Prolonged Plans To Enliven Vancouver’s Healthcare Precinct Told To Head Eastward

855-865 W 10th Ave
What’s an appropriate amount of time for city staff to spend reviewing a 12 floor office building, less than a block from a future Skytrain station? Apparently, in Vancouver the answer is over four years, since it’s taken this modest proposal that long to reach the Urban Design Panel. Granted, Hannah and I should have realized this, as aside from some limited exceptions (pg 44), only rezoning enquiries submitted before the Broadway Interim Rezoning Policy was approved in 2018 can move ahead.

Another example of this is the hotel planned immediately across the lane from this site which was approved in 2020, and was instrumental in shaping this design. For years the two teams behind these buildings have worked together to ensure their placement allowed them both to receive plenty of sunlight, and the best views possible. So I wouldn’t blame this applicant team if they were feeling pretty confident up until these volunteers sought to brush their collaborative efforts aside.

The desire to move this tower eastward was born from fears it would overly shadow that neighbouring hotel’s amenity space. One member openly struggled with its proximity to the long-term stay suites warning it would infringe upon the grief of families visiting their relatives in Vancouver General Hospital. Ironically, much of this shade comes from that structure itself, which its own review had critiqued, and was something this applicant pointed out, albeit to no avail.

Yet the recommendation to continue design development to the building articulation for improved shadowing mitigation, and for further development of the podium and tower expression wasn’t one they opposed. They agreed the amount of sunlight their neighbour received after 1pm during the equinox could be improved, so long as it didn’t require spending a lot more on concrete, and were happy to make it more colourful. However, they cautioned it shouldn’t be too loud, as these were medical offices.

Like the structure itself, most thought that use was a good fit for this location, though a landscape architect wondered if a couple floors should be eliminated to better align with the surroundings. As that context is set to change in the near future, the Broadway Planning team was supposed to be in attendance. Unfortunately, they were too busy at an open house down the street, and couldn’t explain why this building may end up among the area’s shortest.

The explanation that the Helijet’s flight path to Vancouver General Hospital limited this building from being even taller proved to be enough to relieve that individual’s concerns. It’s probably why no one suggested including an amenity space on the rooftop either, though they did recommend to consider incorporating a green roof. In contrast, the treatment of the underground was appreciated, as the efforts to pull back the parking garage ensured the block’s large trees would continue to thrive.

The new retail stores planned behind them were considered a great addition, but the panel was worried their appearance was too subdued to enliven this space. As such, they recommended design development to the architectural expression at the ground plane to provide a clearer expression and character for the retail. A range of ideas, from adding street furniture to more plants, sought to create a nice, relaxing space, and may have reflected that this night’s agenda had consumed four hours.

Still, judging by the 4-1 vote to support this project, at least one person would have preferred a longer discussion on this list of instructions. Whether it’s four years or four hours, it seems some can’t get enough of public consultation, and I’m no different, as afterwards I stopped by that aforementioned Broadway Plan event. Fortunately, you can help shape this proposal within a few minutes by sending your comments to rezoning planner Leifka Vissers at leifka.vissers@vancouver.ca or 604-829-9610.

Applicant Team Information:

You can view more of our photos of this project’s model, and renderings here on our Instagram.

Developer – Three Putt Investments Inc.
Architects – W. T. Leung Architects Inc.
Landscape Architects – Durante Kreuk Ltd.
Model Maker – AB Scale Models

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