P&E COMMITTEE AGENDA
                                                                         FEBRUARY 6, 1997

                                                            POLICY REPORT

                                                                         Date:  January 13, 1997
                                                                         Dept. File No.  MG
                                                                         CC File: 8007-1/2604-1/2606-1 

     TO:              Standing Committee on Planning and Environment

     FROM:    Director of Central Area Planning

     SUBJECT:         Downtown Vancouver Skyline Study - Wall Centre Phase II


              The General Manager of Community Services submits this report for Council's INFORMATION.                                                                                                     


     -        The Queen Elizabeth Park View Corridor, approved as part of the View Protection Guidelines on December 12, 1989
              and amended on December 11, 1990, establishes a 322.8-foot height limit on the Wall Centre Phase II site.

     -        The Downtown District Official Development Plan, adopted on November 4, 1975 identified a height limit of 300
              feet for the Wall  Centre Phase II site.  The zoning does permit the relaxation of this  height limit up to 450
              feet after taking account of view obstruction, overshadowing and other environmental criteria set out in the
              applicable design guidelines.                                          


     On September 26, 1996, Council deferred providing advice to the Development Permit Board on the suggested penetration of
     the Queen Elizabeth View Corridor by the proposed 450-foot high Wall Centre Phase Two tower.  Staff were advised by
     Council that it wanted to first review the preliminary conclusions from the Skyline Study.  A companion report provides
     Council with recommendations regarding the Wall Centre proposal.  Staff advise that the proposed Wall Centre tower would
     be compatible with four out of the five skyline prototypes now under consideration in the Study.


     This report responds to Council s request for information on the prototypes for the future skyline from the Downtown
     Vancouver Skyline Study to assist in deciding whether the Wall Centre Phase II Tower should be generally supported and
     specifically permitted to penetrate the Queen Elizabeth View Corridor.  This report is presented in conjunction with a
     report from the Director of Land Use and Development, dated September 10, 1996 (limited distribution to Council),
     regarding the proposed height increase of the Wall Centre development proposal.  The earlier report offers appropriate
     recommendations for Council s consideration:

              A1.     THAT the Development Permit Board be advised that Council  has no objection to the proposed height of
                      450 ft.  (exclusive of mechanical penthouse) for the hotel tower at 1001 Hornby Street, based on the
                      quality of its architectural design and energy innovation, as presented in the architectural model and
                      plans submitted to the Development Permit Board on August 12, 1996; and

                      FURTHER THAT Council approves a consequential adjustment to the Queen Elizabeth Park view cone that
                      allows for an approximate 157 ft.  intrusion of the hotel tower should the Board decide to approve the
                      preliminary development application;


              A2.     THAT Council does not support the proposed height of 450 ft.  for the hotel tower at 1001 Hornby Street,
                      and consequent intrusion into the Queen Elizabeth Park view cone.


     On May 16, 1996, Council directed staff to do a Downtown Vancouver Skyline Study.  The study will identify potential
     prototypes for the future skyline and recommend a preferred prototype.  A consultant was hired in July and work was
     initiated in August.  Currently, the public is reviewing the skyline prototypes.  Staff will be reporting the final
     conclusions of the study in March.  All work is on schedule.

     The stages and current status of the study are as follows:

             create a computer model of the downtown skyline we have now and will get with existing zoning at potential build
              out (completed);
             create a computer model of prototypical alternative skylines (completed);
             seek public feedback on existing and possible future skyline options (currently underway);
             evaluate options and recommend a preferred downtown skyline (currently underway).

     The companion report on permitting a taller building on the Wall Centre site was considered by Council on September 26,
     1996.  Council resolved:

              THAT Council defer decision on the Wall Centre Phase II Hotel Tower Proposal pending staff reporting back to
              Council in January 1997 with the preliminary Skyline Study results, specifically as related to the Wall Centre
              Phase II proposal for Council                                           s further consideration;

              AND THAT Council reiterate to staff the expectation that the final, full report on the Skyline Study will be
              brought forward no later than March 1997.

     Current height limits were established in 1975.  The Downtown Official Development Plan identifies a pattern of height
     limits (see Appendix  A ) where the highest buildings (current limit 450 feet) are permitted in the centre of the
     downtown, generally along Georgia and Burrard Streets.  In the areas surrounding this height zone, 300-foot buildings are
     permitted.  Lesser heights of 150 feet,  90 feet and 70 feet are permitted in other areas.  Council-adopted view
     corridors further shape permitted heights on the majority of sites in the downtown.  


