If this office tower proposal for downtown Vancouver is approved, it will likely set a new benchmark for skyscrapers in the city.
Local real estate developer and architectural firm Westbank has partnered with Merrick Architecture for its rezoning application to the City of Vancouver to redevelop the Budget Car & Rental site at 400 West Georgia Street into an ambitious architectural design.
At 301 feet in height and with just 24 storeys, it is by no means the tallest addition to Vancouver’s skyline. But it could be a significant one architecturally, continuing the trend for major projects that are anything but ‘cookie cutter’ when it comes to design.
Inspired by noguchi lamps, the building is designed as a cluster of white glass cubes that project outward from crevices that are filled with thick lush gardens trickling with water. Every single box contains four floors and its width is approximately equal to its height.
“Together they merge into a staggered silhouette that is neither a tower nor warehouse, but a 3-dimensional campus,” reads the architect’s design rationale.
“The spaces in between the cubes are filled with water and greenery whose vertical orientation binds the otherwise scattered massing. Water trickles down the volumes along green walls, and the elevated trees figuratively extend the street up into the building.”
An engineering feat designed for tech
To achieve the design, the building will consist of a circular concrete core with structural steel beams and steel decking, effectively forming a cogwheel of boxes.
The space is intentionally designed for the tech industry, with the boxes creating “natural compartments” within a continuous floorplate, effectively allowing offices to be partitioned while also being near to the glass facade.
As well, the floors and ceilings of areas within the boxes that hang over the edge of the building are glass-covered to provide office workers with views of both the gardens and offices above, as well as the street below.
“The character of the work space is designed to be open, fluid, flexible, but also diverse. Unlike the first corporate towers with curtain walls and open plans in the 1950s, the new, tech-oriented work environment elicits collaboration, creativity, and spontaneity,” continues the design rationale.
On the ground level, a four-storey high lobby featuring potential spaces for gallery and retail is proposed. A generous setback is also envisioned to enhance the area around the building.
Altogether, the project has a floor area of 367,000 square feet.
Westbank president Ian Gillespie says the project will “set the standard for future office development in Vancouver…”
“We are designing the building to respond in every way to the evolving needs of the creative and high-tech sector and by designing for the future, we hope our project will help shape it,” he added.
Catalyst for expansion
Adding to the impact of TELUS Garden, such an architecturally unique tower will also accelerate the expansion of the Central Business District eastwards and further solidify the original vision of West Georgia Street as Vancouver’s “ceremonial avenue”.
“When we acquired the site at 400 West Georgia Street, we saw a clear opportunity to reinforce the monumental significance of the street, with a project that will form a landmark at the eastern gateway into downtown,” said Gillespie.
“Georgia Street hosts a variety of uses and architectural works of various periods and our project is at the centre of this transformation – past, present, and future.”
The project joins a number of major proposals for the immediate area that will further advance the growth of the business district.
This includes the redevelopments of the Bay parkade and old Canada Post building into a large mixed-use complexes, the construction of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building at Larwill Park, and another major project at Central Heat, which was recently acquired by Westbank and is now known as Creative Energy.
Westbank is also the developer behind developments such as the ‘carved tower’ at 1550 Alberni Street, Bjarke Ingels’ Vancouver House, Fairmont Pacific Rim, Woodwards, Shangri-La Vancouver, Shaw Tower, Kensington Gardens, and TELUS Garden.