An architecturally dramatic trio of towers covered with lush greenery has been proposed as the latest and most detailed design yet for the redevelopment of the large Safeway store site immediately adjacent to SkyTrain’s Commercial-Drive Broadway Station.
Crombie REIT, local developer Westbank, and architectural firm Perkins+Will have submitted their rezoning application for the 106,000 sq. ft. lot at 1780 East Broadway.
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A detailed design for consideration has been nearly seven years in the making, and it previously included the involvement of famed Vancouver architect Bing Thom, who suddenly passed away in 2016 during the project’s early pre-application public consultation phase.
“The redevelopment presents the opportunity to create a sustainable, transit-oriented, mixed-use project in a compact and accessible urban form that respects and enhances the personality of the neighbourhood that surrounds it,” reads the design rationale.
The proposed mixed-use project entails a four-level podium structure with a 52,600-sq-ft replacement Safeway store on the ground level, along with 20,500 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, 61,322 sq. ft. of office space, and a 12,271-sq-ft daycare within other spaces in the podium.
Three towers — 24 storeys, 27 storeys, and 30 storeys — are perched over the podium, containing 680 homes, including 520 condominium units, and 160 rental units.
The condominium unit mix is 94 studios, 166 one-bedroom units, 205 two-bedroom units, and 55 three-bedroom units, while the rental unit mix is 16 studios, 88 one-bedroom units, 40 two-bedroom units, and 16 three-bedroom units.
Some of these condominium units will be townhouse-like suites located uniquely within the upper levels of the towers. Certain floors of the towers are stepped to create “sky gardens” that not only provide an elevated outdoor-indoor living experience, but also to prevent the towers from appearing as a “simple extruded form.”
In addition to the ultra contemporary form and materials — such as zinc, aluminum, and copper and bronze finishes, as well as timber-steel hybrid structural systems — the buildings are envisioned to be covered by lush vegetation; the facades have planting walls that allow for vegetation to climb up.
The balconies could be cable hung or propped using a stainless steel system, with pre-fabricated decks of pre-cast concrete or metal construction The planters are fully integrated into the stainless cable plant supports.
“Wild and tamed gardens reveal themselves throughout the various elevations within the project, balcony spaces are colonized and cascade down and across the inner faces of the residential towers. Building edges are blurred as walls are festooned from above,” states the application.
On the rooftop of the lower podium, on top of the grocery store and stepped towards East 10th Avenue, the towers are oriented around a central courtyard that is complete with a significant “hanging garden” architectural fixture.
“The garden courtyard is conceived as a woodland glade and from this heart, green planes and spaces emerge in a ‘spherical’ form in all directions and elevations,” reads the design rationale.
“This notion of a centripetal / centrifugal green dynamic is further heightened by the proposed ‘hanging gardens’ which crown the open volume of the courtyard garden, and which are highly visible markers of the project beyond the boundaries of the site.”
All of the entrances of the residential lobbies are located on the courtyard to help activate this second level outdoor space.
Significant green building designs are also integrated into the outdoor landscaping and vegetation features.
On the western end of the site, abutting the SkyTrain station’s Expo Line platforms, a 20,000-sq-ft public plaza will be animated with small-scale retail and restaurant frontage.
This space is further activated by its purpose as a mid-block pedestrian connection between East Broadway and East 10th Avenue, and the main entrances into the Safeway, fitness gym, and daycare.
As well, the plaza will be designed as an event-friendly community gathering space, including the possibility of live outdoor screenings of international soccer games, as a nod to the site’s location at the foot of Vancouver’s Little Italy.
The proposal is calling for a total floor area of 620,784 sq. ft., giving it a floor space ratio density of 5.87 times the size of the lot.
To support the residential and commercial density, over 650 vehicle parking stalls are planned across four underground levels.
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