Butterfly – First Baptist Church tower

First Baptist 3 blogThis project for Nelson Street (behind the First Baptist Church on Burrard received quite a bit of press coverage, and now has appeared as a rezoning application. For 50 years the First Baptist church on Burrard have been assembling land adjacent to the church, and in 2013 they entered into an agreement with Westbank to develop the site. There’s an earlier residential tower permit that goes back at least a decade, but the new West End plan allowed the possibility of a taller building.

Rather than bring in another outside architect Westbank hired one of the city’s own stars, Bing Thom, whose office has designed a very different tower with a linked cluster of four cylinders and wavy curved balconies. The 56-storey tower has 294 condo units with community gardens every three floors. Another eight-storey building with 66 units of below-market first baptist 2rental housing will be operated by the church, and beside the church will be an atrium intended to become a community gathering space. The church gets a new daycare; space for a new cold-weather shelter and seismic upgrading that will cost upwards of $12 million.

If you think the tower looks like organ pipes; it’s meant to. “Thom said he designed the tower to represent a set of organ pipes to reflect the special relationship the church has with the city.” The project was named ‘Butterfly’ and site clearance finally started in fall 2018.

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