It looks like downtown Vancouver is now one big step closer to getting a flagship Apple Store, which has been about 15 years in the making by some accounts.
On Monday, the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board (DPB) passed the proposal to replace the CF Pacific Centre glass rotunda at 701 West Georgia Street — the northeast corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Howe Street — into a 14,000 sq. ft., two-storey pavilion retail building for the shopping mall.
Daily Hive first reported on the application that was submitted to the city in February of this year, and at the time it appeared the design was for an Apple Store.
The proposal by Perkins + Will Architects aligns with all of the design elements, materials, and the overall form and aesthetic of other Apple Store flagship locations elsewhere in the world — particularly the newer Apple Store flagship designs, such as the recently opened Apple Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Simply put, the similarities are uncanny.
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Representatives with Cadillac Fairview and Apple were unable and unwilling to confirm on the Apple Store project at the time, and it is expected that both parties will remain tight-lipped until they are ready to make a formal announcement.
Since then, sources have told Daily Hive that this is indeed an Apple Store, and it will replace CF Pacific Centre’s existing in-mall location, which has been one of the company’s best-performing stores in North America since it opened in 2008.
The submitted design this year envisioned a double-height glass facade and a sweeping, metal cantilevered roof, with the building rotated on a 45-degree axis to diagonally orient the structure to face the Vancouver Art Gallery’s recently renovated North Plaza.
High-quality materials for the building’s exterior include warm grey limestone cladding, robust granite paving, wood soffits, low-iron glass, and metal-panel roofing.
The open, pillar-less interior features stone walls, wood ceilings, and bench seating along the length of the windows of the second level.
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The application continues with a description of a multi-storey green wall backdrop the entire pavilion building, and it doubles as a rainwater runoff. Altogether, this creates a “vibrant, compelling natural backdrop.”
The proposal also featured an outdoor public plaza space highlighted by a cascading stair plinth, new trees, and movable tables and chairs.
This expansion and extension of the existing shopping centre will include a new replacement entrance into the shopping centre from West Georgia Street, with the new glass entrance wedged between the new green wall and the 701 West Georgia Street office tower.
As well, a secondary entrance into the Apple Store is located on the northeast corner of the building, providing direct access from the indoor shopping mall. An opportunity allows for a small retail unit next to this entrance.
Ahead of the DPB’s review, the proponent submitted some minor design revisions in late April, in response to relatively minor recommendations made by the city’s Urban Design Panel.
In an email to Daily Hive, the municipal government says Monday’s decision allows the project to move forward, but the proponent must still meet a number of conditions outlined by the DPB that further change the design before it can receive full approval.
This includes the conditions of better integrating the green wall with the rest of the pavilion, and improving the following: the interior open space and prominence of the new major mall; the new plaza space with more planting areas and additional seating; and the “pedestrian interface and visual connection” between the existing Four Seasons Hotel tower and West Georgia Street.
“In general, the application is felt by staff to be achieving architectural excellence with some notable outstanding issues related primarily to the architectural clarity of the green wall’s relationship to the other major architectural elements,” reads a city staff report, adding that this latest design is preferred over the now-cancelled, 2016-approved three-storey retail building design.
“Staff feel that the public realm is vastly improved with the addition of the exterior open space with stair setting which successfully address the Art Gallery and adds significantly to the public life of West Georgia Street.”
In 2005, Cadillac Fairview successfully negotiated to have its public amenity obligation fulfilled by allowing TransLink to turn the mall’s plaza at the southwest corner of the intersection of Granville Street and West Georgia Street into the street entrance for the Canada Line’s Vancouver City Centre Station.
At the time, this was in exchange for the city’s permission to redevelop the multi-storey mall atrium and waterfall building at the north end of CF Pacific Centre (at Dunsmuir Street) into a new and expanded Holt Renfrew flagship store. This move also opened up the possibility for Cadillac Fairview to explore other uses of its rotunda, other than making it a more publicly-accessible atrium suitable for public gatherings. The public space intent of this previous consideration is still maintained today to some great extent by the new plaza space as a result of the pavilion building.
Charles Gauthier, the president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, was unable to comment on the tenant, but he says the redevelopment of the plaza is a major welcome change to the Central Business District.
He credits Cadillac Fairview for providing the area around CF Pacific Centre with a major uplift that has brought major international-calibre retailers and corporate offices to the city.
“Cadillac Fairview’s redevelopment of this iconic corner at Georgia and Howe streets, with the addition of new retail space, speaks volumes about its confidence in and commitment to downtown,” Gauthier told Daily Hive.
“Earlier this decade, Cadillac Fairview made a significant investment in the former Sears building that led to the much-anticipated arrival of Nordstrom to Vancouver and the introduction of much needed large floor plate space for tech giants Microsoft, Sony ImageWorks, and other tenants. It sparked renewed interest in and investments along Granville Street both north and south of Robson Street. This upcoming redevelopment on Georgia Street will likely result in other nearby properties to seriously consider making similar investments.”