City Design Panel Endorses BIG’s Mixed-Use Vancouver Tower

Courtesy of BIG

A BIG step forward for ’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 Ingles 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 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…

Courtesy of BIG

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.”

Courtesy of BIG

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.

Courtesy of BIG

In related BIG news, did you hear New York’s West 57th project has been approved?

via The Globe and Mail 

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "City Design Panel Endorses BIG’s Mixed-Use Vancouver Tower" 17 Feb 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • Pingback: City Design Panel Endorses BIG’s Mixed-Use Vancouver Tower | Nick Socrates Contemporary Art


    Just because you show photoshop people shoppping and eating under an expressway does not make it an inhabitable space or a plausible fiction for that matter! I think of doing the same under the Gardiner Expressway and i think: hey that´s great, i{d love to wine and dine with my date there!

    • Laurent Jean-Mary

      That’s probably the same kind of thinking some had when they first heard of New York’s High Line. Some Great Designers are able to exceed the limits of popular conventions and transform a caterpillar into a butterfly. I don’t know yet if it’s fully the case for this project but I’m willing to find out.

    • KDS

      I lived in Vancouver for years and every time I was in that area I’d comment on what a fantastic public space the area under the bridge would be. It’s different from the Gardiner in that it’s a short stretch and offers lofty covered access directly to the sea wall and False Creek. It’d work. I hope it gets built as envisioned!

    • illinoisarch

      Your point is a little pessimistic of the capability of our built structures to shake things up…However, it’s a good point. Just because you build something pretty does not mean it will revolutionize the area. It’s a fault of our industry. Architects are much better at producing good images than actually doing/showing/presenting ACTUAL research on the topic. Only in our field do diagraming, or collaging, renderings count as research. Such things should be the outcome of evidence, not the outcome of or dreams/desires/wishes/ideation. (A personal opinion about this project though–sometimes this stuff does work. Ex-the Highline where people DO eat/drink/hangout under/over an overpass.)

  • alain farivar

    BIG mistake!

  • Brandon

    I live in this neighbourhood, a block from the proposed development – and I can tell you that this development is going to do great things for the neighbourhood, and the city in general! The area is disgusting now, with old warehouses, garages, unused spaces, ugly lowrise office buildings, single-level retail, interspersed with a few condo developments. Now if only the city would entertain the vancouvermat proposal for the art gallery, we’d be in good shape!

  • Ross Winter

    Shades of the Marilyn Monroe (aka Absolute) Towers in

  • hana mijena