I occasionally run across architect James Cheng taking photos of the city (even his own work!) and ask him to pass along examples.  I guess he’s been too modest to do so – until I received this:

I just came across this shot of my Spectrum project that I shot some years ago. I thought you may like to see it as you are always talking the lack of color in our city.

Spectrum (jc) c-y13sm


Lack of colour in our architecture maybe derives from the Ericksonian sensibility that the built form should honour our climate and landscape, not compete with it.  But I think we carried it to an ironic extreme by trying not to be too extreme.

Things have changed recently, where new proposals are anything but self-effacing – but that’s how the pendulum swings.

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  1. I really struggle with this type of Architecture. Basically a bog standard Vancouver concrete and green glass condo with ribbons of added colour tacked on in the end, not much imagination here. What happen to composing a building with a series of materials; wood, stone, brick, colour concrete. If you want to get bold do something like this:


    Or this:


    1. It’s essentially Brutalism with a smile – or at least without value engineering. Same sillhouette, indistinguishable profile, but with more imaginative and expensive use of colour and materials.

  2. I like the ribbons of colour – the interplay of staid lines broken by whimsy. But like all things it can quickly turn to cliche. Brutalism refers to concrete, our glass city might be better called functionalist.

  3. Ironically, the photographer appears to have artificially enhanced the colour in this photo to the point where it barely resembles reality. The blue/green tones, making up the majority of the colour in the photo, are actually grey. Street view Regiment Square on google maps to see for yourself.

  4. Yeah, that photo looks edited.

    As for Spectrum, agreed that the colours applied to that building look like an afterthought,
    being primary colours applied to the somewhat random strips of aluminum panel cladding rather than a cohesive overall design.
    i.e. compare to The Spot on Seymour St., the Maddox condo on Howe St. or Woodwards which are more cohesive.