Culture

Skyfall

In Vancouver? Look way up. You might catch a glimpse of Canadian Olympian Emily Overholt, out for a swim in the sky.
Olympic bronze winning swimmer Emily Overholt tests out the pool at The Arc (Photo by Jimmy Jeong)
December 18, 2020 - Vancouver, British Columbia - Olympic bronze winning swimmer Emily Overholt tests out the pool at The Arc. Photo by Jimmy Jeong

As you walk by Vancouver’s luxury condominium the Arc, look up. Look way up. You might catch a glimpse of Canadian Olympian Emily Overholt, out for a swim in the sky. The glass-bottom pool, located 200 feet above ground, is built into the bridge that connects the condo’s two towers on the 20th floor. The idea is genius and audacious, but it’s also part of a long-term trend that has seen condominium projects not only competing for more desirable locations, but also greater prominence in a city’s landscape. “There’s been a slow shift—not part of some grand design—that condo towers are taking more high-profile roles in generating the architectural character of a city as a whole, which used to be occupied by office or public buildings,” says Matthew Soules, an associate professor at UBC’s school of architecture. The Arc, for example, is located near the north end of the Cambie Street Bridge, “a gateway location” to Vancouver’s downtown core. “Now you’re seeing developers and architects—in concert with city planners—consciously making exceptional architectural expression at those gateway locations,” Soules says.“It’s pretty remarkable when you walk across the bridge and see that crazy pool.”