October 1, 2012

Vote for the best highrise in Metro Vancouver

The following eight highrises are finalists for the Vancouver Sun Readers’ Choice Award:

Readers can now have their say on development design in Metro Vancouver – and a chance to win a special getaway package at the luxurious Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Vote for your favourite highrise from the following finalists by visiting facebook.com/VancouverSun. You’ll be automatically entered in a draw for one night’s accommodation at The Rosewood Hotel Georgia, a spa package at Sense Spa and dinner at the elite Hawksworth Restaurant (recently awarded Restaurant of the Year by Maclean’s magazine).

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Urban Development Institute, The Vancouver Sun is honoured to present the Readers’ Choice Award to the winning development at the 2012 UDI Awards for Excellence on Friday, Oct. 26.

Adaptable backdrop for downtown living

Patina is located in the epicentre of downtown Vancouver, right where the bustle of downtown meets the tranquil West End. Through a unique partnership with Concert, the development of Patina allowed for the replacement of the original downtown YMCA (b. 1941) with a state-of-the-art 92,000-square-foot facility that currently serves 10,500 members of the community.

So much about great architecture is context, and Patina responds to its context exceptionally well. The duality of its architecture shows sensitivity to a truly unique site straddling two very different neighbourhoods. The glass and steel of the eastern face reflect the downtown core while the western face showcases concrete, brick and punched windows to complement the more intimate and distinctly warmer character of the traditional tree-lined West End. Patina’s location near the peak of downtown Vancouver’s peninsula allows for magnificent views of the ocean, mountains and city in literally every direction through walls of floor-to-ceiling glazing.

Designed to appeal to a target market that was diverse in age and ethnicity yet with a consistent eye for style and quality, Patina was created as a clean, sophisticated, and adaptable backdrop for downtown living. Large format tile floors evoke a high style, European esthetic and allow for a seamless transition from living spaces, studies, enclosed balconies, kitchen and bathrooms. Vote for Patina at  facebook.com/vancouversun

Paying homage to honest values

Conceived as a truly one of a kind tribute to both the City of Vancouver and its highly regarded city manager Larry Beasley, this Amacon project champions four pillars of exemplary urban design: sustainability, heritage restoration, affordable housing, and mixed use development. By having residences close to office and retail components, the individual resident’s urban footprint is greatly reduced, lessening the need for cars and transportation. Cyclical energy-sharing between the residential, office, and retail space is based on the time of day and when energy is needed the most. The tower has been layered so that the floors get smaller as the tower ascends, as if three buildings of different height were consolidated into one tower.

Heritage restoration was demonstrated by the rejuvenation of The Homer, an Edwardian-style landmark which retains the façade and as many interior features as possible in a building that had been diminished with age and neglect. The Homer building has, in fact, been completely re-imagined as an affordable, single-resident-occupancy apartment which has been praised by community activists familiar with the housing challenges in downtown Vancouver.

The Beasley combines market residential, rental residential, office retail, restaurant, and a large single family home. All of these uses coexist in a very animated assembly, at once providing for a free-flowing mix of residents, workers, shoppers, and diners. So much more than just another housing development, The Beasley pays homage to the honest values that are shaping Vancouver’s ever-changing dynamics. Even dogs (and their owners) love The Beasley, since it houses the city’s first dog deck or “woof-top patio” on the 8th floor! Vote for The Beasley at facebook.com/vancouversun


Built in a “park-side” rather than a “mall-side” location, Reflections by Ledingham McAllister represents 29 storeys of glass and concrete, containing 212 condominiums and six ground-oriented townhomes in a tranquil, fully-treed setting adjacent to Byrne Creek City Park in South Burnaby’s Edmonds neighbourhood. The developer placed its emphasis on creating a walkable community with transit connectivity and lifestyle convenience. Reflections is indeed a calm and peaceful place to call home.

More than one-third of the site was to be transferred back to the City of Burnaby in order to expand the existing Byrne Creek Park, and provide environmental protection to a sensitive riparian area and ravine.

