After years of anticipation and meticulous craftsmanship, the Alberni by Kengo Kuma skyscraper has reached its completion in Vancouver. Designed by the renowned architecture practice Kengo Kuma & Associates and developed by Westbank, this remarkable 43-story residential tower stands as a testament to the Japanese architect’s first high-rise architectural endeavor in North America. The realization of this ambitious project showcases the fusion of Japanese design sensibilities with Vancouver’s urban fabric, creating a unique and sculptural architectural icon for the growing Canadian city. See designboom’s previous coverage.
THE CARVED-OUT TOWER: ALBERNI BY KENGO KUMA
From its inception in 2016, Kengo Kuma and his practice envisioned the Alberni by Kengo Kuma tower as an iconic structure that would redefine the city’s skyline. The distinctive form he developed with Westbank has come to life, resulting in a dynamic silhouette that gradually morphs when viewed from different angles. The tower’s sculpted shape features two carved-out ‘scoops’ that give way to deep balconies adorned with wooden soffits and decks. These intricately carved recesses not only lend the project a recognizable image but also establish an harmonious connection with its surroundings.
LUSH INTERIORS AND INTRICATE WOODWORK
Strategically located at the intersection of Alberni and Cardero Street, near Vancouver Harbour, Alberni by Kengo Kuma engages with the cityscape on multiple levels. Two intersecting domed vaults at ground level embrace the public realm, creating inviting spaces. Beneath these arching structures, a sprawling moss and bamboo garden welcomes visitors and guides them to the sheltered entrance, which seamlessly flows upward to the stunning swimming pool above.
True to Kengo Kuma’s design philosophy, Alberni incorporates the meticulous use of wood throughout its interior and exterior spaces. Craftsmanship and attention to detail define the project, as intricate woodwork can be found in every corner. This commitment to quality and natural materials is a hallmark of Kuma’s architectural approach.
ELEVATED AMENITIES INSIDE THE RESIDENTIAL TOWER
Beyond its unique architecture, Alberni by Kengo Kuma offers an array of amenities that elevate the residential experience. As part of the development, a Kengo Kuma-designed Fazioli piano graces the communal areas, infusing the ambiance with a harmonious blend of music and architecture. Additionally, residents will have the opportunity to savor the culinary delights of a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant, inspired by the renowned two Michelin-starred establishment, Waketokuyama. These amenities exemplify the commitment to creating a truly immersive and enriching living environment.
Reflecting on the completion of Alberni by Kengo Kuma, the architect expressed his satisfaction with the collaborative process and the project’s execution: ‘Westbank and Ian Gillespie have consistently encouraged us to explore adventurous ideas in each collaboration, and they have been instrumental in supporting our vision to integrate our work with the natural and urban environment.
‘We take immense pride in our work at Alberni, not only in its design but also in its flawless execution. Every key design gesture and detail is expressed with clarity. This marks our ninth project with Westbank, but it is our first high-rise residential endeavor in Vancouver and North America, setting a high bar for us in terms of quality construction, engagement with the city fabric, and architectural and living concepts.’
project title: Alberni
lead design architect: Kengo Kuma and Associates (KKAA) | @kkaa_official
location: Vancouver, Canada
developer: Westbank | @westbankcorp
previous coverage: April 2016, November 2020, November 2022
completion: June 2023
photography: © Ema Peter | @emaphotographi, courtesy Westbank
executive architect: Merrick Architecture
landscape architect: PFS Studio
engineer: Glotman Simpson Engineers
KKAA project team: Balazs Bognar, Michael Sypkens, Esteban Ochogavia, Richard David Nelson, Nicolas Cazali, Jagoda Krawcyk, Yasemin Sahiner, Kevin Clement, Nicolas Guichard, Moeko Yamagata, Shinya Toyama, Tomohiro Matsunaga, Martina Bandolin, John Xianfeng Jiang, Fumiya Kaneko, Takumi Saikawa, Mira Yung, Yu Tsuji* (* former staff)