A striking new design has been proposed for the old Canada Post building in downtown Vancouver.
Local architectural firm Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership has submitted a rezoning application for the property on behalf of landowners BC Investment Management Corporation and developer Bentall Kennedy to retain the existing structure and add three towers on top.
The design for the mixed-use complex is a modification of the plan revealed earlier this year that originally had five towers rising on top of the 1958-built, city block-sized post office building.
The facade of the existing industrial structure will be retained, but its interior will be gutted and reconfigured into a seven-storey podium containing a shopping centre on the lower levels. This includes a retail concourse, space for large retailers suitable for supermarkets or even a department store, smaller units for restaurants and other retail, retail frontage along all the street fronts, and an indoor retail concourse.
View from the intersection of Homer and West Georgia streets:
On the upper levels of the podium, office space will be located on the West Georgia Street end of the floors and rental housing along the perimeters facing Hamilton, Homer, and Dunsmuir streets.
The core space of these upper levels will be converted into vehicle parking with access by a up-spiral access ramp cut into the centre of the building. There are six levels of parking, including 1,168 bicycle spaces.
A 17-storey office building on the West Georgia Street side of the complex will be built on top of the podium while retaining the pair of 19-foot-tall heritage Canadian coats of arms on the podium’s facade.
Two other towers – 18 and 20-storey buildings with residential units – will be built above the rest of the podium, parallel to Hamilton and Homer streets. These two towers are amalgamated versions of the previous proposal for four residential towers.
Project proponents are pusuing separate shorter towers due to the view cones that restrict heights over the site.
View looking west on Dunsmuir Street:
The ‘playful-gridded’ facade design for the three towers is an immense departure from the previous bulky, cookie-cutter concept. New elements of glass in the towers above provide a contrasting light appearance to the existing podium below with solid heavy materials.
“The design inspiration is informed by contrast forms. The Post on Georgia seeks to both distinguish itself and be compatible, subordinate, and respectful towards the existing heritage building,” reads the architect’s rationale.
“This is achieved by not attempting to replicate or assimilate, but rather differentiate the new buildings above, contrasting with the existing heritage podium in both form and materiality.”
The current ground level parking space along West Georgia Street will be turned into a new public plaza, and the podium’s rooftop will feature a landscaped courtyard space with a large central reflection pool-like water feature.
New public plaza at West Georgia Street:
Stepped green roofs and private residential patios are planned for the rooftops of the two residential towers, while an urban farm in addition to green roof and amenity space is proposed for the office tower rooftop.
Altogether, the complex will have nearly 1.7 million square feet of floor space, with 637000 square feet from the conversion of the post office building into a podium and 1,0square feet from the new towers.
The usage breakdown is the following:
- 350,000 square feet of market rental housing
- 356,000 square feet of market condominium housing
- 274,000 square feet of retail
- 512,000 square feet of office space
- 9,000 square feet for a 49-space daycare
- 31,000 square feet of common areas
- 201,000 square feet of above-grade parking within the podium
If approved, the Canada Post project accompanied by the nearby new Vancouver Art Gallery will likely accelerate the inevitable eastward expansion of downtown Vancouver’s Central Business District.
“This building has the opportunity to reassume its original identity as a centrepiece and gathering place for many downtown communities and neighbourhoods in a state of dynamic transformation and growth,” reads the architect’s project vision.
“Our proposal will invigorate and re-energize downtown Vancouver with a combination of condos, rental apartments, office space, restaurants, shops and – most importantly – the people that will bring this part of downtown Vancouver to life once again.”
When complete, the yet-to-be-named project will create working spaces for 4,000 people and living spaces for another 4,000. Construction could begin before the end of the decade, and until then the building will be leased for film production purposes.
Canada Post has vacated the building for nearly two years. In 2014, the crown corporation moved its West Coast sorting facilities from the old downtown building into a new $200-million, 700,000-square-foot state-of-the-art complex at Vancouver International Airport.
Just eight years earlier in 2008, the federal government decided to sell the building to B.C. Investment Management Corporation for $130 million.
Landscaped rooftop spaces: