Architect Richard Henriquez has an idea for a tower in Queen Elizabeth Park.  Little Mountain is the highest point in Vancouver, and once had great panoramic views.  But trees grow, views disappear.  And that’s what happened at Queen Elizabeth Park.
Now there are three choices: (1) Leave the trees, lose the view.  (2) Lose the trees, get the view.  (3) Build something over the trees.
Henriquez came up with the proposal for a tower and drew up an option:
Tower 1
It looks like it could have been designed by an expressionist architect in the 1910s – a vision of tomorrow from yesterday. 
And no doubt there will be strongly held views from those who (a) don’t like the idea of a tower in a public park, particularly one privately financed, and (b) don’t like the architecture.
I like the idea of a tower.  There’s just something about getting to a high place with long views that’s embedded in our genes.   And they’re great places to take visitors to explain the lay of the land.   They give us another perspective on our own place.
Henriquez proposed that there be a both a free lookout lower down, and an elevator ride to the top for a charge.  Combined with function rooms, the tower could cover its costs.
Even better, it could help lever the financing needed to redo the plaza on top of the mountain – and the Bloedel Conservatory, that geodesic- like greenhouse for tropical plants that’s suffering the ravages of time.
We also get another ‘Henriquez.” The architect is one of the best in this part of the world, and he’s already added admired landmarks to the city: the highrise with the tree on top at English Bay for one.  You can see more of his work in Price Tags 74 and Price Tags 76.
Yes, the tower will change a view as it seeks to capture others.  But in a complementary way, I think, adding a vertical note to a horizontal landscape.  Contrast can be good.
Tower 2
And I like this option a lot better than cutting down trees.

Comments

  1. I think it could be sleeker than it is.
    I hadn’t heard about the free veiwing platform before. Is that definitely a component of the project (or a carrot to gain support)? That would change my view on the project.
    The thing I didn’t like about the project is that (without the free platform) it was creating an exclusive enclave in the tower using the trees as a scapegoat. The City isn’t loathe to cutting down trees – it is currently proposing to clearcut the trees on Granville Street downtown to straighten the road (for buses) and install a “redeveloped” streetscape with a tidier double row of street trees (i.e. saplings). Some of the trees on Granville Street have more tha a 1 foot diameter. Remember that the trees in question would have been plated by the City as part of the QE Park landscape plan – it’s not as if they are natural forest. I think that the residents of Vancouver would take advantage of a free viewing platform much more than a pay-per-view tourist attraction. When was the last time that you went to the top of Harbour Centre?

  2. I like the idea of a look out tower. I dislike the architecture and the private sector financing.
    How about a tower based on the traditional North American fire watchers’ tower? It of course has to have an elevator to be accessible – but the stairs could also be presented as a challenge like the Grouse Grind on a smaller scale.
    And to help pay for it – some cell phone antennae – oh oh, I just stepped in something

  3. E-COMM already has a radio transmisison tower in QE Park, and I would guess that cell phone providers have been allowed to co-locate on it.

  4. BTW – if New Westminster can build an overpass funded by billboard advertising, you’d think that a similar arrangement (with discrete advertising, say, in the parking lot away from the trees like the Pattison pylons you see downtown) could be made for a free access tower in QE Park.

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