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1336 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC


The Rolston, resembling huge hard cover books stacked on Granville Street
Building Information
Developer Rize Alliance Properties Ltd.
Architect IBI/HB Architects
Number of Units 187
Number of Floors 23
Year Built 2013
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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1336 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region Vancouver
Municipality Vancouver
Zoning DD
Title of Land Freehold Strata




From a distance, the Rolston may appear to some as a stack of hardcover books ready to be filed at a library. The concrete protrusions with softened corners afford privacy to the balconies that they form and striking accents of red on the exterior draws attention. The design created by IBI/HB Architects may lead one to mistakenly believe that Rolston could be the new city library. Instead, it is one of Vancouver's latest residential additions to the downtown area.

In an effort to revitalize the downtown core, Vancouver has gradually encouraged and promoted higher density residential living in the city centre area for the last few decades. This trend has been increasing, at least since the World's Fair "bump" of Expo 86, and to date, has been very successful. Now, the downtown area is a vibrant thriving commercial area mixed with nearby residential buildings filled with new consumers. New service and entertainment possibilities have emerged with the addition of these new customers who now live in the immediate area. Some may argue, it's a vast improvement of the downtown 'ghost-town-after-6PM' of the 1970s and 80s.

Jean Tilly Rolston

The Rolston derives its name from Tilly Jean Rolston, British Columbia's first woman cabinet minister and the first woman in Canadian politics with a portfolio. She was the Minister of Education and was a considerable force in cabinet, making significant policy changes while in office. Rolston is known mostly for introducing a new education funding formula, still known as the "Rolston Formula", and the introduction of "sex education" into the curriculum. She strongly advocated education be available to all children.[1]

The Rolston marketing campaign put forth by Rize Alliance made headlines for a controversial campaign that was the brain child of Bill Morrison, of Pilothouse Marketing. In the promotional ad for the Rolston, an artist's rendering of the proposed structure is pictured with a bold headline along side stating, "Other Buildings Want To Have Sex With It". It generated a flurry of response from the general public and the real estate industry alike. For more information on the backlash from this campaign, please see the Trivia Section of this article.[2]


The Rolston's 1336 Granville Street address places this building squarely between the services and entertainment available in Yaletown and the services and entertainment offered by Davie Street. If neither of these options are suitable, then residents of the Rolston can simply continue up Granville Street for an even further choice of services and entertainment. Within one kilometer across Granville Bridge in the other direction, lies Granville Island with even more ... you guessed it .,.. services and entertainment. It's safe to say that the Rolston is literally in the centre of things.

Granville Island and Granville Street are theatre hubs in Vancouver offering a wide and varied selection of entertainment genres. The Orpheum Theatre, operating since 1927 closing only for 2 years for renvoations, is on Granville Street. It became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1979 and home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. When it opened, it was the largest theatre in Canada with seating for 3,000. It is active for 200 nights a year with performances of all kinds. Granville Island features Performance Works, the Arts Club Theatre, and the Revue Stage, to name but a few.

1336 Granville Street is within easy reach of restaurants, bars, and markets in any direction. Hotels, art galleries, dance studios, and parks surround the Rolston. many flavours of schools exist in downtown Vancouver from dance to mixed martial arts; from Pilates to massage schools; and also, downtown campus representations form larger Universities in British Columbia. For those with a more exotic frame of mind, there is even a Pole Dancing School less than half a kilometer from Rolston.

Throughout Vancouver's history, Granville Street has also been a central focus point. It has seen many changes over the last century and a bit evolving into the major and notable urban centre that it is today. Bike lanes are available throughout the downtown area. The cycling social identity of Vancouver extends back to the 1890s when one bicycling school taught both men and women in the art and etiquette of the bicycle. Bicycling created a sense of independence for women and factored into the development of the city's infrastructure.


Floor plates of the Rolston extend beyond the building facade and form balcony space with one privacy wall

The Rolston reaches 23 floors from grade with Granville Street at its foot. It has a garden topped set back at the 16th floor. The red bookend balconies feature prominently giving this structure an new and dramatic concept to add to the Vancouver skyline. The set back was included in the design to preserve the view line of the Granville Street corridor to the skyline. The striking red colouring of the balcony projections certainly turns heads.

The balconies and the roof top terraces supply ample space for barbecues and other general outdoor living. The terrace on the upper level features a long communal party table as well as other gardening accents. Apart from the panaoramic views afforded by the roof top terraces, residents living in the 187 units will have access to a yoga studio and unique interiors deigned by Cause+Affect Design Ltd.

