Urban Duo Quickly Cornered By Colourful Urban Design Panel Response

1220 – 1298 East Hastings Street and 560 Raymur Avenue
As the fate of these two applications are linked, like their open house, this Urban Design Panel review had an unusual format. It started out like normal, with a presentation from the applicant on the Hastings site, and then questions from the panel. Surprisingly, one person felt it would have been more appropriate to locate the industrial space here, and move the non-market homes to the Raymur site, even though it’s next to a busy rail line.

The team revealed it was a local residential association who preferred this option as it would allow for smaller retail stores, and create a more vibrant street. Instead of moving on to their debate and comments, the panel asked the applicant to present the Raymur site. In their questions, one member critiqued the Downtown Eastside Area Plan for not considering the affordability of the industrial space. Their fear was it would sit empty for years, and eventually be converted into retail space.

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The focus then shifted back to the Hastings proposal. Generally, the reception was quite positive, as several complimented the applicants for setting a great tone for the future with a well done design. Another felt this was a rare example of a project that really cared about its solar orientation. That said, there was a recommendation for design development of the central building’s rooftop to improve the view of those who will look down on it.

While the design’s character and vertical sawtooth expression were praised, the panel felt there was a flatness to Hastings Street facade. They requested that the applicant address this by emphasizing a sawtooth expression throughout the whole design, perhaps by differentiating the colour of the indented balconies on the social housing building. The privacy and livability of the corner units along that building amenity space also drew an instruction for more design development, as did the privacy of most corner balconies.

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This corner theme continued, as they felt the plaza at Hastings and Clark also need more design development. Some just want a bit of seating to be added, but others believed it needed to be strongly championed. Across the site, the final recommendation focused on the east building’s residential amenities. With the large number of family homes here, it was thought these amenity spaces needed more design development, and, at one person’s urging, should be co-located.

Admittedly, I was surprised by this long list of recommendations, but not by the unanimous vote of support. However, the similarly long list of instructions for the Raymur site mimicked many of Hannah’s and my concerns. Like us, they had no problem with the height or density, and even complemented its careful insertion in the area. In fact, one member noted their fondness for this street, and how glad they were to see this project go in.

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Which is why they were disappointed the project’s unique industrial character didn’t come across in the renderings. To remedy this, they recommended more design development to this aspect overall, and to strengthen it at the ground level. They also desired a more bike-friendly attitude, which a couple members believed could be accomplished by adding outdoor bike racks and a separated ramp to the parking garage.

The desire for variation in colour extended to the crash wall along the rail corridor. Despite the applicant’s intent to use planting to mask that wall, the panel recommended more programing, with many suggesting the use of graffiti to improve the view for the homes to the east of the tracks. Like the previous Hastings proposal, they also instructed that more needed to be done to preserve the livability and privacy of the units in the internal courtyard.

With these recommendations, the panel voted 6 – 1 to pass a motion of support roughly 30 minutes ahead of schedule. The lone vote against felt the materials were evocative, but weren’t transformed into the facade, and strongly criticized the lack of a response to solar orientation. Ultimately, their view might not be in the majority, but it will be considered by city staff. So whether you agree with their opinions, or have your own thoughts, make sure they’re heard on 1220 – 1298 East Hastings application here and on 560 Raymur project here.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer –  Onni Group
Architects – Yamamoto Architecture Inc.
Landscape Architects – Enns Gauthier Landscape Architects

 

 

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