Posts tagged with "Vancouver":

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Squamish Nation approves $3 billion housing development in Vancouver

The Squamish First Nation’s plans to build a 6,000-unit residential development in Vancouver has taken a major step forward as the community voted in favor of the Revery Architecture-designed project on December 10. Eighty-seven percent of members voted in support of construction, which will be made possible through a 50-50 partnership with the developer Westbank.  Last Thursday, new renderings of the $3-billion, 11-tower development were published by The Daily Hive and they illustrate just how radically the project would transform the city’s Kitsilano neighborhood. Located on the reserve lands at Sen̓áḵw, the project will be Canada’s largest development on First Nations land. Because of this location, the city of Vancouver will have no ability to regulate what is built; however, this doesn’t mean that the Squamish Planning Group won’t work closely with the city on the vision for the site.  In 2014, the City of Vancouver was designated as a City of Reconciliation and outlined goals to “form a sustained relationship, mutual respect, and understanding with local First Nations and the Urban Indigenous community,” as well as “promote Indigenous peoples arts, culture, and awareness.” This project is just one example of these values being put into action. “It’s a change for us, but we deserve it,” Chief Janice George told CBC. “We deserve to benefit from this land, just like everybody else in Vancouver.”  The 11.7-acre development will be situated near the foot of the Burrard Bridge on a 500-acre parcel of land and will transform the existing neighborhood into a dense urban center. Out of the 11 towers, the tallest is expected to reach 56 stories. Between 70-and-90 percent of the units will be designated as market rental units and the rest will be leased as condominiums.  “The Squamish Nation is thrilled with the outcome of this referendum, which was approved by a landslide. It is truly a landmark moment in our Nation’s history,” wrote Squamish Nation councilor Khelsilem, in a statement on Facebook. “The Sen̓áḵw Project will transform the Squamish Nation by providing immense social, cultural, and economic benefits to Squamish Nation members for generations to come.” Construction of the first phase is expected to begin in 2021.
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Squamish First Nation development could bring 11 towers to Vancouver

The Squamish First Nation’s extensive plans to build upon their land in Vancouver, Canada, have doubled since an initial announcement in April. According to a report by the Vancouver Sun, a new proposal for 6,000 units across 11 towers within the 500-acre land parcel, with the goal of coming in under the minimum parking requirements. This marks a major shift from the previous proposal, which originally only showed a two-tower development with 3,000 units. The project would radically transform the city's Kitsilano neighborhood from a low-rise residential area to a dense urban center. The project, named Senakw after the site it occupies, is expected to ring up at an estimated cost of 3 billion CAD. As Senakw is situated within the reserve boundaries of the Squamish band government, the Squamish Nation is not required to comply with the City of Vancouver’s regulations and processes regarding development, meaning construction could begin rather quickly and without the typical oversight delays. The Squamish planning group hopes to work closely with Vancouver city staff to construct a cohesive vision for the site. Since the projected is not limited by municipal zoning, initial renderings by Vancouver's Revery Architecture depict an unconventional vision. Located near the foot of the Burrard Bridge, the cluster of towers, with their undulating balconies and "fins" will make an instant mark on Vancouver’s skyline, with the tallest expected to top out at 56 stories. The towers will not make use of the podium design typical in projects of this scale, instead making 80 percent of the ground-level land available for public use and green space. According to Squamish Councilor Khelsilem, the ideas for 6,000 “mostly rental” units stems from a critical shortage of rental housing in Vancouver. Moreover, the development holds importance in the context of the historical treatment of indigenous peoples in the Vancouver area: “This is a government doing a project that has a particular history of injustice in the removal of our ancestors in 1913, who were evicted by the provincial government at the request of the Vancouver parks board and the City of Vancouver,” said Councilor Khelsilem. Final decisions for the project will be made in December when the band government votes in a referendum.
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Scott & Scott Architects crafts a monochromatic facial bar in Vancouver

