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Contents
Andrew Doran

Martin Tessler

DA Architects + Planners
17 Vancouver Olympic Village 11 News
Office dA selected for University of Toron-
Sustainability initiatives deployed in the newly constructed Olympic Village in
Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek are critiqued. TEXT Hannah Teicher
to’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architec-
ture, Landscape and Design expansion;
deadline for nominations and submissions
26 Vancouver Convention for the RAIC Gold Medal and Architectural
Firm Award.
Centre West
A detailed report of the evolutionary process of Vancouver’s new convention 45 Insites
centre. TEXT Frances Bula Graham Livesey introduces the concept of
and key figures in the landscape urbanism
movement.
36 Richmond Olympic Oval
Gracing the banks of the Fraser River, this award-winning project is one of 49 Practice
few purpose-built speed-skating ovals in existence. TEXT Ian Chodikoff In this second installment, the pros and
cons of the P3 process are presented by
Tom Soar

Helena Grdadolnik and David Colussi.

56 Calendar
P arallel Nippon: Contemporary Japanese
Architecture 1996-2006 at the Design
Exchange; Construct Canada 2009 at the
Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

58 Backpage
Adele Weder speaks about multidisciplin-
ary design firm Cause+Affect and their
contributions to the 2010 Winter Olympics
in Vancouver.

NOVEMBER 2009, v.54 n.11

COVERThe highly expressed roof structure


of the Richmond Olympic Oval by
Cannon Design. Photo by Hubert Kang.
The National Review of Design and Practice/
The Journal of Record of the RAIC

11/09 canadian architect 7


Viewpoint
© VANOC/COVAN

­­Editor
Ian Chodikoff, OAA, MRAIC
Associate Editor
Leslie Jen, MRAIC
Editorial Advisors
John McMinn, AADipl.
Marco Polo, OAA, MRAIC
Contributing Editors
Gavin Affleck, OAQ, MRAIC
Herbert Enns, MAA, MRAIC
Douglas MacLeod, ncarb
Regional Correspondents
Halifax Christine Macy, OAA Regina Bernard Flaman, SAA
Montreal David Theodore Calgary David A. Down, AAA
Winnipeg Herbert Enns, MAA vancouver adele weder
Publisher
Tom Arkell 416-510-6806
associate publisher
greg paliouras 416-510-6808
Circulation Manager
ABOVE Cheerful and welcoming ambassadors Quatchi and Miga, two of the three
beata olechnowicz 416-442-5600 ext. 3543
official mascots of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Customer Service
malkit chana 416-442-5600 ext. 3539
Production
jessica jubb
In February, Vancouver (along with Whistler, these facilities could someday be heightened Graphic Design
Sue Williamson
Richmond and West Vancouver) will host the 21st through “augmented reality” (AR), a term used to Vice President of Canadian Publishing
Alex Papanou
Winter Olympics, and the world’s media will describe the indirect experience of a physical
President of Business Information Group
focus on one of North America’s most dynamic real-world environment that has been mediated Bruce Creighton
Head Office
cities. However, considering the staggering with—or augmented by—a computer-generated 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800,
Toronto, ON M3C 4J2
amount of new construction over the past several virtual reality. AR is already being heavily pro- Telephone 416-510-6845
years and the many high-profile projects that moted and developed for certain applications like Facsimile 416-510-5140
E-mail editors@canadianarchitect.com
have literally paved the way for the 2010 Winter broadcast sports. An example would be digitally Web site www.canadianarchitect.com
Canadian Architect is published monthly by Business Information Group,
Olympics, what does Vancouver have to show for placing virtual yellow lines over scrimmage lines, a division of BIG Magazines LP, a leading Cana­dian information company
with interests in daily and community news­papers and business-to-business
itself in terms of precedent-setting and innova- or digitally colour-enhancing the lane of the fast- information services.

tive architecture in the public realm? est swimmer to better identify her progress in The editors have made every reasonable effort to provide accurate and
authoritative information, but they assume no liability for the accuracy or com-
Certainly, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olym- the pool. Recently, the software company Yelp pleteness of the text, or its fitness for any particular purpose.
Subscription Rates Canada: $52.95 plus applicable taxes for
pics will not be anything like the 2008 Beijing released the first AR iPhone application that en- one year; $83.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (GST –
#809751274RT0001). Price per single copy: $6.95. Students (pre-
Summer Olympics, where China showcased its ables users to aim their phone’s camera at a res- paid with student I.D., includes taxes): $32.50 for one year.
USA: $101.95 U.S. for one year. All other
new iconic architecture to the world with un- taurant, and a review of that restaurant will in- foreign: $103.95 U.S. per year.

