To re-establish architecture as a generator of possibility, make physical wear an asset and authenticity a viable alternative, our proposal begins by turning the existing podium-tower typology inside-out. The effect of the PoTo:type monoculture is one of frenetic visual noise. While their individual architectural mediocrity may offer little to argue with, the podium-tower’s collective homogeneity results in an architectural vocabulary too legible to ever engender authentic urban evolution. With over 50% of us living urbanely, a city’s foremost attribute is as a site for possibility; through novelty, misinterpretation, or re-appropriation of cultural tradition. The existing plinth vocabulary acts as an ordering device through recognizable stylistic reinterpretation and a rigidly drawn perimeter. Instead, by making the block navigable, we alleviate the ground-plane of this formal encumbrance. Maximizing the plinth’s porosity and providing space for collectivity, the potential for misinterpretation leaves the architecture open to individual devices. By inverting the poto:typology, we create a courtyard volume which permits entry to the building, only to find a nature free of the noise and congestion beyond. A singularly carved mass, the PoTo:tower becomes iconic within a moiré of architectural complacency and frenetic vertigo. Urban-scale wood shingles reinterpret cultural inheritance while providing a backdrop for the subtleties of northern light and shadow, the cause of so much visual noise in the current streetscapes. Finally, we seek to make weathering an attribute in this sea of nondescript late century construction. As the building ages, shingles will be replaced, resulting in an evolving authentic skyline.

Client: PoTo:Type Competition

Program: Commercial, Mixed Use, High Rise

Status: Complete

Size: 170,000 SF

Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Architects: Kyle May, Jonathan Kurtz, Dru McKeown, Kevin Stita
Awards: AIA Cleveland unbuilt work – Merit Award 2007

Kyle May, Jonathan Kurtz, Dru McKeown, Kevin Stitak