     While the consultants and staff explored a variety of skyline prototypes, the limited number of development sites and
     parameters set by the view corridors resulted in five skyline prototypes that are now under review:

             a Landmark Skyline (tallest buildings at 600 feet);
             a Landmark Skyline (tallest buildings at 750 feet);
             a Gap Toothed Skyline;
             a Dome Shaped skyline;
             a  Build Out                           Skyline (resulting from no change in height regulations).

     These prototypical skylines are created by strategically locating taller new buildings on a selected number of the 76
     potential development sites in the downtown peninsula (while recognizing that the actual building locations could take a
     variety of specific patterns).  For purposes of the skyline analysis, the downtown peninsula includes all the sites
     between Stanley Park and Main Street.  The following factors guided the location and massing of the buildings:

             the floor plate requirements for each type of use as established by the market and City design guidelines;
             existing zoned densities, but considering density transfers for the highest landmark sites;
             the retention of heritage buildings.

     The tallest buildings in the prototypes (with the exception of the   Build Out  skyline) exceed the existing height
     regulations.  (See Appendix  A ) As explained to Council in September when the Wall Centre proposal was being considered,
     the height limits imposed by the view corridors were followed in the Skyline Study with the exception of the Queen
     Elizabeth View corridor.  The intent of this view corridor is to ensure the prominence of the downtown skyline by
     limiting the heights of buildings on Broadway and ensuring that the skyline is framed by the north shore mountains. 
     Because it dramatically limits the number of skyline options and because its intent can be achieved even with taller
     buildings on the downtown peninsula, the Study does not adhere to this view corridor.

     The study is examining the prototypes from 10 vantage points.  Due to the early date necessary for the preparation of
     this report, the prototypes illustrated in Appendix B are shown from only four key vantage points: City Hall (south),
     Jericho Beach (west), Lonsdale Quay (north) and Boundary Road (east).  This provides views of the skyline from each side
     of the downtown.  However, drawings for the other vantage points will be available for the Council discussion.

     After several weeks of developing prototypes for the skyline (see Appendix  B ), the city s consultants and staff have
     the following initial findings:

             the  build out                             prototype will not create a flat skyline;
             the prototypes cannot be dramatically differentiated from each other due to the limited number of development
              sites, particularly in the core, and the height parameters of the view corridors;
             landmark towers in the central business district core must be significantly taller (550 to 750 feet or more) to
              be noticeable in the skyline;
             except for the landmark prototypes, the most vivid perception of the other prototypes may be simply a higher
              prevailing skyline rather than a differently shaped skyline; and 
             over time one skyline type may convert to another skyline type as more buildings are added                                                                                                           for example, more
              than several landmarks create a  gapped tooth                                                            image which could fill in to appear as a dome.

     The following table summarizes the evaluation of the  fit  of the proposed Wall Centre tower in each of the prototypes.

                             Build Out        Gap Toothed     Dome Shaped         Landmark           Landmark
                                                                                 (600 ft.)          (750 ft.)

      Is it             compatible with      reinforces the   does not        compatible with    compatible with
      compatible with   the prototype;       prototype        reinforce the   the prototype      the prototype
      the particular    introduces a                          prototype
      form of           modest landmark
      skyline?          when viewed from
                        the south and 
                        the west

     The  Build Out  prototype illustrates the form of the downtown skyline should the existing height regulations be
     maintained and all the development sites in the downtown peninsula be developed.  From the four vantage points, the
     proposed Wall Centre tower is most prominent from the City Hall vantage point and to a lesser extent from the Jericho
     vantage point.  Because this prototype does not seek to create a preferred form of skyline, staff have concluded that the
     impact of a taller Wall Centre tower in this location is not a significant factor for the Skyline Study.  Should the
     status quo build out prototype be selected and height limits remain at 450 feet in the downtown, the proposed Wall Centre
     tower  will emerge as a modest landmark building but not out of scale with the balance of the skyline.

     The  Gap Toothed  prototype seeks to provide a form of skyline that has a limited number of buildings (the model uses six
     buildings) in the downtown that rise above adjacent buildings, but there are significant gaps between them.  The  Gap
     Toothed  prototype has been modelled by placing 450-foot or higher buildings on sites in the core, Triangle West and one
     tower in Downtown South.  Three of these towers rise to between 500 and 550 feet.  The remaining development sites are
     massed at the current height limits.  The proposed Wall Centre tower at 450 feet would reinforce this form of skyline
     from the western and southern vantage points.  The proposed Wall Centre tower does not have a significant profile from
     the eastern and northern vantage points.

