Not without merit is downtown Vancouver known as the City of Glass. Outside of city centre, Vancouver’s aesthetic for architecture that highlights the natural environment can be seen cropping up time and time again.
Some of the best designed spaces reflect this unique relationship that our city shares with the geographic beauty of the land. Whether these spaces are commercial or residential, or whether they were built twenty years ago or unveiled last year, these are our top 12 picks for the best designed spaces in Vancouver.
via Paul Brand
Vancouver’s newest architectural landmark is Telus Garden, a monumental endeavour that merges the outdoors with the indoors as the greenest office tower in downtown Vancouver. Telus Garden is praised for its environmental design that boasts over 300 solar panels on its roof top for energy. The overhang in front of Glowbal Group’s flagship restaurant, Glowbal, is as big and bold a statement as the restaurant itself.
Vancouver Public Library
Minutes away from the city block that Telus Garden transformed is the Vancouver Public Library. It is a dynamic public space that opened in 1995 that’s nine stories high with a glass-covered concourse where coffee shops and newsstands are congregated on the ground level. Its classical resemblance to the Colosseum of Rome is what gives the VPL so much of its character. Once inside the library, you won’t be able to tell you are downtown.
In the early half of the twentieth century, the Woodward’s Building was a popular department store located in Vancouver’s premier retail shopping district and destination. Somewhere throughout the years, Woodward’s declined to the state where it was demolished to make room for residential units, civic offices and public plazas. Its indoor courtyard plaza has one of the neatest structural elements with the giant staircase that could also double as a concrete slide.
Like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Evergreen Building flows with green energy with its trapezoidal shape and terraced balconies. Designed by Arthur Erickson, a Vancouver native, the Evergreen Building was a significant building for its time that still manages to leave a mark on those passing by. The way Erikson designed the Evergreen Building with its mountainous profile nicely juxtaposes this urban structure against the range of the Cascade mountains in the background.
Vancouver Convention Centre
The quintessential view of Vancouver can be found facing out the main ballroom in the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Vancouver Convention Centre is home to the sweetest panoramic views of Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. Vancouver Convention Centre is a celebration of people, place and sustainability, and it celebrates so well. The Vancouver Convention Centre has the largest living roof in Canada with 400,000 plants and grasses. The honey from their bees is what they use in its central kitchen.
If you’re into Art Deco, you’re in for a treat. The Marine Building is a nautical-themed skyscraper with bold geometric shapes and strong colours with decorative depictions of sea snails, turtles and seahorses. The Marine Building is a popular filming attraction for movie scenes in Timecop, and the Fantastic Four franchise.
UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Building
The Pharmaceutical Sciences Building stands out among many of the improvements that UBC campus have opened within a few short years including the new student union building, The Nest, and the cascading waterfall near the UBC Bookstore. As a state-of-the-art learning and research facility, the Pharmaceutical Sciences Building has won numerous awards for is strong design and sustainable principles that not only physically mirror the forest with staircases that connect the floors like branches, but also save over three million litres of water per year.
The Qube is a modern building that’s shaped exactly as its name suggests- a black cube. Thirteen stories high, it was interestingly enough built from the top down and is also one of Vancouver’s better earthquake-resistant structures. Originally completed in 1969 to be the headquarters for the West Coast Transmission Corp., it became a residential tower for urban living in 2006.
The Waterfall Building
Minutes away from Granville Island is the Waterfall Building. An impressive contemporary building with concrete floors, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, the Waterfall Building was also designed by Arthur Erickson whose deft touch for West Coast Style structures comes into full force. The Waterfall Building exists as a venue for events and performances, a secret place for weddings and launch parties.
Museum of Anthropology
Museum of Anthropology, affectionately known as MOA, is, appropriately enough, inspired by the post-and-beam architecture of the Northwest Coast First Nations people. The Museum of Anthropology hosts an excellent collection of Coastal First Nations artworks and artifacts. MOA offers a reflecting pool in the front that has been in the works since its redesign was complete in in 1976.
Hotel Europe is a heritage building in Gastown with the visually striking shape of a triangular flatiron. Originally intended to pull in visitors from the nearby docks, Hotel Europe was an innovative structure that was one of the earliest fireproof hotels in western Canada. Hotel Europe is influenced by the Flatiron Building in New York, although not nearly as tall, as much as it is of European buildings with radial city planning.
Beaty Biodiversity Centre and Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory
In the eyes of the public, the Beaty Biodiversity Centre is that natural history museum with the magnificent skeleton of a blue whale hanging suspended from the ceiling. Behind glass walls, the blue whale skeleton can be seen from the outside, and its gripping design is in keeping with the environment theme of the science and research building. With over two million specimens to check out, the Beaty Biodiversity Centre is just as interesting on the outside as it is on the inside.