Blog by Mark Longpre

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Four massive highrises proposed for downtown

City staff has proposed that council allow four new massive towers in the downtown core that would protrude into protected view corridors and dramatically alter the skyline.

One of the proposed locations, near Georgia Street and Seymour, could accommodate a 213-metre tower. That would be higher than Vancouver’s tallest highrise, the Shangri-La, a 201-metre landmark building that stretches 61 storeys into the sky.

Completed in 2008, Shangri-La surpassed the nearly 152-metre Wall Centre to become the tallest building in Vancouver.

In a Jan. 5 report, the city’s planning department proposed council approve expanding the bounds of the higher building policy in Vancouver’s Central Business District east down Georgia Street to False Creek and south down Burrard Street to the foot of the Burrard Bridge.

Staff also proposed allowing a 152-metre structure or structures at Georgia Street and Beatty, a 130-metre development at the end of Georgia and a 122-metre tower in the Burrard Street approach into the downtown.

The new towers would cascade in height from the central downtown to the water to remain consistent with the city’s “domed skyline” policy, the report said.

“While this recommendation basically redraws the boundaries of the current higher building policy it is also important to note that there is a break from current policy in that the higher buildings being considered would be allowed to intrude into protected view corridors,” the report states.

The new buildings would be required to have a “significant and recognizable new benchmark for architectural creativity and excellence, while at the same time making a significant contribution to the beauty and visual power of the skyline.”

The buildings would also be required to have the highest green standards, the report said.

The report is meant to show city council the effect of a limited number of higher buildings on the skyline and to gather feedback before making recommendations to council.

The final heights and exact locations of the buildings would be determined through urban design analysis.

Protecting view corridors in Vancouver’s downtown has been hotly debated recently. City council voted to go ahead with a 20-storey rental building in the West End on Bidwell Street that will block a view corridor of English Bay from Denman Street.