The privacy-paneled balconies, the tiered exterior of its expressive design, and with floor to ceiling windows letting in lots of natural light, the Rolston is a cutting edge example of the west Coast Modernism architectural style.[3]

Layout and Features

One of the show suites

Rolston is designed with young urban professionals in mind. The units are compact and efficiently designed studios, one and two bedroom units. Two garden terraces are included in the building. The lower garden on the 16th floor setback portion is called "The Terrace at The Rolston". The other common area on the top roof deck is called the "Gardens at The Rolston".

The yoga studio and storage space for bikes helps residents to follow an active lifestyle. One of the most noteworthy features of the building is its location alone. As mentioned, its proximity to services, markets, restaurants, and entertainment makes this building a highly sought after place to live.[4]

Floor Plans

Rolston offers studios, one and two bedroom layouts. Here are a few examples:


Some newer developments sometimes charge extra for space to park cars. Not the Rolston. Parking is included in the purchase price, as is private storage for residents.

The apartments have laminated floors, stainless steel appliances, and custom designed closets. Kitchens also feature granite counter tops. The bathrooms are finished with soaking tubs with tile surrounds. Appliances are energy efficient and units include in suite laundry.


Rolston Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues Yes

  • Rolston is a pet friendly building
  • Rentals are also permitted
  • There is no age restriction to ownership within the building
  • Barbecues are allowed and communally encouraged on the roof top terraces


The building is said to follow building standards as set by the LEED Green Building Rating System. marketing and promotional material suggest it will be built to LEED Gold equivalency. The rating system takes into consideration such categories as sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor Environmental quality.

If the Rolston is built to LEED Gold equivalency standards, it will be one of the first environmentally friendly buildings in Vancouver downtown. However, no mention of "Rolston" or its address, "1336 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC" can be found on the Canada Green Building Council website project list, nor can this project entry be found on the United States Green Building Council website - the original chapter of Green Building Councils with over 40,000 projects in its portfolio. As such, verification of the processes and methods the developers used will be difficult to track and verify.[5][6]

Still, residents of the Rolston may still do their part to contribute to overall benefit of the environment by:

  • Participating in Vancouver's extensive recycling programs
  • Choosing environmentally safe household paper and soap products
  • Ensuring that future renovations use renewable building materials and that construction waste is safely discarded
  • Use public transit, walk, or cycle for day to day needs rather than using a car


The Cecil Hotel - once an iconic, though seedy, fixture in Vancouver
  • To make way for the Rolston, a very old ... "fixture" ... of Vancouver needed to be demolished -- the Cecil Hotel. The "Yale Hotel", built in 1889 and adjacent to the former Cecil Hotel, escaped the wrecking ball due in part to its inclusion to the city's list of heritage buildings. The Cecil, with its lively and checkered past, was not so lucky. For decades, the Cecil was a gathering place for inexpensive drinks -- and exotic dance entertainment. Unabashedly, it was a popular strip club.
    • When the destruction of the Cecil was inevitable, the owners of the Cecil decided to hold an auction, the proceeds of which, would go to the St. James Community Service Society, which manages numerous supportive housing initiatives around the city.
    • Up for auction ? ... the brass pole used by a cavalcade of dancers over the years. Perhaps the "Pole Dancing School" half a kilometer from Rolston, put in a bid ... [7]

  • The unveiling of the Rolston's controversial advertising campaign (pictured on the left) certainly created quite a stir in Vancouver. Some were outraged, some laughed, some were shocked, and still others admired the boldness of it. No matter what camp readers were in, a reaction was evoked from all who read it. There were no 'fence-sitters'. The ad showed and image of the building and the bold headline, "Other Buildings Want To Have Sex With It". Reaction was swift, some complementary and some condemnation. Later, the developers, Rize Alliance, printed an "apology" (centered, with text of "apology" on the right ) -- which was quickly realized to be, not an apology at all, rather, it was a continuation of its unashamed ad campaign.[8]
Rolston's first ad run
The text of the "apology"
Rolston's "tongue-in-cheek" apology


  1. Rolston
  2. Marketing Dangerously
  3. Rolston - Daring Downtown
  4. BC Condos - Building Info
  5. Canada Green Building Council - Project list search
  6. USGBC - LEED Project List Search
  7. Cecil Hotel Demolished
  8. Marketing Dangerously - Sex Between Buildings

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