51-storey iconic Jenga tower proposed for downtown Vancouver
A German starchitect based in Beijing and Hong Kong is proposing to build a landmark residential tower on the northern fringes of downtown Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood.
Ole Scheeren’s Jenga-like design with rectangular blocks that protrude out of the upper levels is slated for 1500 West Georgia Street, sharing the site of the Rhone and Iredale-designed triangular office building which will remain. The development would be built on the eastern end of the city block on the corner of the intersection of West Georgia and Nicola streets.
Several other Vancouver developments have been designed with protruding boxes, including Telus Garden, but none have boxes that jut out to the same extent as this new proposal.
With its iconic design and height of 152 metres (500 feet), if approved it would effectively provide a distinctive new ‘entrance’ into Vancouver from Stanley Park and the North Shore.
“The tower opens up to embrace both city and nature in a three-dimensional sculpture, projecting the space of living outwards into the site’s surroundings, responding to the multi-directional context,” reads the architect’s description of his design. “The resulting multiple terraces generated from these horizontal shifts create both physical and emotional connectivity between the indoor and outdoor environment.”
“The design of the building presents a carefully crafted distinctive silhouette that reaches out to engage the space of the city and stands as a new beacon that activates the skyline.”
1500 West Georgia is local developer Bosa Properties’ most architecturally ambitious project to date. In addition to the unique aesthetic design elements, the 51-storey building will aim for a LEED Platinum certification with green features that include solar panels on the roof to generate power for the building’s lower commercial levels and public amenities.
The new tower will be footed by a plaza and an expanded and improved cascading water feature will replace the existing installation.
There are 235 residential units within the tower, units that will likely become trophy properties in the region’s luxury market. The overall cost of the project could exceed half a billion dollars given the intricate design’s elements and location fronting the Coal Harbour neighbourhood.
Bosa Properties purchased the city block last year with the intent of adding a residential tower to the site.
The height of the proposal follows the constraints of the City’s West End Community Plan and view cone policies, allowing the tower to become the fifth tallest building in the city and the tallest building in the immediate area.
The proposal is currently in the pre-application phase and the design could be rejected following critique from the City’s Urban Design Panel. An origami-shaped office tower next to Waterfront Station on West Cordova Street was rejected earlier this year, forcing internationally renowned Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gill Architecture to proceed with a redesign.
Scheeren was commissioned to design the project in February of this year following a competition between international architects. He is best known for designing the interconnected, looping CCTV building in Beijing and an upcoming mixed-used development in Singapore dubbed ‘DUO’.
Another architecturally unique tower with a scaly facade is proposed for a site directly across the street at the northeast corner of West Georgia and Cardero streets.
In recent years, Vancouver has broken its cookie-cutter jungle with several iconic designs including Holborn Group’s Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver (formerly the Ritz Carlton designed by the late Arthur Erickson) and Westbank Corporation’s Vancouver House (designed by Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels).