Revery unveils design of The Butterfly

Revery Architecture has unveiled the design of The Butterfly, a development for Westbank in Vancouver, whose conceptual design was completed by the late Bing Thom. Situated at the corner downtown Vancouver’s Burrard and Nelson Streets, The Butterfly is a combination of a 57-storey luxury market tower and the heritage restoration and expansion city’s First Baptist Church, built in 1911.

Rendering by Hayes Davidson

The tower’s podium level and galleria are closely integrated with the heritage church, whose expanded community programs include a 37-space daycare facility, administrative offices, and a new seven-storey social housing building. The entire project’s total gross area is 605,000 sq.ft.

Designed to mimic the ephemeral nature of clouds, The Butterfly’s distinctive form accentuates the highpoint of the city’s downtown peninsula and the historic gateway into its vibrant West End neighbourhood.

The building’s sculpted façade features an assembly of white precast concrete sandwich panels and curved high-performance double glazing to offer exceptional thermal resistance, superior acoustical performance, and enhanced occupant comfort.

The interior of the curved precast panels is completed with a honed terrazzo finish to provide a naturally exposed surface while efficiently integrating with the building’s envelope system. The dynamic chamfered forms of the tower’s base ─ inspired by the pipe organ motifs of the development’s existing heritage church ─ reflect and honour the historic building while maximizing the use of its landscaped ground plane.

Rendering by Hayes Davidson

The Butterfly presents a new approach to high-rise living by introducing shared outdoor garden spaces on each level to encourage social interactions among residents while reconnecting them with nature, high above the ground plane. These semi-private spaces are envisioned to support informal gatherings that can facilitate the formation of sub- communities within the larger strata and help to break down the social barriers commonly associated with high-rise living.
The Butterfly’s theme of transformation extends from the development’s landscaped plazas into its lobby, the semi-private gardens, and into the private suites. Within the suites, the experience is centered on a seamless expanse of views, spatial continuity, and reflective surfaces, which experientially dissolve borders, encouraging a sense of being unbounded – much like a butterfly.

The second bedrooms are enclosed with fully glazed partitions that offer acoustic separation and visual privacy with soft fabric curtains. Most notably, these rooms offer enhanced flexibility of use —whether as a bedroom or a den.

Rendering by Hayes Davidson

As captivating as the tower itself, the Butterfly’s pool amenity presents a stunning two-lane, 50-metre Olympic-size, glass-roofed swimming pool built into the third floor of the tower and purposefully positioned to the north of the site (lane side) for natural shading year-round. Rendering by Hayes Davidson

Rendering by Hayes Davidson

With the same spirit of mindfulness, the subsidized rental housing presented in the project’s mid-rise building offers communal social spaces in its rooftop gardens. This component of the development also provides expanded facilities for the historic First Baptist Church to continue its ‘Shelter’ program, providing meals and emergency shelter for those in need. The heritage conservation of the project’s First Baptist Church component includes seismic and code upgrades to the 1911 church structure, restoration of the sanctuary interior, and rehabilitation of other parts of the heritage building.

The retention and expansion of this historic facility in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown will ensure the continuity and expansion of much-needed community support including counselling, childcare services, and meals and emergency shelter for the homeless.

Due to its height and density on the site, this project complies with a series of stringent local codes and bylaws geared towards performance and leadership in sustainability and architectural excellence and exceeds standards for innovation in energy performance with greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to a 45 percent reduction in energy use and 22 percent reduction in energy costs compared to ASHRAE- 90.1.

The entirety of the proposed development is designed to meet LEED Gold certification. The project will also meet City of Vancouver requirements for energy performance, sustainable site design and food systems, green mobility, water efficiency and stormwater management, and zero waste planning.

The project is currently under construction, and targeting completion in Fall 2023.