555 West Cordova Street

555 W Cordova model smWe first featured this controversial contemporary office project in January 2015, and reposted six months later. Now there’s a new version of this office proposal on the way – although there are no images yet, so we’re leaving the earlier version here for now. The Heritage Commission (who supported the first version) will be discussing the new proposal in mid-May.

Initially listed as a Development Permit Board candidate for March 2015, this proposed tower created a significant volume of commentary when it was first revealed.

The Urban Design Panel reviewed it and suggested some changes: not to the mass or the tower concept, but to the ground plane and the way the tower relates to the station (in the same ownership as the site, currently a parking lot). They had a workshop review of the project with the architects, and there was a clearer idea of how it should be changed to better fit the site – between the CPR station, and next to ‘The Landing’ – the former Kelly-Douglas warehouse on Water Street.

Waterfront entrance

The workshop suggested a revised scheme should see the tower move back on the site, and possibly closer to (and perhaps emerging from) the back – north side – of the station building. The new version takes this into account, rotating the tower by 90 degrees and moving it behind the station to make the plaza larger. (One day it might be a road link to the development opportunity over the tracks to the north).

The architects a remain as Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill from Chicago, with the lead architect Laura Jiminez, working with Gordon Gill, with local input from B+H Architecture. (Adrian Smith addressed the Urban Design Panel, so both partners are involved). The first version was for a 26-storey office tower of nearly 400,000 s sq ft.

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12 Responses to 555 West Cordova Street

  1. not sure says:

    For such an extremely exposed site, the design is surprisingly arbitrary, boring, and already dated (90ies? early 00s?).
    I’d bet any decent architect would make reference to “200 Granville Square” or Canada Place in their design, while creating a truly modern and a tiny little bit iconic building.

    • ChangingCity says:

      We would prefer a contemporary building to be contemporary – and while there are others around the world from the 2000s that look a bit like it, there aren’t any in Vancouver. We think this is a more interesting approach than somehow trying to reference 60s concrete (200 Granville) or 80’s black and silver (Canada Place). The MNP tower illustrates how a thoroughly contemporary design can work with a much older building (in that case the Marine Building). (And thank goodness they didn’t reference the black and chrome of 333 Seymour across the street!). We certainly don’t agree with the suggestion that Smith + Gill isn’t a ‘decent architect’.

      • Frank says:

        Oh, “not sure” is just voicing the ubiquitous obligatory reservation every Vancouverite has about every conceivable project. Something always along the lines of “I’m not against development in general, but this particular project is somehow unsuitable for the location, is poorly designed. or has not been consultative enough”.

  2. Frank says:

    BTW: I love how small the footprint is, and that it allows room for a courtyard with ocean view access. That’s a vast improvement over the current parking lot.

  3. AE says:

    While I have no problem with the tower form (or height for that matter), the base of the building, including the interface with the public realm at street level, seems unresolved. In particular the building’s relationship with the neighbouring CPR Station looks incredibly awkward, as if it has been uncomfortably pushed up against it, crumpling into submission.

  4. mageller says:

    I think it needs a complete redesign. It does not fit!

  5. kingkang911 says:

    As a seasoned starchitect…LOL…serious concerns about the ground plane relationship to pedestrian scale and enjoyment of proposed open space.

  6. K.G. says:

    While I am excited about any new project that pushes the formal and conceptual boundaries of architecture especially in our otherwise bland and conservative Vancouver, the formal expression of this building is inappropriate. Sandwiched between two iconic buildings in a prominent location in the city, this top heavy proposal needs a redesign that is more aware and sensitive to the immediate context. Not just in re-imagining the relationship between it and the CPR station, but also in the overall massing of the building. Merging heritage with the contemporary expression is a unique and difficult skill for architects to master, but that is required here.

  7. Kath says:

    Nice building – wrong location!! Leave the waterfront to lowers level buildings please.

    • ChangingCity says:

      It isn’t on the waterfront – one day there may be at least two more buildings in front of it (over the tracks). In the meantime it would be 26 floors, close to Granville Square (30 floors), 250 Howe Street (22 floors) and on the same street as the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel (46 floors) and the Shaw Tower (40 floors).

      • Glenda Bruce says:

        Agree this is a lovely building BUT NOT for 555 Cordova. Build it some where that has space so it can be viewed and walked around on the outside.

        WHY is a building required at 555 Cordova… WHY not leave as is for beauty of the area around the Heritage ones, and the landscape to be viewed (mountains & water).

      • ChangingCity says:

        If it’s built, you’ll be able to walk around three sides of it, and as we noted, it won’t be the ‘front row’ building for ever. We wouldn’t call the parking lot all that beautiful, and you’ll be able to see the mountains and water from the north of the site.

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