Far from the flickering fluorescent lights and bleached-white surfaces of most clinical environments, self-proclaimed “world’s first clean skincare bar” Fig—the latest addition to Vancouver’s trendy Kitsilano neighborhood—challenges the sterile tropes of healthcare spaces. Behind an unassuming 1900s-era facade is a rich, tonal boutique replete with velvet, metal, marble, and more, all courtesy of local practice Scott & Scott Architects. Borrowing from the brand’s moniker, the 400 square-foot space is a monochromatic study in layered tones of viridian, olive, and sage. “The color range of a fig is utilized to create a relaxed experience with soft acoustics and illumination,” Scott & Scott principal Susan Scott explained about his and his partner’s evocative choice of materials. Thick full-height velvet curtains define three skin treatment and injection rooms; each with its own Japanese barber chair and hanging metal number plate. To capitalize on the compact interior, Scott & Scott stripped back the ceiling to the full height of the existing rafters, which were then clad in rows of curved perforated steel with a desaturated mint coating. The resulting coffered ceiling integrates indirect lighting while concealing HVAC and electrical equipment. A series of scalloped metal forms continue from the roof to line the surface of a single wall and create a dimensional product display. Circular glass shelves, storage for inventory, and a washbasin to test various skincare items are integrated into these alcoves. Dark green marble tops the central counter, product storage units, and a low bench to further emphasize the nature-inspired palette. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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World's tallest passive house tower could rise in Vancouver's West End

Canadian company Henson Developments is planning the world’s tallest passive house for downtown Vancouver. Slated for the edge of the city's West End neighborhood, 1075 Nelson would stand 60 stories tall, hovering higher than most towers in British Columbia and with three times the efficiency.  The Vancouver Courier reported that the City of Vancouver is currently reviewing Henson’s rezoning application and after that, it will go before the city council for a public hearing. Sean Pander, who serves as the city’s green building manager, believes the 555-foot-tall project will push other developers to pursue more eco-friendly projects. It’s located in a vibrant, largely residential part of town where there is rapid growth. “What makes it a really big deal is the amount of attention it will get with the public, as well as with developers, designers, manufacturers of windows,” said Pander in an interview with the Courier.   But Rick Gregory, vice-president of Henson Developments, isn’t looking to build a basic, boxy tower with an ultra-tight envelope, he said. Both of the two top tallest passive house buildings in the world are rather square: Bolueta by VArquitectors in Bilbao, Spain, and the 250-foot tall residential structure by Handel Architects at Cornell Tech. Gregory wanted 1075 Nelson to be architecturally-significant. “There is a certain look that Passive House generally yields and we’re trying to move away from that to make it much more attractive to other people to take the same approach," he told the Courier. To achieve this, Gregory enlisted the help of British architect Tom Wright of WKK Architects and Gwyn Vose, director of IBI Group. Early renderings reveal an undulating structure with large loggia spaces in the center voids spanning multiple floors. While it’s likely Henson Developments will get support for some sort of passive house construction—Vancouver released its own zero-emissions building plan in 2016—Gregory's goal of building an atypical design that’s the tallest in the world could prove more difficult if it ultimately means more money spent.
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Matter Design and CEMEX conjure monumental concrete constructs for TED 2019

