The derelict 1907 Paris Block was fully rehabilitated in 2009 as a residential project with retail at grade and, during its reconstruction, the new core was rotated 90 degrees to accept the horizontal addition of the new, contiguous Paris Annex. The existing urban condition informed the design of the Annex addition with the building being set back at the fourth level on both the street and lane to reference the scale and memory of the previous 1945 building on that portion of the site, as well as to maintain the sawtooth character of the Heritage precinct.
The diffuse glass balconies of the Annex align with the cornice lines of the Heritage Block, reinforcing the visual continuity of the 2 phases. Within the 3 storey street frontage of the Annex, there is a nineteen foot high retail space with two residential units above, reflecting the historic relationship of ‘living over the shop’ and, finally, a lane oriented live/work suite in the Paris Block further contributes to the revitalization of the area as ‘eyes on the lane’.
With respect to the integration of sustainable design, the project has developed an innovative design strategy that allows for the densification of the neighborhood through twinning an orphan site to a reclaimed heritage building whose fabric is an inherited investment of energy and materials.
Wherever possible, the material inventory of the 1907 building was refurbished and reused.
Through negotiations with the City of Vancouver, the parking requirement was reduced by the introduction of a co-op car program and leases on underutilized nearby parking garages.
Budget and Time Constraints
In the reconstruction of existing historic properties there are many unknowns that may compromise the schedule. In this instance, the proposed schedule of the complete project was extended by 4 months, although the Paris Annex phase construction was suspended by 2 years due to market conditions. The project was completed on budget.