     The  Dome Shaped  prototype seeks to create a skyline that has a clear dome shape centred in the core of the downtown. 
     This prototype has been modelled by massing four sites in the central business district at between 450 and 550 feet and
     the remaining development sites at current height limits.  The proposed Wall Centre tower does not reinforce the dome
     shape from the City Hall, Jericho and Boundary Road vantage points because it introduces a higher element at a location
     that should be kept lower to emphasize the  dome  further north.  The proposed Wall Centre tower is not visible from the
     Lonsdale Quay vantage point.

     Two  Landmark  prototypes have been modelled - one with two 600-foot towers and a second with two 750-foot towers.  Both
     prototypes seek to create a very small number of key landmark buildings (probably not more than two) in the centre of the
     downtown that stand out significantly above the prevailing heights of all other buildings.  While the Wall Centre site
     would probably not be selected for a significant landmark for the reasons outlined below, the tower proposal is
     compatible with these prototypes because it would read as part of the prevailing skyline and would not compete with the
     significant landmarks.  This relates to the three vantage points where it is visible - City Hall, Jericho and Boundary
     Road.  It is not visible from Lonsdale Quay.

     Based upon public input to date, staff have attempted to identify what conditions would nominate a site for landmark
     status and to evaluate whether the site of the proposed Wall Centre tower is appropriate for one of the tallest or
     landmark buildings in the city (i.e.  higher than the proposed 450-foot building).  The following table summarizes this
     evaluation, with the expectation that a landmark would meet all the conditions.

      Located on a site that is one of the highest            yes
      elevations in the downtown peninsula
      Located on a principal or ceremonial street             yes, located on Burrard Street

      Located on a site of primary community significance     no
      (e.g.  located in the Central Business District or
      at a gateway to the downtown)

      Site with low impact on nearby sensitive areas (e.g.    no, West End residential community impacted to the
      predominantly residential areas, parks or plazas)       west  (see September report for detailed analysis)

     In balance, the Wall Centre proposal as a modest landmark within existing height limitations is supportable from a
     skyline perspective.  However, it would probably not be designated as a major landmark (500 to 600 feet or more), if a
     landmark prototype is pursued because it is not on a site of particular community significance and it could impact on
     sensitive development (e.g.  housing).

     Current density allowances will not result in landmark buildings that are visible from a variety of vantage points unless
     there are increased permitted densities.   A strong theme in the comments from the public is that any building which is
     allowed to break height limits respected by all other buildings should achieve other community objectives (e.g.  a
     recipient site for heritage bonus density, the provision of secured public open space, providing a significant amenity or
     modelling a special aspect the community aspires to, or incorporating unique excellence in design, etc.) to generate the
     increased density and height for a landmark tower.  The proposed Wall Centre tower is consistent with this concern
     because it will be utilizing density transferred from the Stanley Theatre, which will result in the retention of a
     heritage building and its reuse for two non-profit theatre companies.  The tower is also proposed as a model  Green
     Building  with many features to minimize energy consumption.

     In addition, the conclusion of the development application review suggests the proposed Wall Centre tower achieves a high
     degree of excellence in design, although the specific design will have to be secured as part of the approval of the
     development by the Development Permit Board.

     Public Comments

     The staff met with a variety of community groups and held a series of open houses and a public meeting in October,
     November and December on the first phase of the Skyline Study.  The major themes from the public comments are attached in
     Appendix  C .

     Approximately 500 people viewed the display and spoke with staff, but only 84 took the time to fill out a comment sheet. 
     A significant question in the comment sheet relevant to the Wall Centre tower height proposal was the following -  What
     height do you think is most appropriate for the tallest building in downtown Vancouver? 

     345-450 feet (Vancouver)                                            46       54%
     390-490 feet (San Diego)                                              7        8%
     605-700 feet (Montreal, Denver)                                     10       11%
     720-980 feet (Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco)                      21       25%

     TOTAL                                                               84       Comment Sheets

     Currently, staff are meeting with the public to review the prototypes that resulted from the public comments and staff
     analysis from the first phase of work.  At the time of writing this report, public comments from the second phase of the
     public review have not been obtained.  However, initial results of the public comments will be circulated to Council at
     the meeting where this report is considered.


     Staff conclude that the approval of the increased height of 450 feet proposed for the Wall Centre will not significantly
     detract from the achievement of the skyline prototypes being considered as part of the Skyline Study, with the exception
     of a highly premeditated  dome  shape.  The building as now proposed would complement four out of five of the
     prototypical skylines.  Since the proposal is within the 450-foot discretionary allowance of the existing ODP, its
     approval would not set a new policy vis-a-vis options being considered in the Skyline Study.  In consideration of
     permitting the Wall Centre to penetrate the Queen Elizabeth View Corridor, this information can be considered in addition
     to the other relevant factors outlined in the companion report.

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