TED 2019, a week of speaker sessions, workshops, and conversations about the directions technological and political progress are leading society, has touched down in Vancouver. Appropriately enough, the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based firm Matter Design and CEMEX Global R&D have used the event to unveil the fruits of their concrete research. Matter Design is no stranger to experimental stonework (nor is CEMEX, for that matter). Engineering tightly-interlocking slabs and complex concrete forms have been a constant in their research, and both Janus and Walking Assembly take their explorations to the next level. Janus was originally revealed simultaneously last year at the American Academy in Rome and on the campus of MIT. Matter Design and CEMEX teamed with composers Federico Gardella and Simone Confort to create a multi-sensory experience that demonstrates how heavy masses can still move with a rollicking sense of joy. In a video of the display of Janus, a crescendo of whispers draws the crowd’s attention to the stage, where they’re presented, in both senses of the word, with an enormous box mocked up to resemble Rome’s four-gated Arch of Janus. The blue, orange, and pink box slowly flops over to reveal that it’s simply a wrapper, and from it emerges a massive concrete wrecking ball, or kettle ball–shaped object. Emphasizing the split nature of the Roman god that Janus takes its name from, the concrete object, a solid ball with a hollow handle on top, wobbles and spins but always returns to an upright position. Walking Assembly continues on the theme of playfully rocking solid concrete masses with another historical twist. How did ancient peoples move the Moai of Easter Island? One theory is that these massive statues were designed to be “walked,” or gradually rocked, into place. Walking Assembly, seeking to divorce the concept of masonry’s scale from that of the humans placing it, returns to these preindustrial construction techniques. These massive masonry units (MMUs) are designed to be moved and fit into place without the help of cranes or other construction equipment. Using rounded edges, handle points, and by pouring variable-density concrete to control each MMU’s center of gravity, the components can be easily rocked, tilted, and rolled into place. Both projects, through using computer modeling and advanced fabrication technology, force the objects themselves to do the heavy lifting and free the user, or construction worker, to play around with the components. It's a fitting tie-in for a conference probing where technology can take us.
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Herzog & de Meuron reveals revamped Vancouver Art Gallery

Herzog & de Meuron has finalized the design of the 300,000-square-foot Vancouver Art Gallery and has released new renderings of the top-heavy timber building. The $350 million arts complex in Vancouver, Canada, also has a new name. After a $40 million private donation from the Chan family on January 23, the Vancouver Art Gallery (the organization responsible for the building’s programming) announced that the building would be renamed the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts. The gift is the largest single private donation in the history of British Columbia and has brought the amount raised for the building to $85 million. That marks an important figure as the provincial government has pledged that it would donate $50 million if the Vancouver Art Gallery were able to raise $100 million in private funds. The newly-revealed design for the Chan Centre presents an airy update to the scheme that was initially presented in 2015. Herzog & de Meuron has kept the stacked, seven-story massing, but replaced the opaque timber facade with fluted glass screens that are supposed to resemble stacked logs. The building rises from a narrow footprint to cut down on its impact on the street and create a covered open-air courtyard at ground level. The arts center expands as it rises, creating covered areas protected from the summer sun and winter rain and snow. It appears that Herzog & de Meuron has leaned more heavily into timber than in the original scheme, using wood for a majority of the interior finishes, columns, and supportive elements. Once complete, the center will hold classrooms, 85,000 square feet of gallery spaces, a theater, reading rooms, shops, and restaurants. Even the building’s location is hub-like; it lies at the intersection of the Downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver, Chinatown, Yaletown, and Gastown neighborhoods. “The project for the new Vancouver Art Gallery has a civic dimension that can contribute to the life and identity of the city,” said senior Herzog & de Meuron partner Christine Binswanger, “in which many artists of international reputation live and work. The building now combines two materials, wood and glass, both inseparable from the history and making of the city. We developed a facade out of glass logs which is pure, soft, light, establishing a unique relation to covered wooden terraces all around the building.” Fundraising is ongoing, with the Vancouver Art Gallery looking to raise $300 million for the building’s construction and $50 million to establish an endowment. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start either late this year or in early 2020, with an opening planned for some time in 2023. Perkins+Will Vancouver is the project’s executive architects.
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This 18-story building went up in 66 days thanks to the right mass timber products

When it came time for Acton Ostry Architects to select a manufacturer for the mass timber components of the 18-story Brock Commons Tallwood House at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, Structurlam stood out.

“Experience, qualifications, supply, schedule, cost” all worked to Structurlam’s benefit, according to Russell Acton, principal at Acton Ostry. Acton explained that along with supplying mass wood structural components, Structurlam provided end-to-end oversight and support by “[collaborating] with the structural engineer, construction manager, and mass wood erector to refine the design and optimize cost, quality, and constructibility considerations for the mass wood components.”

