Strong, Sophisticated Office Building Demonstrates Vancouver’s Growing Maturity

1166 West Pender
The proposal for this curvacious office tower may have only been reviewed by the Urban Design Panel on February 6th, but between our recent snowstorms and both Hannah and I falling ill with the flu, it feels like forever ago. That said, as the city has yet to post their official minutes of the meeting, perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves for not getting this post up sooner.

Normally we would have to rely on the notes we take to remember the details about a project, but this one really stuck out. After all, it’s not often city staff tell the panel they’re worried that planning has shaped a building too much, and it’s certainly understandable why they felt that way,

Previously, we discussed how the building would have been allowed up to 500 feet in height under the view cone policy, if not for a different policy which prohibits buildings shadowing public parks. However, I learned that the western concave curve is a result of yet another staff request to provide 80 feet of separation between this building and the neighbouring Sapphire residential tower.

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The applicant team admitted they were influenced by these constraints, but also saw them as an opportunity. They believed the building will read as a pure form, and that the curved glass will give a sculptural appearance. More importantly, they pointed out that, as this building faces north, it won’t generate the same problems as London’s Walkie-Talkie tower.

The panel came to a quick agreement that the design team’s simple powerful moves overcame any influence of city policy, and made this building’s beautiful parti successful. The consensus was that, even though it was unfortunate the building couldn’t achieve more height, its detailing and fluid form would make it stand out. One member even felt that the development was a sign Vancouver was maturing as a city.

The only aspect that the panel felt could use more improvement was the mid block connection. Considering how successful that space was in the neighbouring project, The Stack, several panelists hoped the design team could do more with their space.

The applicant agreed, and suggested maybe they would discuss with their neighbours, and the Department of Engineers, whether a unique style of pavers could be used to bridge this connection in the laneway.

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Still, the panel was united in their appreciation for the proposal, and voted unanimously to support it without any recommendations. Interestingly, it seems a slightly revised application has been submitted since then, which calls for 3 more meters in height, roughly one floor, and 13,000 extra sq.ft of room.

Given the critical shortage of office space and the lack of public concern at the open house, it’s not surprising that city staff allowed the applicant to find this additional room. Though it’s incredibly doubtful that any additional height will be granted, you can express your opinion on this, or any other issue relating to this project, by using this feedback form.

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