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Waterfall Building

Arthur Erickson

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Project Description

From the official Arthur Erickson website:

Waterfall Building -Designed 1996 with Nick Milkovich Architects

The concept of the scheme was to provide simple, elegant spaces that had the maximum natural light available and provided a “blank palette” for the tenants to customize, as they desire. The client wanted the tenants to be free to create spaces that would reflect their lifestyles. The other important concept was to engender a “community spirit”, which is why all the units are grouped around a south facing light filled inner courtyard that is private, but connected to the street. The development comprises Artist Live-Work Studios, commercial retail space and an art gallery, grouped around a large courtyard with two levels of parking below grade.

The studios are broken into four major blocks that take into account the slope of the site and help to define the inner courtyard. They are based on an interlocking unit plan that allows every studio to have a 16-foot high clear space and exposure in two directions, either north/south or east-west giving every studio natural through-ventilation. The 16-foot high section of the studio is fully glazed with sliding doors that open to French balconies. The construction of the studios is sandblasted concrete that is left exposed on the interiors. The finishes are robust: galvanized steel, stainless steel, steel mesh and concrete. The floors have radiant heating installed under a polished concrete topping.

There is a large 65-foot opening between the street and the inner courtyard. The underside of the opening is curved with a 40-foot long curtain of water which flows from the centre of the curve into a large reflecting pool underneath. This "waterfall" helps to buffer street noise from the courtyard and bounce light up into the opening, making it more welcoming.

Directly across from the opening, there is a large glazed wedge-shaped art gallery that is landscaped with white roses tumbling down the sides. The courtyard is simply landscaped with deer ferns, moss gardens, cherry trees and grass planted between concrete pavers. Two glass elevators reach the landscaped roof terraces, providing a dynamic experience of the inner courtyard and city views to the north.
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