A case for “the new Lonsdale”

Excellent column in the Globe and Mail newspaper from urban design/architecture critic Trevor Boddy — who takes a long, hard look at North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Avenue, the city’s main drag, and development that has taken place on the strip in recent years.

In addition to lamenting what he considers to be some of the development mistakes on Lonsdale in recent memory (including a massive waterfront project called The Pier), he also makes the case for the Site 8/Foot of Lonsdale/Henriquez Partners proposal we have written about previously on Metropolis West.

Across Lonsdale from The Pier is a very different urban design approach is proposed by Millennium Group, with Henriquez Partners as architects. A spire where The Pier proposes a wall of condos, all apartments are consolidated here into a single extra-tall tower, set in mid-block where it should be to minimize impact on Lonsdale and uphill neighbours (who will complain anyway, such being the price of the cult of the view in our town.) Project architect Gregory Henriquez tapers the top of the condo tower like the prow of a ship (in fact, the locally-famous S.S. Princess Louise), serving both to reduce the visual impact of penthouse floors, and to craft an icon denoting local history.

…they propose terminating Lonsdale in a lively waterfront plaza, with views to the comings and goings of Seabuses, tugboats, the to-be-revived Wallace Shipyards, and the entire drama of a Vancouver harbour that is increasingly sealed off from its citizens by marinas and insensitive waterside development.

Hovering above this plaza the developer intends to pay for construction of a permanent home for the Presentation House Gallery, the first and likely only key cultural institution to find a home on our waterfront. With stakes upped by the design mistakes nearby, the proposal goes to North Vancouver’s city council for re-zoning approval and height cap exemption early next year, and may be the last, best chance to forge the architectural landmark the North Shore has long needed.

Agree or disagree, it’s worth the read.

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