Urban Design Panel May 26

Urban Design Panel Minutes

Address: 601 Beach Crescent
Permit No. DP-2021-00162
Description: To develop a 53-storey mixed-use residential building with 303 market
residential units, 152 social housing units, and commercial space at
grade; all over three levels of underground parking consisting of 453
vehicle spaces and 911 bicycle spaces. The proposed building height
is 163 m (535 ft.), the floor area is 43,732 sq. m (470,722 sq.ft.), and
the floor space ratio (FSR) is 7.57.

Application Status: Complete Development Application
Review: Second (First as DP)
Architect: GBL Architects
Staff: Miguel Castillo Urena

EVALUATION: Resubmission Recommended (6/0) (pdf)

• Introduction:
Development Planner, Miguel Castillo Urena, began by noting that this is a development permit
application following rezoning for a 53-storey (or a 163m) mixed use building on 601 Beach
Crescent.

An earlier panel saw the project you are looking at on the screen when it came in under the
General Policy for Higher Building for a Rezoning application in 2018. At that time, the tower
had 54 storeys and was placed to the south of the site. The application included a six-storey Cshape podium facing the Granville bridge. The Panel supported it with 11 recommendations,
which are:

• 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 livability of the units facing the bridge;
• Design development 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.

As a result of the Panel’s recommendations and staff review, the applicant resubmitted the
rezoning application with a major change; the relocation of the tower 81 feet from the property
line towards the north, changing therefore, the concept and its relationship with the
surroundings as well as between tower and podium.

The applicant proposed additional changes that included a tower height increase from 535’ to
558’ (55 Storeys), opening up the shape of the podium towards the Seymour ramp of the bridge
A reconfiguration of the massing at the west corner and subsequently the reduction of the
western plaza area as shown in the left hand side, an increase in height of the podium from 6st
to 8th on Beach Crescent and the inclusion of a drop-off area with a round about to the eastern corner. In addition to attempting addressing the Panel’s recommendations, the intended
outcome of the tower’s relocation was to minimize the shadows impact on the May and Lorne
Brown Park to the east at key hours.

As a result of the tower relocation, the applicant sought a variance to have the tower and
podium encroaching into the required setbacks per the Bridgeheads Guidelines. Based on the
second design, staff put forward a set of comprehensive rezoning conditions, as part of the
rezoning report, that was approved in Public Hearing on September 30, 2020. In summary,
these are:

• Reduction of the building height to 535’;
• Significant improve of the massing with the goal to achieve architectural excellence,
including;
o how the tower meets the podium and grade;
o enhancing the tower sculpting and curvature of forms;
o redesigning the tower crown with further dynamism
• Improve the open space and the public and private interfaces, including:
o enhancing the open space and interface at the south corner,
o enhancing the Rolston Street/Beach Crescent corner area;
o appropriate response to the Mews.
• Improve the outdoor podium rooftop spaces;
• Better address the architectural objectives of the Higher Buildings Policy;
• Demonstrate that remarkable levels of livability are achieved in accordance with the
expected standards for architectural excellence; or
• Confirmation of an excellent level of the sustainability performance;

Some of the applicant’s responses to these conditions for this DP application include:
o Tower reshaping, height reduction and crown redesign;
o Podium reshaping and podium height increase, including one storey to the south and
floor-to-floor to accommodate a pool to the north;
o Varied encroachment into the Bridgehead setbacks:
o Driveway area redesign;
o Mews and Rolston interfaces;
o Roof-tops reconfiguration;
o Revised units’ layouts.

It is worth mentioning that the triangle site is bounded by Beach Crescent to the south, the
Seymour Mews to the east, Rolston Street and the Seymour ramp above to the west and Pacific
Ave to the north.

Significant developments around are mostly under several CD-1, such as the 497feet tall tower
and two 6-storey triangle buildings for Vancouver House to the west, or the adjacent 31 and 24
storey towers with townhouses to the east across the Seymour Mews. A 24-storey building is
located to the south adjacent to a vacant site.

Additionally, two parks are located nearby, the May and Lorne Brown Park to the west and the
George Wainborn Park to the south.

The site is quite steep and has a difference of grade of about 7.4 m along Rolston and the
Mews.

In terms of applicable policies, the site is crossed by the View Cone from Queen Elizabeth Park
on the north side, however it is not affecting the current podium height or tower.

Other significant site-specific policies worth mentioning are:
• Bridgehead Guidelines (1997);
• Under the Granville Bridge Neighbourhood Commercial Centre Policies and
Guidelines (2007);
• Beach Neighbourhood CD-1 Guidelines (1999, amended up to 2002);

The applicant pursued an encroachment into the required setbacks facing the bridge at
rezoning, which is also contemplated in this DP application with some changes and subject to
further evaluation in terms of livability, per rezoning conditions.

