Sadly, I find that the fascinating “Crystal Spike” design by Bing Thom, perhaps the most remarkable design for a downtown building in the last 40 years, has been junked in favour of another rectangular box, slightly altered. Why are we going for the same old tired design yet again? Are we afraid of brilliance? Intimidated by imagination? Is asymmetrical splendour threatening? Put the two designs side by side and weep. For all our purported hip, cutting edge sensibility, Vancouver seems to have the aesthetic instincts of a dull octogenarian.
And then concludes:
After a cup of coffee, a thought occurs to me: the change in design of the Hotel Georgia condo/office tower reveals not so much a lack of taste and imagination as it does a love of money. A rectangular box maximizes sellable space but an irregular form, however brilliant, does not. (How naive of me not to have fully understood this before.) Who knows how many other beautiful designs were abandoned because of greed? But I wonder if it’s short-sighted for a developer to look only at square-footage when mulling a design. Wouldn’t people pay more to live or work in a one-of-a-kind gem, rather than in something formulaic? (An instructive comparison would be the two BC Hydro buildings built a couple of generations apart) Or are you and I in the minority when it comes to a passion for distinctive civic beauty?
You can find more on the Hotel Georgia plan (and a video of the Woodward’s demo) on at Pacific Metropolis, a great local site that tracks Vancouver’s urban development. (Thanks to Paul Krueger for the link.)