Revised 26-storey crystal office tower proposal for Waterfront Station (RENDERINGS)

Feb 4 2020, 6:12 pm

The proposal to add a 376-ft-tall, 26-storey tower to downtown Vancouver’s former Canadian Pacific Railway Station (CPR) building, commonly known today as simply Waterfront Station, has been formally revived following adjustments to the design.

Canadian commercial developer and landlord Cadillac Fairview (CF) has submitted a revised development application to the City of Vancouver to develop 555 West Cordova Street — a portion of the ground-level parking property wedged between the CPR and The Landing buildings. CF owns both the historic train station building used by TransLink’s Waterfront Station hub and the adjacent parking lot.

The tower also has a new name, now dubbed as The Crystal at Waterfront Square. With approximately 530,000 sq. ft. of office space, it would be one of the largest office space additions to downtown Vancouver during the current office construction boom, effectively helping to meet soaring demand for office space — largely as a result of the tech industry’s growth.

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

According to CF, if the proposal is approved by the city’s development permit board this spring, construction could begin sometime later in 2020. The project does not require a public hearing as it does not pursue a rezoning.

“The Crystal at Waterfront Square is another example of Cadillac Fairview’s commitment to designing and operating a world-class building that contributes to a vibrant and sustainable city,” said Tom Knoepfel, senior vice-president of western portfolio for CF, in a statement.

Cadillac Fairview is and has been a long-standing developer, owner, and manager of both retail and office properties in Vancouver and we’re proud to be carrying on that tradition with this landmark development that will bring to market much needed class A office and commercial space in downtown Vancouver.”

CF has indicated its planned renovation of the former Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver tower, the redevelopment of the CF Pacific Centre rotunda into a new retail pavilion (flagship Apple Store), and The Crystal at Waterfront Square represent a combined capital investment of over $600 million.

The proposal, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the same Chicago-based firm behind Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, was first considered in 2014, but it was rejected over concerns that the lower portion of the structure “overhangs” and “obscures” the train station.

Original 2014 design

Waterfront Tower 555 West Cordova

Original 2014 design for Waterfront Tower at 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

Revised 2020 design

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

Within the constraints of the new design principles, the revised design pushes back the tower towards the rear of the parking lot. The structure is then rotated 90 degrees to open up the space on the West Cordova Street frontage to create a large open plaza area that replaces the parking.

This rotation now positions the tower in an east-west axis instead of a north-south axis. Moreover, the reconfiguration allows for 85% of the parking lot to be used as a public plaza. The ground level is now porous, as requested by the city’s Urban Design Panel, so that the public can walk through the site and see views of the harbour and mountains.

The tower massing also creates a lower podium, featuring an additional public terrace on the fourth level — and observation deck — that essentially doubles the viewing areas for the public.

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

In addition to the shifting and rotation, the design of the building’s lower floors in relation to the cornices of both Waterfront Station and the adjacent Landing office building have changed.

Other than these changes and improvements, the original overarching concept of a crystal-inspired (or origami-inspired) design has been retained.

“Starting with a pure rectangular shape, the mass was manipulated to emphasize its connection to the context, maximize ground level open space, minimize building footprint, optimize daylight, increase building performance, and reduce energy consumption,” reads the design rationale.

“The prismatic elements reference certain classical features of the station, and the rhythm of the curtain wall system echoes the articulation of the station’s classical facade.”

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 artistic rendering of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

With features such as carbon neutral operating systems, the tower will be designed to achieve WELL Platinum healthy workspace and LEED Platinum green building certifications.

Due to the site’s tight footprint wedged between the train station, railyard, and West Cordova Street, as well as the ground conditions, there will be zero new parking stalls created for this project, which will create workspaces for thousands of office employees. But there will still be below-grade access for bike parking, on-site maintenance facilities, and loading.

The tower will have direct connectivity to the existing Waterfront Station transit hub. Over the long term, it will be integrated with the planned expansion of the station, as outlined by the municipal government’s Central Waterfront Hub Framework. This CF tower would be just one of several office towers within the Waterfront Station precinct expansion.

But the size of the new plaza may have a limited lifespan, as a new access roadway is envisioned for the area to serve the expanded transit hub, and the new additional office towers and attractions.

555 west cordova street

January 2020 drawing of 555 West Cordova Street, integrated with the future expansion of Waterfront Station and the Central Waterfront district. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 drawing of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 drawing of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)

555 west cordova street

January 2020 drawing of 555 West Cordova Street, Vancouver. (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / Cadillac Fairview)