The design of one of the largest pieces of the new Northeast False Creek district was unanimously approved by Vancouver City Council on Thursday evening, but it will also mark the end of one of the remaining structures from the Expo ’86 World’s Fair.
City Council provided glowing commentary on Canadian Metropolitan Properties’ rezoning application for the 10.3-acre Plaza of Nations – the former British Columbia Pavilion.
This project, reaching up to 30 storeys, will be an anchor of the emerging waterfront entertainment and events district being established in Northeast False Creek.
At its core is a 100-ft-wide pedestrian spine plaza that runs perpendicular to BC Place Stadium and Pacific Boulevard, and it will be lined with restaurants, bistros, bars, and craft breweries. Over the longer term, this spine could potentially lead directly into a new grand entrance into BC Place Stadium.
Altogether, the commercial space within this project totals 350,000 sq. ft.
“Lots of cities have places like this for people to go, but we don’t,” James Cheng, the Vancouver-based architect behind the design, told Daily Hive in a previous interview. “This is also a response to a lot of criticism that we have received from visitors that Vancouver is a great city surrounded by beautiful seawalls, but there is nothing to do along the seawall apart from biking and walking.”
“There are hardly any places to stop for coffee, a glass of wine on the water, or just to gather on the waterfront, so the intent here is to create a district where people can enjoy the water in a way that isn’t solely recreational.”
Within the tower levels above the podiums, there will be 1.6 million sq. ft. of housing, providing living space for several thousand people.
Another major component of the project is its community amenities. It will provide a new 109,000-sq-ft community centre for the neighbourhood, consisting of facilities that include an 11,500-sq-ft childcare centre, 64,000 sq. ft. of community meeting and recreational space, and a 33,000-sq-ft ice rink.
When all uses are factored, the project will create over 2.1 million sq. ft. of new floor area.
This community ice rink is a partnership with the Vancouver Canucks, which will use the rink as its new purpose-built practice facility.
When the team is not on the ice, the rink will be open for public use. As well, the Canucks plan to open a sports medicine facility that will also be available to the public when not in use by its athletes.
All of these various housing, commercial, and community uses are contained within building forms with green roof terraces that gradually rise from the seawall towards Pacific Boulevard. A significant portion of this terrace space on the lower three levels will be open to the public as plaza and green space, complementing the ground-level plazas and seawall extension.
The buildings also cascade from the spine to “frame” the landmark roof of BC Place Stadium.
The overall intent of Cheng’s design is to mimic the North Shore mountains.
“I think the architecture is amazing. It’s a beautiful carving that reflects our mountains, and that is why I’m very interested in this project. I think it’s one of the few projects that looks like the city,” said Non-Partisan Association City Councillor Elizabeth Ball during Thursday’s public hearing.
Mayor Gregor Robertson added: “We’re seeing remarkable amenities, a new crown jewel on the Vancouver waterfront, and really I think [it is] unprecedented in terms of the public benefits from this development.”
“It really fills an important gap on False Creek, many of us have been waiting for many years for change. This one has had a lot of careful, thoughtful, and creative input, and the result is something I can’t wait to see on our shores,” continued Robertson.
Other private redevelopment portions of the new Northeast False Creek district are spearheaded by Concord Pacific and Pavco, the provincial crown corporation that operates BC Place Stadium. Concord Pacific’s project is significant larger than the Plaza of Nations redevelopment while Pavco’s project only entails a single tower on a corner lot next to the stadium.
As the lower-floor uses of the buildings are intended to create a lively entertainment district, the City is mandating the developers to exercise building designs that mitigate and insulate noise beyond established standards.
Additionally, there will also be a requirement to provide condo purchasers and renters with a covenant that inform that they will be residing within an events and entertainment district. This aspect of living within an active and lively area, which can produce excessive noise, must also be included in marketing materials.