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    QUIZ

    Dockside Green: Phase Two

    by David Owen

    The second phase of the Dockside Green project in Victoria, British Columbia, recently received a high-scoring LEED Platinum certification from the Canada Green Building Council. Known as Balance, this part of the development comprises 171 residential units in two adjacent towers. It earned a LEED score of 63 points out of a possible 70, matching the score of Dockside Green's first phase, Synergy (featured in ArchitectureWeek No. 401).

    I visited Dockside Green twice, once in December 2009 and another time in May 2010. And while some of its "greenness" was evident to the senses, for the most part, the project didn't seem that outwardly different from conventional construction. A mixed-use building at the north end of the site sports several conspicuous features: rooftop wind turbines, photovoltaic panels mounted as awnings over windows, and a large tank for capturing rainwater. But elements such as shade devices and high-performance glazing on the residential buildings are less readily discernible as "green."

    Like its earlier neighbor to the north, Balance draws from a set of themes envisioned by Busby Perkins + Will, which designed both of the built phases and the development's master plan. The two buildings of Phase II — one nine stories tall, the other ten — are in essence solid, rectangular masses of concrete, steel, and glass. Their long northern and southern elevations are defined by a shallow segmental curve, a move that lightens the buildings' massing considerably. Along the site's western edge, the structures respond to a major feeder street with a crisp boundary, using fences composed of glass panels and steel to define small, elevated front yards for the two-story townhouses that front Tyee Road.

    Those two buildings are separated by a publicly accessible courtyard that serves both as a pedestrian street for more ground-level apartments and as a viewpoint overlooking the development's eastern side, which is one level below the street. Planted walls anchor the front of the courtyard, whose permeable gravel-and-pavers surface is punctuated by a number of concrete planters containing young trees and hardy shrubbery.

    Although it offers tantalizing glimpses of the lower level, the Balance courtyard provides no direct access to the eastern portions of the site, which are accessible instead through a series of sidewalk entry points in the Synergy section. Along the west side, these points are stairs that lead from the street level down to a pedestrian path that runs the length of the site.

    Between the path and the buildings, a greenway with a ribbon of cascading pools serves as part of the onsite stormwater management system, and also hints at the maritime allusion in the development's name. Public and private walkways of wooden planks bridge the small water feature, further reinforcing the wharf imagery.

    That constructed creek is much closer at hand than the true dock: although Dockside Green certainly looks out onto Victoria's Inner Harbour, most of the site is slightly removed from the waterfront.

    Both times I visited Dockside Green, the parklike greenway was being used heavily. Mallard ducks plied the waters while people and pets sauntered along walkways. As it veers eastward to connect with a public bike path along the Inner Harbour, the main path passes the patio of a cafe in the mixed-use building topped by wind turbines. When I visited on that sunny spring day in May, many cafe patrons were sitting on the patio, sipping coffee and talking.

    That day I couldn't help but notice the raw state of part of the site, extending the equivalent of several blocks southward from Balance — presumably cleared for future phases of development.

    Even so, the completed buildings were steadily knitting themselves into the urban fabric of their surrounding neighborhood, seeming to feed and build on other recent construction projects in the immediate vicinity, and bolstering an established residential neighborhood nearby.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    David Owen is the managing production editor of ArchitectureWeek.   More by David Owen

     

    AW

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    Balance is the two-building second phase of the Dockside Green project in Victoria, British Columbia. Busby Perkins + Will designed the development's master plan and both phases of residential construction built to date.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    Recently certified LEED Platinum, Balance includes two-story townhouses that front on Tyee Road, which forms the site's western boundary.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    The northern Balance tower (pictured) is ten stories tall, while its southern counterpart is one story shorter.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    The courtyard separating the two Balance buildings overlooks the eastern part of the site, with Victoria's Inner Harbour beyond.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    The raised front patios of the south building's townhouses.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    On the eastern path, looking north toward the development's first phase, Synergy.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    A constructed creek is a prominent part of the wastewater management and filtration systems at Dockside Green.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    In several locations, water in the "creek" cascades to a lower level.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    Photovoltaic panels and rooftop wind turbines feature prominently on this mixed-use building.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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    Seen in May 2010, just south of Balance, part of the Dockside Green site seemed to be waiting for the next phase of construction to begin.
    Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

     

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