We first featured this Downtown office building in 2011 and saw the first version (on the right) when it was approved for rezoning in November 2012. It’s unique in a number of ways – it was developed by Swiss developers; (a combination of Credit Suisse AG and Swissreal Investments) and it emerges from inside the retained 1929 Townley and Mathieson designed Old Stock Exchange building on Howe Street. It targeted both LEED Platinum and ‘Living Building’ status, which would make it the greenest office building in the city, and possibly in Canada.
The architects of the first version of the project were Vancouver-based Iredale Group. They are a practice who haven’t been involved in any big Downtown projects in many years but a previous version of the company, Rhone and Iredale designed two of Vancouver’s most interesting office buildings, the triangular Crown Life building on West Georgia Street and the Westcoast Energy Building, these days known as Qube and converted to residential use.
The Swiss developers added a Swiss architect to rework the design; Harry Gugger worked with Herzog & de Meuron for nearly 20 years, and was senior partner working on the Tate Modern in London and the ‘birdsnest’ stadium in Beijing. His first take on the redesigned tower showed a more neutral design which will allow the heritage building to have greater presence. Here’s one of the illustrations in the Development Permit material. The design evolved to avoid being too close to the UK designed Jameson tower on the same block, and shading fins were added to create greater privacy (and improved energy performance).
It’s an intriguing proposal, and like 1021 West Hastings it shows that office buildings are now providing attractive and innovative designs in the city. It was also interesting to see a move away from mixed use towers – even when the heritage component would allow the developer to propose residential use within the scheme. (The only way to develop mixed residential use in the CBD is if it has either non-market housing retention or on-site heritage). In an unexpected change, the heritage part of the building will now be a hotel, the EXchange, opening in 2018.