Insertion Points – Gair Williamson Architects

September 17th, 2009

Insertion Points – Gair Williamson Architects
cdnarchitect.com
Tevor Boddy
August 2009

 

A view of Williamson's own suite in the Paris Block.

A view of Williamson's own suite in the Paris Block. Photo Credit: Ed White

 

A small architecture firm is well-known for nimbly grafting and inserting new architectural elements into the existing urban fabric of Vancouver.

Clients turn architects from dreamers into schemers. Williamson has had a close and positive relationship with Salient Development, which is headed by the successful Robert Fung (son of the former Toronto Waterfront Commissioner of the same name), often sharing office space with the firm. Salient took more advantage of the transfer of development rights (TDR) policy than any other Vancouver developer, and now finds itself controlling nearly half the unplaced density benefits nearly a year into a city council embargo on their sale (the issue for City Hall is the mounting store of potential building density without sufficient sites to “land” it on specific locations in a developing-out downtown).
Williamson is responsible for one of the best applications of these Vancouver heritage mechanisms in his adaptive reuse and rooftop addition for Salient to the Bowman Block, part of a line of early 20th-century warehouses on Beatty Street south of West Georgia Street. Williamson’s design cut back the window-side floor plates of timber-beamed and wooden mill floors to open up two-storey lofts, with bedrooms set back to increase the sense of space, while revealing original elements of the 1906 structure–for example, the former beam seats are retained as a marker of the building’s past.
Similarly, designer and developer resisted invisibly bricking-over the line where the subtracted floor plate was excised, intending it to be left visible. In some of these loft condos, the location of the former floor plate is marked with a very contemporary steel I-beam, which also helps with seismic stiffening of the masonry shell building.

Clients turn architects from dreamers into schemers. Williamson has had a close and positive relationship with Salient Development, which is headed by the successful Robert Fung (son of the former Toronto Waterfront Commissioner of the same name), often sharing office space with the firm. Salient took more advantage of the transfer of development rights (TDR) policy than any other Vancouver developer, and now finds itself controlling nearly half the unplaced density benefits nearly a year into a city council embargo on their sale (the issue for City Hall is the mounting store of potential building density without sufficient sites to “land” it on specific locations in a developing-out downtown).

Williamson is responsible for one of the best applications of these Vancouver heritage mechanisms in his adaptive reuse and rooftop addition for Salient to the Bowman Block, part of a line of early 20th-century warehouses on Beatty Street south of West Georgia Street. Williamson’s design cut back the window-side floor plates of timber-beamed and wooden mill floors to open up two-storey lofts, with bedrooms set back to increase the sense of space, while revealing original elements of the 1906 structure–for example, the former beam seats are retained as a marker of the building’s past.

Similarly, designer and developer resisted invisibly bricking-over the line where the subtracted floor plate was excised, intending it to be left visible. In some of these loft condos, the location of the former floor plate is marked with a very contemporary steel I-beam, which also helps with seismic stiffening of the masonry shell building.

Read the full story at cdnarchitect.com