201 West Second Avenue

Cook St Concord render 2Three years ago we showed the model of South East False Creek, with an idea of how to deal with the site behind the hinge park – the point where the grid shifts. The was an approved rezoning for the site from some years back, but that was for the former owners, Millennium, who also developed the Olympic Village. The site was sold as part of their receivership, and the new owners – Concord Pacific – switched architects to GBL, the designers of several other SEFC projects.

Hinge Concord modelIn 2012 the Urban Design Panel preferred the new design concept which replaced an earlier quite bulky angled building. The new idea was for a curved building almost split into two parts, bending between the alignment of Second Avenue and further phases of development to come on the north side of 1st Avenue alongside the park.

Finally we have a submitted project for the site, and it continues the idea of a curved wall, although as a single mass. There would be 247 units on 17 floors, 96 of them with two bedrooms. Because the site it sits on is quite large, (although an odd shape) the density, at 3.5 FSR seems lower than some other projects like the Wall Centre next door, or the West tower to the east. Those both earned extra density by offering facilities – a childcare at Cook St Concord render 1West, and the newly named BMO theatre at the Wall Centre. This building follows the density in the area plan exactly, and has a higher density than all four Olympic Village parcels to the north east (although Canada House, Kayak and Sails have slightly greater site density).

The top picture shows the inner curve, facing north east, and the outer face (which doesn’t have exterior balconies) is on the right.

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1133 Melville Street

1133 MelvilleWe have see more office space completed already this year than any previous year in the city’s history – in the past that would have been reason for the development industry to slow down for several years.

That doesn’t seem to be happening; instead there’s a stream of new proposals for more office buildings, and here’s the latest (and one of the largest) for a rezoning on Melville Street.

Currently there’s a rather ugly and somewhat oddly designed 500 space parkade from the early 1980s, with office space on the top on this mid-block Melville Street site. Now Oxford Properties have hired Kohn Pederson Fox to design a 650,000 sq ft office tower, 33 storeys tall – which translates to 524 feet to the top of the parapet.

The site could, in theory, have a slightly taller building, but the economics of developing office space in Vancouver (and the added costs of taller buildings) presumably led to the decision to build to this height. The architect seems to have used the opportunity afforded by the generous height allowance to design high floor-to-ceiling heights (for the 20,000 square feet average floorplate) and a 40 foot high main floor atrium.

The same architects designed the MNP Tower for the same developers – but while that was a slim tower squeezed into a very tight site, this proposed rezoning would see one of the largest office spaces in the city (we think only Park Place might have more office space), and definitely the tallest. The building, if allowed at this density, would be over three times the base density allowed here – the Metro Core Study some years ago allowed the potential for rezonings for commercial uses. Kasian Architecture are the local firm working with KPF. There will be retail space at the bottom of the tower, including an outdoor restaurant patio above a water wall feature.

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1153 Granville Street

Another mystery new development application has been scheduled for an October Development Permit Board meeting. It’s for 94 residential units, in a 7-storey building with retail on the main floor. There’s nothing more available yet, but no doubt it will appear on the City of Vancouver website soon, and take a trip to the Urban Design Panel. We suspect the address might be wrong, and that the development is really going to be on the corner of Davie Street (which would be 1193 Granville)

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2290 Main Street

2290 Main model

We first featured 2290 Main Street at the end of January 2013, and showed this picture of the model of the building in the fall of that year. Council approved the rezoning, it received a Development Permit and sales started as ‘Focal’. After over a year of sales the project was rebranded as ‘Paragon’ and a new sales centre was promised. That never materialized, and now all the site advertising has been painted out which makes us think the project may well have been dropped – or sold on to a new owner (who might resurrect the original design, or go with an entirely new project).

Today this is still the site is a former used car dealers lot on the ‘2nd to 7th’ stretch of Main Street that is currently mostly small scale industrial and auto-related use. However, the Mount Pleasant Plan allows the possibility of rezoning, and this is a location that the plan contemplated buildings close to those already around it – like the 10-storey District that’s behind it.

The rezoning by Arno Matis Architecture saw the design for a nine storey building on the entire site, although the top three storeys are quite a bit smaller. Like his Cambie Street project, the new proposal was a striking contemporary design that would contrast with the much more cautious Busby Associates design of the 10-storey No. 1 Kingsway (which includes the Mount Pleasant library and Community Centre) to the south. The project had commercial space at grade, artists production space and some artists live-work studios. The building was set back a little from Main Street with landscaping and seating in front.

This model is the one that went to the Urban Design Panel, who gave it enthusiastic support. What the model shows is that the materials proposed were wood panel and glass – and as it’s rezoned, the building would still have to perform at a LEED Gold level.

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Shine – 273 East 6th Avenue


Here’s a Mount Pleasant artist live-work project that started selling in 2013. It sits right across the street from District, and it’s designed by North Vancouver based SHIFT Architecture (who have designed other Vancouver buildings under another name, and more recently some of the first apartments in the Fraser Riverside New Water project).

ShineThis was the biggest project so far tackled by the developer, Imani Development. It wasn’t a rezoning, but took just over a year since it was submitted before it headed to market.

Now almost complete, the colour looks more vibrant than the render suggested. Generally the realized project sees either the same or more muted treatment – that’s because there are shades still being installed over the green painted concrete that will make the appearance much less vibrant. We’ll post another image once the building is completed.

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MNP Tower – 1021 West Hastings Street

MNP 7.15It’s just over three years since we posted details of this office tower. It received a development permit in early April 2011 for a 420′ tall 35 storey office tower squeezed between the Marine Building and the Guinness Tower. Oxford Properties have developed the $150m project that sees the University Club facade preserved, and the tower soaring above and around the restored feature.

The building curves out slightly at the bottom, round at the sides, and over at the top. The design is from New York’s Kohn Pederson Fox, working with Musson Cattell Mackey of Vancouver (who created an initial design for the site that was rejected by the Design Panel).

The announcement of the tower said “The Oxford tower will be built with a focus on sustainability, including energy-saving triple-paned glass panels and a special heating and ventilation system called ventilated refrigerant flow system. The system, popular in Japan but not in wide use in North America, does not use ducts and allows for separate climate controls for different parts of a building.”

Although some tenants have moved in, work is still completing the base of the building, so we won’t put our final images of this spectacularly successful addition to the city until it’s finished.

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1550 Alberni Street

Today there’s a rather tired 1972 office building, but the West End Plan permits a condo tower up to 500 feet tall. The site was recently acquired by Westbank and they’ve just held an open house to show the design concept for the site by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. If an image of the tower is published, we’ll add it: so far Westbank are being very careful to control access to the design, including preventing photography at their private open house.

Already working with Westbank on the Four Season resort at Ko Olina in Hawaii, Kuma hasn’t designed a tower for North America before, although there’s a fascinating 49 storey Tokyo tower just completed in Toshima ward which has apartments over a new city hall. The designs that were shown suggest the tower has curved elements, and wood accents (a feature of almost all his work). From his previous designs we anticipate the Vancouver tower is likely to be every bit as dramatic as other recent out-of-town designed towers.

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