SKYLINE MAY CLIMB AS VANCOUVER MULLS BUILDING HEIGHTS
A Vancouver city report on view corridors includes a computer-simulated view from the south end
of Granville Street Bridge. The city is proposing raising maximum building heights.
Photograph by: Handout, City of Vancouver
Vancouver is considering raising the maximum height for high towers in the downtown core, as long as they aren’t within several protected view corridors.
But the proponents of a $500-million, three-tower proposal for Burrard Street are already trying to convince the city to exceed the new proposed height restrictions even before they’ve been adopted by council.
On Thursday, council will consider a staff recommendation to raise the maximum building height in the central business district outside of view corridors to 700 feet from 600. They’re also suggesting the city raise to 500 feet from 375 feet the maximum height along the Burrard Street corridor, which affects the Davie/Burrard area.
In October, Reliance Properties and Jim Pattison Developments unveiled a proposal to build a 48-storey, 466-foot tower on Pattison’s Toyota dealership as part of its Burrard Gateway project. The height limit is 375 feet.
But in the report to Thursday’s planning and environment committee, staff say the developers have since submitted a new application for a building 550 feet tall —higher even than the new contemplated limits.
Staff told them they didn’t support the proposal but that it was up to council to decide.
The city is also proposing to raise the maximum heights of signature buildings that can be seen from the approaches of Granville and Burrard bridges, including 300 feet at the foot of Burrard and 425 feet at the foot of Granville.
And it recommends creating a new “shoulder”area in the central business district south of Alberni Street to add to the existing Melville Street shoulder. It suggests raising the heights in those shoulder areas to 550 feet from 400.
But it also is recommending the city keep free of clutter several important view corridors, including those affecting Queen Elizabeth Park and locations on the south side of False Creek. And it recommends that all new towers, which now must meet at least LEED Gold standards for energy efficiency and sustainability, have even higher standards applied.
The report contains “before” and “after” images to show how much the city’s skyline would be changed under the various scenarios.
In January the city created three new view corridors that protect mountain views northward from Choklit Park and the Olympic Village.
Vancouver’s move to protect its signature views that are known around the world began in 1989 as the city’s skyline came under threat from redevelopment pressures. In 1997 it adopted a “General Policy for Higher Buildings”that sought to control the form and height of towers, and over the years planners have tried to control how high developers could build and how far into those corridors the buildings could intrude.
But enforcing the policies of previous councils has often been a lax affair; councils have often granted exemptions to the maximum allowable heights, with the result that Vancouver’s skyline is constantly changing and rising.
However, the report advocates that the city stick with a general theme of keeping higher buildings along “ceremonial streets”
like Granville and Georgia, and not approving them on side streets, along the waterfront or in important shopping areas like Robson Street that would be unreasonably shadowed.
It also says the city’s tallest buildings should be signature towers that express an international level of architecture.
written by: jeff lee via vancouver sun