1180 Comox Street

Here’s the lane view of an infill project in the West End, in Mole Hill, which offers an intriguing example trying to achieve densification on a single 33′ x 131′ city lot. There was a single storey bungalow here which only dated back to the early 1950s, built after a fire in the adjacent Strathmore Lodge.

There was an initial proposal for greater additional density, but new (to us) architects Haeccity Studio then submitted the most comprehensive package we’ve ever read to justify a 6 unit rental project that has two building elements while retaining the existing mature cypress tree located roughly in the front of the site. Two of the units have two bedrooms, and one has three. The design is distinctly contemporary, with traditional shapes and colours (including a pitched roof) but modern materials.

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Eventide – Beach and Bute

Deecorp are usually commercial owners and agents for retail and office space Downtown, so a residential building is a bit of a departure from their usual area of activity. This three unit residential building was proposed several years ago and was finally advertised for sale at the end of 2014.

Now completed, the building was designed by Merrick Architecture. There are just three suites on four levels; the repeated use of the word ‘luxury’ in the marketing and the reference to ‘stunning unobstructed ocean views’ promised that these did not fall into the category of affordable housing – more like ‘if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it’.

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2525 Carolina Street

This 65 unit strata building is proposed for the corner of Carolina and East Broadway. Two heritage buildings are incorporated into the project; a house is moved from East Broadway to the back of the lot, and the Carolina Building is retained where it sits today, on the corner.

Studio B Architects have designed the building for Portliving, with bonus space for heritage retention justifying adding some density and two floors to the building. We’re seeing the Caroline Street frontage here, with a small courtyard with retail uses.

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1166 West Pender Street

New office projects continue to appear in Downtown. Reliance Holdings are proposing a 358,000 sq. ft. building to replace a rather tired and quite a bit smaller building. The new tower has a small retail unit on the main floor, and 29 floors of office above, with a top floor amenity space for workers in the building.

Designed by Toronto based Hariri Pontarini Architects with IBI Group, the building features ‘convex and concave exterior walls (which) respond to the contours of the adjacent buildings to form an undulating body wrapped in ceramic-fritted curtain wall glazing.’


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1055 Vernon Drive

While the Mount Pleasant industrial area has seen a lot of new projects since the change to the zoning allowed more office space, provided industrial was provided as well, things have been slower in the Clark Drive area. Here the I-2 zoning allows office to be the same as the total land area (1 FSR) provided there’s industrial space that’s twice as much (2 FSR). There have however been a number of new buildings proposed, and here’s the most recent.

It’s for over 100,000 of strata titled space space, designed by Christopher Bozyk Architects. No. 1 Collision will occupy the main floor, moving from near Granville Island, with light industrial and office uses on three floors above that.

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Changing domain

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Ormidale Block – West Hastings Street

The Ormidale Block has been around since 1900. Originally designed by G W Grant, it saw several architectural indignities over the years as the neighbourhood fell from its bustling past.

Revitalisation is rapidly improving the business viability of this stretch of West Hastings (which also has Woodwards – to the east – and the renovated Flack Block to the west).

Now it’s the Ormidale Block’s turn and new owners the Century Group have carried out a total restoration of the facade with a brand new 5 storey office-over-retail building behind, designed by B+H Architects. There’s retail space on the ground and basement floors.

The nearly completed building is spectacular, displaying the original architect’s eccentric disregard for symmetry (with an offset oriel window on top of two stacked bay windows suspended over the doorway. The colour scheme on the finished building is slightly more red, and less grey, which is a more satisfactory balance than the original illustration, published in 2013 when the project was first proposed. The completely new back of the building is a dramatic angled façade of rusted cor-ten steel. One detail makes the building stand out; the curved glazing on either side of the recessed doorway on the recreated main floor entrance really is curved glazing – not a low budget facetted replacement.

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