In the Sun today – Shelley Fralic: New tower a welcome twist

Vancouver House is a 525-foot, 59-storey tower — said to be the fifth tallest in the city — designed by Bjarke Ingels, a dynamic 39-year-old Copenhagen architect who cites our own forward-thinking Arthur Erickson for much of the building’s sculptural inspiration.
Approved Monday in a unanimous city council vote, Westbank Corporation’s proposed tower at Beach and Howe, on three acres on the north end of the Granville Bridge, is slated for 2018 completion.
Ingels’s thinking, he says in a video on the project’s website, is that Vancouver House is, literally, a sophisticated twist on the “slender tower on the urban podium” that — and the following are my words — has formed a relentlessly dull-faced dark wall of soulless skyscrapers crowding the downtown Vancouver core like a mouthful of bad teeth.



… if the city is trying to attract families into its downtown core, why is much of the new development so small and expensive, and built on streetscapes bereft of child-friendly necessities like, you know, schools?

You know, schools:



  1. He has a point on the issue of unit size, at the very least. And in his defense, maybe he was referring to the fact that poor Elsie Roy is completely full of students, which some from the area being sent to other schools.

  2. Vancouver house looks awesome.
    Awesomeness costs money , lots of it, well over $1000/sq ft.anybunits, most in fact, are under 1000 sq ft, not exactly family friendly. Top floor 3BR and 4BR units exist on high floors with awesome views and even higher pricetags at 1500+ a sq ft.
    Welcome to Vanvouver ( house ) !

  3. “Sophisticated twist”!! Oh, Bjarke, you’re such a punster! Seriously, this will be one of if not the least slender tower in Vancouver, over 120′ at the top, whereas the COV has always sought – up till this one – about a quarter less length per side.
    Further, the tower/podium format of Vancouverism and its recent variants has produced a consistent urban fabric and walkable streetscape, rather than just a collection of architectural (and developer) ego trips, for which I am deeply grateful. Yes, a lot of sameness, especially at Concord Pacific, but much preferable in city-building terms than a bunch of unrelated, un-neighbourly edifices all shouting “hey, look at me!!”
    Apologies for the rant.

  4. Apparently some of the floorplans are just dreadful, but if your target market is overseas investors looking for a pied a terre or just a place to stash some cash it probably doesn’t matter. Style over substance.

  5. The great tragedy of a Vancouver is that its successful urban planning has been a boon to international money at the expense of young local families. Take a stroll around the numerous parks of Montreal in summer and you’ll see a city awash with young families.
    A simple fix would be to shift income taxes to property taxes. Let local workers keep their incomes and have a better chance of competing against offshore kleptocrats.

    1. Indeed. If we raised land transfer taxes (say 1% per $1M to 12% max) and also property taxes 20-50% and gave a credit to income tax filers for the first $2M of home, 90% of current property owners living locally would see no increase, but we would properly tax foreign investors but also “immigrants” i.e. “half families, usually wives with kids here” that learn English for free, get free healthcare and get a valuable citizenship as insurance for unrest or corruption back home.
      BC needs to revisit the income tax based funding mechanism based on new facts of property prices and immigration levels.

    2. DCheng – I just heard on the news today that Vancouver has the highest percentage of people under 19 among the biggest three cities in Canada, including Montreal. Of course this may be the Metro area rather than the city, but still, facts are facts.
      Further – do you really think any sane municipal party would ever raise property taxes to equal income taxes, which is typically well into four if not five digits? What about house rich/low income seniors residing in million dollar houses, where are they supposed to get a tax bill of, say, $200k EVERY YEAR?

      1. Seniors can already defer property taxes. Seniors can also downsize if they so chose. The issue is that education and healthcare costs provincial money and as such provincial taxes have to be raised to cover it. Too many immigrants, in fact most investors and most wife-plus-two-kids-immigrants pay too little, if any, income taxes. As such, PST or provincial property taxes have to be adjusted. Essentially we are already lowering educational investment ( see teachers strike ) so we can teach immigrants kids English and provide free healthcare to dual citizens that pay too little in taxes. The mix of PST, income taxes and provincial property taxes needs adjustment !

    3. DCheng, I’m not sure Montréal is the best example. After spending the last decade living there, I can tell you that the flight of young families (particularly Francophone families) to cheaper off-island suburbs is a perennial issue. There is a lot of hand-wringing about it from politicians and urbanists. Even the City’s recently cancelled home purchase grant wasn’t able to stem the net loss of families to the burbs. And take a look at the major condo boom underway there now, particularly in Griffintown: a great majority of the units under construction are studios and one-bedrooms (aka 1 1/2 and 3 1/2) that are being bought for investment.

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