The Perfect Bookend to Vancouver’s West End Leaves Residents Craving for More

1157 Burrard Street
When Darren and I went to this building’s pre-applicaiton open house a few months ago, we quickly fell in love with the design. At first glance it appeared rather plain, but we became enamoured with its large public plaza, sustainability measures, and a piece of artwork that spans the length of the tower. Naturally, when the city-led open house was scheduled, we were eager to learn more about the proposal and to see if it would still win the community’s backing.

That support was likely instrumental in the changes the application has undergone. Probably the most noticeable is the addition of 4 floors, which was permitted as the tower does not penetrate any view cones or cast shadows on prohibited areas. This extra height has increased the flat iron appearance, improving the look of the design and its public art, which we now have a better understanding of.

That art piece is actually a major part of the sustainability system. These exterior blinds use an automated system to track the sun during the day, and will unfurl during times of peak exposure. For instance, as the sun sets and the building is bathed in blinding light, the entire northwest coast inspired artwork will be revealed; later on it will retract, allowing its residents beautiful views of English Bay at night.

The building provides far more than this though, as it embraces Vancouver’s ideals of live, work, and play. The podium will offer a mix of office space, hotel space and more importantly a large 37 space public daycare. Those children will have an amazing outdoor area to play in, but really all of the landscaping looks well done. Unfortunately, the model does not showcase the public plaza that well, as the model maker did not have time to add its most important feature.

To be honest, I laughed as Darren cringed when he read the words “ephemeral waterfall” on the information board. The applicant team defended this lofty phrase, explaining that it really is a fleeting feature, as its fed solely by rain and storm water storage tanks. That said, one person expressed concern that the current community gardens will be removed. Their opposition died as soon as they learned these were meant to be a temporary feature while this former gas station sat vacant.

Many of the other two to three dozen people in attendance were simply curious, and generally supported the project the more they engaged with it. However, there were a couple heated conversations, as attendees debated the best way to grow the building further. The discussion was whether the building should hang further over the sidewalk, or if these street views should be preserved by moving the building into the Granville Street Bridge view cone. Others felt the building should grow even taller.

Given this divide, your opinion could make a real difference in the future of this project. Should the tower be reorientated, or is it fine where it is? Should the ample amount of community space oallow for an increase in height? Truly, the most important question is what are your thoughts and there’s never a wrong way to answer, so long as you express them here.

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