40-storey tower with 100% social housing proposed for downtown Vancouver

Nov 16 2020, 1:07 pm

A new mixed-use redevelopment in downtown Vancouver will have new cultural uses and 100% social housing for its residential component.

On behalf of MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society, Larco is proposing to turn 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street — the southwest corner of the intersection of Drake Street and Richards Street — into a 409-ft-tall, 40-storey tower. It would be the tallest social housing building in the city.

The site is currently occupied by a ground-level parking lot, and a 1972-built, two-storey building with the Ismaili Community Centre and Jamatkhana.

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Site of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Site of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

The redevelopment, designed by DA Architects & Planners, would offer a replacement community space and place of worship in levels two to four, totalling 32,300 sq. ft., within the tower podium.

This includes a prayer hall on the second level, reading room on the third level, social hall and recreational space on the fourth level, and learning centre on the fifth level that opens up to an outdoor amenity space on the podium rooftop.

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Conceptual artistic rendering of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Conceptual artistic rendering of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

A total of 198 units of social housing, offering a variety of options for families and individuals, will be provided in the remaining levels of the building over the cultural uses.

On the 10th level, residents will have access to about 1,000 sq. ft. of indoor amenity space that opens up to 2,730 sq. ft. of outdoor amenity space on the upper podium rooftop. Another outdoor amenity space is provided on the tower rooftop.

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Conceptual artistic rendering of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Building uses of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

This is envisioned as a “best in class urban mixed-use project including community hub, where people can convene in a number of ways including socializing, learning, praying, living, and supporting each other.” It will also facilitate “a multigenerational context allowing for young professionals, families, parents, and grandparents to have a better quality of life through close proximity of habitation and activities.”

However, the building’s design and scope is severely impacted by a view cone that protects views of Camel and Crown mountains. The upper levels from the 10th level and upwards cut through this view cone, requiring the proponents to create triangular-shaped floor plates for the remaining 30 levels of the tower.

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

View cone impact on 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

View cone impact on 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

As a result, the floor area size of the vast majority of the social housing levels are roughly halved, relative to the size of the podium.

The Shangri-La tower, the tallest building in Vancouver, is also triangular in shape for the same reasons to overcome a view cone that crosses through the property.

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Conceptual artistic rendering of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

508 Drake Street 1317 Richards Street Vancouver

Conceptual artistic rendering of 508 Drake Street and 1317 Richards Street, Vancouver. (DA Architects & Planners/MCYH Multigenerational Housing Society/Larco)

Four underground levels will provide just 55 vehicle parking stalls, and 150 bike parking spaces.

The proposed total building floor area is 169,000 sq. ft., creating a floor space ratio density of 14.12 times the size of the 12,000-sq-ft lot.

This project is currently in its pre-application public consultation phase; a formal rezoning application will be submitted to the municipal government at a later date.

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