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UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Black and White
Uses: condo, commercial
Address: 1033 Cook Street
Municipality: Victoria
Region: Urban core
Storeys: 6
Condo units: 75 (1BR, 2BR, penthouse, 1BR + den, 2BR + den, junior 1BR)
Sales status: sold out / resales only
Black and White is a six-storey mixed-used development with five residential levels above a ground floor comme... (view full profile)
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[Fairfield] Black and White | Condos; commercial | 6-storeys | Under construction


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#21 Nparker

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 11:41 AM

Please Please stop insetting commercial behind pillars. This is no good for anyone!


I agree 100%. See the northern portion of the Douglas Street facade of the Victoria Conference Centre and that office/commerical building at the SE corner of Douglas/Pandora as concrete reasons why this should NEVER be allowed to happen.

#22 Bernard

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 12:37 PM

The building is not a radical departure for the area - 1137 Meares, behind the old brick building at Meares and Cook, 1121 Fort Street (Zen condos), the building kitty corner from the proposal and Mosaic all say to me the design fits in the area

What does not concern me is the retail on the north side of the building. I had not paid attention to the recessed nature of the building. It is going to cold and dark all the time.

#23 aastra

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 01:15 PM

The building itself is not a radical departure, correct. I was referring to the recessed suburban-style commercial units on the ground floor. That format represents a radical departure from just about every other mixed-use building around there. I'm not saying radical departures are out of the question just because they're different. I'm saying if you're going to propose a radical departure you better have a darned good reason for doing it. I'm not getting it in this instance.

I just hope they don't claim the setbacks are necessary to "soften" the building or that it's some sort of attempt to be "sympathetic" to the urban neighbourhood. It's an urban neighbourhood. If all of the other mixed-use buildings have no setback along the ground floor then introducing a setback constitutes a glaring challenge to the prevailing (successful & popular) format. So why do it?

#24 Mike K.

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 02:28 PM

Agreed. The setbacks are throwback to mistakes of decades past and the columns look monolithic.

Langford can repeatedly and successfully build retail space right up the sidewalk. Why are we having to fight setbacks and overhangs in the urban core?

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#25 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 11:38 PM

Franc d'Ambrosio is the architect for this, correct? Someone please ask him why he wants to foist those setbacks on that corner. After the success of the Atrium, surely he's a golden boy at City Hall (which is perhaps why Mike Miller has him on board for this project - to ease its bureaucratic passage?), so why the throwback design?
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#26 G-Man

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:29 AM

I dont know I find the insert pedestrian experience at the Atrium isn't that great.

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#27 MarkoJ

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 09:02 AM

What would be an example of a building where the pedestrian experience is superb?

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#28 jklymak

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:04 AM

^ I agree that the Atrium's interaction isn't that great, though I'll say its a great building overall.

For this project and overhang and setback makes some sense on Fort because that is a very busy bus stop. I think recognizing that, and incorporating it into the design is a good idea, though the exact form chosen here may not be ideal. You'll note that further east on the building the setback is reduced.

That said, I'm not use what the goal of the setback is on the Cook side of the street, other than misplaced symmetry with the north side. Hopefully they reconsider this.

Otherwise, looks pretty good!

#29 Mike K.

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:21 AM

The building would look good with glass overhangs. There's absolutely no need to build these recessed retail podiums with giant columns.

This project's groundfloor reminds me of Stadacona Centre's ground floor. Ugly and uninviting is about all one can say about it.

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#30 Nparker

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:58 AM

The building would look good with glass overhangs. There's absolutely no need to build these recessed retail podiums with giant columns.


I agree 100%. Hopefully this design will be revised before anything gets built.

#31 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:11 AM

I dont know I find the insert pedestrian experience at the Atrium isn't that great.

Yes, I agree. My comment addressed the Atrium's success as a development overall, as well as its support from Planning and council/ mayor. We know that the City often likes these silly setbacks, but my point was that D'Ambrosio could propose pretty much anything after his success with the Atrium, and it would get a sympathetic hearing at City Hall.

You have to wonder why they're proposing a building with silly setbacks in a context that doesn't support them (as all of you have already pointed out). Would Wong Bros. work better with setbacks? Bubby Rose's? Urge Tattoo? The stores and restaurant next to Bubby's? The old apartment block across the street? The former Khona Coffee kitty-corner? No no no and no again. And the sidewalks are already very wide in that location, and there's enough room for bus passengers. No need to set the street frontage back at all.
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#32 G-Man

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:44 AM

^ Exactly. I personally think that for a new building perhaps the best ground level we have seen in Victoria may be the Douglas end of the Falls, the Magnolia Hotel I guess really it is the older builgs are just better at this... Oh actually the Juliet.

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#33 aastra

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 02:09 PM

What would be an example of a building where the pedestrian experience is superb?

