First look: Quadra and Pandora intersection could see its first highrise tower (design inside)
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Published February 15, 2023
The intersection of Quadra Street and Pandora Avenue in downtown Victoria could look significantly different in the years to come if a highrise residential proposal gains council’s approval.
Developer Townline has submitted rezoning plans to redevelop 854-880 Pandora Avenue, presently a duo of two-storey commercial complexes at the northwest corner of the intersection with Quadra Street through to Mason Street.
Townline’s vision calls for a 13-storey tower comprised of nearly 140 purpose-built rental suites, and nearly 7,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space offering Pandora Street frontage, a portion of which has been identified in drawings as suitable for a restaurant operation. The rear facade will provide a collection of street-access townhome residences, and the entry for the building’s two-storey underground parkade.
In terms of architectural presence, the design - from Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership (a firm responsible for a number of downtown Victoria highrises) – features a prominent arch at its podium level overlooking the main thoroughfares, along with two quarter-circles flanking its sides. The podium extends west from Quadra Street through to the western perimeter of the land assembly and along Mason Street, while the tower portion is located primarily above the 880 Pandora Avenue lot. The mechanical penthouse on the roof incorporates the arch motif expressed at street level.
|A rendering of a 13-storey residential and retail tower proposed for the 800-block of Pandora Avenue at Quadra Street. Townline|
In a letter submitted to the City, Townline describes the design motivation as such:
Given that the site is woven into the historic urban fabric we wanted to reflect the traditional materiality and forms from a contemporary perspective. We’ve adapted the arch form from the gothic churches and numerous rounded/arched windows in neighbouring buildings. Many surrounding buildings have facades that have vertically organizing features, so this too was a principle that informed the vertical brick “frame” of the podium. Brick has been chosen for the podium cladding as this is the prevailing contextual material. The lighter, warm toned brick has been enlivened with subtle contemporary detailing throughout the base. The tower is clad in glazing and a dark opaque coloured metal panel with a simplified expression to place more importance on the ground plane and podium of the building. Overall, the building’s goals are to respect the historic character of the neighbourhood and bring with it a contemporary and inviting design.
Attention was also directed, Townline says, to ensuring all facades are activated to provide an 'eyes on the street' presence within a neighbourhood context that has challenges with social problems and is a social services node.
The make-up of the residential units will range from approximately 400 to 1,000 square feet in studio through three-bedroom configurations, and nearly 900 square foot townhomes. Amenity spaces will be situated on level two as an outdoor deck and an indoor gym, and a rooftop space with both exterior and interior features.
Townline’s concept joins several developments in the immediate vicinity, including a 20-storey residential tower for the 900-block of Pandora Avenue from BC Housing, and a 15-storey rental tower across the street from BC Housing's proposal also by Townline that recently moved into its construction phase.
As one of Victoria’s most active development firms, Townline recently completed the last phase of building at The Hudson District, a two-block residential and retail community bordered by Douglas, Fisgard and Blanshard streets, and Caledonia Avenue, and the company has delivered numerous below-market projects to the region under its TL Housing Solutions subsidiary.
Meanwhile, Citified recently reported on Townline’s new proposal currently making its way through the planning process in Saanich that could lead to the redevelopment of the Mayfair Lanes property on Tolmie Avenue at Oak Street. There, the company is seeking approvals to erect three highrise towers and a Great Canadian Superstore within their shared podium. C
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