Trump Tower Vancouver to be city's second tallest skyscraper


Five years ago, plans were first announced for an Arthur Erickson-designed Ritz-Carlton Hotel tower at a site across the street from the Shangri-La Hotel. The project, also known as 1133 West Georgia, was temporarily put on hold when the 2008 recession hit. It was revived one year ago when markets showed signs of improvement, but without the Ritz-Carlton’s brand nor involvement. According to a CBC report, the project’s developers are now working with Donald Trump to give the tower more marketable potential. The skyscraper will be the second in Canada to be given the Trump brand – the Trump Tower Vancouver.

1133 West Georgia has been known to developer and urban planning circles as a cursed site. For more than twenty years, the property has been an eyesore. Construction began in the early-1990s on a mid-rise office tower with a major fitness gym in the lower levels. When its developers ran out of money, construction was halted and the building was never completed. An incomplete exoskeleton building structure stood there for fifteen years until it was demolished in 2008 for the construction of the Arthur Erickson-designed Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Erickson’s design was a glass version of the famous Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden, designed by world renown Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The tower would twist 45-degrees from the ground level, it was no doubt one of the most beautiful and architecturally pleasing skyscrapers proposed for Vancouver.

A stunning legacy: it was Erickson’s parting gift to his city, and appropriately it will also be one of the city’s most visible buildings. This was the last building designed by Erickson before his death in 2009 (for those not familiar with Arthur Erickson, he was the architect behind Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Mountain campus and the Robson Square courthouse). It was advertised as the second tallest building in the city, short of just a few metres of Shangri-La Vancouver across the street. Beyond the beautiful exterior, 1133 West Georgia’s innards were intended for an five-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the lower floors and high-end residential condo units on the upper floors, with units priced between $2.5-million to $10-million in addition to a $28-million penthouse.

Since 2008, a large construction hole sat on the site and when the project was revived last spring, workers returned to the site to complete the excavation in preparation for the next stage of construction. Project developer Holborn Group also retained Erickson’s original iconic design for the tower, but with major changes in the layout of the building in order to make the development more economical in these current markets.

Eight floors have been added to the building through lower ceiling heights and the City of Vancouver’s approval of the developer’s request to increase the building’s height by 5-metres. The tower now stands at 67-storeys and a height of 188-metres (617-feet), giving the allowance to increase the number of condo units from 163 to 290 and hotel rooms from 127 to 187. In contrast, Shangri-La Vancouver is 201-metres (659-feet) and its close proximity (across the street) to the city’s to-be-built second tallest tower will give the Downtown skyline a firmer height “peak.”

The Holborn Group is also making the project more marketable and economically viable by decreasing the prices of the condo units, down to $1,500 per square foot with 1 bedroom units to start at $800,000 (originally $2.5-million). The average Vancouverite will not be buying units in this building – the average square foot price in Vancouver is $600.

Finally, there is also the building’s new brand – the Trump Tower Vancouver. This is all part of the Holborn Group’s strategy to market the luxury building to international (wealthy) buyers. However, Trump’s brand and image has gone quickly downhill in the decade since his initial success and widespread fame with his NBC reality show, The Apprentice. Given this fact, it makes one question the wisdom of associating the project with the Trump brand. It begs the question, is this branding really necessary? Is Arthur Erickson rolling in his grave?

While it is true that the value of Donald Trump’s brand and image has suffered immensely in recent years (in case you have been living in a cave: countless high-profile scandals; his recent business failures and questionable business practices; a failed and half-hearted [but comical] run for the American presidency; numerous political controversies that have publicly revealed his monster ego, and a bigoted and racist persona), his brand still holds great value internationally. After all, this is not a building being marketed to the average, liberal-educated and minded Vancouverite.

It is important to note that Donald Trump is not investing in the tower, he is merely selling his Trump brand to the developer. The developers of the recently completed 65-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto also took the same path. Like the Toronto tower, the hotel aspect of this new Vancouver skyscraper will likely be operated by the five-star Trump Hotel Collection chain.

We will be seeing “the Donald” and his trademark hair fly into Vancouver in a few years to cut the red ribbon. For this fan of great architecture, if this is what it takes for this $500-million architectural gem to be feasible for its developers, then so be it. This city is in great need of and deserves better architecture.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written and researched by Kenneth Chan, a Columnist at Vancity Buzz. Follow Kenneth on Twitter at @kjmagine.

Image credits: Holborn Group


More renderings of 1133 West Georgia as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. While the project is currently no longer affiliated with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain, the architectural design of the building will remain the same with its new life as the Trump Tower Vancouver.


