Ground design

Proposed Vancouver Tower design inspired by Douglas Firs

It’s intriguing, of course.

The Douglas fir is one of the region’s emblematic plants.

Massive trees are among the tallest living things on Earth, so it’s perhaps no surprise that they inspired the design of a proposed tower in downtown Vancouver, where the trees once stood. In this case, the 150-meter-tall tower is significantly taller than its 100-meter-tall inspiration (although some rumors reached 120m in Metro Vancouver before being taken down a century ago).

“Our local fir trees provide us with an ideal model of sustainability. They have evolved over time relying only on our local environment to produce specimens hundreds of feet away,” say the developers behind the proposed tower at 1450 West Georgia St.

The address was rezoned for a huge tower in 2018, but a new design was proposed for the 49-story residential tower guided by the various components of Douglas fir trees, including roots, forest floor and nests. In this case, the roots are at street level, while the forest floor is the top of the tower’s podium, where a park-like green space will be created with small trees and other plants. To really drive it home, the exterior of the building is even offered to be bark brown.

“While the design has evolved significantly since rezoning, the changes are refinements that better reflect the tower as a tree concept,” note the architects.

The proposed new tower is the Georgian Tower property, which includes residences, parking, and some commercial space. Wesgroup, one of the developers of the new tower, owns the current 22-storey apartment tower. BC Assessment notes that the structure, built in 1955, has 162 units. He estimates the building to be worth around $520,000, while the land is valued at $95.7 million.

The proposed 49-storey tower is designed to have 135 strata and 162 secure rental units. Of these 17 would be three bedroom units, while on the market side 12 would be three bedroom units. There would also be two four-bedroom penthouse residences.

At ground level, among the “roots”, there would be a covered plaza with commercial space. The proposal also includes a large “Welcome to Friendly Vancouver” print as a nod to an old Georgian tower sign.

If it were standing today, it would be among the 10 tallest towers in Vancouver.