As a result of Structurlam’s comprehensive approach, the hybrid concrete-and-mass-timber structure building was erected in record time: just 66 days. The tower features 1,302 10-inch-by-10-inch Douglas Fir Glulam columns and 464 Douglas fir CLT panels of varying thicknesses, all fabricated by Structurlam.

But don’t think that all that wood is going to be hidden behind the project’s fire-resistant Type X gypsum wallboards. Instead, wood finishes cover the building inside and out. That includes the dormitory’s shared spaces, where JSV Architectural Veneering & Millwork has crafted maple veneer panels and wood grilles for the project. In other areas, 24-inch-by-24-inch albus wood ceiling panels by Linea Ceiling provide a “decorative and functional” alternative to conventional acoustic drop-down ceilings.

Design Architect: Acton Ostry Architects Construction: Urban One Builders Mass Timber Fabricator: Structurlam Facade Fabricator and Installer: Centura Building Systems Punched Window Manufacturer: Phoenix Glass Custom Interior Millwork: JSV Architectural Veneering & Millwork Drop Ceiling Fabricator: Linea Ceiling & Wall Systems Door Manufacturer: McGregor & Thompson
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Jeanne Gang and Renzo Piano are making their mark on Canada with a spate of new projects

It’s time to go north of the border as The Architect’s Newspaper checks out some of the highest-profile projects that have been announced across Canada this year. A strong economy has driven construction across the country, and Toronto, in particular, has an abundance of notable buildings breaking ground. From subdued civic structures to prismatic rental towers, 2018 has brought a surfeit of high-profile projects to America’s northern neighbor. One Delisle Studio Gang Toronto, Ontario Studio Gang could end up making a major mark on Toronto’s skyline with its first Canadian project, a 48-story multifaceted tower. The rental building has been designed with 16 sides made up of overlapping eight-story hexagonal modules, and each segment will contain enclosed balconies and be topped with garden terraces for residents. The overlap of the modules resembles scales or the natural spiraling of growing plants, and the effect creates a different view of the tower depending on the angle of approach. An existing 1929 Art Deco facade will be moved over to the base of a neighboring tower, and the base of One Delisle will relate to the historic facade to maintain a cogent street wall. Toronto Courthouse Renzo Piano Building Workshop and NORR Architects & Engineers Toronto, Ontario Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)’s first project in Canada will consolidate many of Toronto’s smaller courts into a centrally-located municipal building next to the city’s Superior Court of Justice. The building is reminiscent of Piano’s work on the Jerome L. Greene Science Center for Columbia University, both in its boxy massing and in its open ground level, created by raising the base of the building several stories. Despite the courthouse’s wide-open atrium space, the building has been designed with security in mind, and cameras, baggage checkpoints, and internal security corridors will be deployed throughout. The first museum in Ontario to focus on the history of the indigenous justice system will also be located inside. Construction is on track to finish in 2022.
The HUB/30 Bay Street Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) Toronto, Ontario The recently-revealed design for The HUB, a 1.4 million-square-foot tower proposed for Toronto’s South Core neighborhood, is the result of an international design competition for a building that would have a major impact on Toronto’s skyline. The HUB will float over the adjacent Toronto Harbour Commission Building courtesy of a cantilevering base, and create what Senior Partner Graham Stirk describes as 'a harmony' between the two buildings. The use of external structural steel lends the tower a more industrial feeling, and RSHP is promising that the tower will contain column-free office space and a multi-story atrium as a result. Toronto’s Spadina Line expansion stations The Spadina Group Associates and All Design Toronto, Ontario Construction in Toronto is not limited to new towers. Humbler additions to public infrastructure have also been taking shape. Toronto’s largest subway extension in decades opened late last year with six new stations, including two colorful facilities from the late Will Alsop’s All Design. The boxy, zebra-striped second story of the Finch West Station cantilevers over the building's main entrance and is capped with an enormous red window at one end. A concrete 'skirt' floats around the station’s base and offers shelter to riders who are waiting for a bus outside. Inside, Alsop uses touches of color to lighten up the polished concrete interiors. For Pioneer Village, Alsop wrapped the cantilevering station in Corten steel. This station is much rounder than Finch West and uses a red band around the base of the building’s front to direct riders to the main entrance. A geometric canopy rises from the station’s back and creates a covered waiting area for the two regional bus lines that service the station. The same polished concrete seen at Finch West was used inside. Barclay Village Büro Ole Scheeren Vancouver, British Columbia Vancouver has also seen significant growth recently, including the Shigeru Ban-designed hybrid timber tower. Ole Scheeren’s recently-revealed twin towers sit in Vancouver’s West End neighborhood, and according to Scheeren, they use balconies, setbacks, and offsets to create a more welcoming face in contrast to the typical monolithic glass tower typology. All of the terraces are planted, and a rooftop plaza sits on top of the base that links the two towers. Scheeren claims that the driving concept for Barclay Village was to elevate the concept of the village skyward to match Vancouver’s overall verticality.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre (IAC) Michael Maltzan Architecture Winnipeg, Manitoba This curvilinear four-story museum from Michael Maltzan broke ground in Winnipeg last month, and when complete in 2020, the building will become the largest Inuit art gallery in the world. A double-height glazed atrium at the museum’s base will be anchored by a central 'vault' protected by curved glass, and visitors can freely examine Inuit artifacts as they walk around the ground level. An 8,500-square-foot gallery on the third floor will display Inuit art. The sculptural facade of the building’s stone portion was reportedly inspired by the “immense, geographical features that form the background of many Inuit towns and inlets.” The IAC is an extension of the neighboring Winnipeg Art Gallery, and every floor with connect with the original building.
 
