One of Vancouver’s most prolific architects, James Cheng, has up to now taken only tentative steps towards incorporating colour into his work. Best known for the cityscapes of Concord Pacific and Coal Harbour, plus prominent towers like the ShangriLa, his work has typically been rectangular compositions with the most subtle variations of blues, whites and grays.
Like this: the transformation of the old Eaton’s block at Pacific Centre:
It could, in my opinion, use a splash of colour (and the tarps don’t count).
To date, his most adventurous incorporation of colour has been the stripes on the Spectrum towers just west of the Rogers Stadium (right). Pretty modest by international standards, particularly compared to Australia.
I suspect he (or his clients) have been reticent to use large blocks of bold primaries because of the cultural modesty of Canadians, at least expressed in its generic architecture, and because developers do not want to take a risk on anything that seems too extreme. Best to stick, literally or figuratively, to beige.
As well, our most revered architect Arthur Erickson has had a huge impact: his belief that muted colours were an appropriate response to our northwest-coast climate, that concrete was “the marble of our times,” established an aesthetic norm for the profession.
Well, at least with respect to Cheng’s latest work, that’s going to change.
From Novae Res Urbis:
Vancouver city council gave the go-ahead last week to Concord Pacific’s two-tower project on a triangular site beside the Cambie bridge … The project on the site known as 5b west, will have 620 dwelling units in buildings of 28 and 30 storeys. Designed by James Cheng, the curvilinear buildings will be joined by three bridge structures containing residential and commercial uses, linking the towers.
“I love the design,” Councillor Heather Deal said. “It’s a lovely use of colour.