Posted: Apr 18, 2013, 5:37 AM
Ferris Wheel Hater
Join Date: Jun 2006
The UDP voted this one down unanimously with a 0-7 vote for support.
Below are the minutes, looks like they are okay with the height but felt it's too dense as the floor plates are too large.
Michael Naylor, Rezoning Planner, introduced the proposal for the corner of Richards and Helmcken Streets at the north end of Emery Barnes Park. The policy under which the tower proposal is being considered is the Metro Core Benefit Capacity Study that was done in 2008.
Council endorsed consideration of rezoning applications within the Downtown South that seek additional height and density up to the underside of approved view cones. The intent of the policy is to support public objectives such as provision of affordable housing, heritage and development of cultural, recreational and other community facilities. The public benefit being proposed for this project is replacement of social housing currently located at Jubilee House with a new facility on the other side of Helmcken Street.
Sailen Black, Development Planner, further described the proposal. Mr. Black noted that the proposed site would incorporate the existing lane and easement to the south. The City plans to build a new greenway on the north side of Helmcken Street, and a greenway is contemplated for Richards Street in the future. There is a view corridor extending from Choklit Park to Grouse Mountain that limits the maximum height over most of the site to approximately 324 feet, and a second view corridor that limits the height at one corner to approximately 255 feet.
Mr. Black described the Downtown South guidelines for the New Yaletown area. The guidelines recommend a form of development that is intended to provide for relatively high density living while preserving access to light, view and air for residents. To this end tower plates are recommended to be limited to 6,500 square feet in area, over a wider podium base that forms a well-defined street wall. The maximum width of towers is recommended at 90 feet. Setbacks are required at 12 feet from the street on grade; at 40 feet from the interior property lines for building portions over 70 feet tall; and at 30 feet from the rear yard for building portions over 35 feet tall.
Mr. Black noted that the proposal is designed to fit below and to the side of the two view cones at this site. The lane and southern right-of-way, both currently hard surfaced, will be incorporated into the project with parking below the lane and pedestrian access over the south setback. The tower is articulated in plan, which is notable in the skyline profile when looking at the top from grade. Floors are fairly consistent from one level to another, with variations in balcony enclosures and subtle angles to some walls. The shape of the base is intended to provide better view lines from nearby streets into Emery Barnes Park than would occur with a typical podium and tower form. A Montessori pre-school is proposed on the bottom two floors, facing into the park. Drop off for vehicles and parkade access is proposed from the lane; with walking drop off via the public passage to the south. Townhouses are proposed on both streets.
Comments were sought on the form of development for this rezoning application in general, and in particular:
Taking into consideration current zoning and guidelines;
a. Does the Panel support the proposed height (320 feet) and density (17.4 FSR), and;
b. Does the Panel support the proposed setbacks (5 feet and 24 feet), tower width (128 feet) and plate size (10,367 square feet), within this neighbourhood context?
Given the surround context and its location on Emery Barnes Park, is the proposed form of development for the base of the tower (including open space and setbacks) a good fit for this part of Yaletown?
Does the Panel have any advice on the overall design with regard to;
a. Neighbourliness including shadow and view impacts,
b. Open space and landscape treatments,
c. LEED Gold strategies and Rezoning Policy for Greener Buildings, or
d. Preliminary comments on the exterior composition or expression?
Mr. Naylor and Mr. Black took questions from the Panel.
Applicant’s Introductory Comments:
Stu Lyon, Architect, further described the proposal and
mentioned that since it is a rezoning he hoped the Panel would comment on the landing of the density, form of development, height and general articulation of the building. He noted that there are some challenges for landing density on the site and the reason for that is the formula for building non-market housing. They will be accommodating the 87 units from the 127 Society and increasing the number to 160 or more units in total. He added that the having the park next to the site is a great asset. They originally had a taller building which needed to be reduced to accommodate the view cones. He added that they have accommodated the setbacks at the ground plane that will allow for a double row of trees. Mr. Lyon described the architecture noting that they developed a floor plate with 13 units on a typical floor in order to make the suites liveable.
Andrew Emmerson, Architect, explained that they wanted to maintain a defined, formalized edge to Helmcken and Richards Streets which is why there is a right angle at the corner. He added that they see the tower as an anchor to the park.
Julian Patterson, Landscape Architect, described the landscape plans and mentioned that along Richards Street there will be a series of landscape terraces that will transition to the tower and form individual entry points to the units. At the corner of Helmcken Street is a water feature to reinforce the theme from the park and to anchor the corner. There is a widen laneway that will serves as a pedestrian through route from Richards Street to the new school entrance and to the existing dog park. The pedestrian plaza adjacent to the entrance lobby is created with street trees.
The applicant team took questions from the Panel.
Panel’s Consensus on Key Aspects Needing Improvement:
Tower floor plate size is too large for this site;
Design development of improve the relationship between the tower and the park;
Consider a more sculpted termination at the top of the tower;
Design development to better integrate the landscape plans with the park.
The Panel did not support the proposal but commended the applicant for including affordable housing in the proposal.
The Panel supported the height but felt there might be too much density which had created a rather bulky building. They noted that the proportions didn’t feel right and that the 10,000 square foot floor plates were too large for this neighbourhood. As well they agreed that the top of the tower should be sculpted to assist in making the tower height respond to the backdrop of the mountains. As one Panel member suggested the building should feather more elegantly into the skyline. Another Panel member noted that the tower lost the curved effect at the top of the tower.
The Panel thought the setbacks were too aggressive on the park edge and felt like the building was dominating the park. They noted that there was some confusion in the design of the building as some parts embraced the City’s guidelines for the area while other made a conscious attempt to challenge them. One Panel member noted that it wasn’t doing either and needed to be one or the other. A number of Panel members noted the way in which the tower meets the ground needed further design development. As well the interface at the park, Helmcken and Richards Streets needed to be reevaluated.
Most of the Panel felt the landscape plans were not sympathetic to the park and the expression was in fact fighting the park. One Panel member noted that there is a rhythm to the park edge that needed to be carried through the landscape plans in the proposal. As well another Panel member thought the neighbourhood context was very important and that this scale needed to be brought to the building form along the street.
The Panel liked some of the sustainability features such as the solar collectors and thought they might help to animate the body of the building.
Mr. Lyon thanked the Panel for all their comments. He noted that there are significant challenges with the site but will move forward and look at the form and treatment of the tower. He added that the challenge would be in any significant reduction of the density, as there was considerable enthusiasm for creation of 163 units of non-market housing and the project needed to be 365,000 square feet in total to make it work.
I bolded the one line, surprised the city is looking at a greenway along Richards, always figured the plan was to convert it to a two way street along with some other questionable one-ways. If they go with the greenway they won't be able to go to a two way.