Glass tower proposed beside Waterfront Station (555 Cordova)

555 Cordova Waterfront StnThe Development Permit Board is accepting written comments from the public regarding a 26-storey tower proposal beside Waterfront Station until Thursday, January 22nd. The City’s website contains a number of drawings and perspectives from the applicant. The proposed tower would have a total height of 127.1m and a floor area of 37,953 m2. The notification letter from the City does not provide a FSR calculation for the property.

The proponent is Cadillac Fairview (“one of North America’s largest owners, operators and developers of commercial real estate,” and wholly-owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which invests to secure the retirement income of 307,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario. John M. Sullivan is President & Chief Executive Officer).

The review of the proposal is scheduled to take place on Monday, March 9th at 3pm; interested speakers will have an opportunity to sign up and address the Development Permit Board. An open question is whether the DPB has the authority to approve this project. The existing Downtown District Official Development Plan (DD) allows for a maximum floor space ratio of 9 and a basic maximum height of 91.4m (and up to137.2m).

The zoning document also notes: “View Corridor height limits also apply.” The minutes for the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee meeting of November 19, 2014 states, “height of the building exceeded the Council-imposed view cone by 13 metres.” Should the consideration of any building that intruded into a view cone even get past “first base” in the approval process? [Update] It appears that the plans were subsequently revised on December 5, 2014, with a top elevation of 127.1m above sea level and hence may be just below the upper limit of the view cone (E1 – Cambie Bridge) by a few metres. However, the views of the harbour from the Vancouver Lookout would still be impacted by the proposed tower. It’s worth noting that the DP Board does have the ability to cut the tower height to 91.4m (to the basic maximum height).

One of the controversial aspects about this proposal is the context. How would the heritage value of the adjacent buildings be impacted by a glass tower? What are the impacts on the pedestrian realm?

A piece by former Director of Planning Ray Spaxman on the PriceTags blog is highly critical of the proposed development:
The Martian Landing – 2 (Jan 20, 2015)

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun notes, “Vancouver architect and real estate consultant Michael Geller said the proposal just doesn’t work for the space”:
Critics pan the ‘blob’ as Waterfront Tower proposal proves divisive (Bethany Lindsay, Vancouver Sun, Jan 20, 2015)

Waterfront Station on Cordova

Proposed tower will partially block this view of the harbour from the Harbour Centre / Vancouver Lookout:
Vancouver Lookout

555 Cordova
Waterfront Stationon Cordova


Harbour Centre view (tower base would be located in parking lot, lower part of the photo, in centre:

Harbour Centre view


555 Cordova rendering

Property includes Waterfront Station:
site beside waterfront station

Protected View Cones:

Two view cones over Waterfront Station

4 thoughts on “Glass tower proposed beside Waterfront Station (555 Cordova)

  1. I’m starting to think that long-term maintenance needs to be part of the plans for these “architectural marvels”.
    How are the window-cleaners going to do their job?
    Glass is susceptible to moss and mould buildup as is any building material.
    Imagine what this building will look like in 10 years if maintenance is considered in the design ~~~

    • Maintenance is the owners & tenants problem. Architects design, builders build. All these glass buildings eventually leak on our “wet coast” just like any soft top convertible no matter what marque of car. Expansion/contraction coefficient of metal /glass /rubber /sealant are all different & constantly under uv rays , freezing rain in winter & bake in a green hse summer.
      Nice looking by itself but out of context here imo. Expensive things are high cost & high maintenance things. U can’t tune up a ferrari for the price of a toyota corolla.

  2. TheI would not want to b in a glass house when the big one hits .
    All the glass would shatter & fall off, u’d b exposed to the elements.
    Good luck getting out of a highrise with no power for elevators or light. Hope they engineered the staircase sufficiently that it does not shear off or become disconnected, otherwise you’ll have to do ur high school long jump on concrete!

  3. Cadillac fairview should have opened the design to competition from around the world. Theyvwould get far more to choose from.

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