Looking into the current application, the proposed form of development still consists of a curved
tower over now a 9-storey L-shape and terraced podium. Between the tower and the podium,
303 market units, 152 social housing, on levels 2 to 7 of the podium, and 11 CRU are
accommodated, all above three levels of parking.

As for the ground plane, the entry for the social housing is off Beach Crescent and the market
lobby off the proposed driveway, which, as a reminder, is located parallel to the existing one due
to a failure to secure access to this property when the adjacent site was developed. Commercial
units front almost at full perimeter, having some mechanical space and social housing facing the
mews as well.

At podium levels, a shared market/non-market outdoor amenity space is collocated with the
social housing indoor amenity space. Another indoor and outdoor amenity space is located
above the northern part of the podium.

More specifically about the interface with the Seymour Mews to the east, the proposal includes
a 4-storey shoulder that has been extended towards the corner while the podium has been
redesign with a horizontal expression. Noticeably, changes have been introduced in the
expression/massing of the social housing units facing this multi-level mews, particularly at lower
levels.

At the ends, a deep driveway referred earlier is proposed to the south, a commercial unit, and
some mechanical spaces to the northern end.

Further, looking at an elevation of the mews, the podium facing Beach Crescent has been
increased to nine storeys from eight at rezoning (it was six when the Panel last saw it). The
same number of storeys than at rezoning is proposed for the northern portion, however, having
its apparent height increased because of accommodating the rooftop pool.

Towards the bridge, the largest change has been reconfiguring the connection between the
tower and the podium as well as the podium layout.

As for the landscape and the contribution to the City’s network of open spaces, the fundamental
updates for the DP application are the incorporation of a bike lane along Rolston St., a car lane
from Beach Crescent to Granville St., a ramp wrapping around the west corner, the inclusion of

2 storey micro retail units at the west corner (14), as part of a project to include 5 of these
under the bridge that Engineering and the adjacent owner are undertaking and, the removal of
the round-about to the south corner for a deeper driveway.

As shown in the applicant’s renderings, the west corner is formalized with a series of ramps
wrapping around the retail units.

Advice from the Panel on this application is sought on the following:

Massing & Expression

 Overall revised massing concept, expression, contribution to the Granville gateway and,
achievement of architectural excellence.
 How the tower meets the podium, podium height and how it meets the ground level.
 Does the application respond adequately to the Seymour Mews interface, including to its
character and scale?

Livability

Have the UDP’s previous recommendations to “improve the livability of the units facing the
bridge” and outdoor rooftop areas been addressed?

Public Realm

 Overall public realm and its contribution to the downtown network of green and plaza
space;
 Have the Panel’s previous recommendations “reduce the vehicular entry
crossings at Beach Crescent” and the Urban Design rezoning condition to
“improve the open space and the public and private interfaces” successfully been
addressed?

Does the Panel consider the project proposes a successful landscape concept and treatment,
including along the Seymour Mews and at the west corner?

Sustainability, Microclimate and Biodiversity

Please comment about the building’s contribution to these aspects in relationship to its
anticipated architectural excellence.

Applicant’s Introductory Comments:

The applicant noted the design progress include a successful public hearing in the last year. The
intent is to create a gateway in and out of Vancouver and stand as a contextual landmark.
Through massing and form, harmonized a form of a dynamic public realm celebrating the beach
neighbourhood. The site includes 152 much-needed social housing units along with residential
and retail units. The main entrances and car entrance are located on beach crescent.

One of major changes is tower relocation to the north sitting 31 m from the Beach Crescent
sidewalk. This has reduced the shadowing and able to alleviate view impacts from adjacent
towers. The new location of tower is much more even, compared to adjacent towers, the distances
are spread-out and view cones are visible through the building. The new position allows for more
sunlight access to the third floor amenity. More units can face beach crescent. Opening up of the
podium on the North West corner allows for more visibility on the units.

The podium and tower relationship has improved this has allowed to develop the façade and
massing so the podium and tower can become one language.

The first entrance and car entrance massing has been pushed put to match the height on the
Seymour mews. The two level units match the height of the townhouses.
The massing pushing out matches the height of the beach level, which creates for a nice
pedestrian experience. The CRU is matching that corner. The adjacent tower contrasts quite well
creating a nice opening to the Seymour mews.

The applicant noted they tried to breakdown the frontages on Rolston St tried to break to match
the grade changes.

