Architecture
July 18, 2019

Unhappy Infill

For some years now, the City has been approving the replacement of small plazas, originally incorporated into the design of downtown office buildings and open to the public, with infill development.  Now those projects are underway – notably at Hastings and Seymour, and here at Dunsmuir and Homer, which in 2009 looked like this:

The two-storey pavilion and surrounding plaza were part of 401 West Georgia, and were never much used.  Shadowed, windy, and even though windowed, presented a blank, bland facade to the street.  But the empty space at least gave breathing room for the adjacent Holy Rosary Cathedral.

Here’s what that looked like until recently, from the view at Richards and Dunsmuir:

Now that the infill building replacing the pavilion and plaza is almost complete, here’s the view a few weeks ago:

I suspect the architects thought they were being respectful while providing street continuity in this fast-changing part of east Dunsmuir.  But the result is a crowded cathedral and more blank glass walls.  There’s not even a chamfered corner that would have acknowledged the church.

We’ll hold final judgement until the ground-level frontage is complete.  But even though the original plaza will not be missed, the setback and breathing room for the cathedral most certainly will.

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