Yikes. They want to put this thing downtown.

Proposed Vancouver mega-casino

Above is an artist’s rendering of the new mega-casino planned for Vancouver. Those three towers jammed up against the stadium in that awkward manner are the “entertainment complex” hotel towers, where presumably you can rent by the hour. The whole thing is designed by IBI/HB Architects, who are more or less condo developers. The land is owned by the B.C. government and is being developed by the government’s BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo) and Paragon Gaming, a Vegas casino company. PavCo has given Paragon a 70 year lease to run the prospective casino. As an aside, a chair of the public BC Lottery Corporation was also a director of Paragon Gaming around the time the deal was brokered.

Gambling is a failing industry continent-wide (outside Vegas, and there are bankruptcies even there) and this whole deal is full of insider deals and conflict of interest, but I’m trying (and failing, obviously) to limit my comments here to design and urban planning. In B.C. architects can’t criticize other architects or they can lose their license to practice here, thanks to an archaic rule enforced by the Architectural Institute of B.C. This rule ensures we enjoy zero architectural discourse here, which is why we need you, non-BC architects and others, to weigh in on the building above. If you’re an architect from outside B.C. please comment.

Below is the “before” photo, showing our old stadium before its roof was recently removed (and, for nearly a billion dollars, replaced by a semi-functional retractable roof that looks like a dead cockroach on its back—nothing like the slim white spikes shown in the drawing above. And it takes a day and a half to open or close it). The space to the left of the stadium is to be jammed with the buildings you see above.

The casino, if approved, will be a massive, 1500 slot machine establishment the size of two football fields. It will sit in the middle of one of the most densely populated downtown cores in North America. Locating a casino downtown, especially one of this size, is very atypical on this continent.

Is this a powder blue-and-violet piece of jetsam crashing up against a stadium, or hiding behind a stadium, or is it a set of mail-order air filters from a 1980s catalogue? I’m interested in your opinion. Many designers (myself among them) and architects are fighting this plan as a travesty of urban planning. A blocks-long windowless fortress will make an already desolate streetscape permanently unrehabilitatable. However I’m open to dissenting architectural or planning opinion. Comment below.

Proposed Vancouver mega-casino

Proposed Vancouver mega-casino

Proposed Vancouver mega-casino

7 comments on "Yikes. They want to put this thing downtown."

  1. Things like this really sadden me. In Berlin where I used to live, Alexanderplatz, the modernist central square of former east berlin, recently got humongous mall in some sort of post-modernist-neo-mess-o’-potamian style which might be the ugliest building I have ever seen (and with a logo straight out of graphic designers hell). At least in Stockholm, where I live now, nothing is being built at all, and when it is, it’s just quiet mediocre buildings that “blend in”. I guess I preffer that over this thing, I mean seriously, talk about 80’s revival.

  2. I’m glad to see someone else think “80s”! That was my first thought. Then “mediocre.” And this is not even counting the giant, street-unfriendly “podium” all around the base. If there weren’t an archaic BC rule preventing BC architects from criticizing the work of other BC architects, this thing would have been laughed out of town.

  3. Crass and unwanted. I can’t believe Vancouver is even considering this enormous mistake. It shouldn’t be laughed out of town, the people trying to promote it should be exiled to Monster Island.

  4. It’s tragic that our home, one of the most geographically breathtaking places on earth, has been trashed beyond recognition by a non-stop onslaught of hideously ugly buildings and real estate vultures who could care less that people have to live here.

    1. Thanks Elaine. Bing’s talk was superb. As an architect in Vancouver, though, he wasn’t really able to comment on the architecture. And for other reasons the casino coalition isn’t able to do that either – too many other fish to fry. That’s why I wanted to deal with it here. The casino, when we defeat it, won’t be defeated on architectural or design grounds but on the lack of public consultation, on the very fact that a majority of Vancouverites oppose it, and on issues of public health, crime and the failing economic model of gambling. Still, I want to make an example of this plan here because it’s an emblem of the poor, developer-led design we are seeing across this city. This is one of the last pieces of prime downtown Vancouver real estate. It cries out for a landmark building by a proper architect, not a gambling hall by a commercial condo developer.

Leave a comment