Erickson’s Vancouver tower called “stunning, evocative”

A unique new “twisted” tower that was called “a revolution not an evolution” got enthusiastic and unamimous approval from Vancouver’s urban design panel Wednesday.

Panel members called the Arthur Erickson-designed tower for West Georgia Street a slim, triangular building that rotates 45 degrees between its base and its roof stunning, evocative, and a beautiful “feminine” match to the more masculine, slightly taller Shangri-La tower that will be built across the street.

The two structures, both destined for the 1100 block of West Georgia, are currently the city’s two tallest planned buildings.

The scene in Vancouver city hall’s committee room 1 Wednesday was radically different from what happened three months earlier, when developer Simon Lim, along with architects Mark Whitehead and Mark Thompson, presented their first plan for the 167-metre tower.

Then, it was savaged by a special design panel that included both local and out-of-town members, which left Lim and the architects feeling seriously beaten up by the end.

However, within a few weeks, the city’s most powerful realtor and unpaid urban designer, Bob Rennie, wooed Arthur Erickson into joining the team, and he and developer Ian Gillespie, who is building the Shangri-La across the street, encouraged Lim to try again.

This time, the reviews were consistently glowing for the new design and several members commented on how spectacularly the team had responded to criticism, not by trying to patch up an inherently weak design, but by going back to he drawing board and starting over.

“It’s not an evolution, it’s a revolution,” said panel member Shahla Bozorgadeh, a comment that was echoed by chair Alan Endall when he summed up the remarks.

Architect Peter Wreglesworth, among others, commended the team on picking themselves up after a “rough go.”

Everyone agreed that the tower’s design earned the developer the right to the extra density he is seeking on the site.

by Frances Bula
Vancouver Sun