Woodward's W-43

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128 West Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC

Woodward's W-43
W43VanExterior.jpg

The W-43 Building in Gastown
Building Information
Developer Westbank Developments & Peterson Investment Group
Architect Gregory Henriquez
Management Company Awm Alliance Realty
Number of Units 366
Number of Floors 43
Year Built 2009
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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128 West Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC
Distance to Public Transit Over 50 options nearby
Region Vancouver
Municipality Vancouver
Zoning CD-1 (450)
Title of Land Strata


Contents

Background

The Woodward's complex


Woodward's W-43 is one of the four buildings that make up the large-scale redevelopment of Woodward's bordering Gastown and the Downtown Eastside. W-43 is also known as the "W" building. The other buildings include a condominium tower called the W-32 that offers social and market housing units, the 1908 Heritage Building that houses retail stores, non-profit and civic offices, and a daycare centre and, lastly, Simon Fraser University's School of Contemporary Arts. Woodward's is thus a mixed-use site that attempts to create a dynamic and vibrant community in an area plagued by social plight and lack of adequate housing especially for lower income people.

Altogether, there are 536 market housing units between W-43 and W-32 and 200 social housing units. While the market and non-market residents have their own entrances and exits in the building, the architect Gregory Henriquez's intent was for them to all rub shoulders as their paths intersect in the common atrium area at ground level where there is a large public space with a basketball hoop, seating area, Nesters Market, London Drugs, and TD Bank.[1]

The Woodward's building has an interesting history in the City of Vancouver. It opened in 1908 as a department store that had a strong community emphasis and social feel, offering $1.49 Days and a popular Food Floor in the basement. With the rise of the suburban shopping mall in the 1970s, however, Vancouver's downtown decentralized and commercial activity moved to outlying areas. Woodward's Department Store chain declared bankruptcy in 1993 shortly after celebrating its 100th birthday. The site was briefly occupied by squatters in 2002 who demanded that the provincial government transform this obsolete space into social housing.

This event launched the redevelopment process led by former municipal politician and social housing developer Jim Green. The province of British Columbia sold the land to The City who bought the whole block for $5.5 million. Green brought Gregory Henriquez of Henriquez Partners Architects and Ian Gillespie of Westbank Developments on board to start the extensive consultation process with local businesses and community members, homeless people, Downtown Eastside activists, potential tenants and many other groups.[1]

While questions of gentrification linger around the Woodward's development and Downtown Eastside, this project is often described as a bold social experiment that brings Vancouver's West and East together and attempts to create an inclusive community.


Location

The W-43 building is located at 128 West Cordova Street in one of Vancouver's earliest settlements - Gastown. This neighbourhood borders the impoverished Downtown Eastside known for having the poorest postal code in all of Canada. Gastown, however, is a trendy area especially popular with young urban professionals and boasting a vibrant social scene and nightlife.

Residents don't have to walk far for any of their needs. The Charles Bar is located in the ground floor of the W building as well as a JJ Bean coffee shop. Other amenities right in the building are Nesters Market for groceries and London Drugs. Nearby restaurants and bars include La Casita Gastown, Cambie Bar & Grill, and Mamak Malaysian Café.

Gastown boasts some historic sites like the Gastown Steam Clock and Victory Square. Another larger green space is Portside Park. The waterfront is a short walk away to take in a nice stroll along the Seawall.

W-43 is conveniently located near many transit options including SkyTrain stops (the terminus station at Waterfront has access to all three lines) and bus stations. With a high Walk Score of 98 out of 100, residents won't be needing a car to get around for day-to-day activities.[2]

Construction

Construction starts on Woodward's. The Dominion Building is on the right

Woodward's W-43 was designed by Gregory Henriquez of Henriquez Partners Architects. It is a concrete high-rise with 43 floors, hence its name. The 1908 heritage building has been restored with its historic brick facade listing items on the exterior of what it used to sell when the building was a department store: Hardware, Paints, Furniture, etc. The W-43 building is a easily recognizable in Vancouver for its flatiron shape that references the original Flatiron (Fuller) building in New York. Gastown is home to a few triangular buildings like this as it allows developers to build on small, oddly-shaped parcels of land.

Henriquez wanted to make the W-43 condominium tower more distinct looking than the plethora of glass towers that characterize Vancouver. He added a grill of rust-coloured metal over the glass that references the brick material of the original department store as well as the yellows and reds of the nearby Dominion Building from the same historic time period.[3]

Layout and Features

The W-43 building consists of 366 units spread throughout 43 floors. Units range from one or two bedrooms, most having balconies that offer great views of the city, ocean and mountains. There are also eight penthouse suites and nine units are set aside for residents with disabilities.

The layout of the suites are open concept with large aluminum double-glazed windows, roller blind window shades, and high ceilings. The gourmet kitchens feature stainless steel appliances, built-in under cabinet lighting, stone slab counter tops, a glass tile back splash, and self-closing cabinet drawers.[4] The spa-like bathroom has a stone slab countertop and wall-hung vanity.

The public amenities for residents are mostly all contained on the top floor and roof deck such as the lounge and games room, library, fitness centre, study area, barbecue and dining facilities.

Floor Plans

Here are some floor plans at W-43:

Amenities

Residents of the W-43 building and W-32 building share the following amenities:

  • Roof deck on W-43 building
  • Whirlpool in the shape of a "W"
  • Underground parking
  • Bicycle storage locker per suite
  • Car-sharing program[5]
  • Lounge on top floor with flat screen TV and DVD player, library, indoor/outdoor kitchen, and dining areas
  • Club W Fitness Centre
  • Balconies with great views
  • Daycare


Bylaws

Woodward's W-43 Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues Yes


Pets and rentals are allowed in this building.

There is no age restriction on tenants.

Barbecues are available on the roof deck of W-43 with a large banquet style dining table.

Sustainability

A place for community

The Woodward's complex offers a number of sustainability features such as a car share program, a bike locker, and bike-friendly access off Hastings for residents in the W-32 tower.[1] It was built according to green standards with sustainable building materials. There are green spaces on the rooftops and the building is Silver LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).[6] Although it has a parking garage, W-43's convenient downtown location makes driving unnecessary. All errands can be easily done by foot.

Woodward's was not only designed to be physically sustainable but socially as well. In keeping with its community focus and the "Community" sign that greets people when they enter the public atrium, the retail and commercial businesses seek to hire local residents for jobs.[6]

Trivia

Exterior panels tell the Woodward's story
  • The Woodward's redevelopment is one of the largest mixed-use projects in the city's history.
  • According to Gregory Henriquez, the TD Bank in the restored heritage building is the first bank to move back into the Downtown Eastside in 20 years.[7]
  • Well-known Vancouver realtor, Bob Rennie, was tasked with marketing the 536 condominium units in the W-43 tower. He used the line "Be bold or move to suburbia" and buyers lined up overnight.[1] The units sold within eight hours.
  • The large photo mural in the indoor atrium is the work of Stan Douglas. It depicts the Gastown Riot in 1971 and is called Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971. The photo itself is a staged re-creation.
  • Numerous panels telling the history of Woodward's in text and pictures are placed on the exterior walls of the building, continuing the site's connection with the past. A time-lapse video is installed in the central atrium showing the demolition and construction of the Woodward's redevelopment.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Van Mag - "The Woodward's Experiment"
  2. Walk Score
  3. Van Mag - "Profile of Architect Gregory Henriquez
  4. Les Twarog & Sonja Pedersen
  5. BC Condos
  6. 6.0 6.1 Vancouver Properties
  7. Henriquez Partners Architects


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