17-storey wood tower with LGBTQ community centre proposed for downtown Vancouver

Dec 17 2019, 8:51 pm

A 17-storey, mixed-use wood tower with the new home of QMUNITY and 139 units of social housing will help bookend downtown Vancouver’s Davie Village at its eastern boundary.

Non-profit housing developer New Commons Development and ZGF Architects have submitted a rezoning application to redevelop 1190 Burrard Street — the northeast corner of the intersection of Burrard Street and Davie Street, currently occupied by low-storey commercial buildings dating as far back as 1912.

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Site of 1190 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Site of 1190 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Every aspect of this redevelopment on the city-owned property is designed purposefully for the Vancouver’s LGBTQ community.

There will be a new 13,427-sq-ft LGBTQ community and social service centre within a portion of the ground level and the entirety of the second level — a relocation of QMUNITY from its existing cramped location at 1170 Bute Street. The glass facade and architectural fins of the exterior of the first two levels carry the colours of the rainbow.

The long-running, non-profit organization provides free counselling, youth support, and health and educational resources for individuals who identify as LGBTQ. QMUNITY’s new home is funded by a $7-million community amenity contribution from the nearby Burrard Gateway project by the Jim Pattison Group.

The municipal government also provided the organization with a $200,000 capital grant towards the design and planning phase of the new facility.

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Artistic rendering of 1190 Burrard Street in Vancouver with QMUNITY. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

The building’s primary component of social housing within the upper levels will be operated by the McLaren Housing Society of BC, which provides affordable housing and support services for families and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. According to the non-profit housing operator, over 40% of their growing waitlist for housing are 50 years or older and at risk of homelessness.

The unit mix is 72 studios, 18 one-bedroom units, 30 two-bedroom units, and 19 three-bedroom units.

Residents will have access to 2,400 sq. ft. of indoor amenity space, as well as nearly 4,000 sq. ft. of outdoor amenity space, mainly situated on the seventh level. This includes a garden and quiet space, fitness and play area, outdoor dining and BBQ area, and an outdoor lounge deck overlooking Davie Street.

A minor commercial space component spanning 2,600 sq. ft. — such as retail and restaurant — is also located on the ground level.

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Artistic rendering of 1190 Burrard Street in Vancouver with QMUNITY. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

Altogether, the building will create a total floor area of 123,341 sq. ft., giving it a floor space ratio density of over nine times the size of the 13,499-sq-ft lot. Three underground levels will accommodate 34 vehicle parking stalls and 276 bike parking spaces.

And with a height of 172 ft, this hybrid mass timber structure will be one of the tallest buildings of its kind in the world.

Such hybrid mass timber buildings — including the 2017-built, 174-ft-tall, 18-storey UBC Brock Commons Tallwood Student Residence — typically have prefabricated materials, such as cross-laminated timber floors supported on glue-laminated wood columns. These buildings receive further structural resilience from a concrete core, which also encases the elevator shafts and emergency staircases from fire.

Additionally, this will be a high-performance green building pursuing Passive House certification.

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Artistic rendering of 1190 Burrard Street in Vancouver with QMUNITY. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

With the applicant’s indication that they will be using a hybrid mass timber structural system and the use of prefabricated materials, the construction timeline will be considerably shorter than a conventional tower structure built out of concrete and steel.

The building could reach completion as early as late 2021, given the efficiencies with wood construction and the project’s expedited city review process.

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Artistic rendering of 1190 Burrard Street in Vancouver with QMUNITY. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Artistic rendering of 1190 Burrard Street in Vancouver with QMUNITY. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Height and form of 1190 Burrard Street compared with other nearby buildings in downtown Vancouver. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Height and form of 1190 Burrard Street compared with other nearby buildings in downtown Vancouver. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)