The net result is that Ledingham McAllister was not only successful in reducing the size of development footprint on the environment, but undertook both the redevelopment and eco-restoration of Byrne Creek within the adjacent park, while further integrating the protection of an extremely rare and significant mature davidia (dove tree) specimen.

While Reflections is truly nestled in one of the greenest pockets in Burnaby and thereby connected to its extensive urban trail network, it is also within a quick walk of the Edmonds SkyTrain station and a mere two stops from the bustle and activity of Metrotown. The idyllic setting of Reflections is further enhanced by a dramatic reflecting pond and multi-tiered cascading water feature that flanks the entire front facade of the tower entry, and is very much a nod to the natural watercourse which the Ledingham McAllister team was so instrumental in protecting. The entire community of 218 homes was sold out in two years. Vote for Reflections at facebook.com/vancouversun

Challenge turned into an opportunity

A keen eye for the untapped potential of a former industrial site is what Ledingham McAllister’s development team is most proud of with their Perspectives residences. Tower residences actually have a much smaller environmental footprint than sprawling low-rise housing, and enough space was provided by the new plan to dedicate a three-acre park to the City of Burnaby. The rest of the site was transformed by a 29-storey highrise consisting of 223 homes.

Nearly two-thirds of its land mass was so badly contaminated that remediation costs would be prohibitively expensive. With a knack for turning a challenge into an opportunity, Ledingham McAllister developed an innovative strategy to transfer density from the southern end of the site to the northern end, where soil conditions were more favourable and the location was situated within easy walking distance of Brentwood’s SkyTrain station and the surrounding amenities. In exchange for this shift in density, the City of Burnaby is now able to offer its citizens a sizable public park and restored natural watercourse.

With Burnaby’s acceptance of this unusual strategy, the LedMac team was able to design and implement a sustainable stormwater management system where flows are incrementally released to the benefit of the waterway.

Today, Perspectives rises in a stunning mixture of brick, glass and concrete topped with an iconic glass lantern as a symbol to beckon one home. At ground level, a cascading waterfall composed of natural B.C. basalt and a series of spawning salmon sculptures by First Nations Artist Jody Bromfeld has been created to honour the restored watercourse and the indigenous people of the region. Vote for Perspectives at facebook.com/vancouversun

Family-friendly downtown

Solterra Group’s Dolce sought to satisfy four ambitious objectives: to create a landmark building in downtown Vancouver that would set a precedent for mixed-use buildings; to focus on design-forward interior design; to create a combination of ground floor commercial retail and “micro offices,” and to provide family-friendly and urban chic downtown residences to address today’s changing urban demographics. This last goal resulted in a wide variety of home configurations ranging from 419 to 3,500 square feet, which helped address the needs of each and every homeowner looking for downtown living.

The Tower portion, rising 32 storeys, is designed with contemporary, elegant lines evocative of a crystal being held in a jewel case.

Solterra’s commitment to young families and urban professionals is exemplified by Dolce’s extensive amenities, which includes state of the art gym facilities, indoor/outdoor resident lounge boasting a unique enclosed glass gazebo, indoor/outdoor children’s play area (both are viewable from the gym, allowing parents to watch their children play, whether they are inside or outside). Dolce also boasts a whole host of green building practices – from a landscaped roof to private gardens to Low-E glass and Energy Star appliances, as well as using LEED compatible paints, sealants and adhesives to ensure a healthier indoor environment. Vote for Dolce at Symphony Place at facebook.com/vancouversun

More than just a place to live

As the name suggests, Boffo Developments’ Jewel sets a new benchmark for luxury condominium living in Burnaby. Aimed at a worldly demographic who appreciate quality and tasteful design, Jewel’s spacious floor plans, luxurious interiors and amenities, and boutique-hotel ambience make Jewel an exceptionally desirable place to live.

Designed by Chris Dikeakos Architecture, Jewel consists of 130 residential tower homes and four townhomes. Unique in the surrounding Burnaby cityscape, Jewel is iconic in the way it is positioned at a 45-degree angle to the street with a multi-faceted façade and dramatic porte-cochère in the circular driveway entrance.

