Razzle Dazzle

There’s been a lot of buzz over a new building proposal at Beach and Howe streets in Vancouver. Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) are proposing a 49-storey high rise; the Shangri-La still has it beat at 61 storeys. The 150 metre tower will be mixed use, containing market residences and some commercial space (the basics: food, booze and legal drugs). What’s most interesting are their plans for under the Granville Street Bridge, a beer garden (because a liquor store at your doorstep isn’t enough), an outdoor cinema (cool, like a modern day drive in), and a weekend market. It’s not specified if it would be a farmers’ market. The building will be LEED Platinum, the highest rating for this green accreditation program. You can read all about the building and its sustainability plans in their Rezoning Application.

While the building does have razzle dazzle, I can’t help but think our natural beauty makes for a much better skyline. Really, no tower can beat those North Shore mountains or harbour views. I know density is necessary to fit more and more people in to our finite city boundaries (so we don’t have to keep paving farm land), I’m just not a big fan of high rises. I can’t help thinking about all that glass in an earthquake.

I admire the creativity that goes into accomplishing the same density with low rises, and there are many examples in Vancouver. I also prefer a quieter elegance, like the reno on the Nova Scotia building on Granville Street downtown, such a beautiful integration of the old and the new. The street life along that strip provides plenty of razzle dazzle. Especially on the weekends.

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