ACDF Architecture unveiled a new residential tower in Vancouver at the corner of Hornby and Pacific streets. Developed in collaboration with IBI Group, the Pacific features 224 condominiums across 39 floors.
The architecture firm adopted a “complementary approach”, which prioritized “clean, subtle, and human scale elements” among the more dramatic architectural gestures of neighbouring buildings.
“A philosophical alignment with the client provided us with the freedom to express our belief that sometimes quiet and humble architecture can be even more elegant and relevant,” says Maxime-Alexis Frappier, partner and co-founder of ACDF. “Our role was not to create noise, but rather to provide our building with a quiet, but recognizable identity.”
According to the firm, that approach began with numerous elemental considerations, including a strong focus on creating a dialogue at street level with the neighbourhood and its pedestrians.
The development of shape and form on simple massing that would capture attention through its textures was the main focus. Vertically, the structure’s slick north and south facades, layered with glass and black granite, contrast with its more pictural east and west facades, with the latter featuring protruding triangular balconies in a woven pattern.
Taking a sensitive approach and putting people at the heart of all its design decisions, ACDF Architecture made an exhaustive study of all components of the project that could have an impact on the immediate area, its residents, and passers-by: general volumetry, materials (tonality, reflectivity, durability, etc.), shadows, winds, and the obstruction of existing views.
Accordingly, the east façade of the tower, for instance, was designed in consideration of its west-facing neighbours, while the omission of balconies on the building’s north side was purposeful in order to prevent direct views between neighbours. In giving careful consideration to each façade of The Pacific, the architects quickly realized that the pedestrian view at street level alone formed a new perspective, or a ‘fifth façade’.
At its base, ACDF committed to ensuring that The Pacific was grounded to the site’s location, its history, and the vibe of the street, not just in terms of materials, but also in terms of how the building would be viewed from the ground up.
“While the allure of traditional skyscrapers often fades with closer proximity, we created a ‘fifth façade’ for The Pacific in the form of vertical views provided through strategically positioned design elements,” says Frappier. “You can look up from the street level and discover a new skyscraper language in the form of new relationships between pedestrians and the building.”
From its street-level base, vertical views are enriched by balcony textures, including three tones of grey on their undersides, inspired by cloud formations and creating a sense of movement within their patterns.
Leading up to the entrance of the tower, ACDF designed a long, dramatic colonnade. Its oversized, angular columns are purposefully misaligned, providing Vancouver-based artist, Lyse Lemieux, with a blank canvas upon which to pay homage to the site and its history.
Lemieux subsequently developed a mosaic composition of nine figures, each more than 20 feet in height. The columns also transition into the fully glazed lobby featuring black brick walls, in a grid pattern, and stainless-steel finishes.
The tower also sits adjacent to a small, heritage house, which originally served as a private residence before being transformed multiple times. Known fondly by Vancouver residents as the “Yellow House”, ACDF considered the heritage property in the lobby-level development of The Pacific. The two-storey lobby, and the tones of the building’s streetside columns, blend nicely with the adjacent property.
“From the beginning of the design process, we focused on developing a tower whose contribution would extend from the skyline right down to the micro level,” says Frappier. “Our intention was to positively impact the animation of the area at street level by establishing meaningful connections between the building, pedestrians, and residents. Lyse Lemieux’s extraordinary artwork on the ground floor colonnade succeeds in capturing the essence of that intent.”
Architect: ACDF Architecture / IBI Group
Architectural Project Team: Maxime-Alexis Frappier, Joan Renaud, Martin Bruckner, Beth Deckert, Veronica Lalli, Honor Roan, Neil Melendez, Laurence Le Beux, Josiane Crampé, Martin Champagne.
General Contractor: Ledcor Group
Structural Engineer: DIALOG Structural
Mechanical, Electrical, Fire Suppression & LEED Engineers: INTEGRAL Group
Interior design: Square One
Landscape Architect: Durante Kreuk LTD
Heritage consultant: Robert Lemon Architect
Artists: Lyse Lemieux
Building Envelope: Morrison Hershfield
Civil: Aplin Martin
Geotechnical: Thurber Engineering
Environmental: Keystone Environmental
Photographers: Adrien Williams, Provoke studio (aerial views)