Youthful Ambitions Help Marpole’s Chunky Quarter Reflect Criticism

8029-8225 Oak St and 1012 W 64th Ave
After spending so much time at city hall over the years, attending these Urban Design Panel meetings oddly began to feel sort of like coming home. Despite what she says, I’m sure Hannah didn’t mind having our actual house to herself for a few hours every second Wednesday either, though neither of us had that comfort since this event. Not only was it the final review to take place in 2021, it was also the last to be held in-person.

Hopefully soon Omicron will be a distant memory, and things will regain a sense of normalcy, but the truth is sometimes you can never really go back home, and you might not want to either. As a panellist who grew up in this area noted, the traffic on Oak Street made for a terrifying walk to the local Starbucks. The Marpole Community Plan was intended to improve that condition, and these four buildings hope to be part of that remedy.

That comes too late for that café, which closed in 2019, and last year city council approved an eight floor building to replace the strip mall that hosted it. On the east side of this arterial road, construction has started on a trio of buildings, which some in this room were familiar with since they helped design them. That proposal was described as a much better example of this architect’s dynamic work, in contrast to these uniform, blocky forms.

Without a scale model, these volunteers struggled with renderings depicting the highly reflective bris solie and significant cantilevers, as well as their large windows. However, an effort to include remedying this façade treatment as an official recommendation was waved off as redundant since the city’s Bird Friendly Design Guidelines would require it anyway. That leniency was replicated later on when another member dismissed a recommendation that included their own advice to thermally break these large balconies and overhangs.

They felt there was no need to be so specific, given the targeted passive house sustainability, and appreciated the prefabricated insulated panel that would help achieve this goal. While that extra insulation should help block traffic noise, one urged the importance of including air-conditioning as no resident, especially those facing Oak Street, would want to open their windows. Unsurprisingly, others sought to add even more plants and shrubs along the ground level to buffer the sidewalks from that congestion.

As the recommendation to consider rooftop planting demonstrated, this wasn’t the only area they wanted to see additional landscaping, yet this hid their real motive. The goal was to pressure the property owner into deepening their investment in order to provide private amenity spaces on these concrete structure’s rooftops. Conversely, the “bridge” between Building C and D didn’t garner much attention, with a lone individual suggesting it could be widened, much like the recommendation to consider the plaza size.

This underscored their fears that this retail-focused pocket needed to be more viable and prominent. Nonetheless, relocating some of Building A’s floor space here was commended for creating enough space for a new public park, and preserving a large amount of tress in the process. It was simply too amazing of a contribution to pass up, and the recommendation to consider the indoor amenity location acknowledged moving this was worth the trade-off of possibly eliminating a couple homes.

Recognizing this would likely become a condition of approval, and that these were early days for such detailed discussions, the panel unanimously voted to support this “handsome” complex. Afterwards they left for their traditional year-end dinner at Cactus Club, with one taking the time to tease a senior city staff member about their teetotaller ways. That quip won’t be on the official record, but you can ensure your comments are if you leave them here.

You can view all of our photos from this meeting here on our Instagram.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Enrich Developments
Architects – Arno Matis Architecture Inc
Landscape Architects – LOCI Landscape Architecture + Urban Design

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