Posted May 31, 2011, 4:41 AM
Ferris Wheel Hater
Join Date: Jun 2006
As far as I know there hasn't been a name given to this project. Anyways it sailed thru the UDP a little while back. Would be surprised if this one isn't under construction by year end.
Use: To rezone the site to permit a 12-storey, mixed-use commercial and residential project in two buildings separated by a GVRD sewer right-of-way. The proposed height and density is supported by the Council-adopted Norquay Neighbourhood Centre Plan.
Zoning: C-2 to CD-1
Application Status: Rezoning
Architect: W.T. Leung Architects Inc.
Delegation: Wing Ting Leung, W.T. Leung Architects Inc.
Henning Knoetzele, W.T. Leung Architects Inc.
Gerry Eckford, Eckford & Associates
Staff: Paul Cheng and Alison Higginson
EVALUATION: SUPPORT (10-0)
Introduction: Alison Higginson, Rezoning Planner, introduced the proposal for a site in the 2600 block of Kingsway immediately north of Norquay Park. The site is currently zoned C-2 which permits a density of 2.5 FSR, with 2.15 being the maximum for residential use. The rezoning proposes a density of 3.80 FSR with approximately 3.5 of that residential use and 0.30 being commercial uses at grade. C-2 permits a maximum height of 45 feet and the requested height for the rezoning is 118 feet in the 12-storey component of the project. Ms. Higginson noted that the uses proposed are either outright or conditional approval uses in C-2.
In terms of policy that would support consideration of a rezoning, the site is located within the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre planning area and specifically within the Kingsway Rezoning Area. Council adopted the Neighbourhood Centre Plan in November 2010 and this site was identified as one of several special sites on Kingsway where height and density of 12-storeys and a maximum 3.8 FSR could be considered in order to achieve public benefits. Ms. Higginson noted that the application proposes to achieve those maximums.
In terms of other rezoning policy, the Neighbourhood Centre plan proposes several “area” rezonings to increase housing capacity in Norquay. The blocks across the rear lane from Kingsway are indicated as Transition Zones, where low-rise apartments, being three to four storeys will be permitted to provide a physical transition from the larger buildings expected on Kingsway to the ground-oriented housing in the surrounding blocks.
Paul Cheng, Development Planner, further described the proposal noting that this area of Kingsway is envisioned to be the central, local commercial street for everyday shopping, services and community life. There will be a new variety of ground-oriented housing options off Kingsway as well as new mid-rise housing options. Also planned is better pedestrian comfort with wider sidewalks through setbacks, traffic calming with an increased pedestrian network. This will include mid-block lighted pedestrian crossings and mid-block pedestrian connections for existing long blocks.
Mr. Cheng noted that the new Kingsway developments will come in primarily through the Rezoning Policy and will have a typical 10-storey pattern with potential mid-block buildings that are at 12-storeys, as well, two gateway sites of 14-storeys and the redevelopment of the 2400 Motel site with sixteen and twelve storey mid-rises.
The application is for a 12-storey building that also incorporates a lower 4-storey and podium element. Mr. Cheng noted that the Norquay Plan calls for a well-articulated sense of place and identity that is achievable through a consistency in material treatment. It should also have a rich public realm and that the buildings convey the unique attributes of the area including Kingsway’s unique oblique orientation with the rest of the city’s grid.
Mr. Cheng described the framework for the Panel and asked them to consider how the project performs with respect to three general views. The long-view is the building’s silhouette within the skyline including its view at night. The mid-view is the building’s fenestration patterns, play of natural light on the facades, sense of enclosure to the public realm and the visual composition of the building elements. The short-view includes the expression of the unique site qualities, activation of public spaces, the interface with the sidewalk, materials and craftsmanship.
Mr. Cheng noted that all the properties that are flanking off of Norquay Park will also be zoned into a new district schedule for a 4-storey apartment zoning similar to the transition zone.
Advice from the Panel on this application is sought on the following:
How comfortable is the public realm in terms of patio café type of activities;
How the project fulfills good place making (unique attributes of the area);
How the project performs with respect to the views.
Ms. Higginson and Mr. Cheng took questions from the Panel.
Applicant’s Introductory Comments: Henning Knoetzele, Architect, further described the proposal noting the massing of the building was informed by the right-of-way splitting the site in half. He noted that it is a shallow site. The 4-storey portions are expressed as a second building which is a more playful design than the brick building. Mr. Knoetzele described the shadow impacts on the site next door which currently houses a daycare. Wing Ting Leung, Architect, noted that they had made the courtyard wider and wrapped it around to the back of the site. As well the residential entry will be located off the courtyard.
Gerry Eckford, Landscape Architect, described the landscape plans noting that any views from Norquay Park are filtered through trees up towards the site. There is a strong axis along the pedestrian edge that goes into the courtyard. They are also going to provide a new streetlight system for a pedestrian activated crosswalk across Kingsway. A double row of trees will be placed along Kingsway. He noted that the courtyard will get a lot of sun and will have lots of room for seating. On the lane there is a green screen element running along the walls to bring a stronger landscape to the rear of the project. Urban agriculture is planned with a green house on the roof of the 4-storey building.
The applicant team took questions from the Panel.
Panel’s Consensus on Key Aspects Needing Improvement:
Consider moving the garbage room from the courtyard area;
Design development to have the project better address the unique confluence of two street grids;
Consider moving the amenity room to the roof of the 4-storey building and adding a deck;
Design development to expressive a passive sustainable strategy in the façade.
Related Commentary: The Panel supported the application and thought the massing had a simple, confident approach.
The Panel supported the use, height and density and thought that in terms of wayfinding, there would be a great view from Norquay Park to the site. The Panel thought the height of the 12-storey brick building would make for a focal point on the park and they liked the way it, and the low-rise building, had been defined. They also liked the courtyard and supported the public realm treatment and appreciated the widening of the sidewalks. The Panel thought it was unfortunate that the garbage room fronted the courtyard and suggested it be relocated. One Panel member suggested that moving these rooms could give more space for retail or it could be a residential unit.
The Panel thought the project didn’t acknowledge the unique Kingsway grid very strongly and suggested some improvements to the courtyard to make it more fluid. They appreciated the bold simplicity of the design, but emphasized that how the brick and glazing was handled could make for a powerful expression.
A couple of Panel members had some concerns with the lower building to the east as there might be an overlook issue from the adjacent tower. One Panel member suggested adding some landscaping on the roof. A couple of Panel members thought the 4-storey building could be higher to improve the orientation noting that 4-storey massing was an architectural response that is seen often.
The Panel thought the residential entry on the plaza helped make it successful. A couple of Panel members would like to see more roof top space for outdoor amenities, with one Panel member suggesting the interior amenity space could be relocated to the roof level of the 4-storey building adjacent to an outdoor deck. One Panel member thought the way-finding through the courtyard could be improved as people walk through it to indicate as to where it will lead as there is no indication of the future walkway. They also thought the concrete bench and signage was an unfortunate way to handle the arrival and visual impact to the courtyard, with one Panel member suggesting adding more greenery. The Panel thought the double row of trees on Kingsway would enrich the public realm.
Regarding sustainability, a number of Panel members thought the buildings didn’t respond to their orientation as they were all treated the same, and there wasn’t any evidence of a passive strategy expressed in the design. They were not confident that the applicant would be able to score enough energy points for a LEED™ Gold building.
Applicant’s Response: Mr. Leung thanked the Panel for their refreshing comments and that they had addressed some of the concerns. He added that he thought the suggestions were helpful in developing the design.