The highrise Westbank proposes to build at the north end of Granville Bridge has been referred to as a “twisty tower,” but that’s not an accurate description, according to Bruce Haden, a principal at the firm Dialog, which is collaborating on the project designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of Bjarke Ingels Group.
“It’s not a twisty tower. It’s just triangular at the base and rectangular at the top,” he explained.
“It’s definitely a geometrical shift — I haven’t come up with any easy shorthand to describe it, but it’s not rotating. Also, in my experience, it’s a genuine invention. There are buildings that have tried similar things previously. I don’t know any that have actually been successfully built.”
Given the building’s unique design, an open house planned for 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson St., will likely draw a crowd. Ingels will be at the event.
The development features the tower, proposed to be about 50 storeys, and three “podium buildings” (rectangular ground-oriented low-rise buildings).
“The agenda is to create a unique public realm under the Granville Street Bridge that will be something that’s distinctive in the Vancouver context,” Haden said.
Thursday is the second open house for the project, which was supported by the city’s urban design panel last week. Haden sees the tower as an opportunity to “spice up the skyline of Vancouver and to spice up the ground plane.”
“If you look at architecture, there are buildings that are great on the ground plane, but a bit boring in the skyline and there are buildings that are great on the skyline and really offensive on the ground plane. I think the success of this building will actually to be successful at both levels,” he said.
Kevin McNaney, the city’s assistant director of planning, said aside from being involved in the open house to collect public feedback, staff in various city departments are conducting an internal review of the project to provide conditions for approval.
“Once this is complete, the report to council will be drafted and we expect that will be before council at public hearing by summer,” he said. “Of course it depends on the analysis and what issues come up but that’s what our target is.”
McNaney noted on higher building sites city policy looks for buildings that enhance the visual beauty of the skyline and push green technology boundaries.
“We’re looking forward to hearing more [feedback] at the open house. There are always concerns with new buildings in heights and density and traffic… so we want to hear from members of the public and what they think. They’re certainly is excitement about the design, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns about the development,” he said.
Haden noted the project was well received at the first open house. “There was a lot of what I would call a thank God voice — like somebody’s willing to spice it up. It’s not something you usually get at an open house. That doesn’t mean there aren’t all the legitimate issues you have to look at. You have to look at traffic, you have to look at transportation, you have to look at shadowing and we’ve done a careful, thorough, rigorous job looking at all of those things,” he said.
“Will everybody like the building? Probably not, but I think the hallmark of really, really good architecture is that it’s got some presence and character and memorability and not everyone likes that. There are lots of buildings you don’t notice but they’re not necessarily as exciting as one would want.”