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Vancouver’s Tallest Buildings

Monday, January 10th, 2011 — 11:00am PDT
Comments 13

This week there will be a forum regarding building heights in Vancouver ahead of a City vote on proposed height restrictions later this month. The current building height limit in downtown Vancouver is 466 feet, which the Shangri-La currently soars well beyond (see: Higher Building Policy). Here’s a quick comparison of our five highest structures:

Shangri-La Vancouver
Photo credit: on Flickr

Living Shangri-La
Height: 201m/659ft, 62 storeys
Built: 2008
Use: Residential and hotel

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
Photo credit:
RyAwesome on Flickr

One Wall Centre
Height: 150m/491ft, 48 storeys
Built: 2001
Use: Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel and conference space

Olympic Cauldron   IMG_4549
Photo credit: on Flickr

Shaw Tower
Height: 149m/489ft, 41 storeys
Built: 2004
Use: Residential and Shaw broadcast centre

Photo credit:
Justin Liew on Flickr

Harbour Centre
Height: 146m/481ft, 28 storeys
Built: 1977
Use: Office space and observation deck in the top tower

Olympic ad on RBC Tower
Photo credit:
Razvan Marescu on Flickr

Royal Centre
Height: 141m/464ft, 37 storeys
Built: 1973
Use: Office space, also known as RBC Tower

[poll id=”59″]

All those who would like a say (as to whether we should welcome 80 to 90-storey towers or not) can attend the forum at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch downtown at 6:30pm on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011.

Update There is a public information session Monday, January 17th, 2011 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm at the Empire Landmark Hotel.

Current contests on


  1. And I’d LOVE to know who the Shangila bribed to build SO MUCH higher than the limit – what a joke gov’t is.

  2. LisaB says:

    Cameron – the Shangri La falls under Vancouver’s Higher Building policy which allows buildings in the 600ft range.

  3. Rebecca Bollwitt says:

    Thanks LisaB, I have added that link to the post!

  4. Marc says:

    …of course the height limits should be raised!
    Why not?
    Don’t give that, “I can’t see the mountains” excuse….it’s old and tired.

    I have heard year after year how world-class Vancouver is and the burgeoning metropolils it is when in reality, it’s not.

    Those who can’t see the mountains anymore and long for that daily experience will have to move I suppose.
    I do live in Kits and can see every single mountain with no obstruction at all.
    Better yet, I can drive to the mountain to see it too!
    I know, strange.

    I say build baby build!
    The higher and more glamorous, the better.

  5. Given the Higher Building Policy that LisaB provided, I don’t think the building limit necessarily needs to be increased. In fact, reading the Higher Building Policy makes it very tempting to vote against this as it encourages higher quality development in Vancouver’s downtown core that is beneficial to all the people of Vancouver while still allowing much needed dense development.

    However, I would be very willing to support expanding the selection of streets permitted to house taller buildings (currently only West Georgia, Granville and Burrard according to the Higher Building Policy). Also, if too many valid applications are being rejected, we could consider reviewing why but I doubt that’s the case.

  6. matteroffact says:

    Change is scary. I myself get a little nervous when I move to another city or start a new job, so I understand why people get apprehensive when it comes to changes in Vancouver’s built form. What once was recognizable is now not. The problem with trying to avoid change or at the very least watering it down, is that it doesn’t leave much room to grow (figuratively and literally). If Vancouver wants to thrive by provide enough built space for more and more offices and residents it has to up it’s density. I’d far rather have a bit of a mountain view blocked than have dozens and dozens of housing units (that could have been a single highrise) spreading up the mountain-side like a rash.

  7. Trudy says:

    No way!! There goes the view of our mountains – which is already compromised. Have a height contest in a boring landscape, please.

  8. Vania Wong says:

    Great list Miss 604! What a big difference between the Shangri-La and the second tallest building in Vancouver proper!

    Burnaby will experience a similar situation with the upcoming Sovereign (luxury residences, hotel, retail) by Bosa Properties. Sovereign will rise 511 ft in the sky and will top out at 900′ above sea level – taller than any other building in Burnaby by far! It will definitely change the Burnaby landscape.

    I found the information here:

  9. RyAwesome says:

    There’s a lot more to this issue than height and seeing the mountains. City planning certainly isn’t easy… Metro Vancouver’s growth is restricted from the north (mountains), the west (Pacific Ocean) and the south (United States), and can only grow so fast out towards the Fraser Valley. Also, growing east means more expensive public transit and a lot more traffic. The City of Vancouver will continue to expand… and it’s going to be up.

    Take a look at Vancouver from Kits and think how tall a building would have to be to block the view of the mountains. Drive up to West Van and do the same…

  10. Ron says:

    Here’s the link to the current proposals.

    You’ll note that the proposal to increase heights is subject to (i.e. limited by) the existing view cones that crisscross downtown.

    On the map of the downtown in that presentation note the asterisk with the reference to view cones – so the blue area is completely misleading as to being “up to 600 ft”. The “600 ft” designation across the Central Business District is merely lip service to that height, since almost all sites within the CBD fall under view cones that have lower height restrictions (much lower in some cases (i.e. the Bay parkade site can only go to about 300 ft)). The only CBD sites not affected by view cones are along Alberni St., Georgia St (1000 and 1100 block) and Melville St. – that’s whi the Snagri-La and the (former) Ritz-Carlton proposal are located where they are.

    And that’s why the newly proposed sites for the higher buildings seem to be in oddball locations.

  11. Jon Stovell says:

    This is one of the proposed high buildings at one of the six high building sites:

  12. Terry says:

    The height restriction of the downtown buildings should only be allowed increased in certain areas where it’s deemed appropriate.

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