Urban Design Panel Meeting Feb 20

February 20, 2019
Minutes: udpminutes02202019 (pdf)

The Urban Design Panel find the 601 Beach Crescent social housing units facing the bridge are not liveable. The buildings should be more aligned with the east side, there would be more sun and liveability of the social housing sites. The Panel recommends Design development to improve the liveability of the units facing the bridge.

Panel’s Consensus on Key Aspects Needing Improvement:

Having reviewed the project it was moved by Mr. Sharma and seconded by Ms. Besharat and was the decision of the Urban Design Panel:

THAT the Panel SUPPORT the project with the following recommendations to be reviewed by City Staff:

• Reduce the vehicular entry crossings at Beach Crescent;
• Develop a friendlier character that is more integrated with the Seymour Mews;
• Design development of the retail facades to enhance the pedestrian experience;
• Develop ground plane landscape treatment;
• Design development to minimize shadowing of the roof amenity areas;
• Design development to improve the liveability of the units facing the bridge;
• Design Develop of the podium to be less relentless and have a stronger base;
• Design development of the tower connection to grade and podium:
• Development of tower glazing and cladding;
• Review tower height to further differentiate from Vancouver House;
• Design development to enhance the architectural elegance of the design.

• Related Commentary: The panel agreed that this is a challenging site that will receive recommendations from both sides.

In general the panel supported the application at the rezoning stage however look forwards to seeing needed design development at the DP stage. A panelist noted the architectural excellence is not quite there yet and next level design process will include fleshing out the general elements of the proposal with specific design elements.

The majority of the panel’s comments were organized to address each of the three main elements; the podium, tower and public realm.

The podium, along the built form facing the muse is very flat compared to the buildings on the other side which have a lot of texture. The podium and base is not the right response to the muse.

A number of panelists raised concerns regarding shading of the rooftop amenity space. The applicant was encouraged to consider orienting the amenities towards the water side instead of facing the bridge deck. Step back the higher sides of the podium, or move the tower further north so the amenity could be shifted towards the southwest side and away from the shadows.

There are challenges with the podium and base. The podium expression should be in line and relate to the tower expression. The units facing the bridge are not liveable; by design you can provide privacy and re orient the units.

There is a vertical green element at the south west corner and carries on, it is relentless. This creates an aesthetic of the base being separate and robust. The tower shape is sculptural meanwhile the base design is confusing.

The slope of the site has not been taken advantage of; it’s a flat podium on a sloped site. The project does not address the grade at all; it’s not just how the building hits the ground but the massing as well.

In general, the panel enjoyed the form of the building, the twist is lovely, and agreed it was an important gateway contribution. It has a nice yin and yang and fits the requirements within the the Green Building Policy.

The city of Vancouver skyline is the first thing we think of when looking at extra height. The city skyline is dominated by Trump Tower and Shangri-La and this project will also have a significant presence. It is important that these towers soften the blow in the skyline especially when there are views that have not been shown. Panelists noted that it would have been nice to see the rendering from alternate points throughout the City.

A panelist noted the Vancouver House is dominant from the sky and it blocks out a lot of the views to the mountain, the project building softens this.

Some panelists noted the tower floorplate is a good proportion for the building and justifies the height. The towers are a good contribution to the city skylight; however, feel the residential view can still be improved.

Others noted there is uncomfortable relationship with the height of Vancouver House and the proposal at 601 Beach Crescent. There needs to be a difference. Don’t feel reasoning was justified for the little extra height. A panelist noted the heights really has to do with the massing of the building and needs to be higher or lower than the Vancouver house.

The Vancouver house is a a remarkable building that presents a unique opportunity to this site; however, the proposal should have a stronger distinction from Vancouver House.

The image of the tower really needs to represent the future of Vancouver.

The buildings should be more aligned with the east side, there would be more sun and liveability of the social housing sites. There is a 33 ft separation and the towers were pulled up north and not so much in the view cone. A panelist noted keep in mind being a “good neighbor” when considering shifts of the tower.

It was noted the reasoning for why office space could not be accommodated in this area was not clear and this should be considered.

There was mixed opinion in regards to the public realm along Rolston Street, some found it to be sufficiently permeable others did not.

There is opportunity to do something engaging at Rolston St and southwest corner of the site, engage the community, presently it is a big open space. On a pedestrian level this corner can highlight the building however right now not noticeable. The frontage on Rolston St needs to be super textured, engaging, detailed and inviting.

More thought is needed to the use of the plaza. It was noted the available seating and sun access is a plus however additional seating and planting around the plaza would be beneficial. It is a small urban space but it can be a jewel.

A panelist noted the use of unique lightings and pavers was nice and noted the additional seating will also make it look more like a pedestrian gateway.

For further programming sculpture elements or public art could positively contribute to the project.

The entry to the court in the south east corner is a very important entry.

The soffit of the parking entry needs further design development. A panelist noted the southwest corner provides car access, resist having only car access for pedestrian and bicycle access should be a priority. There needs to be more of a blur with what is car and what is vehicular. Due to the curve cut on the turnabout not convinced parking is the right location currently, it abandons the pedestrian, if parking could move it would benefit the edge.

Be aware of the open space by the bridge deck so that it does not become an uninviting space.

Additional comments include the addition of social housing is a positive.

There is not enough sun along the landscape and be aware of creating lots of issues with the mechanical systems.

Building a straight wall may not be the best dialogue from the other side and simplify the shadow studies.

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