A new office tower approved for downtown Vancouver does not stand out in the skyline with its relatively modest height, but it stands out for its unique architectural expression.
Earlier this evening, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved a rezoning application by local developer Westbank to build a 24-storey, 301-ft-tall office tower at 400 West Georgia – the site of Budget Car & Rental, located across from the Vancouver Public Library.
The tower, designed by Merrick Architecture, takes on a Japanese noguchi lamp-inspired look, with the building designed as a cluster of white glass cubes that project outward.
Its crevices will be filled with “thick lush gardens trickling with water,” and each box contains four floors of approximately the same width and height to create a “three-dimensional campus.”
According to the architect, the floor plates of the tower are designed specifically for the tech industry, with the protruding boxes creating “natural compartments” within a continuous floor plate.
Portions of the floors and ceiling areas within the boxes are glass covered and hang over the edge of the building to provide office workers with views of the gardens and offices above and the street below.
On the ground level, the project calls for ground-level retail space and an extensive public realm complete with a water feature, a raised terrazzo platform for performances and gatherings, a wide sidewalk that acknowledges West Georgia Street’s ceremonial role, and high-quality paving finishings.
To support the office workers, there will be 235 parking stalls within the underground levels.
Overall, the project will have 375,000 sq. ft. of floor area on its 21,000-sq-ft site, giving it a floor space ratio (FSR) density of 17.87 FSR. With a number of green building design features, it will strive to achieve a LEED Platinum certification.
“I think it’s going to be a great addition to the architecture and the quality of office space in downtown that we need so desperately right now,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson during tonight’s meeting. “I think it will be really unique and contribute to that stretch of downtown.”
This building will be one of the first few office towers completed in the coming cycle of office developments in the city. Currently, there is a shortage of office in the city, with the downtown core now having the second lowest office vacancy rates in North America – largely due to the rapid growth of the tech industry over the last few years.
“Our economic growth is outpacing the space coming online and that is a concern. The drum beat has not slowed down for some years, and there is lots of evidence it will continue, continued Robertson. “We need to quicken the pace of getting a diversity of office space built in downtown, particularly for the tech industry.”
The project joins a number of major proposals for the immediate area that will further advance the eastward growth of the Central 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 and two office towers at Larwill Park, Amazon’s second new office building one block away on Dunsmuir Street, and another major project at Creative Energy, another Wesbank project, next to BC Place.