Presentation 3 McGarva

SFU City Conversation: Future of Our Downtown Waterfront Hub
June 4, 2015

Waterfront Precinct: Visions of Vancouver’s Waterfront Hub
Graham McGarva, Principal, VIA Architecture

Below: Slide show of presentation with text
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<p>I'm going to go through the same kind of territory as the previous speakers, but back out to the bigger picture, having been working on and around this waterfront area for 20 years. Our site is highlighted. </p><p>I’m here on behalf of Carrera. People talk about Greg Kerfoot and the Whitecaps because that's how the rail lands thing came about. The management vehicle is called Carrera Management.</p> <p>The site is 18 acres of downtown waterfront land with a long-term ground floor tenant, plus The Landing, plus 320 Granville Street. The centre of Vancouver, right here, at this edge.</p><p>
If you do the general math on the FSR, there would be 3.5 million square feet, mostly down at the western end hub. </p><p>How much, how high? Later is the time for numbers. This moment today is about the poetry of opportunities and constraints, and, most importantly, aspirations. 
So I want to frame the aspirational part with a quick spin through the history of the future of our lands. </p> <p>At the top in each of these slides in purple is the planning question superimposed upon a view of the existing Vancouver. 
</p><p>1968: Project 200. </p><p>50 years ago, Marathon Development had a vision of, guess what, approximately 3.5 million square feet on the waterfront freeway. And the only part built was Granville Square becoming today's opportunity and constraint, and actually clarifying some of the conditions required in order to build over the tracks. 
</p><p>Ironically, for the old Granville Square, functional needs pointed towards extending Canada Place, but not as a freeway. <p/> <p>
1979: Central Waterfront Official Development Plan. </p><p>The Seabus was built in the mid-70s. Waterfront Station, which was pretty run down, was renovated. And then, in the early 1980s, the old Pier BC became Canada Place. </p><p>
This was the period when Vancouver's population was declining, and planning was couched as fit rather than growth - very different context compared to today. </p><p> 
The linear development was shown all the way to Main Street with little regard to the economics of building on the mush at the edge of the ocean. </p> <p>
1994: Central Waterfront Policy Statement. </p><p>
Skipping ahead to the 1990s, for the Port lands north of Waterfront Road, there was a collaborative process rather than a City process, the lands being under federal jurisdiction. 
</p><p>The Port was seeking a developer for an expanded convention centre east of Canada Place, and this led to the urban plan for the Port central waterfront lands in the area north of the rail yards. So the Port lands, which extend well out into the water, were shown with approximately 3 million square feet north of the rail yards, with the urban form tapering down from the downtown core in the west down to the east. </p><p>
The rail yards were tacitly assumed to be going away as being kind of inconvenient. But the Skytrain had been built and the Westcoast Express was on the way. </p><p>
One outcome around this process was that creating a real available beach became Crab Park, and the Seabus is shown built over. This plan is less than 20 years old, and note that the Port is retaining a site right in front of Granville Square, port side. </p>
<p>1994-1999 Portside. </p><p>
In approximately 1994-99, Portside, the convention centre expansion illustrated here was to be built over the water east of Canada Place, with a casino and a tall hotel and viaduct junction. 
Granville Street was not extended in this scenario, but the 5-corner intersection at Cordova was already known to be a problem. </p><p>
The Seabus would be relocated north eastwards with moving sidewalks. </p><p>
Various layers of obstacle and opposition, notably anti-casino sentiment and the cost of development over deep water, killed the project. </p><p>
The legacy was a viaduct right-of-way registered across the rail yards. </p><p>
In this period, Marathon, CP Rail's real estate arm, separated Waterfront Station with its eastern parking lot from the remainder of the rail yards. </p>
<p>2005-2007: Whitecaps Stadium</p><p>
By the early 2000s, the Convention Centre had moved west of Canada Place to where it is now. And then in 2005, as part of the Whitecaps waterfront stadium, Greg Kerfoot bought the CP Rail yards from Marathon. </p><p>
So CP Rail is a tenant and it can continue rail operation. But the yards can be reconfigured for redevelopment, retaining most of the rail capacity. </p><p>
In terms of the stadium work, our primary focus was on site #2. This shows three sequential operations. #1 had all the high-level review stuff on the principle of showing the City what would happen if we did it on our land only, as opposed to a partnership with the Port. </p><p>
In the end, competing claims between the Port and TransLink on the water channel between Canada Place and the Seabus shifted attention to #3 as the site for the rezoning application that died the day the City went on strike in the fall of 2007. </p> <p>2007-2009: People Tower</p><p>
This is not about the stadium but about aspirations for urban life at the water's edge. We call this the People Tower, because who can say no to the people? </p><p>
The stadium was not about 30,000 people coming to 30 soccer and football games, but about being an exciting hot spot that resonates in the daily pulse of the city. Simply put, it was a park amphitheatre with a ring of food and beverage outlets around a 24/7 seawall, with office, hotel, and assembly spaces with an unbeatable vibe. </p><p>
Starting from the assertion that soccer is a village, which is how the Whitecaps operate as an inclusive community, think of it like Seattle's Pike Place Market wrapping around David Lam Park with all kinds of seating, sunbathing and activities stages, surrounded by the seawall, and the magnificent view of the water and the mountains. </p><p>
So the People Tower itself, which is on the rail yards, was a complement - a vertical mix of inter-connected functions gathering together the density of the rail yards in a singular form of critical mass unlike anything yet seen in Vancouver. </p><p>
Getting into the hub planning framework process of this time period, we absorbed the ambitious vision of a massively expanded transit hub as you have seen presented, and the City's aspiration to bring Granville Street through to the water, on our neighbour's land. And the hope that someone would find the value to pay for all of this. </p><p>
Being very aware of how our land and building locations were being claimed for the transit hub, our working assumption was that building height would be allowed to compensate for this. </p><p>
The work on the infrastructure for the stadium sensitized us to ‘the devil's in the details,’ phasing and interconnectivity. </p><p>
The work set the stage for our current version of a range of public environments up and down, side to side, connected in layers. But first, the Central Waterfront Hub Framework plan. 
</p> <p>2007-2009 Central Waterfront Hub Framework Plan</p><p>
This is not the exact drawing we would've drawn. We are very wary of being boxed into third-party agreements. But there is a fundamental simple and sound proven logic at work here -framework we are now starting to flesh out. </p> <p>2015 Waterfront Precinct</p><p>
So that brings us to today. What is to be the road and what is pedestrian passage? And what is gathering place? What is to be covered? What seeks to attract sunshine? And what seeks to be your winter garden? </p><p>
There are many levels of debate to be had about moving the vision forward and that few million square feet of successful development need to be encouraged here to provide the unique excitement of the centre of the city being at the edge, of making this place a fundamental work horse at the heart of the region and a place of delight. </p><p>
Well-paying commerce is essential for this sustainable vitality. And this will also be one of the most inclusively accessible environments in Metro Vancouver. </p><p>
So our planning is starting with the fundamentals of infrastructure, and we are connecting the dots. You see the three key control points. And assembling a ring of tall building forms, imagine them expanded like a series of Rubic’s cubes and linked below grade, at grade and possibly one more level above grade. </p><p>
And the early key question is what is to be placed at the point of compression, that is, 555 West Cordova, that will make the best possible synergy with our bigger vision of the waterfront. </p><p>
So that is the context that we are now coming through to this consideration of the central waterfront. 
</p> <p>So that is the context that we are now coming through to this consideration of the central waterfront. </p><p>
Now, time for conversation.
</p>
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>