I think the key here is that a ground floor doesn't have to be eye-popping or gimmicky otherwise look like the architect really spent a lot of long nights coming up with something different. Ground floors are about the fundamentals. Ask me what the best ground floors are on modern/recent buildings and I come up with some pretty simple stuff:

That new little building in Cook Street Village (can't find a good picture)



Oak Bay Avenue (just narrow down those grassy plots that makes the sidewalk too narrow):




More Oak Bay Avenue (just narrow down those plots for trees that make the sidewalk too narrow):




Fort Street:




Still more Oak Bay Avenue (again with the grass plots that are too wide):



Broad Street (only one storefront, but it works):




These next ones have fancier/more expensive cladding and such but the pedestrian engagement is still very basic:

Government Street (these are great):



The Falls (they get a bit goofy on the corner but the patio still works because there's a restaurant there... let's just hope a bank or a law firm never occupies that spot):



When ground floors go wrong, it's usually because the developer went crazy with setbacks or pillars or alcoves or other useless features that impede access, like little stairways or horizontal barriers like planters or whatever else.

Like this place in Sidney...

Or the stairs and railings on this one in Oak Bay...

#34 aastra

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 02:30 PM

I'll also include the Atrium's ground floor even though it does have a few of those things that impede access. Overall, I'd say it works pretty well. It's difficult to go wrong when you've got continuous storefronts with tall windows, like they've got on the Blanshard side. And where they've got pillars and stairs and such they've also got outdoor seating for eating establishments, so the separation works in those instances.

It's like the north side of the conference centre's shops along Burdett. That sunken area there is fine because it creates a space for tables and chairs. It's all along the Douglas Street side that the pillars and stairs (going up along Douglas) don't work because of the unnecessary/dysfunctional separation that they introduce.

#35 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 09:11 PM

D'Ambrosio architected two from aastra's list.

He can do the streetwall well, no need for him to do weird and colonnaded fronts.

More Oak Bay Avenue (just narrow down those plots for trees that make the sidewalk too narrow):




Still more Oak Bay Avenue (again with the grass plots that are too wide):




When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#36 jklymak

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:03 PM

I appreciate what you all are saying, but I don't think it looks anywhere near as bad in the fly-through as some of your examples. The covered portion is almost two stories tall, and I think that makes a big difference. I also think the idea of a street wall is not so sacrosanct at this location as I don't think further east on Fort is going to be getting shops anytime soon. Finally, I think there is a functional purpose to having this side of the building covered. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, until more drawings are released.

#37 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:00 PM

Well, I think it's a mistake. If you look at the fly-through, you'll see that nearly at the end (at 2:05 in the video) the Meares/ Cook corner suddenly shows cafe tables under the colonnades. I noticed this because, prior to the sudden addition of cafe bric-a-brac when the video zooms out, that corner struck me as especially unsuited for such a big setback. It's empty at first, but when the video zooms out, it's filled with cafe stuff.

I guess the idea is to have "life" on the street (cafes) here. But I have to say that (imnsho) Cook St. north of Fairfield is one of the most unpleasant streets to sit outside on. If you've ever sat outside at Bubby Rose's you'll know just how damn loud it is. Sure, plenty of people do sit out there - and seem to like it. But the street noise makes conversation really difficult. The regular traffic is loud enough, and all it takes is for a bus to roar past and your voice is literally drowned out. Add a Harley or two, and you can just forget about talking to anyone.

IOW, the soundscape is part of the context, too.

That part of Cook Street has a really unpleasant soundscape. It's fast-flowing traffic-noise, not people-noise.

Given that context, I would argue for stores or cafes that offer a refuge, NOT more exposure to the street. Give enough visual exposure to people on the street with large glass frontages (as well as an aspect of the street to people inside), but give the customer an intimate place to dive into. Intimacy is good, too. Just my 2 cents.
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#38 Holden West

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:22 PM

^Well, I have had coffee with Ms. B at that corner and admit we end up yelling over the traffic noise until we resemble the old curmudgeons in the TD bank commercial. Now, if you venture down to the Cook St. Village, coffee outdoors is a much more pleasant experience as traffic slows down noticeably.

And while a cafe just might be successful, developers should stop gambling on the success of their ground floor on the hope that a cafe will occupy the prime corner space. If it doesn't happen, your showcase spot becomes an empty wasteland (see: The Wave).
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#39 jklymak

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 08:15 AM

the Meares/ Cook corner suddenly shows cafe tables under the colonnades.


No I agree that the Cook side of the building should not have this. I was just saying I could see the purpose on Fort.

I guess the idea is to have "life" on the street (cafes) here. But I have to say that (imnsho) Cook St. north of Fairfield is one of the most unpleasant streets to sit outside on. If you've ever sat outside at Bubby Rose's you'll know just how damn loud it is. Sure, plenty of people do sit out there - and seem to like it.


I don't know - I go to Bubby Rose's almost twice a week, and we always enjoy sitting outside. I guess if one were driving around looking for somewhere to chat, I'd drive to CSV, but since we walk there, the local one is great. If you live downtown, you don't notice much in the way of street noise.

#40 G-Man

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 08:20 AM

^^ Excellent example. A great example where blowing the first floor ruins the presence of a building. The commercial is recessed from the street wall and then to top it off the glass is a dark blue so you can't see inside.

As to jklymak assertion that no more shops are going up Fort street well there is already one more commercial space in the rise that is along the street. Also for some reason the architect felt compelled to bring that easternmost piece to the street as well which IMO shows that the rest is out of context and that part is there to re-engage the context of the street wall next door. Just build the whole building like that part and you are set.

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