Van­cou­ver ready for ‘su­per prime’ time

Ar­chi­tec­tural stun­ner ranks with the best high-de­sign build­ings in world cap­i­tals

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - CINDY STEPHEN

A stun­ning 59-storey ar­chi­tec­tural won­der has launched Van­cou­ver into the global league of “su­per prime” real es­tate.

Van­cou­ver House, yet to break ground at the foot of the Granville Bridge and al­ready more than 90 per cent sold, prom­ises to be a defin­ing ar­chi­tec­tural mo­ment on Van­cou­ver’s sky­line.

“We are sur­prised at the at­ten­tion this build­ing has re­ceived around the world. Peo­ple have never seen a build­ing that looks like this. They’re re­ally drawn to the ar­chi­tec­ture,” says Michael Braun, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of West­bank Projects Corp., de­vel­oper and builder of Van­cou­ver House. West­bank has more than $12 bil­lion in real es­tate projects cur­rently un­der de­vel­op­ment or com­pleted, in­clud­ing the five-star Fair­mont Pa­cific Rim on Van­cou­ver’s water­front.

But never has the company been iden­ti­fied with a project ranked as “su­per prime,” com­pa­ra­ble to the best high-de­sign res­i­den­tial build­ings in New York, London, Sin­ga­pore, Paris,

Geneva, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shang­hai.

Ar­chi­tec­tural phe­nom Bjarke In­gels, named “In­no­va­tor of the Year” by the Wall Street Jour­nal, was brought in by West­bank founder and pres­i­dent Ian Gille­spie when his team couldn’t rec­on­cile their vi­sion for a condo tower at the north end of the Granville Bridge with the odd­shaped piece of land avail­able. In­gels and his team at Bjarke In­gels Group (BIG) of Copen­hagen and New York started with a 6,000-square-foot clas­sic ‘flat­iron’ de­sign and added square feet as the build­ing went higher, twist­ing it into a 14,000-square foot, four-sided build­ing of­fer­ing spec­tac­u­lar views.

To the ob­server driv­ing into down­town Van­cou­ver from the air­port, the con­crete, glass and cop­per ed­i­fice will ap­pear like a cur­tain drawn back to re­veal the city beyond. In ad­di­tion to call­ing upon the in­spi­ra­tion of the flat­iron, In­gels did his home­work and cap­i­tal­ized on the work of Canada’s most re­spected ar­chi­tect, Arthur Erick­son, whose ideas in ur­ban ar­chi­tec­ture spawned the term Van­cou­verism.

“In this form of ur­ban­ism, we see modernist high­rises shaped or­gan­i­cally in har­mony with the moun­tains in the back­ground and with large ter­races to ex­tend mod­ern life to the out­side,” In­gels ex­plains. The BIG team re­mained true to Erick­son’s vi­sion of the “slen­der tower ris­ing from the pedes­trian streetscap­e,” while com­ing up with the so­lu­tion to West­bank’s de­sign chal­lenge.

“We saw it as an evo­lu­tion of the flat­iron of New York, a build­ing shaped from the tri­an­gu­la­tion of Broad­way and the New York City grid, ex­cept we al­low the build­ing fa­cade to ex­pand as it de­parted the dense neigh­bour­hood, and un­fold in the sky sur­rounded by the view of the moun­tains and the abun­dance of day­light,” In­gels says.

There will be 333 suites, 50 es­tate homes and five pent­houses, from as small as a 368-square-foot stu­dio/one-bed­room flex to a 3,034-square-foot fourbed­room home with a fam­ily room. Braun says West­bank has adopted the phi­los­o­phy of “Ge­samtkunst­werk” — Ger­man for “to­tal work of art” — to their prac­tice. As such, the en­tire build­ing is con­sid­ered a liv­ing, breath­ing piece of art. For ex­am­ple, no two floor plans in Van­cou­ver House are alike — ev­ery suite is cus­tombuilt. Ev­ery el­e­ment of the build­ing, from the cop­per­clad ex­te­rior and twice-the­size ter­races, to the mir­rored hall­ways and even the “float­ing” mail­boxes, has been con­sid­ered and de­signed. It is most cer­tainly a cre­ative de­par­ture from the cook­iecut­ter, yawn-in­duc­ing style of tra­di­tional multi-fam­ily build­ing de­sign.

Van­cou­ver House prom­ises on-site Five Star concierge ser­vice avail­able 24-hours a day with ad­vanced se­cu­rity tech­nol­ogy in ev­ery cor­ner of the build­ing, a well­ness cen­tre that will of­fer pro­grams, classes and ser­vices con­ducted by a pri­vate con­trac­tor, a 25-me­tre rooftop heated lap pool and a fleet of i3 and i8 model BMWs shared by own­ers and main­tained by the concierge.

Be­hind the walls, each home will have ac­cess to car­bon-fil­tered out­door air, fil­tered wa­ter and a top-end hy­dronic heat­ing and cool- ing sys­tem. The lower pavil­ions of Van­cou­ver House will have rooftop lawns and green space, low­er­ing en­ergy costs and of­fer­ing in­spir­ing views from above. West­bank will ap­ply the “to­tal de­sign” phi­los­o­phy to the neigh­bour­hood, with plans to en­liven the area un­der the Granville Bridge with re­tail and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment along with pub­lic art, in­clud­ing a “spin­ning chan­de­lier” by artist Rod­ney Gra­ham.

In­gels refers to the fu­ture un­der­side of the Granville Bridge as the “Sis­tine Chapel of street art.”

Braun says quite a few Cal­gar­i­ans are among the many buy­ers at home and abroad who will live in Van­cou­ver House, at least part of the year.

“I would say that the driv­ing fac­tor is ob­vi­ously the weather and the prox­im­ity. And there isn’t as much res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in down­town Cal­gary as there is in Van­cou­ver,” Braun says.

“This is very much an en­duser prod­uct. We have a lot of peo­ple who didn’t con­sider condo liv­ing be­fore, but this build­ing drew them to con­sider it.”

Van­cou­ver House will be ready for oc­cu­pancy in 2018.

West­bank Projects Corp.

“Peo­ple have never seen a build­ing that looks like this,” a spokesman for de­vel­oper West­bank Projects Corp. says of Van­cou­ver House.

Pho­tos: West­bank Projects Corp.

The view from a pent­house great room at Van­cou­ver House, as en­vi­sioned in an artist’s ren­der­ing.

It’s thought that a pent­house deck at Van­cou­ver House could look like this, com­plete with hot tub.

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