paralleled bravado. In the case of Vancouver, stantly appear on screen. Other offerings will US office of publication: 2424 Niagara Falls Blvd, Niagara Falls, NY 14304-
5709. Periodicals Postage Paid at Niagara Falls, NY. USPS #009-192.
competition venues like the Richmond Oval and soon include the possibility of simply aiming the US postmaster: Send address changes to Canadian Architect, PO Box 1118,
Niagara Falls, NY 14304.
non-competition venues like the Olympic Village phone at a person in the street to access his or Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian
Architect, 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2.
and the Vancouver Convention Centre West exist her social networking page. Layar, an Amster- Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 12 Con-
as effective catalysts for urban development to dam-based software company, has developed an corde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2. Printed
in Canada. All rights reserved. The contents of this publica-
occur around their respective sites over a period application that lets people see pictures and in- tion may not be re­produced either in part or in full without
the consent of the copyright owner.
of time—rather than operating as instant icons of formation about World War I battlefields simply From time to time we make our subscription list available to select companies
and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not
architecture for the purposes of global media by holding up their phones at certain inter­ wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us via
one of the following methods:
consumption. However, in the opinion of some sections or empty fields in and around small
Telephone 1-800-668-2374
within Vancouver’s design community, the pro- towns in northern France. Already, the Royal Facsimile 416-442-2191
E-mail privacyofficer@businessinformationgroup.ca
jects being completed for the Winter Olympics Bank of Canada is experimenting with AR to fur- Mail Privacy Officer, Business Information Group, 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800,
Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2
have largely resulted in architecturally flaccid ther the objectives of energy efficiency, and the Member of the Canadian Business Press
entities whose greatest success will be fostering campaign is being promoted throughout the Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations
Publications Mail Agreement #40069240
the development of places like Richmond and Olympic torch relay. ISSN 0008-2872

Southeast False Creek. What could have been As the concept of AR advances, perhaps we’ll
done to avoid this perception of lacklustre build- be able to satisfy architectural critics by giving
ings, and did the conservative assembly of them a special iPhone application that will allow
public-private partnerships hinder the expres- them to see the world through a lens that reveals
sion of the architecture? the dream potential of what a building could have
With so much of the Olympics being about been without the reality of budget cuts, free of the
media, and with so much of Vancouver’s new detrimental effects of value-engineering to sat­
architecture being about the pragmatics of pro- isfy short-term financial requirements. Let the We acknowledge the financial support of the
Government of Canada through the Publications
viding cost-effective sports facilities, one begins Games begin. Assistance Program towards our mailing costs.
PAP Registration No. 11093
to wonder how the architectural experience of Ian Chodikoff ichodikoff@canadianarchitect.com

