Tower Revealed

Developer Anthony Marquart of Royalty Developments and Architect Gerry Doering of Dialog presented the proposal for a new, 15 story (plus a mechanical story at the top) office tower on Rose Street and 12th Avenue Tuesday.  Planning Commission approved the recommendation and roundly praised the proposal as an exciting project coming to the downtown.

The building will have 437 000 sq ft total gross floor area, with 280 000 sq ft of office area.  The developers estimate 1500-2000 people will work in the building once it is complete.  To accommodate such a large number of workers, there will be 390 parking stalls and, according to the application online (RPC 11-57), 70 bike parking spaces, all underground.  The underground parkade entrance will be off Rose and the service entrance off the Eastern alley, both are on the North end of the building. 

There may be a green roof on the North side of the second floor.  The green roof could be adjacent to a proposed daycare, which would be open to office workers and residents, or possibly a restaurant.  To add to the green marketing, the developers intend the building to reach LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) gold certification. It would be the second LEED gold building in Saskatchewan and first in Regina.

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, there will be retail on the main floor; one space on 12th and one on Rose Street.  The retail roughly corresponds to the areas below the second story masonry on the South East-half and West side of the building.  The tenants are not yet set, but the proponents suggest possible users could be: a gym, restaurant, shops, a major coffee chain, banks and/or financial services. 

If all goes well in the application process the developers expect to break ground in 2012; have a 28 month construction period, opening in mid-late 2014 to early 2015.

The corner entrance is a major focus for the designer and the City.  The design is to be clear, transparent and well-lit.  There will also be recessed entrances along the main floor into the building lobby and retail spaces.  

The architectural team and the city spent a lot of time and effort on the amenity side, creating a built form that is pedestrian friendly.  The report emphasis the cost of the public amenities (see page 10) with sidewalk and public art  seeing an investment of $400 000 each.  The maximum contribution to a green roof and value of the Daycare as $500 000.  And, waste minimization and sustainable materials providing an estimated $100 000 in value. 

The report lays out the following refinements, worked out between developer and city, made to the original design:

  • Minimizing the visual dominance of the building length through vertical articulation of the building to break up the massing;.
  • Definition of the roof line on both the east and west elevations;
  • Addition of signature corner treatment and a grand entrance feature on 12th Avenue and Rose Street including a curb bump out to create a plaza entry; and
  • Articulation of the street wall with high quality and varying building materials to add visual interest to the public realm and to define a good rhythm of storefront spaces.

Commissioners asked about the relationship between the development team and the City.  The presenting team mentioned that many of the Regina Downtown Neighbourhood Plan’s (RDNP) design guidelines are complimentary to good design practices. 

Of course, when members of Dialog design the guidelines it makes sense that later, Dialog’s architects might have a better time of working through the RDNP.

Planning commissioners asked questions about the glazing, wind and changes to Rose Street in the renderings. 

First, commissioner Okumura asked about the solar heating issues with the large West facing section of the building.  This lead Mr. Doering to explain that glazing will have to be used on the office floor windows and that louvers(a common solution for shading) do not work here because they accumulate ice in winter. The lower two floors will be without glazing.

Commissioner Snook asked the Administration about the one lane on Rose street featured in the renderings.  The street changes displayed are likely in the future, with bulb-outs (bump-outs), bike lane(s) and parking to the either side – see the redeveloped Scarth Street and 12th Avenue.  There are still studies to be completed by the city on the specific lane changes to Rose. It is possible there will continue to be two lanes, with no bulb out on the West side of the street. 

There was a wind study completed which found no change on 12th or Rose, although 12th already suffers from some wind tunnel issues.

For me, the tower is, overall, a positive development for the city.  RUE’s cited removal of large surface parking lots as an important step for Downtown revitalization for most of its two-year history, and this building accommodates that goal.  The RNDP is proving an effective frame-work to create better pedestrian realms and more consistent, as the report says, “Build-to-Lines” or street wall, than we had pre-plan.  The proposal also has a lot of amenities added at the developer’s expense, hopefully all of them will show up in the final product.

My only real concern is we are still planning for today.  Perhaps it is not fair to plan for a dystopian Knustleresque future (say 50 years from now) of no oil and little energy.  But, in the massing and stacked stories of every new tower development I still see a spark of 20th century optimism; the bright modernist future, blind to very real concerns about resource depletion.  Will the air conditioning always work?  Will the elevator always run?  What sort of adaptive capacity is in the Hill Tower 3, Capital Pointe or this building?

Filling the block of Rose/Broad with 6-7 story buildings, which could be set up/designed as a base for future towers, seems like the better route to me. 

Anyway, assuming the amenities survive post approval and the tenant search results in useful commercial operations, this building should help, at least in the mid-term, bring some life to Downtown’s Eastern edge.    

For more on the office tower see Leader Post, NewsTalk, and Prairie Dog.

**mouse over images for credit info

Tower Revealed

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