About the author

Author Avatar
Kenneth Chan is Vancity Buzz's Deputy Editor and Social Media Manager. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, business, retail, economic development, infrastructure, politics or anything that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]

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    Glad to see that site finally heading the the right direction, it’s a stunning design and a perfect end point to the career and life of Arthur Erickson. As far as the Trump branding is concerned… It will appeal to a certain group that likes flashy sequinned bum jeans and Affliction shirts. 

  • Tara Chee

    Good article. The writing seems cleaner and the relevant information flows together a bit more than usual :)


    Or maybe the RHOV crowd.

  • Abc

    Why can’t they get Ritz back in? I hardly call the Trump Hotel a five star operation. But I do agree it is a beautiful building – at the very least it is not a James Cheng building.

  • Mijackrd

    Can’t we build an original tower in Vancouver instead of copying a Donald’s (American) design?   

  • Aghast

    Donald trump? Oh god…cheesy over promoted tasteless buffoon coming to Vancouver soon! Have you seen trump tower?

  • Mark

    I wish, above all, that it didn’t have the Trump name associated with it?
    And yes, the building has been “cheapened” with lower ceilings, more units, and tighter
    spaces all round.

    I wish it were still Riz-Carlton.
    There’s a name with brand equity !!!!

  • 604_CondoKing

    I would have more confidence in this building if the Trump development with the same developer in Toronto wasn’t undergoing all of these legal woes, including being sued by their current owners, being labelled as “the victim of an investment scheme and conspiracy based upon reckless and negligent misrepresentations” 


  • KenChanVCBuzz

    The building has been long-proposed for more than five years, it’s nothing new but its Trump brand is news. Construction even began in 2008, they dug a hole but stopped halfway when the recession came and it has been filling up with water ever since. It was supposed to be the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, but they backed out when the project was revived last year. It’s not an American design, it was not designed by nor commissioned by Trump – it was designed by Vancouver’s very own Arthur Erickson, and is owned and being developed by a Vancouver company.

    It’s a stunning, world-class architectural design by the late Arthur Erickson, it breaks the bland condo cookie cutter mold we all complain about, and if this is what it takes to help sales I’m all for it. Rarely do we ever have a single building that costs as much as $500-million+ to build. I tip my hat to the developers for not revising and dumbing down the design, they could have easily done that to lower costs and we’d get another bland building. Not going to deny the Trump brand is hideous and foul, but considering the price tags of the units this won’t be a building for the average Vancouverite.


  • Munx

    Between his ridiculous Obama ‘birther’ pursuit and his recent lawsuit against Maher, Trump has lost all brand equity.  This is lazy marketing.

  • phuck mohammed

    This is the kind of pizzazz that Vancouver desperately needs. Bravo.

  • Deanferoz

    Thank you
    A great opportunity to add my comments to this deserving development in the heart of Vancouver. A great project which will put Vancouver on a much higher plateau on the world scene of development projects. The Trump brand is best brand that will give international investors an opportunity to add Vancouver to their real estate portfolio.


    Feroz Dean

  • Vancouverperson2

     if, as you say, this won’t be a building for the average Vancouverite, pray tell for whom is it being built?  Aren’t the needs of AVERAGE Canadians more important than absent landlord investors to the future of the city?  And how disgusting that our city has to be trashed by association/name association with that vile man.  The “housewives” crap is bad enough.  Guess it’s fine to flush our international reputation, in the 21st century.  If built, I for one will NEVER darken its door, just as I never have and never WILL that Shangri-La travesty.  Leave the height in Vancouver to the MOUNTAINS, ‘boys’, and forget your endless unnecessary erections. 

  • Mainlander

    “bigoted and racist persona” <—————– Citation needed. Nobody will be aware of actual "racism" soon, as writers like this have watered it down to being meaningless.

  • Pauline

    I agree with Aghast and Mark’s comments below – we can do without the Trump brand here!

  • Rstevens


  • Terrence

    Lets all hope and pray there is not a god awful logo (or the trump name) atop of the tower, that we will all get to look at forever. Yikes

  • Harry van Hemmen

    Second highest, whatever happened to being first. I won’t we as spectacular if the newest isn’t the tallest.

  • RJM

    I love it when people throw around the term “World Class”! This building is NOT that interesting! Having the Trump name attached WON’T help either. I also think the property values at the FAR superior Shangri-La building WILL suffer as a result.
    A FAR more interesting proposal would be James Cheng designing a 100 floor tower on the Bayshore Hotel site! THAT would be ‘world class’! Hello Mr. Cheng?!

  • RJM

    Trump? The Trump building in Chicago IS World Class. Very elegant! The Trump Toronto building is hideous! BOTH as not selling well… I wish you luck Holburn…!

  • Vancourite

    I would much rather have the the Ritz-Carlton Name, the trump name is a turn off