8 canadian architect 11/09


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News

Projects

Office dA selected for University of


Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Archi-
tecture, Landscape and Design expansion.
The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture,
Land­scape and Design at the University of Toron­
to announced that a design team led by Boston-
based architectural firm Office dA has been
chosen to transform its facilities. Led by partners
Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani, the
firm has designed award-winning pro­jects around
the world. The Daniels Faculty was renamed in
2008 to recognize the historic gift by alumnus
John Daniels and his wife Myrna, directed at re­
newing its facilities as well as providing financial
support to students. Earlier this year, the Faculty
began a search to select an architectural team to
design a project that would address the acceler­
ated growth of its programs and research endeav­
ours, as well as situate new technologies and
labora­tories. Office dA’s concept was selected
after successfully meeting the criteria for origi­
nality, technical and aesthetic innovation and
sustainability. The pro­ject will integrate high-
performance environmental elements in the
façade with revitalized interior spaces in the
Daniels building. Key features include a new au­
di­torium, a vertical telescoping atrium, upgraded
studio and meeting spaces, a rooftop library and
adjoining green terrace with views of downtown
Toronto. The scheme aspires to meet the highest
possible standards of environmental sustainabili­
ty and performance, and will help advance the TOP Designed by the Boston-based firm of Office dA, the new John H. Daniels Faculty
Faculty’s ambition to become a focal point at of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto will eventually
U of T for research and speculation on better ways see a new external carapace built over its existing structure to make it more energy-
efficient and visually dynamic. ABOVE Coen + Partners landscape architects have
to design and inhabit the built environment. Of­ designed a newly landscaped roof for the school to provide a new vantage point
fice dA has received notable acclaim for its work, from which students can experience the city.
including an award in architecture from the
American Academy of Arts and Letters and nine maintain a new hospital specifically geared to pa­ areas open to the public including a cafeteria,
Progressive Architecture Awards in architecture tients affected by multiple, lifelong illnesses such audi­torium, library, internet café, rooftop garden,
and urban design. Recently, the Cooper Hewitt as advanced diabetes with complications, renal labyrinth terrace and 12,000 square feet of retail
National Design Museum honoured Office dA failure, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, HIV/ space; and environmentally sustainable features
with the prestigious National Design Award in ar­ AIDS, stroke, and other chronic diseases. As part targeting LEED certification. The Bridgepoint
chitecture. Ponce de Leon is dean of the A. Alfred of the Plenary Health Team, Dia­mond and Collaboratory for Research and Innovation will be
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Plan­ Schmitt Architects in association with HDR Ar­ located in the historic Don Jail. The heritage
ning at the University of Michigan, and Tehrani is chitects has designed a revitalized medical cam­ building will be preserved and restored to house a
professor of architecture at the Massachusetts pus comprised of the new Bridgepoint Hospital vibrant world-class centre for education, research
Institute of Technology. Toronto firm Adamson and the Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and innovation, and will be open to the public for
Associates is the architect of record on the project and Innovation to be located in the renovated Don the first time since 1977 with interpretive displays
and Coen + Partners of New York/Minneapolis is Jail. The new Bridgepoint Hospital will be a in the rotunda and some cells and gallows pre­
the landscape architect. 10-storey, 680,000-square-foot facility that will served for historical interest. The new Bridge­
incorporate: increased ambulatory care space for point Hospital and renovated Don Jail are sched­
Diamond and Schmitt Architects to design outpatients and community programming; abun­ uled to open in 2013.
new Bridgepoint Hospital. dant natural light and spectacular views of the
Bridgepoint Health, Canada’s leader in the pre­ city, Riverdale Park and sur­round­­ing communi­ KMBR Architects Planners Inc. to design
vention and management of complex chronic dis­ ties; double the number of patient lounges; more third major project for College of the Rockies.
ease, and Infrastructure Ontario have partnered room for specialized wheel­chairs; bright, open KMBR Architects Planners Inc. has been selected
with Plenary Health to design, build, finance and dining rooms and common areas for visitors; new to design a third major project for the College of

