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Dumpster-dived blueprints show Granville subway station in new West Broadway tower

June 29, 2019

West elevation, or Granville St. side, of PCI’s planned redevelopment for 1489 West Broadway, showing a Skytrain station entrance.—Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

My pastimes of binning and blogging unexpectedly came together on Friday (June 28th) when I pulled actual blueprints for a Granville Street Skytrain station out of a cardboard dumpster in the 1400 block of West Broadway.

I have been speculating in my blog about the possible location of the Broadway subway’s station in the 1400 block for years!

The blueprints and accompanying documentation that I found may finally end that speculation.

They show that the Broadway subway’s Granville Street station will be located on the northeast corner of West Broadway and South Granville.

Backside of the RBC Royal Bank building at 1498 West broadway, seen from the position of the dumpster where the blueprints were found.

The station will be part of a mixed-use retail, office and residential tower, intended to replace the existing 4-storey RBC Bank building at 1489 West Broadway, which—as I have recently written—is expected to fully empty out by October.

The inclusion of the Granville Street subway station in a private development follows the pattern of three other known location of Broadway tunnel stations.

As I detailed in 2016, TransLink—the regional transit authority overseeing the creation of the Broadway tunnel Skytrain extension—approached the developers of new buildings in 2008, 2012 and 2016 to integrate spaces for potential transit stations to serve Cambie Street, Arbutus Street and Oak Street respectively.

The blueprints for the Granville Street station are dated May 24th, 2019 and bear the names of two Vancouver-based companies: architectural firm Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership (MCM) and building contractor PCI Developments.

Note: PCI has apparently owned the RBC Royal Bank building at 1489 West Broadway since 2007—a fact that I learned only after searching the address with “PCI”.

In total, the documentation consists of 16 tabloid-size, 11″ x 17′ blueprints by MCM and 13 letter-size pages of explanatory text by PCI.

The MCM blueprints only include those parts of the PCI development that are necessary to show the integration of the Skytrain station. This consists of detailed floor plans and cross-sections of five above-ground storeys and six underground parking levels.

The fact that there is much more to the PCI development than the five storeys of retail and office space shown is indicated by a vertical element in one cross-section labelled as “future residential elevator”.

And there are the six levels of underground parking, which provide a whopping 332 stalls—far too much parking for a 5-storey building.

Informed sources have told me that the new tower planned for the northeast corner of Broadway and Granville may reach a height of 40 stories in total.

By comparison, the new 40-storey condo tower at 1335 Howe includes 430 vehicle stalls, while the proposed 28-storey rental tower at for 2538 Birch Street, includes five underground levels accommodating 187 vehicle stalls.

Glimpse behind the curtain of Broadway subway planning

The 10th page of the blueprints (sheet A401) showing a cross-section, including the Transit Station entrance on the upper ground floor and the escalator leading to the Transit Concourse on Parking Level P1.—Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

The first page of PCI’s explanatory notes, which accompany the blueprints, refers to “Integration Works” including “those works and elements of the Head House or related to the integration of the Head House into the PCI Development not included in the Finishing Work”.

Head House” is an architectural term commonly used by the railroad industry to denote an element of a train station, such as an entrance.

The PCI Integration Works detailed on the blueprints are indicated in the explanatory notes as including:

  • Street level entrance to the Head House situated at the corner of West Broadway Avenue and Granville Street.
  • Head House structure.
  • Entrance plaza.
  • Stairs, escalator and elevator providing access to the station concourse level.
  • Connection opening to the station concourse.

All work, PCI explains, will meet Canadian, British Columbian and City of Vancouver building codes, as well as those specific to TransLink.

Cross-section showing exactly how the sun angle at noon equinox will illuminate the transit station space.—Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

Other interesting details found in the explanatory notes include:

The connection opening to the station concourse shall be “approximately 8 metres below West Broadway, to provide sufficient room below the road and above the underground station structure to accommodate the rad base and utilities.”

And it will be 12 metres wide.

The station entrance will have floors and ceilings of concrete and all exterior facades will be primarily glazed [glass] unless approved by the Province.

Plaza components will be located to “prevent errant vehicles from hitting the Station entry hall headhouse”. I take this to mean anti-accident/terrorism features, such as boulders, Jersey barriers and steel bollards.

The design of the station will employ “crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED)” to “minimize the opportunities for loitering and crime-related activity”. So, boulders, bollards, Jersey Barriers, bright lights, CCTV cameras and an absence of blind spots and potential panhandling and sleeping spots for homeless people.

Station plumbing and power supply will be independent of the PCI development-proper’s power supply. And there will be a mobile emergency generator connection.

The entire transit station—the plaza, the entrance and the concourse—will be built to have a useful design life of 100 years and it will all be seismically proofed against a “100 Year Return Period Earthquake Event Level”.

Expect the return of RBC but not any WCs

Plan of the upper ground floor showing a space on the Granville side designated for the RBC Bank.—Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

Surprisingly the blueprints show that RBC will have ground floor space fronting on South Granville.

This is to say that the anticipated move of the RBC bank branch from 1489 West Broadway to 2735 South Granville will be temporary—just for the five years it takes PCI to build the new tower at 1489.

One thing, however, not in evidence anywhere on the blueprints, or in the explanatory notes regarding the Granville Skytrain station, are public washrooms.

Since 2017 a variety of public advocacy groups have been calling for public washrooms to be included in all stations along the line of the Broadway subway.

And at the end of 2018—after a TransLink survey found that 72 percent of respondent felt that public washrooms would improve the transit experience—the regional transit authority announced that it would consider putting public washrooms in the busiest Skytrain stations.

