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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2 Responses to Parq (Vancouver Urban Resort) – 39 Smithe Street

  1. Guest says:

    Plans at the City’s website for One Pacific show a 2 storey commercial “atrium” in its podium across from the casino entrance – so hopefully they can make that Smithe St extension a lively place (despite residnetial above). It’s also supposed to cnnect to 47 Nelson with a plaza or pathway under the Smithe/Cambie Bridge offramp.

  2. CSz says:

    It may be “out of context” but at least it’s something different for a change! The “urban design panel” in this city should really be renamed the “boring design panel”. I’m actually surprised this got through their whitewashing.

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