Fighting for Beauty: RSIR Brokers Visit Westbank in Vancouver

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On Wednesday, September 19th, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty brokers Jay Kipp, Brad Vancour and I were invited to Vancouver to visit Westbank, a world class developer, as they set the stage for the unveiling of the condominium buildings in Seattle. The first that is set to come onto the market is named First Light and will soon stand at the corner of 3rd and Virginia. In a recent visit to our affiliates at Canada Sotheby’s International RealtyShaz Karim raved about how Westbank dares to do things differently and builds things no one else thinks possible, so excitement was mounting as we boarded a seaplane on Wednesday evening at Lake Union and visited one of their projects, the Fairmont Pacific Rim.

  Chang (center) pictured with affiliates from Sotheby’s International Realty Canada including Karim (right).

Chang (center) pictured with affiliates from Sotheby’s International Realty Canada including Karim (right).

Things kicked off on Thursday with Ian Gillespie, owner of Westbank, introducing his vision of what development and building can be. Every detail of every project is given meticulous attention and each gains inspiration from its meaning to the city. First Light, for instance, is inspired by the sustainability of Seattle and the glamorous morning light that envelops the city.

  Gillespie shares a model of the First Light project (left) and a concept for a re-imagined balcony.

Gillespie shares a model of the First Light project (left) and a concept for a re-imagined balcony.

What is interesting about Westbank is that they always bring on a third-party collaborator to create unique pieces that transform each building into an artistic masterpiece. This time, they invited local artist John Hogan to participate. Hogan crafted glass pieces that will hang from wires set around the office level units. And in the lobby of each building there is always a custom-built Fazioli piano, designed by the artist to match the vision of the building.

  A custom-built Fazioli piano that was created for the Butterfly in Vancouver.

A custom-built Fazioli piano that was created for the Butterfly in Vancouver.

  Attendees met at the Westbank offices to learn about their building philosophy.

Attendees met at the Westbank offices to learn about their building philosophy.

  Vancouver House, an urban village currently under construction at Granville Bridge in Vancouver.

Vancouver House, an urban village currently under construction at Granville Bridge in Vancouver.

The group first explored some of Westbank’s earlier projects then headed to the Vancouver House on a hard hat tour to see construction progress. Though it is still in development, it is a stunning building that makes great use of the limited land right around the Granville Bridge with apartments, offices and ground level retail. Westbank is striving to make it an urban village to complement the resources around them. The grand art piece designed for the Vancouver House is a 30-foot wide chandelier that will hang under the bridge. Each night, it will spin and move to create a spectacle for residents and visitors to enjoy. It was also humbling to learn that for every unit they sell at Vancouver House, they are building a home for a family in Cambodia.

Following the trip, Westbank’s involvement in Seattle seems all the more exciting, as one of the world’s top developers will bring unique projects to 3rd and Virginia, 1200 Stewart, a project with the Frye Art Museum, and more.