A Green Crown Awaits Broadway’s Hallmark Attempt To Strengthen Vancouver’s Cultural Weave

901 W Broadway
Anyone who’s visited central Broadway recently knows it’s in the midst of a huge transformation, and nowhere is that more obvious than where it intersects with Laurel Street. With one corner cleared for a SkyTrain station, and another new hotel approved at a second, Hannah and I knew one of our favourite restaurants, New India Buffet, would soon move on too. That’s a relative term, since a freedom of information request hinted something was happening here back in 2018.

Sure enough, city staff at this Urban Design Panel meeting confirmed the official enquiry for this Hallmark Hotel predated the Interim Broadway Plan. It’s actually shorter than what’s currently allowed too, which thrilled one architect who was “very happy” to learn the air ambulance flight path to Vancouver General Hospital prevents it from being any taller. Granted that didn’t result in a quick decision, as several members questioned whether this design itself was appropriate in the age of reconciliation.

Maybe I have more work to do on that myself, as it never occurred to me that this project was misappropriating First Nation’s culture with its basket weave pattern. Another volunteer claimed this style originated elsewhere, being particularly common in Germany, and all agreed it was beautiful, warm, and inviting. Yet, without the involvement of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh, many considered it simply disrespectful, leading them to recommend the applicant review the cladding narrative and engage on the cultural references.

Both city staff, and the architects took that to heart, with the latter acknowledging they needed to address this with the property owner, and potentially work with these nations to build a stronger message. They also fully embraced the recommendation to consider providing rooftop amenity access or a planted rooftop to the top of the building, and level 8. The aforementioned hotel planned kitty corner to this site demonstrates that can be accomplished, and this building’s cladding offered another teachable moment.

Now it was the proponent’s turn to explain to an eager panellist how it was possible, but not easy, to vary the wood panel cladding’s depth with steel studs. Another architect noted that the elevator overrun showed it was at least possible to include a green roof, though most recognized an accessible rooftop amenity might not be achievable. That led to a complementary recommendation to consider an alternate location for the level 4 mechanical system to provide an enhanced amenity space.

This conflicted with the previous suggestion, as a few felt those services should be relocated to the aforementioned area on level 8 instead. This side drew the most attention, as these individuals couldn’t understand why this space for guests had been neglected, yet other areas, like the public realm, were treated so wonderfully. Lamenting it lacked the textured patterns of the black bricks on the laneway. they recommended design development to reduce the monolithic nature of the west elevation.

In contrast, the panel was enamoured by the sense of openness along West Broadway, and how the double-sided lobby activated the laneway. Others appreciated the “lovely” water feature along Laurel Street, until a landscape architect criticized them for falling in love with something that “won’t fly,” as it stepped over the property line. For them, the recommendation to ensure the intent of the public realm along Broadway and Laurel is maintained through the development permit stage didn’t go far enough.

Instead, they insisted the building should be squished down, and shifted westward, at which point city staff finally interjected. They stressed the panel’s mandate was to examine what was before them, not make educated assumptions, and revealed a similarly enhanced public realm was recently approved at the future South Granville station. Realizing the value of their words, the panel unanimously passed a motion of support for this project, and your comments can carry the same weight if you leave them here.

You can view more images from this meeting here on our Instagram.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer – Hallmark Hotels Group
Architects – Zeidler Architecture
Landscape Architects – O2 Planning + Design

2 thoughts on “A Green Crown Awaits Broadway’s Hallmark Attempt To Strengthen Vancouver’s Cultural Weave

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  1. Is there a person on earth with ancient ancestors who did not use baskets? The oldest baskets found to date are from the middle east and Africa.

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    1. Obviously, that’s true. Still, we’re unaware of any examples in Vancouver where our city’s Host Nations haven’t been consulted when that pattern was proposed, though it’s never been required either.

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