Vancouver, BC, Trip Offers Inspiring Vision for Transforming Downtown, Urban Centers

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This week the Bay Area Council took a delegation to Vancouver, British Columbia, led by San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, PG&E CEO Patti Poppe, Bay Area Council Chair and Hanson Bridgett Managing Partner, Kristina Lawson, and CEO of the Bay Area Council Jim Wunderman. The purpose of the trip was to explore some large-scale, cutting-edge energy efficient development projects that Vancouver and companies like Westbank have become famous for and see how these urbanist sustainable principles can translate to proposed development sites in downtown San Jose. With San Jose’s ambitious net zero energy goals, PG&E will play an important role in providing the energy the city needs while leveraging innovative building designs to maximize energy efficiency, conservation and re-use.

The trip opened with a tour of Oakridge Park which is the largest urban development project in North America after Hudson Yards and which encompasses a total of 3.3 million square feet, with office, retail and 3,300 new homes, 800 of which are affordable. The project also includes a huge urban park as part of its green roof, a community center, public art and other cultural amenities. Next up was another partnership between Westbank and the Squamish First Nations community called the Sen̓áḵw. At full build out this will comprise a jaw-dropping 6,000 housing units spread over 11 buildings, including a significant portion dedicated affordable and for Squamish First Nations residents.
The group also toured Vancouver House, a recently completed 49-story tower designed by renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels that uses some amazing engineering to fit into a small 6,000 square foot footprint while expanding to over 12,000 square feet on the top floor.

Vancouver is clearly a city with no fear of height, density or architecture. There are more cranes in the sky than in any other North American city and the energy and optimism is palatable. Government at all levels, particularly tribal governments, play a cooperative role in the development process and the results speak for themselves.
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