Arguably better with all the modern conveniences of air con, running water and Louis Vuitton.

 

Trompe L’Oeil Daylight

Novel use of technology to overcome a design constraint: if you can’t have sunlight, create the perception that it’s there.  More photographs and text here.

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Traditional is nice, but…

…my “contemporist” inclinations are showing.  This retreat designed by Bjarko|Serra Architects of Seattle shows considerable simplicity and restraint without being cold or minimal.  There are more photographs here.

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This article in BCBusiness references a few of the new products including building products, fuel and furniture utilizing the millions of board feet of lodgepole pine laid to waste across the province.

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For more information, the article is here.  The initial release is limited to Milan and is expected to cost USD$3,500 to $5,000.

This is an image of Rize Alliance’s proposed redevelopment of the Cecil Hotel site on Granville at Drake. According to Malcolm Perry of the Vancouver Sun, HOK, Busby Perkins+Wills and IBI|HB have all had a hand in the design.  Additional information and images can be viewed here.
For years, I’ve been somewhat puzzled  as to why there is decidedly more “progressive” residential architecture in Toronto than Vancouver.  On the multi side of the equation, developers like Peter Freed of Freed Developments have built profitable brands based on delivering interesting, adventurous, design-forward mid- and high-rise communities.  Vancouver has a few exceptions – James Schouw’s one-ofs Grace, Iliad and now Artemisia; Robert Fung at The Salient Group’s Garage in Gastown; a number of Intracorp Developments’ projects including Folio and Jacobsen; architects Lang Wilson in conjunction with Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden’s Roar_One; Wall Financial’s One Wall Centre; and Cressey Development’s Milano, which I had a hand in. However, for the most part Vancouver’s skyline has been dominated by pretty straightforward point towers clad in glass and either painted concrete, stucco or Alucobond panels.  Most are virtually indistinguishable from one another, to the point of being bland and banal.
I realize that part of this is driven by simple economics: different is taken to meet less easy to build and therefore potentially more costly to construct, plus there’s the perceived added risk that you may alienate part of your market that’s looking for things that are safe and conservative.  Undeniably there is a measure of truth in this, but it is tremendously encouraging to see projects like The Rolston, 5590 Balaclava, Jacobsen, PCI Group’s Crossroads, Bastion Development’s Pulse and Coast,  and even Westbank’s Living Shangri-La pushing the envelope.  The public benefits will include a more interesting skyline and a measure of choice not seen here before.
Bring them on!
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The basic, economical, rectilinear form takes on a decidedly different appearance with the addition of the undulating balconies of varying shape and size. More than just adornment, the shape and placement of the balconies provide sufficient disruption in wind force to eliminate the need for a tuned mass damper in the building and will make the balconies usable even on the uppermost floors.

The developer is Magellan Development Group of Chicago. The building is 82 stories and will house commercial tenants, residential rental units and residential condominiums. Additional information can be found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_(skyscraper) or www.lifeataqua.com/.

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What are the chances we’ll see a suburban entry level detached housing project this ‘adventurous’ in Metro Vancouver?  Unlikely, I venture.  Additional photographs can be found here.

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Despite howls of protest from residents at the Shangri-La, council granted Holborn Developments an additional 16′ of height in exchange for additional DCL’s, community amenities and reportedly $14.0 M in transferable heritage density.  That will put the Ritz-Carlton tower at 616′ versus 646′ for the Shangri-La. Frances Bula’s reporting on the Council meeting is here.

Original Approved Design for Ritz-Carlton Vancouver

Original Approved Design for Ritz-Carlton Vancouver

Holborn applied to amend the existing CD-1 zoning for this site to allow an additional 80,000 SF of residential FSR, increasing the total FSR from 17.74 to 20.8.  It also sought to increase the number of residential units (located on floors 25 – 67) from 124 to 193 and hotel rooms from 127 to 176.

This project is shaping up to be something quite different from what was originally envisioned. Construction has yet to start, so stay tuned for more changes ahead (brand, developer…?).

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Revitalization – Gastown Revs Up

Globe and Mail writer Adele Weder is the latest reporter to “discover” the renaissance of Gastown in this article that appeared last Wednesday.  I how many more years it’ll be before we stop hearing that Gastown’s time has finally come?

The article is here.

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