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High-speed rail could link Vancouver, Seattle, Spokane, and Portland

A newly-formed activist group has its sights set on bringing high-speed rail to the Pacific Northwest region. Cascadia Rail and its members envision a new high-speed train network connecting Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada with an eastern offshoot between Seattle and Spokane, Washington. The group, emboldened by the recent success of the Seattle Subway coalition and its transformative Sound Transit 3 metro expansion in 2016, is banking that growing regional awareness around the interconnectedness of transit, climate, and social justice issues will coalesce in their favor. The group launched the initiative via Seattle Transit Blog in a post earlier this month with the slogan “You deserve faster.” Backers of the group argue that access to high-speed transit could help alleviate regional inequality, economically link a string of vibrant international cities together, and boost regional tourism. The initiative has been under study by the Washington State Department of Transportation since 2017. The department submitted a report late last year to the Washington State legislature recommending more study on the issue and urging state, federal, and Canadian agencies to move toward facilitating a plan. The department compared traditional steel wheel and Maglev trains as well as Hyperloop systems for the study. Preliminary estimates in the report put the cost of the new high-speed system at between $24 billion and $43 billion, depending on routes and train technologies chosen. The Washington State Legislature is currently considering a two-year transportation funding bill that could include up $3.6 million earmarked for detailed study following up on the 2017 report. If funding for the additional study is approved, analysis could be completed as soon as mid-2019. A timeline for design and construction of the train network has not been put forth.
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Shigeru Ban’s timber tower in Vancouver on track to begin construction