Their apparent absence in the Granville station plans may piss some people off but one supposes that TransLink will argue that until the Broadway subway has been in operation for a while, it will not know which of the stations are busy enough to warrant washrooms.

But what about the facilities to pee on P1?

A detail from the P1 parking level showing rooms with toilets and sinks, directly adjacent to the transit station shell.—Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership

When I say that the blueprints for the transit station do not include washrooms I mean washrooms for the use of the general public.

Sharon Townsend, of the South Granville Business Improvement Area, who has seen the blueprints, has pointed out the presence of rooms on the P1 parking level which clearly include sinks and toilets. I did not originally mention these because I took them be changing rooms exclusively for staff of the PCI development, such as janitorial and security.

The integration documents stress that all transit station facilities, plumbing, etc. need to be completely independent of PCI’s development.

Instead, the only washroom facilities that are shown on the blueprints sit entirely outside the shell of the transit station. To access them would appear to involve leaving the station and entering the building’s P1 parking level.

And although there is a clear indication of a communicating door, there is nothing to indicate that this parking level is intended to be accessed by users of transit, beyond the fact that three parking stalls near the changing areas, are each marked “transit”.

These I take to be courtesy stalls set aside by PCI for transit officials.

As for the washrooms being for the general public, they seemed entirely under-equipped, toilet-wise (just two per gender) and over-equipped locker-wise.

The apparent presence of shower stalls also spoke again them being for the general public.

Luckily I included a photo so that readers could judge for themselves.

Two smart readers on Twitter pointed out the meaning of the “commercial end of trip facility” designation on the blueprint. This almost certainly means that these facilities are for the use of those people who commute by bike to work in the five floors of commercial office space above the transit station.

Some people should give more of a toss where they throw things

The view of the blueprints and documentation through the slot in the cardboard dumpster, where I found them.

Just as in 2014, when I found real Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) uniform shirts in a fairview dumpster, I would characterize the tossing of these blueprints and accompanying documentation in a public dumpster as an act that borders on careless.

TransLink and the several other Broadway subway stakeholders may not be too happy to see the negligent way in which public disclosure came about—not after the efforts they have made to keep a tight lid on this kind of detailed information.

But in fairness to whomever trashed the blueprints, I have to say that the lid of the dumpster I found them in was tightly locked.

It’s just that the slot on the front of the dumpster—which makes it so easy to toss things in, also makes it easy to fish them out again.

I hope that my luck isn’t some unthinking employee’s misfortune but c’est la vie.

It’s like they say: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure—or blog post in this case. Click the images to enlarge them.

See also: Enlarged redevelopment of 1489 West Broadway will eat up neighbouring alley and restaurants.

17 Comments
  1. Since they were trashed, is it possible the idea was scrapped and revamped? Maybe things will turn out completely different.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting point and it cannot be dismissed out of hand. Certainly I will not expect the final result to be identical to the May plans. However, I have done my speculation. I will now wait for any response from the players involved — all of whom will be aware that the existence of the blueprints has been made public. However, It’s a long weekend, so I will have to wait until at least Tuesday. Happy Canada Day everyone!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon permalink

    Nothing gets scrapped at this stage of the game. There are so many stakeholders (City, Province, Translink etc) that they have to go through endless revisions to make sure everything that is required is covered – especially when you are having to quote the project. Sadly, nobody has bothered to consult the neighbourhood which is nothing short of shameful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PCI’s accompanying notes are interesting for showing how many different masters have to be obeyed, rules-wise. This sort of public-private construction clearly begins by erecting an intricate scaffold of bureaucracy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon permalink

        And liability. Also sets out who has the final word in each aspect of the project.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Doug permalink

    Its odd that a homeless person seems to be more organized, than a construction company. When it comes to any government agency (CBSA etc) its not the least bit surprising that you have the ability to outperform them.

    Like

    • The CBSA shirts find was funny because I was so “meh” about the find — having found so much else in Fairview dumpsters — I Waited days to post. And at first the post didn’t receive much resonse. Then “boom”.

      Like

  4. A good find!

    Like

  5. It would be very interesting to hear from the parties involved. For the life of me, materials like these are shredded. If this document was dumped carelessly, heads will roll.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true that this appears to be a bit of lapse on someone’s part but it’s also true that the public’s ability to know how the public realm is being cut up and sold—largely using taxpayers dollars—now depends absolutely on such lapses!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sharon permalink

    washrooms may be on the lower level behind the turnstiles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw those but I was mindful that the integration documents stressed that all station facilities, plumbing, etc. needed to be completely independent of PCI’s development.

      These washrooms are not self-contained within the station area but are inside the PCI development. For a transit passenger to use them they would have to exit the station through (admittedly) a marked door, go through a pressurized vestibule and right into the building’s P1 parking area.

      Because of the aforementioned and because they are enormous and mostly consist of large changing areas, designated as locker rooms (and because I think they include a shower per gender and maybe a jacuzzi for both genders), I took them to be for the PCI development’s staff (janitorial/security), rather than public transit users.

      Perhaps I should add a paragraph and photo to the post?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sharon permalink

    maybe someone would be kind enough to leave a site drawing for you in the same dumpster!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Margaret permalink

    This is incredible. If anyone was meant to find those blueprints, it was you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Slowcrow permalink

      I agree Margaret! Stanley’s tenacity and curious mind reminds me of Sam Cooper, true Canadian Patriot of money laundering “fame”.

      Like

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