Chinatown · History · urban design · Vancouver

Around and Around We Go…

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.22.31 AMSometimes the third time isn’t lucky. The Beedie Group has revamped their proposed tower at 105 Keefer yet again. But they really haven’t learned much in the intervening months since pulling their previous design.

If you are going to build on the edge of a nationally significant community, it pays to understand the place and get under its skin. Obviously with the two previous designs that wasn’t done – sticking bits of Chinatown’s iconic society building architecture over the new structure isn’t really understanding the context of where you are building.

In the latest iteration, at least the ersatz Chinese-ness that had been glued on is gone, and the design is almost passable. But why has it taken this long to get a building design that should have been the starting point for the whole process.

In this version the developer feels the need to stick a few more goodies into the package. So, along with the 25 units of seniors housing – which should have been there from the beginning – we have a proposed cultural facility for seniors being added to the ground floor of the building. It may be needed in some capacity, but here’s a thought; why not engage your adopted community in a meaningful way and walk across the street and talk to the Chinese Cultural Centre and fund some new long-term seniors’ programs in Chinatown’s existing cultural space?

It would be better a better strategy to become a real part of the community, instead of seeing Chinatown as an inconvenience.

Maybe the best approach is to stop fiddling with design – horses can become camels if you’re not careful – throw the project out and start again. Take a a blank piece of paper and pose the question “How do we create the best building, not in, but for Chinatown?”

One thought on “Around and Around We Go…

  1. Great post John. I agree the developer should step up to the plate and engage with the community. Given the potential of foreign buyers from China, I would think it would be a winning strategy for the developer to demonstrate their commitment to the community.

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