Vancouver House, an ensemble of mixed-use podium and slender residential tower, is located at the main entry point to downtown Vancouver, just off the freeway approach to Granville Bridge, forming a gateway to the city. The design aimed to preserve existing sightlines through the city at this location, while at the same time revitalizing the previously unattractive surroundings.
The site area and the shape of the building were determined by two adjacent factors. First, the space-consuming highway overpass presented a particular limitation. The other component to be considered was the neighboring park. Shading of this park was to be kept to a minimum, which precluded any further development in a southerly direction. Consequently, the usable area was limited to a relatively small triangle that was considered almost impossible to build on.
These conditions explain the unusual shape of the residential tower, which is triangular at its base and widens into a rectangle at the top. As the tower gradually rises above the overpass, lost space is reclaimed. At the same time, a 30-meter distance radius from the highway bridge ensures that the windows and balconies of residents are not directly exposed to traffic noise. As the building shoots up, noise, exhaust fumes, and visual pollution disappear and residents are afforded an unobstructed view of the False Creek estuary and Vancouver’s mountain landscape. The tower’s curved silhouette, which widens upward, looks as if someone was pulling aside a curtain to welcome Vancouver’s visitors. This movement transforms what was initially seen as an uneconomical triangular space into an optimal rectangular floor plan for the 502 residential units at the top, while leaving space for a public, mixed-use center below.