498 Drake Street

This new tower was approved for rezoning over five years ago. It’s located on the southern end of the Downtown peninsula. The design changed for the development permit to the one below. (We’re showing the same view for both the built, and the design, from Richards and Drake).

DIALOG’s design for the 258 unit 43 storey tower includes retail space at the base of the tower, and 12 townhouses. It first appeared on the City’s website in January 2012, went to a March Urban Design Panel as a first step in the approval process and received  unanimous support.

Wall Financial are the developers, and unusually (but not uniquely) the rezoning was accompanied by an offer to build $23.5 million worth of non-market housing on another Downtown South south site. Despite paying a contribution based on a strata project, Wall have decided (for now at least) to lease all the units in the building, now named Peter Wall’s Yaletown. Two bed two bath units are being offered at $2,750 a month.

Apart from the change from golden balcony glass to clear with a white band, the tower hasn’t really differed from the plans. The original render eliminated the taper that is experienced looking up a 43 storey slim tower (the block is 20 feet narrower than a typical block), so appears somewhat different, but that was purely artistic licence.

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1810 Alberni Street

This is the latest West End Plan tower to be submitted as a Development Application (not a rezoning).

It’s for 60 residential units (36 strata and 24 affordable market rental housing units) over a small retail unit on the corner of Alberni and Denman.

It will be 21 storeys high, and is designed by Rafii Architects for Landa. The architects note that it “has been designed as an array of “boxes” oriented in different directions which interplay with each other and departs from the more common vertical box of concrete and glass.”

Although each floor is under the 5,500 sq ft guideline, because of the projections the overall building footprint will need a relaxation to be allowed to go forward – so the views of the Urban Design Panel will be important.

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101 West 6th Avenue

The projects in Mount Pleasant’s industrial and commercial area just keep coming.

This application for a modest 18,000 square feet of industrial and office space designed by Ekistics Architecture doesn’t have a render from ground level, but this gives an idea of the design. The three upper office floors are smaller than the main industrial floor, but all have high ceilings and the building is proposed to be 64 feet high.

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Avenue One – 201 West Second Avenue

In 2012 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. There are open areas in front and behind the building, with water features on the northern side.

In 2015 we had a submitted project for the site, continuing the idea of a curved wall, although as a single mass. There were 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 West, 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).

Now, after construction has started, there’s a revision to add another penthouse floor with one huge unit, and three more units below. The density would be 3.7 FSR. The top picture shows the inner curve, facing north east, and the outer face (which doesn’t have exterior balconies) is on the right. The five storey cut-out is still proposed (at least for now) to be finished in a copper coloured metal panel, while the rest of the building has brushed aluminum finish.

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1546 Nelson Street


We overlooked this project back in 2014 when it was initially approved, but it’s one of the first Laneway 2.0 projects completed in the West End. The six unit rental building on the lot, dating from 1905, is unchanged, although it’s being tidied up, but another four units have been constructed at the back, designed by Ankenman Marchand.

The development has recently been completed, and the finished product shows some different detailing from the original design. The project’s homes also have a different street address; these are now addressed to Henshaw Lane, as West End lanes are wide enough to be considered street rights of way, and have names.

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Parq (Vancouver Urban Resort) – 39 Smithe Street

The on-again, off-again casino project for the western end of BC Place stadium is finally open, about a year after it was initially intended, although there are still some last-minute finishing touches on the curtain wall.

When it was approved we described it as a Darth Vader design for the Las Vegas based Paragon Gaming, who added Canadian financial partners and Marriott International to run the two hotels that bookend the ‘resort’. Below is one of the 2014 renders from the developer’s website. As built, it’s hard to argue that what was promised hasn’t been delivered.

2013 casino 3The design is by ARCOP + acdf with Michelange Panzini, all from Montreal, although IBI Group handled the Vancouver submissions. ARCOP’s original name was Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, Sise, whose very first project anywhere was the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

We particularly liked this context render from the Las Vegas press, who readers couldn’t be expected to know that the gorgeous lawn is in fact the location of Concord Pacific’s One Pacific residential scheme, that almost completely hides this view.

For us this is one of the most disappointing projects to have been built in the city. It was a difficult program to squeeze as much space as possible into an impossibly tight site, as the picture on the right shows. The only interesting bit is its relationship to the stadium and how it wraps around it with the clear glass. Unfortunately it creates some very dark alien space at the base. There are also requirement that you shouldn’t actually be able to see anybody gambling in a casino in British Columbia, and that presumably explains the shiny opaque glazing. It’s worth recalling earlier versions (like the one below from 2010), probably tried too hard to be interesting – but at least they were interesting.

The shiny pinkish-bronze glazing looks entirely alien in the Vancouver context. The detailing is in places appalling – with huge duct vents randomly scattered in the façade.

Fortunately several other new projects will hide more of it in future.

It’s good for the city to have a couple of new hotels, especially near the two stadia, but if Vancouver adopted London’s predilection for giving new buildings a nickname, we’d be suggesting ‘The Shiny Turd’ for this one.

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1555 West 8th Avenue

The Office of McFarlane Biggar generally design a very sleek, stripped down contemporary look, and in the past have been as engaged designing interior spaces as buildings. They initially submitted this project in the Burrard Slopes residential neighbourhood just off West Broadway in May 2012. Then it had only 18 units, and wasn’t a rezoning so it was able to proceed fairly quickly and gain approval at the Development Permit Board meeting.

Now it’s virtually complete, having been revised slightly in 2014 to the current design with 20 units. Unusually for condo projects in Vancouver, almost all with three bedrooms.

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