Main and Union


This still isn’t quite a rezoning proposal, but it is a pre-proposal that’s about to head to an initial public open house. It’s for a site that’s one of very few where the Downtown Eastside Plan allows the possibility of 150 feet tall buildings, on the corner between V6A and Ginger. We don’t yet have the details of who is behind the project, but there was an earlier version shown by Studio One Architecture over two years ago (below) that looks pretty similar. Although the site has been offered for sale for a while, it’s unclear if the site has been sold, or whether the owners have decided to proceed. Whoever is behind the project will replace the SRO units.

Main & UnionCurrently there’s a tired hostel that was a Single Room Occupancy hotel, a former vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio, the Brickhouse club (which is apparently still open) and the former site of the Jimi Hendrix shrine (although there’s no actual direct connection between Jimi and the shrine’s location, which started life as a cab stand and was later a storage room for a now-demolished restaurant).

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1296 West Broadway

1296-w-broadwayThe Denny’s on West Broadway, with its surface parking lot, has been an obvious contender for redevelopment for years. Here’s a rezoning to build a 16-storey mixed-use building with retail at grade and 153 rental units above.

As illustrated so far, the design seems very retrained, with only dark and light brick cladding. The architects are the very experienced IBI Group working for Jameson Development Corp, so it’s possible it will either evolve into something a little more interesting, or that we’re misreading the render. There are 41 2-bed and 15 3-bed units, so it meets the ‘family-friendly’ policies of the City of Vancouver for purpose-built rental projects.

There’s 30,000 square feet of retail and some office as well on an 18,700 square foot site, so the retail must be on two floors.

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Crosstown School


There’s been a site reserved for a new elementary school at International Village for several years. Part of the site was developed as a childcare, completed at the end of 2009, and now Francl Architecture have designed a 510 place school on the remainder of the site. Before construction started it was an entirely land-locked parking lot (the access was lost when the childcare was built).

IV School modelIn 2013 we thought it would be distinctly contemporary in design based on the initial sketch illustrations on the VSB website, and this 2014 model seen at the Urban Design Panel confirmed that. The building will be partly cantilevered over the Andy Livingstone Park. The coloured solar shades seem to have been toned down. Construction completion should be only a few weeks away – we’ll see how closely the finished version matches the render. The building now has a new name – the very ho-hum ‘Crosstown school’.

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1550 Alberni Street

1550 Alberni 1Today there’s a rather tired 1972 office building, but the West End Plan permited a condo tower up to 500 feet tall. The site was acquired by Westbank and over the past 18 months they’ve successfully seen the site rezoned with an extraordinary design by  Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (with local firm Merrick Architecture – Borowski Sakumoto Fligg McIntyre).

Already working with Westbank on the Four Season resort at Ko Olina in Hawaii, Kuma hadn’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 tower has curved elements, and wood accents (a feature of almost all his work). 1550 Alberni 2Like his previous projects, the Vancouver tower is every bit as dramatic as other recent out-of-town designed towers.

The area at the base of the tower is every bit as intriguing as the profile, themed to a Japanese garden defined as the absence of objects / presence of space’

A 2016 revision to the tower saw the floorplate slightly reduced and the number of units become 181. Now the final stage of approval has started, with a Development Permit application. The address has been slightly altered to 1568 Alberni, the number of units has gone up to 191 within the same envelope, but the image of the revised design hasn’t changed.

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521 West 8th Avenue


Here’s a proposed office building that comes as quite a (pleasant) surprise. Musson Cattell Mackey, architects for many of the city’s office projects, have designed a 68,000 sq ft building on a small site with single storey retail behind the Cambie Street liquor store (that was once a McDonalds). The nine storey building squeezes in under the viewcone that protects the view of City Hall, and the design shows some interesting angles and variations.

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1170 Barclay Street


Somehow we missed this proposal made in the middle of 2016. It’s to add to a heritage rental building in the West End with a set back contemporary two floor addition, designed by Hearth Architectural Inc. There would be 12 more rental apartments than are found in ‘The Florida’ – a 1926 building with a façade featuring a relief with two palm trees flanking the sun.

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Fifth – 380 W 5th Avenue


The zoning in the Mount Pleasant Industrial area was ‘tweaked’ in 2013. Now developers can have up to double the site area in office use, provided they build the same as the site area as industrial-type space. (There is a long list of possible uses – but the building can’t be purely office). Here’s a project from Cressey, designed by IBI Group that fits the new zoning and was approved three years ago. It was the first of several other projects, some smaller and so already completed.

fifth-renderAs built it’s close to the earlier render, but somehow less dramatic than the leasing site implied it would be.  DHX Studios will occupy the 75,000-square-foot building. The move will merge the studio’s two locations in Gastown and near Commercial Drive, bringing in all the 2-D and CGI animators and corporate staff into one building – potentially 700 people in total.


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