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Extraordinary new condo towers aim to give Vancouver the 'Wow!' factor

'Can a building give back in a different way to the city, rather than just be another tower?'

September 15, 2015

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A slew of innovative new condo towers are being proposed for Vancouver, in an attempt to put the 'Wow!' factor in architecture in the B.C. city. (Gregory Henriquez/Vancouver House/Büro Ole Scheeren/KKAA)
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The Gregory Henriquez tower is proposed for 1575 West Georgia St. (Gregory Henriquez)
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German architect Ole Scheeren is proposing this Jenga-style condo tower for 1500 West Georgia St. (Büro Ole Scheeren)
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This condo tower is proposed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kumo and his firm, KKAA, along with developers Westbank for 1550 Alberni St. (KKAA)
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Vancouver architect James Cheng is working on this proposed condo tower for 1445-1455 West Georgia St. (James Cheng)
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The tower that started it all, Vancouver House by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, will occupy a triangular lot at the north end of the Granville Street Bridge. (BIG)
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A slew of innovative new condo towers are being proposed for Vancouver, as the city aims to take its arguably boring architecture to the next level.

Architect James Cheng is among those working on a signature building for 1445-1455 West Georgia St.— a 50-storey tower with an 80-foot glass jewel at the base, and walls that resemble the Seattle Library.


"We're saying, 'Can a building give back in a different way to the city, rather than just be another tower?'"

Cheng was inspired by repairs to the Washington Monument, which took on a whole new look when it was covered in scaffolding and then lit up.

Cheng's tower will also be lit, whether or not anyone is home.

Along the street, at 1575 West Georgia, local architect Gregory Henriquez is proposing a mixture of a traditional condo tower with origami balconies.

In between, at 1500 West Georgia, another dramatic building has been proposed by German architect Ole Scheeren, who takes his inspiration from the game Jenga.

Meanwhile, a block away at 1550 Alberni St. is a Westbank project by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, quite unlike anything Vancouver has seen before, swooping up into the sky with open gardens and sleek interiors.

Twisting tower turned tide

Vancouver's move into adventurous architecture arguably began back in 2013, when Danish architect Bjarke Ingels revealed his design for twisting tower Vancouver House, which is now under construction.

These latest projects may just be beginning to make their way through the city's approval system, but it's a direction backed by Brian Jackson, Vancouver's planning and development manager.

"It is time that we have a few buildings along significant corridors to gateway locations that cause people to just stop and say, 'Wow! That is extraordinary architecture,'" said Jackson.

If approved, construction on these new condo towers could begin in just over a year.

With files from CBC's Kirk Williams
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