A BIG step forward for Vancouver’s latest mixed-use tower making international headlines, as the 497-foot tall Beach and Howe proposal has received an “enthusiastic endorsement” from the city’s design panel.
Commissioned by Canada’s real estate mogul Ian Gillespie of Westbank, the Bjarke Ingle Group-designed tower promises to add a foreign twist to Vancouver’s skyline and create a new identity for an undefined section of town at the fringe of the city's residential area. The 700,000 square foot complex - which contains shopping, social housing and market rental apartments - was praised by the panel for anchoring itself on a nine-story podium that occupies the disused, interstitial spaces found between the Granville Street Bridge’s entry and exit ramps.
More after the break...
BIG proposes to transform these dismal spaces, which is unsurprisingly dominated by cars and avoided by human activity, into a cultural and pedestrian destination. Glass “prisms” will provide desirable retail and public space, while existing building facades and bridge surfaces will be converted into a dramatic outdoor gallery. In addition, Bjarke envisions the road which crosses below the bridge to become a host for outdoor markets, festivals and concerts. Impressed, panel member Peter Wreglesworth described the project as “whole composition that is urban art.”
Although getting the urban design panel’s approval is a major step for the project, Beach and Howe still has a long process ahead before achieving city approval.
Concerns with the 52-story tower have already been raised by the advocacy group called CityHallWatch, which monitors developments. As reported by The Globe and Mail, spokesman Randy Helten believes the tower’s height, especially close to residential False Creek and the bridge entrance, is a problem, stating: “The 497-foot height of such a building really only belongs in the central business district.”
A more refined version of the design will be presented to the public in an open house next week and public hearings are expected for later this year.