1128 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC
The Shangri-La high rise
|Developer||Westbank Projects Corp.|
|Architect||James K.M. Cheng Architects|
|Management Company||Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts|
|Number of Units||119|
|Number of Floors||62|
|Type of Roof||IRMA|
|1128 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC|
|Distance to Public Transit||Less than one block|
|Title of Land||Condominium|
Expensive and opulent, Shangri-La hotels are tailored to the extremely wealthy and always aim to create a lasting impression with their buildings, as with Vancouver's Shangri-La building, the tallest in the city. Other examples include the Shangri-La Toronto, the eighth tallest building in Toronto, and the upcoming Jing An Shangri-La in West Shanghai, which will boast the largest ballroom without pillars in its city. 
Shangri-La chose Vancouver as the site of their first North American building, continuing their tradition of a mixed-use building which is part hotel and part apartment building. This model is typical of Eastern architecture, which often incorporates stores, restaurants, and even offices into luxury hotel buildings.
Shangri-La saw an opening in Vancouver, which had been rapidly growing in population and enjoying a strong residential housing market. They aimed to create a building that was not only luxurious, but also a standout from an architectural perspective in a city that hadn't recently seen new, unique buildings in the downtown area.
The Shangri-La building is located in the the financial district of downtown Vancouver on Georgia Street, one of Vancouver's oldest streets. In the heart of downtown, the building offers residents the chance to complete most errands and enjoy much of Vancouver's downtown entertainment without more than a short walk.
A variety of coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores can be found within a block, the latter two even existing within the Shangri-La itself. Because businesses in the area cater to an eclectic mix of tourists, pedestrians, and business staff, the West Georgia area includes stores covering a wide range of prices and styles. Robson Street, the primary Vancouver destination for contemporary fashion, is also nearby.
The Shangri-La has a walk score and transit score of 100, with a bike score of 95 owing to Vancouver's emphasis on wide, far-reaching bicycle lanes.
Construction crews began boarding up the block at Thurlow and Georgia in July 2004, and work on the Shangri-La began in 2005. The 659-foot tall skyscraper was an enormous project that involved an excavation of a record-setting 85-foot depth, 7,000 tons of reinforcing steel, and over 3 million worker hours. The former record-holder for deepest excavation, the One Wall Centre, held the title at 75 feet.
In July 2006, construction had reached ground level. At its busiest, work on the building saw 1,000 labourers on site completing an entire floor every week.
On October 2, 2007, the building reached 492 feet above ground and became the official tallest building in Vancouver. Its tower crane, which was outfitted with Christmas lights for the holidays in 2007 and fully extended, reached more than 700 feet above ground level.
A minor controversy arose after a heavy windstorm blew plywood and other materials off of the incomplete high rise, damaging several vehicles below. Although no-one was hurt, the potentially dangerous scenario cast doubt on the construction company.
The building was finally completed in 2008.
Layout and Features
The Shangri-La is a mixed-use skyscraper, the tallest building in British Columbia and the 21st tallest in Canada. The complex also includes an Urban Fare grocery store, a Vancouver Art Gallery display, and a public sculpture garden.
The bottom fifteen floors of the Shangri-La are occupied by a 5-star hotel, and the remaining floors, up to 61, are made up of 307 residential units. Floors 16 to 43 are general live-work homes, while floors 44 to 60 are private access units. Three penthouses top the building on floor 61. Condos range in size from 595 square feet to over 1600 square feet on the upper floors.
The building has two street addresses to deal with its unique situation as a combination hotel and apartment building. Residents of the Shangri-La condominiums have their own entrance and lobby (pictured below).
The apartments themselves aim at luxury and modernity, with a modern minimalist design for the bathrooms and kitchens. The kitchens are outfitted with high-end appliances from the like soy Sub-Zero and Miele, cabinets and drawers of soft touch wood, and granite counter tops. Apartments feature floor-to-ceiling windows to take advantage of the building's height, and different corners of the skyscraper offers views of the mountains, Coal Harbour, and the ocean. The windows also incorporate an unusual design in the bedrooms: rather than ending at the interior walls, windows continue past the boundaries of each room.
Here are a few different floor plans at the Shangri-La.
- 24-hour front desk
- 24-hour security
- Fitness room
- Hot tub
- Outdoor pool
- Storage space
- Dogs and cats under 50 lbs are permitted.
- Rentals are allowed.
- There is no age restriction for the building.
- Barbecues are not allowed.
- The Shangri-La is LEED Silver certified.
- The building is rated at 4 out of 5 Green Keys in the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, the first hotel/resort-rating organization to focus on sustainability.
- The Shangri-La is a member of the Ocean Wise Program, which certifies that the food served in the building is caught and prepared in an ocean-friendly way.
- A 2009 energy-saving initiative caused a two-percent reduction of energy use in 2010.
- The Shangri-La regularly donates food to local food banks, as well as supporting the United We Can non-profit organization, British Columbia's largest recycling depot.
- Hollywood has already taken advantage of the impressive building, featuring the Shangri-La prominently in the film Tron:Legacy.
- A nearby park is a sign of Vancouver's quickly changing culture. Discovery Square, a small park at the Burrard SkyTrain Station originally named after Captain George Vancouver's ship, was renamed Art Phillips Park in 2013 after the former Vancouver mayor.
- Georgia Street was named for the Strait of Georgia in 1886, the same year that Vancouver both became a city and was burned to the ground in the Great Vancouver Fire. The fire was initially a brush fire between what are now Cambie Street and Main Street, but it was spread by a sudden gale and swept along present-day Hastings Street and Cordova Street, destroying most of the then-small settlement.
- The Shangri-La Spa website claims to draw "inspiration from the origin of the Shangri-La legend." It's unclear whether this is meant to refer to the actual origin of the Shangri-La legend, a 1933 paperback by English writer James Hilton, about an emotionally exhausted World War One veteran who finds a utopia in the Tibetan mountains. A Tibetan county has taken similar advantage of the novel's legacy: Zhongdian renamed itself Shangri-La County in 2001 in order to attract tourists.
- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
- Tablet Hotels
- Walk Score
- "Vancouver wants answers..."
- Living Shangri-La
- Green Key
- Press Kit
- Living Shangri-La
- Great Vancouver Fire
- Shangri-La County
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