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5 Vancouver Buildings That Do Urban Design The Best

The City of Vancouver just named its 2016 Urban Design Awards winners, doffing the cap to developments that display visionary thinking and design excellence. Here are five of the top projects.

1. 564 Beatty St


Award: Commercial building

Developer: Reliance Properties

Design: IBI Group Architects

Why it won: The four-storey addition to 564 Beatty has a “restrained simplicity” that sets up an articulated foil for the three-storey heritage base, the jurors said. The south-face restoration has improved the life and richness of the adjacent plaza, and the project serves as a gateway to Beatty.

2. MNP Tower


Award: Special jury award 

Developer: Oxford Properties Group

Design: Kohn Pederson Fox Associates + Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

Landscape architect: Durante Kreuk Ltd

Why it won: The tower's materiality, “rich simplistic shape, draping skirt, and engaging ground plane" pleased the jury, which noted the building is a quiet, respectful response to its urban context, greatly improving the street view, and enhancing the backdrop to the Marine Building (above).

3. TELUS Garden - Office Pavilion


Award: Urban elements

Developer: Westbank Projects Corp

Building design: Henriquez Partners Architects

Landscape architect: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

Why it won: TELUS Garden's glass and glulam pavilion (above) was a “skillfully handled sculptural element,” said the jury, noting the contribution it makes to the street and its connection to an adjacent laneway “greatly enhance the urban experience of Vancouver.”

4. 250 Powell St


Award: Outstanding sustainable design 

Developer: BC Housing Corp

Design: Henriquez Partners Architects

Why it won: As an “outstanding socially and environmentally sustainable project,” said the jury, 250 Powell illustrates a positive message of social transformation through its own transformation, from a jail (designed by Richard Henriquez) into a “dignified” and affordable housing environment.

5. Kwayatsut | 2465 Fraser St


Award: Large-scale residential building

Design: NSDA Architects

Landscape Architect: Perry + Associates

Why it won: Kwayatsut is an “excellent response” to the urban context at Fraser and Broadway, the jury opined, and the building provides a new landmark for the area (a “well-considered, singular, cohesive statement”) while also supplying much-needed social housing and programming.