy shape with a curvy column of greenery down its centre, inspired by the peninsula, the inlet and green forests.
Status: The project is in the rezoning stage. City staff are reviewing the application and are in discussions with the applicant.
Developer/Architect: Henson Developments. Tom Wright of U.K.-based WKK Architecture designed the tower, while Vancouver-based IBI Group is the executive architect.
Type: 24-storey office tower with commercial space on the ground floor.
Location: 400 West Georgia.
The building: The tower itself features “several clusters of four-storey steel-framed cubes arranged around a central concrete core.” The project is envisioned as a “living sculpture.”
Status: Council approved the rezoning application in February of 2018. Currently under construction, it’s being built with a fast-tracked construction process where the steel components are fabricated at a manufacturing plant and then delivered to the site for installation. The project’s core is currently furthest along at level 24, with the steel structure at levels nine to 13 and the parkade is 70 per cent complete.
Developer/Architect: Westbank, Japanese architectural firm OSO and local architect Merrick Architecture.
ALBERNI BY KUMA
Type: 43-storey residential tower.
Location: 1550 Alberni St.
The building: The developer describes it as “shaped by two emphatic scoops that form deep balconies furnished in wood.”
Status: Under construction. Workers are pouring slab for the lower levels of the tower.
Developer/Architect: Westbank, Kengo Kuma Architects and Associates and local architect Merrick Architecture.
GRANVILLE GATEWAY TOWER
Type: Proposal for a tower with 303 market residential units, 152 social housing units and commercial space at ground level.
Location: 601 Beach Cres.
The building: The tower would sit opposite Westbank's Vancouver House on the north end of Granville Bridge. The goal is for the two towers to create what's been dubbed the "Granville Gateway" in and out of downtown Vancouver.
Status: A revised rezoning application was submitted in October of 2019 based on feedback from the public, which staff is currently reviewing.
Developer/Architect: Pinnacle International and GBL Architects.
Type: 52-storey tower with 407 residential units and a 10-storey podium with retail and 95 residential market units.
Location: North end of Granville Bridge
The building: Likely one of the most photographed buildings in Vancouver during construction.
Status: The first phase of residential occupancy is complete and the second phase of residents are expected to move in in the coming months. Fresh Market and London Drugs will open in February, while “House Concepts,” a 15,000-square-foot collective concept of four fitness studios under one roof, will open in the spring of 2020. University Canada West and Momofuku are expected to open in the summer.
Developer/Architect: Westbank and Danish “starchitect” Bjarke Ingels of the firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). Dialog is the local architect.
KENNETH CHAN (DAILY HIVE) - Construction will begin Monday, January 6, on a complete overhaul of Richards Street across the downtown Vancouver peninsula to include new bike lanes and greenery.
The municipal government is pushing forward with its plans to redesign 11 city blocks of Richards Street between West Cordova Street in Gastown and Pacific Street in North False Creek.
New separated bi-directional bike lanes will be built on the east side of the street, including the relocation of the existing painted southbound bike lane currently on the west side of the street between Robson Street and Drake Street. A configuration on the east side was chosen to reduce conflicts.
The southern half of Richards Street saw the installation of its first painted bike lanes in 2013.
As well, stormwater tree trenches will be created to reduce rainwater runoff and enhance the “urban forest” in downtown, including a new median with trees between the bike lanes and the roadway. Altogether, 100 new trees will be planted.
Other upgrades include protected intersections, the reconstruction of traffic signals, sidewalk improvements, street repaving, one block of sewer upgrades, and the relocation of four existing Mobi bike share stations and the installation of two additional stations.
To make way for the required bike lane and median space, and to retain curbside parking on both sides of the street, Richards Street will see its regular traffic lanes reduced from two through lanes to one through lane.
According to municipal government, a single through lane is sufficient for existing motor vehicle volumes on the street, which includes transit buses over the northern sections of the route.
