The grace of being unknown


Quiet times in condo land. At Westcoast Homes, the section once known as the seven extra pounds of the Weekend Sun is down to three pages, one being a full-page promo for Polygon.

There’s an article on Yaletown’s Grace, which is closer to a real luxury condo than the “melamine luxury” sold in most showrooms across the city. It fits that Grace has no sales centre and the developer, James Schouw, isn’t a media darling. The Sun calls Schouw a “Westcoast Homes unknown” — a gentle way of saying he doesn’t buy ads. (Don’t worry, James, you’re in good company: I’m also a Westcoast Homes unknown.)

Downtowners probably know Grace as “that place” on the corner of Drake and Richards. Its look isn’t for everybody but I like that it’s not the cheap cladding and glass of the Concord Pacific philosophy. What do you think? You’ll find pictures at Architecture Wanted.

BTW, if you want to see me fail at being funny in 140 characters or less, you can follow me on Twitter. Be warned, it could be bad.  There was a time when Crystal Pepsi seemed like a good idea.

15 Responses to “The grace of being unknown”

  1. The Urban Dweller Says:

    The Grace is an awesome building that stands out in the cookie-cutter Concord towers. I heard that there are plans for a few more buildings by this architect. Just rumblings but wouldn’t that be a welcome addition to the Vancouver condo scene.

    Whats wrong with Crystal Pepsi? I loved that stuff, I still have a case left that I’m putting up for auction on Ebay. If you like it you may bid on it, the starting price is $1000 😛

  2. blueskies Says:

    Yes I do like the Grace, we currently live across and down the street from the building. The 4 “Graces” that embellish the buildings along with the gargoyles that guard the entrance are a welcome whimsical touch compared to some of the surrounding “architecture”.

    His next project may be on the corner of Drake and Homer in the
    old electrical warehouse, which is considered Heritage “B”a squat ugly monstrosity of a building.

  3. Yakpi Says:

    I remember the building. That is considered heritage?

    Photo here if URL works:

  4. K-Money Says:

    I enjoy looking at that building. I believe it is one of the best buildings downtown. Most of friends agree as well. So many concord pacific buildings are sight for sore eyes.

  5. Montery Says:

    I’ve looked around at that building, and am really impressed by the architecture. It is whimsical, and that makes it charming and delightful! I’d love to own in that building, but I suspect it’s a couple of zero’s outta my price range.

    Why is it all the buildings that have character and class are prohibitively expensive??

  6. condohype Says:

    It’s nice to see a building where it’s believable that the person who designed it would *want* to live in it.

  7. Grendel Says:

    I like the way the building looks from a distance amid the dull “stacked floorplate” look of almost all adjacent towers. Up close, however the detailing is brutal!

  8. sidelines Says:

    I don’t mean to be a jerk but, come on, Grace is the ugliest piece of sh*t. What a joke! A miserably failed attempt at God-knows-what. A mish-mash of styles and crappy-@ss finishings. It isn’t cookie cutter; it’s a one-of-a-kind eyesore. Is this what new money builds?

    Yes, this city is an architectural desert, but Grace sure ain’t its oasis.

  9. greg Says:

    Apropos of nothing, and the beauty of being unknown, Ian Watt goes on a rant about anonymous real estate blog sites. I ripped into it here but referenced condohype, hope you don’t mind. I know I’m not a big circulation Vancouver daily, but I thought we were of a similar opinion about these things, even though of course you don’t know me and I don’t know you… 😉

  10. condohype Says:

    Greg, thanks for the link. I posted a reply on your site. I don’t see much controversy. People read what they want to read.

  11. ArC Says:

    I *love* the courtyard of the original Grace building.

  12. Paul Says:


    It’s really funny to read this blog sometimes, because it’s very clear how shallow the collective analysis is here.

    AND how taken you are by the very thing you lament: HYPE!

    This guy is full of it!

    This building is a piece of crap.

    Looks different, right? Sure, but the “developer” is an architect and his project has been mismanaged from the very beginning.

    So admire the shiny turd, but be sure to cut it open and take a sniff before you dive in and extoll it as the greatest architectural gift given to Vancouver in the last decade.

  13. indreamcity Says:

    Grace just won this year’s Georgie – figures.

  14. Natasha Says:

    Grace is the most beautiful building in all of Vancouver! You are right “indreamcity”, it won the Georgie awards for “best residential high rise in BC”. I can’t wait to see his next design “Artemisia”. I walk past the building everyday and can’t get enough. I have noticed that they are making it better and better all the time. Thanks James Schouw for adorning our city with a jewel

  15. Jurgan Turner Says:

    I really like the Grace building. I think it is a great example of what builders should aspire to construct rather than all the cookie cutters that are being slapped together as fast as they can. Grace’s predecessor, the Iliad on Homer is one of the best loft developments in the city and I am really looking forward to the Artemisia, the next unique building to be constructed by james Schouw and Associates. I’ve seen the drawings and it wil look similar to the lower parts of Grace but not roundish. It’s a 23 suite building using the same newer technology that Grace was built with. Biometric security, geothermal heating, rainwater collection systems, acoustic insulation above and beyond what other developers are doing and well built efficient plumbing. James Schouw deserves to be commended for his industry leading efforts to improve the industry even if you don’t like the look of the buildings.

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