1133 Melville Street

We have see more office space completed recently than in many previous years – 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 this project (one of the largest) is 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. Initially Oxford Properties hired Kohn Pederson Fox to design a 650,000 sq ft office tower (below), 33 storeys tall – which translated to 524 feet to the top of the parapet.

That design ran into some issues, and wasn’t supported by the Urban Design Panel in mid 2015.

Now there’s a new ‘stacked boxes’ design by James Cheng that would still see one of the largest office spaces in the city at around 550,000 square feet. It would definitely be the tallest at 550 feet and 34 storeys.

The building would be around three times the base density allowed here – the Metro Core Study some years ago allowed the potential for rezonings for commercial uses. There appears to be some retail space at the bottom of the tower, (likely top attract restaurant and coffee shop type uses).

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Spot – 2800 Cambie Street

Here’s the built version of  ‘Spot’, approved in early 2015, and now just completing.  It first showed up in April 2012, and was redesigned in the summer if 2013. Council have to live with the design – it’s across the street from City Hall, on the corner of 12th Avenue and Cambie.

Earlier designs by Fougere Architecture for Shato Holdings (who own White Spot – there was a restaurant on the southern half of the site) were rejected by the Urban Design Panel. IBI/HB’s design has a much more contemporary look than the rejected earlier attempts, and the final version has fewer units, and just two layers. The new building has 8 rental units as well as 125 condos, and a relocated heritage house on 13th Avenue. The street trees are still to be planted, but the ‘as built’ otherwise looks very much as promised on the models and renders.

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1055 Harwood Street

Here’s another West End tower, possible thanks to the West End Plan. This is a 32 storey tower designed by NSDA that would replace a 28 unit co-op, sold last year and now to be redeveloped by Strand Developments with Intracorp.

The new building has 82 market units, all 2-bedroom or larger, and 25% of the space as social housing (a plan requirement to permit the project to proceed). That space would see 44 units in total, with 24 two or three bed family units.

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Gabriola – 1523 Davie Street

The former home of sugar magnate B T Rogers has seen better days. Named after the island where the stone to build it was cut, Gabriola went from being a family home to a chopped up rental building and then, in 1974, a restaurant. Empty for several years, (apart from the odd movie shoot), it’s now proposed to be restored with a modest contemporary block of four townhouses to create a total of 20 (or perhaps 21) rental units.

Much of the landscaping would remain, and be restored, and parking would be in the parkade across the lane, an arrangement initially created for the restaurant use. Ankenman Marchand have designed the project, which requires rezoning.

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500 West Broadway

The Urban Design Panel have already reviewed this office and retail building designed by W T Leung (who has probably designed more office buildings along West Broadway than any other architect) it has a cut away corner that would allow a future street front patio. There’s also a second floor restaurant space.

The back of the building will probably have to look as good as the front, as the office building up the hill houses the City’s Planning and Legal departments! There’s no plan to an additional entrance to any future transit along West Broadway on this corner of the intersection.

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The Post – 349 West Georgia

Various designs and ideas circulated about what would happen to the 1950s Post Office that fills an entire city block. In November 2016 Musson Cattell Mackey submitted a rezoning that would see an office tower, some large format retail and two residential towers. Now it has been slightly revised from the version below, to the one shown here.

It’s a huge building – what you can see is massive – a Heritage ‘A’ structure designed by McCarter & Nairne (who also designed the Marine Building). What you can’t see is that the building is pretty much as big underground as above – and when it was built it was the world’s largest welded-steel structure, so we’re talking solid!

The heritage element would be converted into a seven-storey podium containing retail along all street frontages, rental housing, office, and parking. The office is proposed at 17 storeys, and the residential at 18 and 20, with 427 market rental units and 372 condos. There would be 273,000 sq ft of retail and 512,000 sq ft of office as well as a 49 space daycare. The initial response from the Urban Design Panel questioned the overall massing of the project and looked for some other changes including greater public space and a better link between Homer and Hamilton Streets.

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400 West Georgia Street

There have been hints that this site on West Georgia would be seeing an interesting proposal. The rezoning has now been submitted, and the design is certainly intriguing. Westbank are proposing to add around 350,000 square feet of office (with a main floor retail component) on a site across the street from the Library, next to ‘The Centre’ (these days a church), and half a block away from their Telus Garden office building. (There’s another development site between the two Westbank buildings).

The building has a complex ‘snowflake’ design, unlike anything in the city. It consists of a series of cantilevered boxes protruding from a hexagonal core. It’s achievable because it would have a steel frame – seldom seen in Vancouver. That would also see it built more quickly.

The architects are Merrick Architecture, who haven’t been responsible for designing an office tower for many years. The City has apparently already responded to the initial proposal in favourable terms, the rezoning package including this quote “You are commended for proposing such an architecturally interesting building”

The walls are either glazed or proposed to be covered with a green planted grid. This would be the most ‘green wall’ seen in the city, so the implementation and maintenance of this aspect of the building will be crucial to its success.


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