Acton Ostry Architects designing new mixed-use development in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood

Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood is recognized as a hub of creative activity and cultural and artistic expression. Following an extensive community planning process, the Kingsway|Broadway site was identified as the location for an iconic landmark building, and City Council directed that the architectural expression for the development was to be “a creative and contemporary interpretation of the neighbourhood’s contextual assets.” 

Acton Ostry Architects responded to the challenge by configuring the form and massing of the 27,600-square-metre development into five distinct building components, with each building block receiving a separate character that is uniquely its own. The architectural expression celebrates and reflects various aspects of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood context, street life, materiality and colour through a bricolage of jumbled effect inspired by the diverse range of buildings located throughout the community—all from different periods and with varying architectural styles.

The Mount Pleasant vernacular is reinterpreted to create a rich, varied and vibrant expression inspired by local street photography, West Coast painting and sculpture, and the phenomenology and order of hill towns. The design blends what is “on hand” with the steady stream of visual and auditory input that permeates contemporary culture, creating an architectural expression that is unique to Mount Pleasant.

Four mid-rise building blocks reflect differing forms, materials and colours. Three open gaps in the streetwall massing provide a visual connection to a residential courtyard located above a highly animated ground plane that includes public art installations, community notice pylons, a water feature and a bicycle repair station. A rich tapestry of paving materials and an artful, inventive and expressive integration of street furniture surround the public realm with places for passersby to gather and socialize.

The triangular form of the 21-storey tower reflects the unique diagonal slash the main road of Kingsway makes across the orthogonal city grid. An assortment of materials, colours, patterning and variably sized offset balconies—in combination with a cascade of cantilevered penthouses and sub-penthouses—celebrates the eclectic, independent character of the neighbourhood. A tree-topped crown symbolizes the height to which first-growth forests once soared, marking the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood in Vancouver’s greenest city skyline.

The colourful development generated spirited comments from the city’s advisory design panel before receiving its unanimous support to proceed. Kingsway|Broadway is anticipated to begin construction in 2015 with completion in the Spring of 2017.

Since the firm’s inception in 1992, Acton Ostry Architects has demonstrated a commitment to the making of architecture that thoughtfully reflects local topography, climate, culture and lessons learned from buildings inherited from the past. The values of the practice embody a consideration to design that is without willful extravagance. The firm’s design approach incorporates new technologies and materials in alignment with a considered Modernist idiom, resulting in buildings that offer sustenance to those who inhabit and experience them. The practice has received over 60 design awards. Recently completed projects include: York House Senior School, University of British Columbia (UBC) Sauder School of Business, UBC Biological Sciences Complex, and UBC Hillel House Student Centre.