The Lauren – Comox and Broughton

Lauren blogInitially know as 1401 Comox, then as 1601 Broughton, controversy dogged this West End rental tower (now called The Lauren) since it was first proposed back in October 2009. After its third redesign it was approved after a long public hearing. Designed by Henriquez Partners for Westbank Peterson, the tower is one of the few 100% rental building approved under the now ended STIR program designed to encourage developers to build more rental residential units. (A new programme, Rental 100 has replaced STIR).

The tower was slimmed down and sculpted to reduce shadow impacts, and is now 200 feet tall, similar to other towers in the area. Just completed, the building looks almost exactly as the model depicted. The biggest change was the switch to curved balconies, looking very similar to the 1960s and 70s towers that are in 1601 Broughtonthe immediate area. From the other side of the building it’s hard to tell you’re looking at a 21st Century building; the colour and style fit in with the older rental stock. The Broughton façade features De Stijl shapes and colours.

The model showed some fancy landscaping, and the reality is, if anything, even more impressive, with an artwork called Triumph of the Technocrat by Reece Terris - a three dimensional freestanding sculpture made in part out of reclaimed wooden girders salvaged from the demolished St. John’s Church that stood on the site until it was sold in 2009.

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111 Princess Avenue


We noted that the excavation for this City of Vancouver/BC Housing non-market housing project started just under two years ago. Located on the corner of Princess and Alexander, it’s now just getting the finishing touches before residents start moving in.

Until a few years ago Marie Gomez Place was here, a smaller non-market housing project built in 1983 that suffered from poor building maintenance and management, leading to terminal structural issues that saw it finally torn down in 2007. It was named after a former owner whose name was spelled out in mosaic tile inside the door of the original 578 Alexander building. Marie was almost certainly a madam, but her timing wasn’t great. She obtained the permit to build her $9,000 establishment in 1913, but doesn’t appear in the street directory until 1915 just as the authorities closed almost all the brothels on Alexander Street. She doesn’t seem to be in the city a year later.

The new building has 139 suites on 10 floors, is designed by GBL Architects, and will be operated by PHS Community Services Society. It’s design shows it to be a cousin of another GBL designed non-market building, First Place, completed a couple of years ago.

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South Creek Landing – 2211 Cambie Street


This “architecturally ambitious” project is now close to completion. It received an approval from the Development Permit Board at the end of 2011. The minutes recorded that then Director of Planning, Brent Todarian, said “he was willing to use the term iconic for this project and thought it was one of the best pieces of architecture he had seen in the five years he had been the Director of Planning”.

2211 Cambie modelThe building replaces the single storey restaurant last the home of Toyo Sushi, and before that a Korean restaurant. It’s a 6-storey building with 15 residential units over retail. The Urban Design Panel gave it unanimous support, and the project as built does look very much like the model that was first seen three years ago.

It’s one of the first designs from a company briefly called Iconstrux, headed by Arno Matis (who now has his name on the company), who was previously a director at Bing Thom Architects, and was involved with the design of the Sunset Community Centre and the Chan Centre at UBC. You can see the family likeness (as it were) in the curved shapes of this building which curves in both planes, as well as the angled elements of the balconies. Most remarkable is perhaps the fact that this is the first project by developer PortLiving. The building’s design is a notable contrast to the contemporary right-angles of most of the other buildings in the area including the Crossroads project a few blocks up Cambie Street.

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Broadway Central

Broadway Office blog

Here’s an office development on the 500 block of West Broadway that started construction just over 2 years ago. Designed by Studio One Architecture for Orca West (up to now a mainly residential developer) the project, initially known as the Neelu Barchra Centre, sits in the ‘Uptown’ commercial-only stretch of Broadway, close to the City Hall Canada Line station.

Broadway Central 558 W BroadwayInitially marketed for lease, the scheme was switched to 127 strata office units and seems to have had far greater success as a result. The final building seems somehow more grey than the render suggested – although once the lights are on inside and the planting gets established it may be a closer match.

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Meccanica (2)

We first saw Meccanica three years ago when it was heading to the Urban Design Panel. A Cressey development designed by Rafii Architects, the 170 unit condo tower and mid rise sits on the former Buster’s towing spot, at the corner of Quebec and East 1st Ave to the west of First Place, (the non-market housing project in the background).

Unlike Rafii’s other SEFC scheme for Cressey (James), the project has an industrial simplicity. Like many other SEFC projects there’s some applied colour – in this case blue – although perhaps a bit less than the render suggested.

Meccanica 2012Originally the project had a townhouse base, but that was revised to introduce a showroom and light industrial uses for the vehicle manufacturer recently located on the site. Intermeccanica have manufactured a replica Porsche classic sports car for over 50 years, and supposedly return (once the final sales have been completed).



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105 Keefer Street

105 Keefer render

Here’s another project proposed for Chinatown, a bit further down the street from our previous post. The 13-storey rezoning is proposed for the corner of Keefer and Columbia, across the street from the Sun Yat Sen garden. The building is sculpted to ensure there isn’t a shadow on the garden. The design, by Merrick Architecture, calls for 137 condos over two floors of retail.

(sorry the image isn’t great – that’s what’s on the site sign. We’ll update if we can get something a bit sharper).

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137 Keefer Street

137 Keefer modelWe had noticed some site cleanup on a 25 foot lot on Keefer Street (to the east of the heritage building with the Keefer bar). Now we know what’s initially been proposed to go there – “To develop a nine-storey, multiple-family dwelling building with a commercial retail unit on the main floor, providing 19 parking spaces over four levels (via automated parking system) having vehicular access from the lane”.

It headed to the Urban Design Panel this week, and was not supported. The minutes aren’t available yet, but we understand the panel didn’t appreciate the style of the building, which needs work to make it fit better into the intent of the Chinatown design guidelines.

The plans for the 14 unit project were drawn up by Stantec Architecture, but the delegation to the panel confirmed the design is associated with the developer, James Schouw, most recently responsible for Artimesia on Hornby Street (and earlier Grace, on Seymour).

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