From the Daily Hive:

… local developer Bonnis Properties and the local office of the architectural firm Perkins & Will are pushing forward their proposal to redevelop 800 Robson Street — the entire area between the former Payless Shoes building at the north end of the city block to the Orpheum Theatre’s Granville Street entrance building near the south end.


Existing condition of the 800 block of Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, showing the redevelopment footprint and the historical structures that will be preserved.


This proposal is currently in the pre-application stage; proponents are aiming to formalize their application to the City of Vancouver this year.

More here at Daily Hive.


Okay, Price Taggers – your turn.  Add your comments.



  1. I worry about the scale of this—it appears to be significantly higher than Nordstrom’s, will cast huge shadows on Robson and Granville. The form is very bulky, unlike the taller, smaller floor plates we are more used to that reduce the duration of shadowing on any location. I will leave it to others to comment on other aspects.

  2. How incredibly awful. The mass of these new block-long developments with continuous facade creates a homogenous blank streetscape, to be occupied only with the signage of corporate franchises. Vancouver has already lost so much of what was architecturally interesting and humane. And here we go again.

  3. Sorry but the scale, mass, proportions and colour (Yet another Gray/Silver Vancouver Building) leave much to be desired. It’s like a giant alien mothership from War of the Worlds landing on an innocent strip of heritage buildings. At least set the mass back more from the existing heritage elevations for some breathing room and break up the massive facade with some texture or hanging gardens of Babylon theme or something like Central Park in Sydney:

  4. I’m wondering if this is a set up. The concept, in general, is fine but the execution is horrible. I would think much better of Perkins + Will who usually do much more thoughtful work. We can debate the scale and the shadowing but there is nothing here that respects the history and character it is claiming to save.

    So I really do wonder if this is an extremely disturbing proposal to soften us up to accept something less intense that we wouldn’t have considered if it were the first thing we saw.

    I’m not sure about Scot B’s specific example, but I could imagine similar massing to what is shown if it was more broken and played with the buildings at its base, maintained some of the idea of the original character and, perhaps, introduced lots of hanging greenery. I’m not opposed to modern glass to create counterpoint but it should be used to lighten it presence rather than to dominate the block.

  5. Ok I’ll go there. I quite like this proposal even though it goes against my better judgment. It surely is too bulky at an FSR of 11.5, and the story that all the office space is needed to support the entertainment space sounds like flim flam. But it does some things right. Actually bridging some of the midblock buildings instead of just retaining the facades. And keeping the variety of different buildings along the streetwall is important for pedestrian interest. Of the pedestrian friendliness triumvirate: small blocks, narrow streets, and narrow facades, the last triumvir is the one very often forgotten. The daytime colour is weak, the evening renderings disguise that with coloured lights, but that is something fixable and certainly the building is not dull. Only a limited space for underground parking leads me to assume that this will have limited parking relative to its size. Residents on the lower floors of the Capitol (?) will not be thrilled, but that building also benefited from a density boost for providing an amenity, so maybe not unexpected that other buildings might get the same treatment.

  6. Love it. Of course they’ve shot for the moon hoping to get at least half of this massing but that’s rarely a losing strategy. Granville is a street in a living city, not a museum in a dead one. This approach preserves the facades and a sense of historical scale but isn’t held hostage to nostalgia and Soviet design conformity.

  7. I largely agree with Dan and Sam de Groot. The preservation of not just facades, but actual existing buildings, is notable (even if required?). The new structure steps up from south to north, maximizing sunlight. It adds office space without detracting from the Entertainment District streetscape. It’s a delight to learn that there will be ‘only limited underground parking relative to its size,’ but I need to know how many spaces will be added.

    But it aches for colour. This is the Entertainment District! The best thing on the street is the exuberant red neon sign for the Studio bar a block away. Instead of more grey, why couldn’t we have a variegated multicolour facade to enliven the entire block for pedestrians on the west side of the block?

    1. My vote for colour is something like the New Biochemistry Building University of Oxford or the Oval Offices in Cologne. (I would put links, but disqus frets about links.) These have tinted flanges instead of tinted glass proper. I take it that low e glass and tinted glass are at cross purposes. The low e seeks to reflect heat while the tinted glass is apt to absorb and transmit heat. The low e glass seems to be very light grey to slightly blue in colour which might account for the sameness of the glass around. Having the glass in the window frame low e while having coloured flanges seems to be able to square the circle of energy efficiency and a bit of colour. And coloured flanges fits the look of the building as designed with a very strong mullion profile. Maybe they could just get coloured mullions.

