Axed childcare and downsized retail in redesigned Vancouver towers (RENDERINGS)

Jan 11 2022, 3:58 am

A drastic overhaul has been made for Bosa Properties and Kingswood Properties’ proposal to redevelop the southwest corner of the intersection of Alberni Street and Bidwell Street in downtown Vancouver.

Newly submitted revisions to the rezoning application for 1700 Alberni Street, previously known as 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street, convey an Earthy, pinecone-inspired design. This is established by a pattern of staggered balconies for the entirety of both towers.

The application was first submitted in January 2021, and the changes were made after receiving input from the public and city staff.

Original 2021 design:

1728 alberni street 735 bidwell street vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Revised 2022 design:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

“People want bigger and more useable outdoor spaces that create extended living areas, allowing them to take their work or recreational time outside. They want buildings with solidity, personality and depth that feel permanent,” said Thomas Heatherwick, the founder of London-based architectural firm Heatherwick Studio.

“We saw a real need to better connect the towers with the surrounding nature and to offer substantial materiality that feels long lasting. Our vision is based around a three-dimensional framework conceptualized as ceramic glazed terracotta, which strikes the right balance between privacy and the incredible views in all directions.”

Original 2021 design:

1728 alberni street 735 bidwell street vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Revised 2022 design:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

The proponents selected the internationally renowned British team in 2019 following a privately-staged international design competition. Heatherwick’s team is known for designing the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron, the Routemaster double-decker bus for Transport For London, and the Vessel in New York City.

“It’s hard to overstate how spectacular Vancouver really is unless you have had the opportunity to experience it. Heatherwick Studio has translated the wild sensibility of the majestic mountains, lush forests and expansive ocean that surrounds us into an architectural form that will allow people to feel like they are truly within it all,” said Colin Bosa, CEO of Bosa Properties.

“It is all about the relationship with the natural world, and we are really excited to see this landmark contribute to the thriving diversity of the West End.”

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

The architectural redesign process also led to the downsizing of the project’s total floor area — from 423,400 sq ft in January 2021 to 407,500 sq ft in January 2022, dropping the floor area ratio density from 10.88 to 10.47 times larger than the size of the land assembly.

While the drop in density may seem nominal, it has had a major impact on the public benefits and uses offered by the proponents. About 20,000 sq ft of condominium floor area has been removed, almost entirely from eliminating the top four floors of the east tower.

The east tower is now 298 ft with 30 storeys — down from the original application’s height of 345 ft with 34 storeys — but the west tower is unchanged at 385 ft with 39 storeys, including the six-storey, mixed-use podium. The change in the east tower’s height appears to have been the result of building shadowing considerations on Marina Square Park, which is located about two blocks to the north.

The shadowing considerations enforced by city staff, even though such considerations are not official city policy, are highly sensitive.

Original 2021 design’s shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park during Spring Equinox:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

January 2021 original application’s shadowing impacts of 1700 Alberni Street on March 19 during Spring Equinox. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Revised 2022 design’s shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park during Spring Equinox:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

January 2022 revised application’s shadowing impacts of 1700 Alberni Street on March 19 during Spring Equinox. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

The original application sought permission to shadow a small fraction of Marina Square Park over 21 days out of 365 days in a year, with nine days leaving a shadow for five minutes or less daily, five days of 10 minutes of shadowing daily, and seven days of 15 minutes to 25 minutes of shadowing daily.

An emphasis should also be placed that only a tiny proportion of the park would be shadowed during any of these 21 days, with seven days of under 1% of the park’s total size shadowed, seven days of 1% to 2%, and seven days of 2% to 5.3%. To achieve this minimal shadowing proportion in the original application, the east tower’s upper floors were stepped back, resulting in partial floor sizes relative to the rest of the tower.

But it appears the original application’s mitigation were deemed insufficient, and the revised application eliminates all of this shadowing by reducing the height further.

Shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park due to the original 2021 design:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

Original January 2021 design: Minimal shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park as a result of 1700 Alberni Street’s towers. Click on the image for an enlarged version. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park due to the revised 2022 design:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

Revised January 2022 design: No shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park as a result of further height reductions for 1700 Alberni Street’s east tower. Click on the image for an enlarged version. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

With the latest height changes due to shadowing considerations, there are now 387 condominium homes, instead of 401 units as previously proposed.

As a result of the reduced market residential density, the developers have completely axed the previously proposed 4,100 sq ft childcare facility on the ground level with a capacity for up to 24 children.

The total retail and restaurant space is now just 5,461 sq ft within the northeast corner of the ground level, whereas the original application called for 14,710 sq ft for the ground level and a unique second-level restaurant space overlooking a publicly accessible indoor atrium.

There is generally a tradeoff between the level of market residential density permitted, and the financial feasibility of the public benefits offered.

Original 2021 design’s inclusion of a publicly accessible indoor atrium:

1728 alberni street 735 bidwell street vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Revised 2022 design’s replacement of the publicly accessible indoor atrium with private resident amenity space:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Other than the childcare frontage, the previous retail and restaurant space concept completely activated the ground level’s frontages with Alberni Street, Bidwell Street, and the laneway. Retail units would also have had entrances from the indoor atrium, where there would be seating to support businesses and support informal gatherings.

But the publicly accessible indoor atrium has now been converted into a private lobby area (named “Alberni Hall”) for condominium residents, and the retail units that previously enclosed the atrium are now private library, concierge, dog wash, dinner, and parcel room spaces for residents.

Moreover, the changes to the ground level were made to accommodate 7,250 sq ft of market residential space — creating four multi-storey townhome units — to help offset some of the residential space losses in the top floors of the east tower. The former childcare floor area accounts for most of these new townhome units.

Original 2021 design’s ground level with childcare, retail and restaurant space, and a publicly accessible indoor atrium:

1728 alberni street 735 bidwell street vancouver

Ground floor plan of 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Revised 2021 design’s ground level with townhomes, private resident amenity spaces, and reduced retail and restaurant spaces:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design’s ground level floor plan for 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Indoor public amenity spaces within the upper levels of the podium have also been reconfigured for more residential space, given the relocation of some of these amenity spaces to the private ground level lobby.

For instance, the indoor swimming pool has been downsized and repositioned to the centre of the podium on the fourth floor, with a double-height ceiling topped off by a walkable glass roof on the podium rooftop’s outdoor amenity space.

Original 2021 design’s indoor amenity pool for residents:

1728 alberni street 735 bidwell street vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Revised 2022 design’s indoor amenity pool for residents:

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Narrativ/Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Six underground levels accommodate 500 vehicle parking stalls and 848 secured bike parking spaces — down from 524 and 870, respectively, in the original proposal.

Both tower heights are curbed by mountain view cone height restrictions, specifically view cone 20.1 and 20.2 from the intersection of West Broadway and Granville Street.

Currently, the development site is occupied by a 1986-built, nine-storey strata residential building at 735 Bidwell Street, and a 1987-built, four-storey strata residential complex at 1728 Alberni Street.

Just kitty corner from the site, shadowing impacts on Marina Square Park also removed 59 ft — – the equivalent of six storeys — from Anthem Properties’ redevelopment of the former Chevron gas station at 1616-1698 West Georgia Street.

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

View Cone 20.1 and 20.2’s impacts on the 2022 revised design of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design of 1700 Alberni Street in the downtown Vancouver skyline. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

1700 Alberni Street Vancouver 2022

2022 revised design of 1700 Alberni Street in the downtown Vancouver skyline. (Heatherwick Studio/IBI Group/Bosa Properties/Kingswood Properties)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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