Today 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). Like 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.