1002 Station St – New St. Paul’s Hospital (DP-2021-00085) Phase 1A – Part Two Design Rational & Building Concept
I’m lucky to have a spouse who shares my passion for following our city’s evolution, and endless meetings like this one. Now on its fourth review, The Urban Design Panel spent over four hours examining the new St Paul’s Hospital, splitting it into two sessions. We’ve already covered the first section that dealt with the wider site, and now we’ll handle the hospital itself. Fortunately, Hannah chose to cook something that tastes good reheated, and city staff were equally flexible.
They admitted not everything in the guidelines was achievable, and the self-described motley crew that made up the applicant team revealed even the view cones had limits. The two protrusions are small, and allow air ambulances approaching from the west to land on the north tower, and use a high speed elevator to connect to the emergency room. Yet within an hour it was clear they had run into a brick wall, and two very angry landscape architects.
This wasn’t related to view protection, as the only comment on that subject was positive. Rather they were upset that the landscaping plan was so sparse, and it didn’t help when it was noted that plan was presented as part of the wider site. This led one to express that as there was nothing to evaluate, they wouldn’t be supporting the project. Another panelist later thanked half of this pair for reminding them how much they hate this design.
The lack of green roofs, especially on the podium played a major role in this sentiment. The applicant explained the patients on that adjacent level wouldn’t be able to use them, as they would likely never leave their rooms due to their mental health state. Furthermore, the venting from the mechanical systems, pharmacy, and laboratories on the floor below would make this space quite toxic. While a hold out insisted they should be usable, the others compromised.
Which is why the consensus called for more cosmetic green features, either on the roofs or in the facade’s basket weave pattern. That look, and its colours were appreciated, though there was a divide on whether metal panels were an appropriate material, or if brick, and stonework would better. All agree the building simply looked too bulky, and whatever good there was had fallen apart on the lower floors, who’s dark tones, and metal lourvers, needed a more plain appearance.
That base will contain emergency surgery rooms, MRI and CAT scan machines, nuclear medicine treatment, as well as the previously mentioned services and resiliency features. Some of those could have been provided in a separate structure, but these volunteer’s prior remarks on the wider campus indicated that would be unacceptable on this already tight site. Once again, concerns about the building bursting at the seams, and the treatment of the plaza, were joined by criticism of the hospital’s foundations.
These Christian symbols, like the prominent crosses at the roof level, and the chapel by the main entrance were seen as missed opportunity for a conversation about reconciliation. They were also viewed as out of place with Vancouver’s many faiths, and not faiths, especially since the healing garden adjacent to the latter couldn’t be all things to all people. Given this range of uses, the wayfinding was considered important, and generally appropriate, aside from some needed improvements around the entrance.
That said, the summary recognized the herculean task of corralling this programming in what a lone member described as one of the better hospitals they’ve seen. So, I was surprised a motion calling for this hospital’s re-submission was unanimously approved, for the second time in three years. Now two months later, a fifth review is scheduled, and you still have time to send your comments to project facilitator, John Freeman, at email@example.com or (604)-871-6076, or express them to the Development Permit Board on August 9th, 2021.
You can view more images from this meeting here on our Instagram.
Applicant Team Information:
Developer Partnership – Providence Health Care, Ministry of Health – Province of British Columbia, Vancouver Coastal Health, The University of British Columbia, & St. Paul’s Foundation
Architects – HDR, & Stantec
Landscape Architects – Connect Landscape Architecture