The 6th and Fir site offered as many challenges as it did opportunities, bordered by a major bridge off-ramp but situated in an area of Vancouver that – at the right elevation - affords beautiful mountain and water views.
In a transitional zone of light industrial and low to mid-rise residential, the site was considered ‘orphaned’ or ‘abandoned’, used primarily as an impromptu parking lot and pedestrian shortcut.
Previous firms’ designs and rezoning applications had been unsuccessful in achieving the height necessary to make development viable. However, our team’s community-oriented design and program led to a City of Vancouver rezoning approval that allowed for a 15-storey development where previously only four were supported by the City.
The 6th & Fir design addresses the site’s unique character with a curved morphology and façade that sweeps away from the Fir Street ramp and reorients views towards picturesque Burrard Inlet while allowing sunlight into the neighbouring buildings below. The design is punctuated by “vegetated frames” that emphasize the views and limit sight lines to and from the off-ramp. Landscaped planters create additional visual screening, while the wood cladding and soffit provide sound absorption. Concrete construction and acoustically-rated glazing further enhance noise reduction, essential given the direct proximity to a major elevated arterial route.
The form of development acknowledges its position within the community by creating a central boardwalk, making real what had previously been an informal but well-used pedestrian pathway. The boardwalk – flanked and animated by artists’ studios and a retail space – also connects the development to surrounding open spaces and parks while extending the local street front. Situated in an area bristling with art galleries, the subsidized artists’ studios that were included in the program (and to be owned by the City) are a highly appropriate addition to the local community and contribute to the cultural fabric of Vancouver.