Regarding the landscape, the starting point was to continue to respond to the flowing movement
as seen in the architecture and how this can be translated to the ground plain forms and materials.
The applicant noted they created a pedestrian user experience for both private and public ground
floor levels. Working on an adaptive native strategy that allows for multi seasonal interest points
and flow of movement changes as one passes through the site. The focus on the ground floor
with respect to Rolston is permeability of the pedestrian movement.

There is an amenity terrace on the 3rd floor with various tapestry landscape. There are various
textures inside the amenity. There are green roof elements to help with noise and sound and
carious texture interlacing movement and flow. The 8th level amenity has organic features and
seating and organic planting materials.

The applicant finished by presenting their sustainability objectives.

The staff and applicant team then took questions from the panel.

Panel’s Consensus on Key Aspects Needing Improvement:

Having reviewed the project, it was moved by MR. DAVIES and seconded by MS. SHWARTZ
and was the decision of the Urban Design Panel:

THAT the Panel Recommend Resubmission of the project with the following
recommendations to be reviewed by City staff:
• Design development to the tower podium expression interface;
• Design development to the relationship between the podium and Seymour mews
addressing the ramp and unique character of the Seymour mews;
• Design development to the urban realm to promote a more vibrant public space. Improve
legibility accessibility and sustainability features. Ensure further resolution of grading at the
west corner;
• Design development to the podium to be more responsive to the context and residential
character.

Related Commentary:
The panel commended the applicant for all the work moving the tower and reshaping the podium.
There were comments that the tower form is elegant and works well with its neighbours. A panelist
noted that it is not working as part of the gateway. Moving the tower to the center of the site
enhances the gateway feel of the building.

The amenity to the roof deck is a big improvement from the original submission.
The access to sunlight and childcare opportunity presented should be further developed.
There were many comments related to the relationship of the tower to the podium, presently the
language of tower to podium and podium to the ground is unresolved and not good. A panelist
noted the articulation of the tower works well in the skyline but more articulation and detail is
needed when it hits the ground. There were many recommendations to integrate better the tower
and podium, including through transferring some of the material elements as they are currently
disconnected. Previously, the tower dissolved into the podium but not now. Larger blending needs
to be done according to panelists.

The panel noted improvements regarding the north-west portion of the podium in terms of the
massing however, the relationship with the entire podium and tower to the Seymour mews is still
struggling.

The shaping of the tower needs to be driven by a stronger concept and not just the concept of the
dress. This would be mitigated if took into account other performances issues. A few comments
noted the goal should be to clearly create a distinction or unification with the tower and podium.
Panelists noted the podium too big and high and that the Vancouver House has a sculptural
podium, lacking here, as it is very flat.

Panelists noted the architectural expression is flat, particularly the podium expression needs a lot
of work to convey residential expression, as it reads as a motel, with a very repetitive and
relentless suburban expression. The architecture is unresolved and lacks of character on its own
or a character that supports the project. A panelist suggested closer examination of the balcony
expression and guardrail expression would be helpful.

The Seymour mews has gone backwards, the parking ramp is too deep and how it addresses the
lower parking ramp the adjacency is poor and requires a lot of attention and the fact that the
residential units in the middle of the mews are a metre below grade is not understanding grades
or reflecting architectural excellence. There is no sufficient information at this area.

The overall public realm to the needs further design development, particularly to the mews and
western corner. A panelist noted that the public realm should also contribute to the gateway
experience and it is lacking of resolution and is minimal for a tower of this nature.

Public realm needs to go hand by hand with the architecture and that is not occurring.

Access to the residential market lobby through the public realm is not adequate and needs further
development. This pedestrian entry to the market units is difficult and it is not clear where to come
in, lacking of wayfinding. The driveway is prioritized due to its location; this is working against the
project.

The relationship of the public realm to the base to the commercial units needs further design
development. Panelists noted the western corner is not good, including issues with accessibility
and integration with CRU units.

The treatment of the building around the ground plane should have further development as the
landscape has taken over most of the public realm.

There was concerned expressed with the exposure of the third floor amenity podium.
A panelist noted uncertainty as to why there is retail use along Beach Crescent where it is all
residential when going east.

The sustainability objectives noted by the applicant need to be supported by responsive gestures
in the architecture; panelists asked to explore this further.

A panelist suggested if the balconies could be placed in a way that helps with building’s
performance, therefore having fewer balconies on the north.

Consider other measures for the energy performance of the tower.

The panel noted there is not an adequate level of design detail as presented for a development
permit; the level of design resolution (architectural and landscape) is unresolved for a DP
submission.

Applicant’s Response: The applicant team thanked the panel for their comments.

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