Central Presbyterian Church is a new mixed-use building for a vital community organization that has served Vancouver’s West End for 90 years. A 14,000 ft² façade treatment wraps the first three floors of the building with ceramic-fritted glass of red, blue and green crosses. From the second-floor sanctuary’s interior, the small crosses create a three-dimensional, shadowed “pointillism” effect: as natural light passes through the façade and into the space, thousands of the cross symbol are refracted onto the floors, walls and ceilings of the 300-seat, wood-finished sanctuary. Titled RGB, the artist Michael Lin selected the façade’s 3 colours because their combination creates “spiritual” white light, achieving a client request for a sacred space of natural light, “transcendence” and “immanence.” The worship space also preserves and relocates the stained-glass cross from the CPC’s former sanctuary, symbolizing the church’s continuity and identity. Featuring thousands of small crosses, the façade treatment is perceived as three solid colours when viewed from the building’s exterior. The glass transparency also reduces the architecture’s monumentality and integrates the building into its contextual surroundings.
The 23-storey, 162,000 ft² mixed-use building is in constant use from 6 am-7 pm, seven days a week, and features a program of community amenity spaces (ground floor), sanctuary (2nd floor), non-market social housing (5-7th floor) and market rental housing (8-22nd floor). The project was the result of Henriquez Partners orchestrating a novel, cooperative arrangement between the client and the developer. Being “land rich, but cash poor,” the CPC opted to act as its own “developer” alongside Bosa Properties by funding the rezoning process and constructing a new building with the profits from the project’s market rental units. The collaboration allowed CPC to develop the project without a large mortgage and preserved their financial autonomy, thus maintaining the church’s meaningful community role.