2007-2009: People Tower

This is not about the stadium but about aspirations for urban life at the water's edge. We call this the People Tower, because who can say no to the people?

The stadium was not about 30,000 people coming to 30 soccer and football games, but about being an exciting hot spot that resonates in the daily pulse of the city. Simply put, it was a park amphitheatre with a ring of food and beverage outlets around a 24/7 seawall, with office, hotel, and assembly spaces with an unbeatable vibe.

Starting from the assertion that soccer is a village, which is how the Whitecaps operate as an inclusive community, think of it like Seattle's Pike Place Market wrapping around David Lam Park with all kinds of seating, sunbathing and activities stages, surrounded by the seawall, and the magnificent view of the water and the mountains.

So the People Tower itself, which is on the rail yards, was a complement - a vertical mix of inter-connected functions gathering together the density of the rail yards in a singular form of critical mass unlike anything yet seen in Vancouver.

Getting into the hub planning framework process of this time period, we absorbed the ambitious vision of a massively expanded transit hub as you have seen presented, and the City's aspiration to bring Granville Street through to the water, on our neighbour's land. And the hope that someone would find the value to pay for all of this.

Being very aware of how our land and building locations were being claimed for the transit hub, our working assumption was that building height would be allowed to compensate for this.

The work on the infrastructure for the stadium sensitized us to ‘the devil's in the details,’ phasing and interconnectivity.

The work set the stage for our current version of a range of public environments up and down, side to side, connected in layers. But first, the Central Waterfront Hub Framework plan.

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