Only five suites per floor make each home feel like a corner suite. Floor-to-ceiling windows and nine-foot ceilings enhance the 1,100- to 1,250-square-foot indoor living spaces. Expansive, fully-covered private balconies add an additional few hundred feet of outdoor living. The four townhomes were designed wide and shallow, allowing exceptional light penetration from front to back, giving the feeling of a single-family home.

Amenities include full-service concierge, residences’ lounge with chef’s demonstration kitchen and wine bar, expansive terraced garden and patio areas, fitness centre, and a hotel-style jetted hot tub and steam room. The immaculate landscaping is not just beautiful at ground level but creates visually intriguing, geometric patterns when viewed from the tower balconies.

Integrated seamlessly into the neighbourhood and environment, Boffo transformed adjacent undeveloped city land by creating an open public space complete with vegetation, benches, meandering pathways, and the transplanting of a rare, reclaimed 40-year-old gingko tree. Vote for Jewel at facebook.com/vancouversun

Innovations provide a practical outcome

Since its completion in 2011, few new buildings on the Vancouver skyline have created an impact like that of Jameson House, by Bosa Properties. Designed by Foster + Partners, the architecture firm that designed the new World Trade Center in New York City, Jameson House features ground-floor retail space on Hastings Street, eight storeys of offices, and 138 residential suites housed in an additional 22 storeys, including five dazzling, three-level penthouses that overlook Coal Harbour.

The design was developed in response to the local climate, seasonal sun paths, prevailing winds, humidity levels, air temperatures and precipitation rates specific to Vancouver. Foster + Partners’ in-house engineering group has been involved in the project from the outset, in a fully integrated approach to environmental engineering and architectural design. This has led to innovations such as chilled floors and a mechanized valet parking system, which reduces the number of parking levels and associated excavation, lighting and ventilation requirements.

Combining the restoration of adjacent heritage buildings with new construction, the main objective was to integrate the lower level offices and shops with the existing streetscape to re-invigorate the downtown neighbourhood. The residential floors curve outwards in four wide bays, which are staggered to allow daylight to reach neighbouring buildings and oriented to provide uninterrupted views.

The details of each Jameson House home are as impressive as its glittering façade. The Italian-made Dada Cucina kitchen features a disappearing hood fan, movable table islands (with motorized ends that allow for different configurations), and Molteni closets, with lighting that comes on the moment you open the door. The list of environmentally sustainable features includes hydronic heating and cooling and connectivity to the downtown energy utility grid. Indeed, Bosa Properties has given Vancouver a tower that is locally cherished and internationally acclaimed. Vote for Jameson House at facebook.com/vancouversun

A structure that surprises and delights

Finding its place in a mature neighbourhood of established properties, Pender Place capitalizes on the constraints of a narrow and challenging site that is only 23 metres deep to create an architectural statement. The simple geometric form shifts slightly at each level of the towers to create a dramatic, angular leaning gesture in its overall form.  Cantilevering three metres out from base to tip at each end of the site, the clean, faceted prism-like form of West Pender Place is anchored by two solid concrete cores. The result is a structure that both surprises and delights observers.

West Pender Place is composed of a highrise tower of 36-storeys (West tower), a mid-rise tower of 10-storeys (East tower) joined by a five-storey podium, all over seven levels of underground parking. This mixed use development consists of a total of 145 residential units with residential and office/commercial uses all above a ground floor with 1,300 metres of retail space, in addition to two tower lobbies and one podium lobby. The podium houses 32 live-work units.

Extensive four-side curtain wall glazing on the east and west sloping portions of the building provide the appearance that the building was carved from a solid block of glass.

The simplicity of the building’s clean form is strengthened through the introduction of a contrasting random, playful detailing in the skin. Texture, detail, and differentiation have been added through the addition of strips of vertical spandrel, fitted glass, and operable windows, which enhance ventilation and bring the outside in. A LED public art installation runs the full length of the two taller buildings, with a display that changes patterns and colours through the day. Vote for West Pender Place at facebook.com/vancouversun

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