During public consultation, city staff stated Richards Street, which is a one-way southbound roadway, can operate with just one through lane as “volumes are generally low and the parking restrictions during the afternoon peak between Dunsmuir and Nelson streets allow for increased motor vehicles at that time.”
The established redesign of the street will retain about 85% of the curbside parking spots.
Construction work will be completed over two phases to minimize traffic impacts. The first phase between Cordova Street and Nelson Street will be built from now to Summer 2020, while the second phase between Nelson Street and Pacific Street will be built from Summer 2020 to Spring 2021.
The new bike lane corridor passes by the new $14.5-million public park planned for the 0.8-acre, ground-level parking lot at the northeast corner of Richards Street and Smithe Street. Park construction will begin this month as well.
Further south on Richards Street, there are also future plans to construct a new seven-block-long bike lane along Drake Street between Burrard Street and Pacific Boulevard.
FRANCES BULA (GLOBE & MAIL) - The Squamish Nation got overwhelming approval from its more than 800 voting members to move forward with a massive rental-apartment development on Vancouver’s central-city waterfront – a project the nation is saying is a first of this magnitude for any Indigenous group in the world.
They say the 11-tower, 6,000-unit Senakw project on Kits Point will provide a model for other developments on reserve lands the nation holds throughout North Vancouver, as the Squamish aim for as much economic return as they can possibly get from their land.
“We went in with a clear conscience to maximize the profit,” said the nation’s CEO, Toby Baker, as a group from the Squamish council and nation announced the results Wednesday. “This is designed to be a cash-flow stream for multiple generations.”
Of the 827 Squamish voting members, 718 were in favour of changing the land designation to a long-term lease for development; 665 were in favour of the business terms, which means a 50-50 split of profits and investment with developer Ian Gillespie’s Westbank Corp.
“The Squamish Nation is elated and happy and thankful … with this resounding mandate,” said Squamish Councillor Khelsilem, who uses only one name.
“This is the beginning of a new type of leadership that the Squamish Nation wishes to develop.”
The nation wants to start construction on a first phase as early as 18 months from now, which will mean intensive negotiations to ensure the land that stretches to both sides of the south end of the Burrard Bridge gets necessary infrastructure such as sewer, water and power connected to it.
Khelsilem estimated the construction costs will be $3-billion, while the profits will be $8-billion to $10-billion for each of the two partners over the term of the land’s 120-year lease.
The planning team for the project has not determined yet how much of the project will be rental and how much will be leasehold condos, other than saying condos won’t be more than 30 per cent of the total. They also don’t know what the mix of rents might be yet.
That will all depend on market conditions, the cash-flow needs of the nation, and the partnerships the Squamish and Westbank are able to forge with both the provincial and federal housing agencies to access money that might be available for below-market housing or sustainability goals, said Khelsilem.
But the partners will have some advantages when it comes to building costs.
The nation is not required to go through any city planning or permitting processes, which could save years of waiting. It is talking about providing parking for only 10 per cent of the units, which could be another massive saving since a single underground stall can cost as much as $80,000.
Khelsilem said affordable rents are more possible in a situation where all the land cost doesn’t have to be covered right at the beginning, the way most development projects work.
Instead, the payment for the land will be done gradually over the term of the lease.
The nation expects to see 100 to 200 units reserved for its members, which could mean 300 or 400 people from the nation living in the development.
That means Indigenous students could become a significant new population in the school system, Khelselim said.
Squamish planners have already contacted the Vancouver school board and provincial Education Ministry to talk about a possible expansion of nearby Henry Hudson Elementary School.
Vancouver’s school board has had a difficult time in recent years getting the ministry to agree to build new schools in the big new residential developments that have gone onto former industrial land around False Creek, many of them near the planned Squamish development.
Henry Hudson, which is supposed to have 317 students but has close to 400, is due to be replaced with a new school built to contemporary seismic standards.
Prior to the Squamish announcement, the ministry had been talking about funding a new school with fewer spaces than the current one.
Khelsilem said the Squamish representatives are making the province aware that it has “some obligations to uphold our rights when it comes to the education of our children.”
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