D. Volk makes a visually persuasive case that the new addition to the 500-block Beatty Street is not entirely an aesthetic success, at least as seen from the Sun Tower:
The view of that shear wall from the street is only slightly better:
So what to do? Ivy? A mural of leaping orcas?
We can do better. How about it, PT readers – your suggestions?
Adding a modern addition to an historic building is often a dubious endeavour, particularly if the idea is to respect the old by using an abundance of glass to achieve lightness and evanescence. The result is too often top-heavy.
Here’s the latest attempt at 564 Beatty:
The result, though it dominates the brick base of the old warehouse and, indeed, looks to be a little top-heavy, is actually better than the rendering (right), originally designed by IBI Architects. Here are some of the original views of the 500-block from Changing Vancouver, the most significant piece of a neighbourhood labelled by some as Crosstown. (It’s also home to the first contemporary lofts at 548, designed by Bruno Freschi back in 1983.)
Ultimately, though, I think the building is a success – for three reasons. It will certainly animate an otherwise dead space between it and the Stadium station, leading to the Beatty Stairs to International Village. It provides a horizontal contrast to the surrounding towers. And it bookends the 500-block.
Bookending was a common practice in the late 19th- and early-20th centuries, seen still today in districts like the Upper West and East Sides of New York. Along the avenues would be taller buildings, appropriate to the wider rights-of-way. And in between, along the narrower streets, would be townhouses or low-rise structures, creating a comfortable composition of varying heights.
Here’s an example from Chinatown, where this overlooked apartment of now decayed magnificence (once the Hotel Statford according to Changing Vancouver) did the job at Keefer and Gore:
But look – the contrast between high and low has been lost (not to mention privacy and light) with the new parking garage.
That homogenizing infill has not occurred on Beatty (even with some additional upper floors on a few of the lofts). And the new addition at 564 Beatty has effectively complemented the Sun Tower at the block’s northern end, even with a bulkier form, by completing the bookending.
The block is better for it.
Collapsing traffic, that is. Sightline’s Clark Williams-Derry documents:
Taffic volumes on the Alaskan Way Viaduct have collapsed since the state started its construction project.
Take a look at the trends, courtesy of the Seattle Department of Transportation’s traffic maps:
Where did the traffic go?
- A shift from cars to buses.
- Diversion to surface streets and I-5.
- A long-term decline in car traffic.
- Trips “disappeared” due to traffic delays.
The details are here.
Grist comments, as does the Seattle Transit Blog, here, which notes that “in order to raise the needed tolls to help pay for the tunnel, more trips would need to go through the tunnel than currently travel the viaduct.”
This $3-billion boondoggle, whose tunnel-boring machine has been stuck underground since December, is shaping up to be the Clem 7 of the Pacific Northwest.