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Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Too busy being a tourist, especially on Granville Island that's home to the famed public market.  Vancouver House can be seen in the background. 

Before retiring from the nine to five world of periodical journalism, I covered architecture and design for a host of publications like San Diego Home/Garden, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Union-Tribune, Modernism magazine, Old House Interiors, Arts & Crafts Homes magazine and American Bungalow.

Now my travel writing is devoted to, a daily online magazine style blog.

Recently, I traveled to Vancouver, Canada to spent time with my family.  Before taking an Air Canada flight, I researched nothing when it came to architecture of that beautiful and creative City.

And, for the life of me—even with my architectural writing background--I cannot figure how I missed stopping to view the Vancouver House, a new high rise that CNN’s website has named as one of the world's most anticipated buildings in 2020.

I blame it on being retired and not really going there in search of article ideas.

But, when I returned I noticed CNN’s blog calling Vancouver House a 49-story significant architectural accomplishment.   Where was I?

Vancouver's scenic False Bay distracted us from seeing Vancouver House
This is how CNN described Vancouver House: Twisting from a triangular base to a rectangular top, Vancouver House appears to defy the laws of engineering when viewed from afar.

It’s precisely the sort of eccentricity we’ve come to expect from Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect who recently built a ski slope on top of a power plant in Copenhagen. But it’s also a smart response to various restrictions and regulations that limited the size of the tower’s footprint in downtown Vancouver.

The pixelated facade, also characteristic of Ingels’ work, helps to create deep-set balconies for residents in the 493-foot-tall tower.

It is possible that Ingels’ rise to fame over the last seven years (city council approved the rezoning for Vancouver House in 2013) also benefited the Vancouver project by bringing it more international attention.

Vancouver House topped out in 2019, and is slated to reach full completion later this year, including the opening of many of its commercial tenants. The new public realm beneath the bridge will be activated by 85,000 sq. ft. of ground-level retail and restaurant space, namely London Drugs, Fresh St. Market grocery store, and Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Five permanent container shipping retail units will also be placed at the entrances into this new public space, where an oversized chandelier public art sculpture spins three times daily.

Within the two triangular podium buildings, 90,000 sq. ft. of office space will be furnished into academic space for University Canada West. Approximately 3,400 students are expected to study at this new campus, providing regular foot traffic for the area.

The residential portion of the CAD $750-million project contains 375 market condominiums and 105 market rental homes.

How did I miss seeing Vancouver House?  Actually, I did look at the building giving it a cursory glance as part of a burgeoning city skyline.  That speaks to the fact, Vancouver House fits in.
Stanley Park in West Vancouver was a great place to visit and to ignore Vancouver House in the background.
But how did I miss the twisting, curvilinear aspect of the ground-breaking design?  [I blame being preoccupied with Stanley Park and the Water Street Café].

Because we were being tourists.  And, our wanderings took us to the north and west side of Vancouver House. We simply didn’t notice the east and south faces of the building where its twists on its foundation to make Vancouver House one of the more remarkable high rise designs in North America.

It goes to say, a little advance research would have made our trip more interesting. Oh, well we have a reason now to return to Vancouver, a skyline and a city worth revisiting. –By Thomas Shess, founder and editor in chief of daily online magazine.

Here's what we missed.

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