The Shigeru Ban-designed Terrace House in Vancouver, set to become the tallest hybrid timber tower in North America once it’s finished, has received its official Building Permit and can begin construction. Vancouver-based PortLiving is developing the 19-story, 232-foot condo high-rise, which will contain only 20 luxury units and features a mixture of glass, concrete, and wood for the building’s terraced 12-story podium. The triangular seven-story extension at the building’s top will drop the concrete façade and expose the underlying structural timber, which is partially the reason for the delay in permitting. The approval of an “Alternative Solution” permit by Vancouver’s Chief Building Official’s Office means that the exposed timber complies with the city’s structural, fire and seismic-related regulations, and has been proven as safe as a conventionally-constructed tower of the same height. While no timber buildings of this height have been approved for construction before in either the U.S. or Canada, Canadian Architect notes that the 18-story Brock Commons, a mass timber student residence at the University of British Columbia, was allowed to rise after it covered all of its exposed timber with fire-rated gypsum. Earlier this month, Shigeru Ban Architects Americas released a first look at renderings of Terrace House’s interiors. The homes inside of the gable-shaped topper will receive full-floor views of the surrounding city and mountains, and will keep the wood floor slabs fully exposed. Ban will also be designing all of the fixtures, handles, pulls and millwork for each of the 20 units. Terrace House is located in Vancouver’s waterfront Coal Harbor, and Ban has stated that he specifically sought to reference the neighboring Evergreen Building, a landmarked tower designed by the late architect Arthur Erickson, through the use of layered terraces, triangular forms and natural materials. Viewed from the street, the cascading balconies of the Evergreen Building, seem to become a natural extension of Ban’s Terrace House.
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A whole new breed of architecture can help fight drug addiction and save thousands of lives every year

On January 13, 2016, police found the body of a 31-year-old man, who had been dead for “at least” 12 hours, in a car parked on Pike Street in Capitol Hill, Seattle. He had died from a drug overdose in the shadows, which is common, as drug users often are too ashamed to seek help or use in the open. In the United States, 52,404 people died from overdoses in 2015.

In the eyes of some, this man’s death would have been preventable if he had attended a harm reduction facility—a new typology emerging in the developed world. Just over 100 miles away from Seattle, in Vancouver, one such facility oversees at least one overdose incident every day, on average. In its 14 years of operation so far, the facility has seen more than 5,000 overdoses, yet no one has died there.

The facility, called InSite, is a public place where drug users can go to consume their own substances in a safe, secure, and welcoming environment in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. For 13 years, the self-described “supervised injection facility” was the only one of its kind operating legally in North America. As of this May, three more facilities—all in Montreal—received approval and two are scheduled to open later this year.

There are now more than 100 legally operating supervised injection facilities across the world, the majority of which can be found in Continental Europe. The first opened in Bern, Switzerland, in 1986, and many European cities have slowly been adopting similar schemes.

None currently exist in the United States, but several models operating abroad and one prototype stateside might offer clues about how to make these places palatable for a U.S. political environment that is more centered around fighting a war on drug “crime” than on treating addiction as a public health issue.

Inside InSite

Canadian architect Sean McEwen designed InSite in 2002. With high ceilings, dark walls, and no Plexiglas inside to separate staff from visitors, the space eschews the notions of traditional medical institutions. Russell Maynard, who has been working at InSite for eight years, said that, “from a design perspective, it’s all about controlling the flow; that is more important than security.”

Three-phase-oriented circulation is a constant throughout almost all official drug-consumption spaces and can be summarized as: pre-consumption, consumption, and post-consumption.

Upon entering InSite, visitors are greeted by a receptionist. After providing a name (which can be fake), they are asked if they want to inject or detox and then are placed on a waiting list. The wait time is approximately seven minutes. According to Marilou Gagnon, a nurse at InSite and an associate professor at the School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, this is the period when InSite sees some visitors leave to shoot up outside, in a nearby alleyway, often using puddles to clean their needles.

“Needing to get a hit is like having chopped your finger off—you’re not going to want to wait very long or travel very far to fix it,” Gagnon said. Vancouver is a city of alleyways, and drug users favor them because they are discreet and easy to find. As Gagnon explained, however, this is problematic for two main reasons: Shooting up in an alleyway is unhygienic, and if you overdose, it’s not a great idea to be hidden.

Designing for anonymity and privacy, unfortunately, is paradoxical to health and well-being in the context of addiction. There is no hiding at InSite, but this is a good thing. Within the injection room, there are 13 booths, which line the interior perimeter, allowing nurses a clear line of sight into each.

