Beach and Howe Mixed-Use Tower / BIG

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Contributing to the Vancouver skyline, the 490-foot-tall Beach and Howe mixed-use tower by BIG, Westbank, Dialog, Cobalt, PFS, Buro Happold, Glotman Simpson, and local architect James Cheng marks the entry point to downtown, forming a welcoming gateway to the city, while adding another unique structure. BIG’s proposal, named after its location on the corner of Howe & Beach next to the Granville Street Bridge in downtown Vancouver, calls for 600 residential units occupying the 49-story tower, which would become one of the city’s fourth tallest buildings. More images and architects’ description after the break.

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The tower is situated on a nine-story podium base offering market-rental housing with a mix of commercial and retail space. BIG was commissioned by ’s premier real estate developer Westbank, established in 1992, with over $10 billion of projects completed or under development, including the Shangri-La luxury hotels in Vancouver and Toronto. The tower takes its shape after the site’s complex urban conditions aiming to optimize the conditions for its future inhabitants in the air as well as on the street level.

At its base, the footprint of the tower is conditioned by concerns for two significant neighboring elements, including a 30-meter setback from the Granville bridge which ensures that no residents will have windows and balconies in the middle of heavy traffic as well as concerns for sunlight to an adjacent park which limits how far south the building can be constructed. As a result the footprint is restricted to a small triangle.

Courtesy of BIG

As the tower ascends, it clears the noise, exhaust, and visual invasion of the Granville Bridge. BIG’s design reclaims the lost area as the tower clears the zone of influence of the bridge, gradually cantilevering over the site. This movement turns the inefficient triangle into an optimal rectangular floor plate, increasing the desirable spaces for living at its top, while freeing up a generous public space at its base. The resultant silhouette has a unique appearance that changes from every angle and resembles a curtain being drawn aside, welcoming people as they enter the city from the bridge.

Courtesy of BIG

The tower’s podium is a mixed-use urban village with three triangular blocks that are composed of intimately-scaled spaces for working, shopping, and leisure which face onto public plazas and pathways. The additional public space adds to the existing streets, giving the neighborhood a variety of open and covered outdoor spaces of various scales which transform the site under the Granville Bridge into a dynamic and iconic mixed-use neighborhood hub.

Courtesy of BIG

The courtyards created by the building volumes, roofs and terraces are all designed to enhance views from the Granville Bridge and the residential units above. The canted, triangular clusters of green roofs create a highly graphic and iconic gateway to and from the downtown core, reinforcing the City of Vancouver’s focus on sustainable cities. The exterior façades respond to the various solar exposures which is integral to the overall sustainability concept. The building will strive for LEED Gold Certification.

Architects: BIG
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Team: Julianne Gola, Marcella Martinez, Chris Malcolm, Karol Borkowski, Michael Taylor, Alina Tamosiunaite, David Brown, Tobias Hjortdal, Alexandra Gustafson
Partner-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen
Project Leader: Agustin Perez-Torres
Collaborators: Dialog, Cobalt Engineering, Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg Urban Design, Buro Happold, Glotman Simpson, James KM Cheng Architects
Client: Westbank Projects Corp.
Size: 653,890 sf / 60,670 m2

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Beach and Howe Mixed-Use Tower / BIG" 17 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=226466>

6 comments

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    The building does not twist, rather the floorplate transforms from a triangular footprint to a square. The site creates the form, not simply a desire to have a “twisty” building. It’s a great creation of space from an otherwise dead site which was the result of the highway.

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