February 5, 2015

Development: Under Central

The latest, densest arrival in the Quebec-Main corridor: Central.







I still do not understand this penchant for using the same shade of green glass on seemingly every building in Vancouver.  Why, architects, why?

In this case, the colouring fails to distinguish the two major uses – the condo block above, angled as a skybridge over the two office blocks below – and makes the complex look even bulkier.


What’s below?  Pillars, ponds and wood pathways:




One of the pillars has bark:



Presumably a reference to the original trees that grew to that height, though in this case the site was originally part of False Creek, roughly the location of Westminster Bridge until land was created from the fill of the Grandview cut for terminal flats.


Westminster bridge

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  1. Certainly not the worst. It could be better, but at least it’s worth discussing. So many buildings now, especially the stock 4 or 6 story ones going in along arterials like Main or Cambie are just generic, boring, lifeless copies of each other.

  2. Just amazing how uninspiring, boring, colourless and unimaginative this City is becoming. the destruction of human scale is astonishing, who can relate to that building or that corridor that it sits on as a pedestrian? The Architects in this city are just pumping this crap through because there is so much work that they are making as much money as they can by taking as many projects as possible which means recycling ideas and getting it out the door. Where’s the use of wood? Stone? Time to get some architects from Portland, Seattle, San Fran, etc. in here to ignore the current context and stir some sh*t up around here.

  3. The tree bark pillar is a nice touch at least. Would look better if applied to all of them though.

    Nothing warmer and friendlier than good old plain smooth concrete!

  4. It’s actually a very nice change for the formulaic mid-rises that are and will continue to populate SE False Creek (think Lido, Meccanica, The One, Wall Centre False Creek, and Bosa’s upcoming The Creek).

    The play of protruding windows on the Main St. office façade (not shown) is quite nice.
    The use of the reddish brick adds colour in a much better way than up the road at the City-developed 1 Kingsway project.

    The column with the bark is not structural. It is just a sculpture that was added after the structure was built. The original design showed skewed columns, which would have been more interesting, and I presume, more expensive.

  5. If a building is going to look like a bridge, it should BE a bridge. Many of the new towers on Toronto’s waterfront are exactly this arrangement, and they do it to preserve the water view whilst allowing the sky view to be blocked instead: http://thetorontoblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Pier-27-building-rendering-IMG_7164.jpg (I think this is one of them).
    This design is the worse of all worlds, a blocked view, a public sheltered plaza/park (the ‘bridge could have formed a nice umbrella) which is instead water and boardwalks, and a blocked sky.
    I would ‘love’ to be in the Lido across the street …

  6. I agree about the green glass and finish. The covered space looks depressing on the photos. It could maybe be made more interesting if the columns were decorated or painted in some fashion. Instead of covering everything in concrete walkways and benches, why not provide some activity opportunities for both office workers and condo residents? E.g. ping pong tables.

  7. I still do not understand this penchant for using the same shade of green glass on seemingly every building in Vancouver. Why, architects, why?

    – We’re not architects, but the glass is green because the silica sand used in making glass has iron in it. Unless you specify low-iron glass, which is quite a bit more expensive, you get a natural green tint. When you have thicker double-glazed windows the green can be more apparent. If you coat the glass with a white painted finish, you get the ‘seafoam’ panels you see everywhere – not just in Vancouver.

    In this case, the colouring fails to distinguish the two major uses – the condo block above, angled as a skybridge over the two office blocks below – and makes the complex look even bulkier.

    – actually only one leg is office (on Main St) – the other on Quebec is condos, facing False Creek. There are several more condo floors than office floors (as the ceiling heights don’t need to be as high).

    As we noted on our blog, (http://changingcitybook.com/) it was interesting that not a single comment was made about the design of this building when it went to Public Hearing in 2011 – it was approved in minutes.

  8. Don’t forget that the skybridge is only meant to provide an “interior” courtyard. Once the MacDonald’s site is developed, the courtyard will be enclosed and the average street-side observer will not realize that there is a skybridge (for better or worse). In other words, while it looks bad from the vantage point of Terminal St. and the Main S, SkyTrain Station, that view is only temporary. As for the green glass, I’ll refer to ChangingCity explanation.

  9. The honest answer as to why there is so much greenish-tinged glass in Vancouver is cost related. Specifying laminated glass with low-iron content (less green) can be significantly more expensive. Ultra-clear glass can cost a client approximately 25% more (for the type of laminated glass used in curtainwall or other glazing systems used in residential or commercial towers).

  10. I am shocked by this building. It reminds me of the big housing “projects” built in the US in the 1960s because from many angles it reads as a huge hulking building built from property line to property line in all directions.

  11. Horrific. Worst building in Vancouver. Clearly there are people who like (or at least don’t mind) this building, but it seems to me their only argument is as follows: at least it’s not point and podium. That’s a terrible thing when such garbage is celebrated purely because it’s something a bit different. It is oversized, monotonous, imposing and completely lacks human scale.It goes against everything that good urbanism stands for: contextualized, human-scale, street-orientated, interesting materials, attractive detail.

    That this building was approved without comment…well, not much we can do anymore, but hopefully learn from it.