These booths, each with their own lights, are mirrored to provide nurses and users with better visibility; this is particularly important for users, to help them avoid being surprised by approaching staff and when injecting into their necks. (Staff are not allowed to actually inject for users but can provide advice, prepare drugs, and clean needles, among other things.) Additionally, female users, who on average constitute a quarter of the visitors, often use the mirrors to do their makeup.

As the designer, McEwen also specified comfortable and easily cleanable chairs. “This may be the best seat users sit in all week,” he said. After injecting, users exit to a “chill-out” room, where they can speak to peers (usually former users), counselors, and nurses and find out about detox programs. Maynard stressed that visitors only enroll in such programs of their own accord.

Easing the Stigma

Politically, injection facilities are toxic. InSite went through a court case when the federal government attempted (unsuccessfully) to shut it down. “A common misconception is that people are shit-faced here; that’s not the case,” explained Maynard, speaking of InSite. “There are consumption sites everywhere for alcohol—they’re called bars. When you go into a bar, not everyone is off-their-face drunk, and that’s the case here.”

To avoid public conflict, almost all facilities have anonymous facades, with little or no signage. At InSite, zoning requirements for storefront retail meant the facility had to pretend to be a coffee shop to get development approval. More recently as a trial, the Canadian government funded the Narcomane Research and Help Center in Montreal, which provided heroin to registered users—a first for North American facilities. It was shrouded in secrecy at the time, and is now closed. “Not even the neighbors knew about it,” said its architect, Ron Rayside.

Margot Young, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, is interested in this aspect of the typology. She argues that the sight of InSite fuels the “larger political goal of putting injection drug addicts ‘in the sight’ of policy makers and governments.”

The sight of InSite, though, is in need of work. According to Maynard, the facility is operating at above full capacity, sometimes seeing more than 1,300 visitors a day; Hannah Leyland, a Master’s student covering InSite in her thesis, described it as looking “low budget,” noting chipped paint. InSite has annual operating costs of $2.15 million. A 2010 study into its financial wellbeing touched upon how the facility’s hygienic provisions prevent HIV infections. The study concluded that if InSite were closed, HIV infections would increase by 46 percent, costing Canadian taxpayers $12.9 million (CDN$17.6 million).

Ad hoc America

In the U.S., however, a cheaper solution is more politically viable. Dr. Gregory Scott, a visual sociologist, who has 17 years of experience in the field of drug-use harm reduction, is pursuing this route. He is traveling the U.S. with SAFE SHAPE, a “pop-up public health exhibit” that acts as a mock safe-injection site.

Scott designed SAFE SHAPE with architect Andrew Santa Lucia, of Portland, Oregon–based firm Office Andorus. The ten-square-foot pavilion uses two-inch-thick aluminum tubes to compose a white frame over which a bright-white, translucent spandex shell is stretched. It weighs less than 100 pounds and can be broken down and packaged into four ski bags and two storage tubs, allowing it to be easily transportable by plane.

“For me, design and aesthetics become heavily politicized in terms of the stigma associated with drug addicts,” said Scott. He wanted something that didn’t leap out at people as a place for users, instead adopting a “high-design” look that, semiotically, didn’t reference preconceived ideas surrounding drug addiction.

“Using a taut skin, we were able to produce a bright image that stands out in almost any landscape and becomes an icon,” explained Santa Lucia.

So far, only one SAFE SHAPE has been built. Scott erected the pavilion in Chicago as an actual consumption facility for both injectable and smokable (usually crack cocaine) drugs, albeit temporarily and illegally. Despite its small size, SAFE SHAPE is able to cater to two injectors or three smoking users at a time. The latter is a rarity for the harm reduction typology, due to issues of ventilation. SAFE SHAPE’s varied-height apertures, however, allow for such use.

