Stunning church restoration part of The Butterfly tower in downtown Vancouver

Dec 1 2021, 2:53 am

The Butterfly is well on its way in making its ascent into becoming a landmark tower in the downtown Vancouver skyline.

Major construction activities on the 556-ft-tall, 57-storey luxury condominium tower first began in early 2019, and as of the end of this month, the 12th floor plate of the building has been poured.

Although attention on the project at 1019 Nelson Street has, naturally, largely focused on the tower, its surrounding base is deserving of much recognition as well.

The adjacent 1911-built First Baptist Church building is currently closed, as it is part of the overall project construction site. Construction crews are currently in the process of restoring and rehabilitating the stone church structure, including a revitalization of the sanctuary, bell tower and church exterior, historic plaza, and overall seismic upgrades.

Additionally, the church’s Pinder Hall will be restored to its original appearance and volume after it was altered in 1931, following a fire that gutted much of the structure.

the butterfly first baptist church november 16 2021

Construction progress on The Butterfly tower and social housing building, and renovations on the First Baptist Church structure, as of November 16, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The Butterfly 1019 Nelson Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of The Butterfly at 1019 Nelson Street, Vancouver. (Revery Architecture/Westbank)

The church’s floor plate is being expanded, too, providing the congregation with 45,000 sq ft of new additional community spaces, including a 37-space childcare facility, multi-purpose rooms, gymnasium, counselling services, cafe, and church offices.

The expansion floor area faces the laneway within the base of the tower, and it is integrated with the heritage church building by an indoor galleria space with a glass roof. This is the largest galleria with a heritage component in Vancouver since the 1980s renovation projects that created Sinclair Centre and City Square mall.

New interior artistic renderings of the renovated sanctuary and new galleria were provided to Daily Hive Urbanized by Revery Architecture.

For its work on the entire The Butterfly and church restoration project, Revery Architecture recently won an award of excellence from Canadian Architect magazine.

the butterfly first baptist church

Artistic rendering of the interior of the renovated sanctuary of First Baptist Church, as part of The Butterfly project. (Revery Architecture)

the butterfly first baptist church

Artistic rendering of the new indoor galleria of First Baptist Church, as part of The Butterfly project. (Revery Architecture)

Construction on the entire project is anticipated to reach completion in 2023.

The main tower, containing a total of 331 upscale condominium homes, will be one of the tallest towers in downtown Vancouver, as a result of both the structure’s physical height and the site’s high elevation of about 120 ft above sea level. As a nod to the site’s history and development partner, the form of the tower takes inspiration from church pipe organs.

To the west of the tower is a seven-storey building with 61 units of social housing. As of this month, the top floor plate for this podium structure has been poured.

The condominium tower and social housing building are built on the church’s former surface parking lot, and two lots previously occupied by three-storey residential buildings.

the butterfly first baptist church november 16 2021

Construction progress on The Butterfly tower and social housing building, and renovations on the First Baptist Church structure, as of November 16, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

the butterfly first baptist church november 16 2021

Construction progress on The Butterfly tower and social housing building, and renovations on the First Baptist Church structure, as of November 16, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The Butterfly 1019 Nelson Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of The Butterfly at 1019 Nelson Street, Vancouver. (Revery Architecture/Westbank)

First Baptist Church partnered with developer Westbank for their strategy to accomplish the much-needed, expensive seismic upgrades and facility renovations.

In exchange for The Butterfly’s rezoning approval, Westbank committed to provide $96 million in community amenity contributions (CACs) — one of the largest CACs ever in Vancouver’s history from a single project.

This includes $21.7 million from the in-kind value of the heritage church renovation and expansion, plus a $4.3 million contingency for the restoration works, as well as $6.5 million in credit towards a portion of the social housing building value, and $63 million as a cash CAC to the municipal government towards the West End Community Plan’s public benefits strategy.

the butterfly first baptist church november 16 2021

Construction progress on The Butterfly tower and social housing building, and renovations on the First Baptist Church structure, as of November 16, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

the butterfly first baptist church november 16 2021

Construction progress on The Butterfly tower and social housing building, and renovations on the First Baptist Church structure, as of November 16, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

the butterfly first baptist church november 16 2021

Construction progress on The Butterfly tower and social housing building, and renovations on the First Baptist Church structure, as of November 16, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

In June 2020, city council approved a 586-ft-tall, 60-storey, mixed-use residential tower at 1059-1075 Nelson Street, towards the western end of the same city block as The Butterfly. The project, built to a Passive House green design standard, includes 328 condominium homes in the upper levels, 50 market rental homes in the mid-section floors, and 102 units of social housing in the lower floors. Henson Developments is providing $70 million in CACs, which will be completely achieved by the in-kind value of the social housing.

1059-1075 Nelson Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the 1059-1075 Nelson Street tower (left) and The Butterfly tower at 1019 Nelson Street (right). (WKK Architects/IBI Group/Henson Developments)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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