Beach and Howe St. by BIG Architects

Project Name: Beach and Howe St.
Architect:BIG
Location: Vancouver, Canada

BIG´s proposal, named after its location on the corner of Howe& Beach next to the Granville Street Bridge in downtown Vancouver, calls for 600 residential units occupying the 49-story tower, which would become one of the city´s fourth tallest buildings. The tower is situated on a nine-story podium base offering market-rental housing with a mix of commercial and retail space. BIG was commissioned by Canada´s premier real estate developer Westbank, established in 1992, with over $10 billion of projects completed or under development, including the Shangri-La luxury hotels in Vancouver and Toronto.

The tower takes its shape after the site´s complex urban conditions aiming to optimize the conditions for its future inhabitants in the air as well as on the street level. At its base, the footprint of the tower is conditioned by concerns for two significant neighboring elements, including a 30-meter setback from the Granville bridge which ensures that no residents will have windows and balconies in the middle of heavy traffic as well as concerns for sunlight to an adjacent park which limits how far south the building can be constructed. As a result the footprint is restricted to a small triangle.

As the tower ascends, it clears the noise, exhaust, and visual invasion of the Granville Bridge. BIG´s design reclaims the lost area as the tower clears the zone of influence of the bridge, gradually cantilevering over the site. This movement turns the inefficient triangle into an optimal rectangular floor plate, increasing the desirable spaces for living at its top, while freeing up a generous public space at its base. The resultant silhouette has a unique appearance that changes from every angle and resembles a curtain being drawn aside, welcoming people as they enter the city from the bridge.

The courtyards created by the building volumes, roofs and terraces are all designed to enhance views from the Granville Bridge and the residential units above. The canted, triangular clusters of green roofs create a highly graphic and iconic gateway to and from the downtown core, reinforcing the City of Vancouver´s focus on sustainable cities. The exterior façades respond to the various solar exposures which is integral to the overall sustainability concept. The building will strive for LEED Gold Certification.

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