Daily Scot checking out the massive tech complex by Westbank, going up at 5th and Quebec:

Scot’s excited by the built-in alley, giving its name to the whole project: MainAlley.

But as we’ve asked before: why no colour?  Why, like the sea-green glass that covers almost every highrise since the ’80s, do developers, architects and the city’s urban designers, stick so conservatively with such a limited pallet, with one or two small exceptions?  There must be an architectural rationale, but mostly we hear supposition and speculation.

Further, the brutalist brick block (originally a data processing centre) at the corner of 5th and Quebec is coming down (or covered), so there will a net loss of colour and texture.

This is a three-block project; its impact on this part of the Main Street tech district will be substantial.  And it won’t be the green roofs we see from the street.




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  1. It’s not going to look exactly like that. This is an early rendering to show the massing and orientation in context of the street. Most design flourishes like colour and detail are intentionally left out in these early renderings; partially because the architects know that the city’s design commission is going to smack them around a bit until it’s acceptable. Everyone will have the opportunity to criticize the proposed design – which will include colour and probably some “playful” elements – when it goes to the committee in 6-12 months.

  2. I believe the brick bunker on the NE corner of 5th & Quebec (111 East 5th Ave) was the Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit (CLEU) building. CLEU was designed to handle organized crime and was replaced in 1999 by the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia, which is now part of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. The headquarters is with the RCMP E Division in Surrey (Green Timbers.)

    If I recall correctly, the building on Main St (2015 Main St, between 4th and 5th) that has been refaced was the Royal Bank’s cheque clearing centre. So an analogous function to CIBC’s “Fortress” at 1745 West 8th Ave.