Yesterday our office had the chance at a private tour of the Gesamtkunstwerk exhibition, perhaps the most ambitious project in Vancouver to date.
Westbank Development has partnered with Bjarke Ingels Group out of New York to create a unique vision of a largely underdeveloped area in downtown. The exhibit largely focuses on the creative process of Vancouver House, and walks the visitor through the step by step process of planning a building and neighborhood, a first transparent show for Vancouver. Over the years we have gotten used to the large cattle calls at presentation centers, and the frenzied buyers, snapping up any deal they can find.
Not here. The overall atmosphere is relaxed, and the staff will take time to walk you through the vision. Floor Plans and price points are not yet available, they will take appointments near the end of June to walk clients though the floor plans they are interested in, and go over all the options. A much more civilized process in my mind.
Partially this is due to the fact that almost every floor plan is unique, and it will take time to match clients to wants and needs. The staff compares it to purchasing a piece of art. Any why not, with the unique look to the project and the overall vision with plenty of public art, it really is a one of a kind experience on every level.
I found the vision for the neighborhood most interesting. The overall development for retail and restaurant space is impressive, and a good use for a pedestrian mall under the Granville Bridge. I do hope that Westbank, who will retain control of the commercial sections of the development, will emphasize locally grown restaurants and artisans over big box stores and restaurant chains. I do see a great potential in creating a cross between Granville Island and Gastown right under the bridge.
The Granville bridge greenway as pictured in the model may be wishful thinking, but I do actually see the benefit of it on the bridge. In my opinion Granville is very under utilized, and it would be a great way to connect downtown with the west side.
Lastly one of the most striking features of the development for me does not really have anything to do with the development at all. Westbank has partnered with World Housing to gift 1 free house for every condo purchased. This small tidbit was also picked up by Fast Company Magazine, and I do hope that more developers get on board. In this day and age it is important that we not only create a legacy in Vancouver, but also create change in the world one person at a time. It is easy to forget about the less fortunate in the world when buying in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
If you have any questions, or would like more information on the development, I would be more than happy to assist you.