Tallest Buildings in Downtown Vancouver

I am routinely disappointed in the reporting about buildings in Vancouver. This is the tallest… blah, blah, blah. One of the oft cited sources is Emporis. Now let me be clear, I love Emporis, I really do, but they tend to put most of their energy into the mega-tall and super-tall developments going on in the world’s largest cities. A site like that doesn’t get too excited when a city like Vancouver erects another 10-15 story building… and it shows, seriously they have garbage data on Vancouver and are so out of touch the site is rendered useless for any local data gathering. Well, that doesn’t stop our local media outlets from citing them as a source. One might consider Phorio as the better option for building enthusiasts, click here. 

Most of the buildings erected in Vancouver are shown on Emporis with an estimated height, using some formula for x stories equals y height. Emporis knows full well that the ceiling heights between floors vary widely which is why the 805 Broadway building in Vancouver is as tall on the 10th floor as the Smith Tower is on the 13th.

They have omitted several tall buildings from any height estimation at all including St. James Proto Cathedral which is well over 100 feet tall. It’s not like Saint James is a new structure, jeez it was built in 1885 and stood as the tallest building downtown from 1885-1966. Furthermore, they haven’t added any of Vancouver’s newest buildings including the Kirkland Tower which is already built up to a height that would place it in the top 5 on their list. They also have a clearly inaccurate measurement on the Firstenburg Tower at Peace Health SW Washington Medical Center. They list it at 160 feet tall, it is NOT that tall, they are way off the mark. It is at best 145 feet tall. Furthering the inaccuracies, they list 500 Broadway as 100 feet tall. At best, 500 Broadway rises 85 feet above the street. Despite their sterling reputation, it seems Emporis has done very sloppy work in Vancouver USA.

I have spent the last few years using two tools to help determine the actual height as near as possible with my limited resources, for Vancouver’s taller buildings. These tools include an app that uses triangulation. This method requires an accurate measurement from a level point across the street to the base of the building to calculate heights.  I have also used Google’s quasi accurate 3D path tool on Google Earth.

The tallest human built structures in Vancouver and Clark County are the two electrical transmission line towers at the Port of Vancouver which carry power across the Mighty Columbia to Portland, there are two matching towers on Hayden Island. Each of these are a little over 500 feet tall and no other structures in Clark County are remotely close to as tall. The next tallest structure is the tallest inhabited building in Vancouver and Clark County and it is the 25 story elevator tower at Terminal 2 at the Port of Vancouver. It stands 340 feet tall. It is technically the only skyscraper in town using the widely accepted 100 meter threshold for the term. There are several other towers around it that are more than 165 feet tall and are taller than any building in Downtown Vancouver or the new waterfront thus far.

OK so dropping the comparison of industrial buildings at the port and unoccupied mast poles, here is a list of Vancouver’s tallest buildings in the downtown area. I am using the height including architectural crowns and large mechanical or occupied penthouses, but not small mechanical penthouses or simple roof access points, nor antennae or flag poles. Minimum height 100 feet. Under construction or completed buildings only. Over the next 3-5 years this list will more than double in size. I am tracking 16 projects in planning or proposal stages that will exceed 100 feet (30.5m) in height in the Downtown and Waterfront area.

  1. 805 Broadway: 165 feet, 10 stories, office, 1984 ^
  2. Smith Tower: 158 feet, 15 stories, residential, 1966 #
  3. Kirkland Tower: 146 feet*, 12 stories, residential, 2022
  4. Vancouver Center 3: 143 feet, 11 stories, office & residential, 2004
  5. Riverview Tower: 142 feet, 11 stories, office and residential, 1991
  6. Proto Cathedral St James: 132 feet, church tower with spire, 1885 ## *#
  7. Indigo Hotel: 112 feet*, 8 stories, hotel, with raised glass roof, 2022 ^^
  8. Van Vista Plaza: 110 feet, 10 stories, residential, 1970
  9. Clark County Admin: 106 feet, 6 stories, office, 2002
  10. The Murdock: 104 feet, 7 stories, office, 2018
  11. City Hall: 100 feet, 6 stories, office, 2007
  12. 500 Broadway: 100 feet, 6 stories, Office/Residential, 2001 **

^ includes architectural crown above 10th floor

^^ includes raised glass roof above the 8th floor

# Tallest building downtown from 1966-1984

* reported height in architectural renderings presented to the city. 

## Tallest building downtown from 1885-1966

** reported height by Emporis, Rod estimates it at 85 feet

*# Possibly one of the ten tallest buildings on the West Coast in 1885