981 Davie Street

The City of Vancouver acquired this site for affordable housing a few years ago. Now the development application for the project for the corner of Burrard and Davie has been submitted, with an ambitious agenda for the 17 storey building, which has a 6 storey podium. Rezoning was approved in July, and the DP version is almost identical.

Designed by ZGF, it has a mass timber construction that offers the opportunity to assemble components off-site, and is intended to be built to Passive House energy standards. There will be 154 social housing units, with retail at grade and the Qmunity Centre on the second floor. The building now proposes 13 vehicle parking spaces in total, and 306 bicycle stalls and spaces. Thirty-one percent of the units are intended to be occupied by families, with 44 2-bed units, and four 3-bed. Rezoned as 1190 Burrard, it now has a Davie Street address.

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CityLink – 525 West 8th Avenue

Here’s a recently completed office building that came as quite a (pleasant) surprise; one of the first of a number of recent office buildings underway near the new extension of SkyTrain along West Broadway.

Musson Cattell Mackey, architects for many of the city’s office projects, designed the 68,000 sq ft building on a small site that previously had single storey retail (behind the Cambie Street liquor store that was once a McDonalds).

Initially it was proposed as a nine storey building that supposedly squeezed in under the viewcone that protects the view of City Hall, but that proved to not be the case. The revised version has eight storeys, but still achieves 64,500 sq ft of space, and the design as built shows some interesting angles and variations – in fact more than the illustration from four years ago suggested.

Most of the building has been leased, with Regus offering serviced office spaces.

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Avenue One – 201 West 2nd Avenue

In 2012 we showed the model of South East False Creek, with an idea of how to deal with the site behind the hinge park – the point where the grid shifts. The was an approved rezoning for the site from some years back, but that was for the former owners, Millennium, who also developed the Olympic Village. The site was sold as part of their receivership, and the new owners – Concord Pacific – switched architects to GBL, the designers of several other SEFC projects.

In 2012 the Urban Design Panel preferred the new design concept which replaced an earlier quite bulky angled building. The new idea was for a curved building almost split into two parts, bending between the alignment of Second Avenue and further phases of development to come on the north side of 1st Avenue alongside the park. There are open areas in front and behind the building, with water features on the northern side.

In 2015 the submitted design continued the idea of a curved wall, although as a single mass. There were 247 units on 17 floors, 96 of them with two bedrooms. Because the site it sits on is quite large, (although an odd shape) the density, at 3.5 FSR seems lower than some other projects like the Wall Centre next door, or the West tower to the east. Those both earned extra density by offering facilities – a childcare at West, and the newly named BMO theatre at the Wall Centre. This building has the density the plan anticipated, and has a higher density than four of the Olympic Village parcels to the north east.

After construction started there was a revision to add another penthouse floor with one huge unit, and three more units below, raising the density to 3.7 FSR. There’s a five storey high cut-out, finished in a copper coloured metal panel, while the rest of the building has a brushed aluminum finish. The inner curve of the building, facing north-east, has ribbons of balcony glazing exactly as illustrated four years ago.

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950 Main Street

The site for this new non-market housing project had been empty for many years. It was briefly the location of a protest ‘tent city’.

The architect is Patrick R. Stewart Architect, an architectural firm with a First Nations community development focus. The client is Terra Housing Consultants on behalf of Lu’ma Native Housing Society.

There are 26 2-bed units with two small retail units on the main floor. The design reflects cultural expression in the form of a traditional gable-end longhouse.

The architect noted that this traditional form reflects Indigenous architecture of the West Coast. The six-storey building has a wood frame structure.

The design evolved a little from the image that was on the Development Permit notice on site, with the balconies to the south less recessed than the initial design, but overall the project matches the description from four years ago, when it was first proposed.

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325-333 Carrall Street

This infill project is just completing on a tight site in Gastown. Once the location of the Louvre Hotel, there was a vacant site and a propped up heritage building next to the Merchants Bank building behind Pigeon Park.

Recently formed architectural firm Human Studio Architecture (led by experienced local architect Bruce Haden) designed a seven and five storey building which has commercial at grade and a total of 38 dwelling units and 13 micro dwelling units, which are market rental.

The Urban Design Panel reviewed (and supported) the project, and so did the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee. The heritage building, known as The McConnell Building, only has the façade retained although for a while it was touch and go if it would stay up.

As built it’s a faithful recreation of the building model, and despite the tough surroundings the quality of the finishes (including curved glass on the corners of the upper floors) is exemplary.


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Viridian – 1783 West 14th Avenue

This 118 unit 12-storey rental tower sits at the corner of Burrard and West 14th Avenue was completed at the end of 2020. The tower on the same lot, Forte, dates back to 1972, when it was developed as a ‘tower in the park’, with a large garden and swimming pool. The pool has been retained, but some of the garden was excavated for four floors of underground parking and the new tower placed on top. Developed by Bentall Green Oak for an investor owner, it was designed by Musson Cattell Mackey.


There was local opposition to the tower, claiming it would ‘alter the character of the neighbourhood, but as it’s the same size as the older tower, and all the mature trees have been successfully saved, the new building is hard to spot.

An earlier version added additional townhouses, and those were removed in a revised version, seen here. The development render, for once, had too little greenery.

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2040 Columbia Street

This is yet another Mount Pleasant industrial area project, but one that is very different to anything seen before in the area. Omer Arbel Office with Birmingham and Wood have proposed a six storey industrial building behind a relocated and altered heritage house. The clients are Pyrrha a company that has been “hand-crafting jewelry using time honored, old-world techniques from its Vancouver studio since 1995”.

To retain the house, and build the maximum workshop space permitted, the project exceeds the 60 foot height generally allowed in the area by an additional 18 feet.

As built it’s exactly as promised in the 2017 render, although the big AbCellera building behind on W4th alters the context somewhat.

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855 West 10th Avenue

This 12-storey office is proposed as a rezoning in the VGH precinct. The buildings are not part of the hospital ownership, and W T Leung has designed the 76,600 square feet building, which has a larger 3-storey element to match other buildings on the block, and is set back to ensure the roots of the huge elm tree in front are not impacted. There would be retail use at grade, matching a number of other buildings scattered along W10th.

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456 to 496 Prior Street


Strand Developments have now submitted the rezoning for their proposed Prior Street development, just to the east of the new St Paul’s Hospital.

The two 19 storey rental towers would have 262 units, behind a 5-storey office and retail podium. Francl Architecture have designed the project which incorporates a 14,000 sq. ft. grocery store in the podium along with 246,000 sq. ft. of office space.

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1477 West Broadway

Now renumbered to 1477 (from 1465) there’s an approved development application for a modest office building at the corner of Granville and Broadway, replacing the 1957 office that was there before. It’s already under construction, but there’s now a rezoning for a tower here, with residential space on the upper floors. (There was a residential lobby shown on the plans of the office). The corner is the location of a future Transit Station on the western extension of SkyTrain (initially to Arbutus), and both designs include the station entrance.

There are already over 300 parking spaces in a 6-storey underground parkade. MCM designed the podium office and retail space to allow the station to be built, but have now submitted the full 39-storey rental tower rezoning. It has 233 suites, (20% to be leased at below market rent). The amount of office space increases to 100,000 sq. ft., in five storeys, over a second floor grocery store (something that’s missing from the neighbourhood). The building would be 410 feet high.

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