Additionally, its size may be an advantage in terms of providing a safe place for drug consumption that can cater to drug users quickly and efficiently, but one thing SAFE SHAPE doesn’t provide is permanence. Many visitors to drug-consumption spaces do not have registered addresses, and time spent in such facilities can provide private moments to feel at ease and escape street life.

Scandinavian Sample

Another site that caters to smoking users is H17, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Occupying a former slaughterhouse in the gentrified, artsy district of Vesterbro, H17 cost $4.4 million and opened in August. It is more than 1,000 times larger than SAFE SHAPE and was designed by Copenhagen firm PLH Arkitekter. To Scott, “H17 is a fine example of bringing design and function together for the purpose of interrupting a criminalizing, moralizing discourse that really does harm people.”

PLH used a technique the firm calls “nudging” to encourage visitors on a linear path through the building and to separate pre- and post-consumers. “There are no 90-degree or smaller corners,” explained Lars Toksvig, a partner at PLH Arkitekter, which worked on H17. The facility’s entrance is open and employs a palette of cool “calming” colors.

The injection booths at H17 are wide and mirrored, and each has a hole on its stainless-steel desk that allows easy and safe disposal of used syringes, etc. A chill-out space is also provided, where inflatable furniture and warmer colors create a calm and less-clinical environment. “When we looked at precedents, we found many were insufficient in size,” said Toksvig. “When they get too small, users can become stressed inside and outside. It is important to cater to this.”

What is Next?

In Canada, some architecture firms are becoming more familiar with designing injection sites. Rayside said his Montreal practice, Rayside Labossière, has worked on five such facilities, most recently Spectre de Rue and CACTUS, both in Montreal and on course to open this year.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., in Seattle, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Ed Murray granted approval for two injection sites, officially known as “Community Health Engagement Locations.” The two facilities could be America’s first. Currently, officials are in the process of finding the right locations and working out funding.

However, according to Mark Townsend, former executive director of the PHS Community Services Society, NIMBYism can slow proceedings. “Ideally, you want these spaces established before there is an overdose epidemic,” he said.

In addition to saving lives, drug consumption facilities can serve as paradoxical stepping-stones toward detox. They bring the very real work of designing for harm reduction into the public eye, while also providing private, dignified spaces that benefit both users and nonusers. Though these facilities are sadly only born out of crises, the progress in their design represents a change in public and political attitudes, an area in which the U.S. still has a long way to go.

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Shigeru Ban unveils latest designs for world's tallest hybrid timber tower in Vancouver

Vancouver-based developer PortLiving has released the latest plans for the world’s tallest hybrid timber structure, designed by Japanese architect and 2014 Pritzker Prize awardee Shigeru Ban. Nicknamed the Terrace House, the project is located in Vancouver’s Coal Harbor neighborhood and pays tribute to its neighboring landmark-listed Evergreen Building, which was designed by late architect Arthur Erickson. The building, Ban’s first work in Canada and his tallest residential project to date, will house only 20 luxury apartments. Similar architectural cues of triangular shapes, natural materials, and green terraces create continuity between the Terrace House and Erickson’s building, according to the developers. “Shigeru Ban has tremendous respect for Arthur Erickson’s work. It was the opportunity to design a building next to one of Erickson’s masterpieces that initially drew him to this innovative project,” said Dean Maltz, managing partner at Shigeru Ban Architects Americas, in a press release. Cornelia Oberlander, the original landscape architect who worked on the Evergreen Building, and Hermann Blumer, an internationally renowned wood structural engineer, will be brought in to work with Ban. The wood, glass, and concrete building highlights Vancouver’s commitment to sustainable design and advanced timber construction, according to the developers. “We have brought together the best of the best—a team of true experts in creative collaboration, working together for the first time ever on a single project,” said Macario Reyes, founder and CEO of PortLiving, in a press release. “The result is truly a once-in-a-lifetime project setting new standards in design and construction.” Its exact height and dates of construction are unknown. Further project details will be released in coming months.