  8. I am glad to see a proposal for this site that could revitalize what has been a bit of a moribund block most of the time since the big cinema complexes closed. The preservation of the most significant older buildings, and the retention of the façades of the others, is most encouraging and helps keep the bones of an interesting and well articulated pedestrian realm. The façade of the new portion looks rather relentless with the consistent repetition of the glass and mullions but that does have the advantage of it not competing with the historic fades below, and should give a perception of it blending with the sky, reducing the apparent bulk. Downtown is short on good outdoor dining space so the level of outdoor space above the historic façades should be a welcome addition. The biggest downside of the project would be that it leaves the buildings at the NE corner of Granville & Smithe intact – these have minimal character and currently are a poor gateway to this part of downtown due to their condition and retail tenants.

  9. Here’s what would make it much more palatable to me – without changing the scale and massing for which I will give the owners and architects the benefit of the doubt.

    Since the first three buildings are historic but not remarkable or ornate in a way that we don’t build today I do not think it would be contrived at all to increase their heights in the same style and materials to 6, 8 and 10 storeys respectively. The third and highest could be capped with the upper end of the glass wedge to get their 12 storeys at about the same massing as proposed. This cap would only be visible from a distance so the streetscape on that block of Robson would remain traditional. However when viewed from a distance the glass facade would tie the complex together.

    The grand glass entrance would stay although I really hate the curves that are introduced beginning there. I would have a simpler plane that slopes back gently to increase light to the street and catch more reflective light from the sky as well. It would be a subtle tilt to maintain the mass but enough so it is stepped back behind the parapet of the Commodore by the time it reaches that height. Since this proposal literally bridges the Commodore its roof could form the outdoor patios and to the extent that it is open to the sky could contain enough trees and landscaping to further accentuate the Commodore facade by creating a further distinction from the glass plane. I would go really minimalist on the glass facade. One colour (light bronze?) no fins, hidden mullions.

    Since the proposed outdoor patios seem to be largely covered space, further patio areas could be carved out of the third floors of the first three buildings. If more open-to-the sky space is desired those buildings could step back above that point which is similar to the proposed massing.

  10. Most of the commentary her seems to be regarding the architectural questions of this development–that I doubt any more than three people could agree upon. But there’s been nothing towards the heart of that block and the significance of those venues. As the author of a book on the history of the Commodore Ballroom, I think it’s important to weigh in with some other considerations.

    I don’t think all the illustrations of how the development will be presented will be exactly like this, especially once the city’s Urban Design Panel may make some amendments or suggestions as can be the case, especially at the north end of the block–but I personally (surprisingly) think there’s a lot to like here, with the old Commodore Ballroom vertical sign that was there in the 1940s returned, more space for the south end of the Commodore with the ballroom and the Orpheum occupying some space in what was the old Norfolk Hotel building that basically has been a home for dead pigeons for the last 30 years…

    Financially, because the city taxes the Commodore as if there were a skyscraper on that land rather than the two story building that it is, it takes a lot of tax weight off the Ballroom too in the process, as well as the Commodore Lanes underneath.
    I don’t think this Daily Hive article is correct in saying that only the Orpheum is heritage protected here, as it does have heritage designation but as we’ve seen, even a Heritage-A class category is not surefire protection in this town. I personally think that the developers fear if their whole plan isn’t approved is a bit of saber-rattling to get their whole design on board, but that they are taxed on that land so heavily isn’t without consideration that maximizing the use of it with something like this makes sense.

    Granville Street has taken a beating in recent years. And I think with the plan with the office and retail space at one end, and the restaurant above the ballroom, as well as the benefits to the Orpheum all make it an impressive idea and along with the Cineplex development currently being built across the street, will bring some needed vitality back to this leg of Granville so it’s not simply the place where 19 year olds getting loaded for the first time go to. When one considers this development, along with the Rec Room building that Cineplex is building across the street, this ought to bring a wider array of people to the Entertainment District, which lately hasn’t been very entertaining.

  11. It’s quite a lovely proposal; and a lot of work for the design team I’m sure. I love these applications that balance retention and intensification. This has a lot of potential to keep this section of street vibrant and further improve the general surroundings. It will come with a few years of pain, but the end result will be something that we will all enjoy for the years to come – more office, more venues, retention of some historic facades. Win win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *