In a recent vote, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the so-called ‘Jenga tower’ at the corner of West Georgia Street and Nicola Street in the West End.
The proposal at 1500 West Georgia Street by Bosa Properties and Kingswood Capital was designed by world-renowned German architect Ole Scheeren, who also designed the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing.
It will share the site of Crown Life Place – the existing Rhone and Iredale-designed triangular office building, which will remain.
There will be 220 market residential units, a retail space on the ground floor, and seven levels of underground parking for 342 parking stalls, including stalls for the existing office building.
The existing large reflecting pool and waterfall feature will be reconfigured and improved as part of the redevelopment.
The residential tower project was initially proposed in 2015 as a 500-ft-tall, 51-storey tower, but it was later scaled back to 440 ft with 43 storeys due to view cones that restrict the development site’s height. The floor space ratio (FSR) density has been reduced from 11.47 to 10.82 FSR.
But the tower’s unique architectural design, with seemingly random boxes that protrude out of the fixed envelope, was untouched. Here is how Scheeren describes his design:
A system of vertically shifted apartment modules enables dynamic yet rational layouts for residences while the rotation of modular elements extends living spaces to introduce the concept of horizontal living in a slender high-rise. The resulting multiple terraces offer connectivity between the indoor and outdoor environment.
The vertical offset of the apartment modules minimizes the footprint of the tower and liberates the ground to provide an open plaza for the public realm. Further consideration has been given to develop the interfaces between the tower and how it meets the ground and plaza.
The tower provides West Georgia Street, particularly the area around where the ceremonial street intersects with Nicola Street, with another landmark tower.
“I find that many of the projects that come to us are very large and boxy, and I wonder if sometimes if the people designing those buildings are just afraid that if they think outside of the box, literally, their project may not be approved, and it may be too provocative for the community,” said City Councillor Melissa De Genova.
“I think it is refreshing to see something that people are calling iconic, that we see a different type of design. I am happy to see the skyline somewhat changed to include less tall boxes and more innovative designs.”
Other towers proposed or approved for the area include:
Scheeren is also working on a second project with Bosa Properties in downtown – twin towers reaching 49 storeys, with another Jenga-like design, at 1070 Barclay Street.