11/09 canadian architect 11


the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC. The $12.7-million Awards Richmond Olympic Oval wins first major
project is a major expansion of the south entrance international award.
of the college’s main building—the Kootenay Deadline for nominations and submissions Fast + Epp Structural Engineers of Vancouver re­
Centre—and is funded by the federal-provincial for the RAIC Gold Medal and Architectural ceived the Award for Sports or Leisure Structures
Knowledge Infrastructure Program that is invest­ Firm Award. for the firm’s work on the Richmond Olympic
ing in postsecondary institutions across BC. This The RAIC Gold Medal is awarded in recognition of Oval Roof. The award was announced at the Insti­
expansion will have a significant impact on the a significant body of work deemed to be a major tution of Structural Engineers 2009 Structural
local community, creating over 80 direct jobs and contribution to Canadian architecture, and having Awards Gala, and marks the first major inter­
helping the College build upon its role as a cul­ lasting influence on the theory and/or the practice national award for the Richmond Olympic Oval.
tural and economic pillar in the region. The ex­ of architecture. Any individual, living or dead, may Based in London, the Institution of Structural
tensive use of wood responds to the community be nominated to receive the Gold Medal. In excep­ Engineers is the world’s largest membership or­
context, local resources and the close cultural tional circumstances, the Gold Medal may be ganization dedicated to the art and science of
ties between the College and the Ktunaxa First awarded to more than one individual architect structural engineering. This annual competition
Nations. The College will see a transformation of where it is clearly demonstrated that the nominees recognizes the work of the world’s most talented
the Kootenay Centre’s lower level to add faculty have individually and collectively met the selection structural designers and their contribution to the
offices and seven classrooms featuring state-of- criteria. Formerly offered as part of the RAIC built environment. Fast + Epp conceived the de­
the-art technology, while the upper level will Awards of Excellence, the Architectural Firm sign idea for the Richmond Olympic Oval Roof by
become an iconic port of entry, reinforcing the Award recognizes an architectural firm or practice capitalizing on the opportunity to use a unique
College’s identity as a high-calibre, degree- that has consistently produced distinguished ar­ blend of materials, including lumber from BC
granting institution. The design is centred chitecture. Those eligible include archi­tectural pine beetle-killed forests. This wood, along with
around a foyer with an interior of grand propor­ firms or architectural practices which are resident other materials, was used to design the structural
tions, while a south-facing façade and expansive in Canada or have their principal office located in elements that integrate and conceal the roof’s
clerestory glazing will allow light penetration Canada, and possess the appropriate Certificate of mechanical systems, providing the Richmond
deep into the building and reveal the expressive Practice or authorization to practice as required by Olympic Oval Roof with the warm, impressive and
structure that unifies the existing and new build­ the provincial licensing authorities, and who have unique structure it is receiving acclaim for today.
ings. In order to meet the project’s fast-tracked been together as an organization or as successor The Richmond Olympic Oval, designed by archi­
schedule, KMBR has implemented its Holistic firm for at least ten years. Nominations and sub­ tectural firm Cannon Design, is a multi-purpose
Project Delivery method (described in CA, June missions for both awards must be received by sports and recreation facility that will serve as the
2009).
VicwestBothadphases of the project are scheduled
03-butterfly:Layout 1 1/21/094:00pm
9:36onAM Friday,
PageDecember
1 11, 2009. Long Track Speed Skating venue for the 2010
for completion in March 2011. www.raic.org Winter Olympic Games. The one-of-a-kind

A metamorphosis of
beauty and excellence

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12 canadian architect 11/09


6.5-acre roof structure features hollow, triangu­ With the help of his partner Carina van Olm and work around which intentionality and meaning
lar-shaped composite wood steel arches. Span­ designer Matthew North, Brown runs House­ have emerged. The goal was to allow for a broad­
ning the arches are “wood wave” panels also de­ brand, a multidisciplinary firm that specializes in ening of understanding of the points of conflu­
signed by Fast + Epp in collaboration with fabri­ approachable, practical modern architecture. As ence and difference between various forms of ar­
cator StructureCraft Builders Inc, and are con­ an architect, builder, real estate agent, and inte­ chitectural practice in Canada. The online inter­
structed from one million feet of pine beetle-kill rior designer, he helps clients find, rehabilitate, views feature the following architects and de­
wood boards from the forests of British Columbia. and tailor houses to their needs. In 2006, Brown signers: Lisa Rapoport, Philip Beesley, Neil
As one of the largest timber roofs in the world, it founded Slow Home, a Web-based initiative that Minuk, Annie Lebel, Roger Mullin, Randy Cohen,
not only represents an economical design solu­ promotes alternatives to builder-driven housing Manon Asselin and David Battersby.
tion, but also striking aesthetic quality and en­ through how-to videos and other features. http://the-roadshow.tumblr.com/
hanced acoustic performance. Fast + Epp also re­ Through Slow Home, Brown teaches the public
ceived commendation for the Richmond Olympic about the elements of good design. Will Alsop returns to work in Canada.
Oval Roof by the Institution of Structural Engi­ Will Alsop, the internationally acclaimed British
neers for the David Alsop Sustainability Award for Competitions architect who is responsible for the design of
achievement in structural design, where out­ high-profile and award-winning buildings in
standing commitment to sustainability and res­ Winner of the Montreal movable street fes- Toronto is to once again focus his attention on
pect for the environment has been demonstrated. tival furniture competition announced. winning work in the city which he describes as his
Among the five finalist concepts for this compe­ spiritual home. Alsop, who designed the iconic
2009 ARIDO Awards honour Ontario’s best tition, the jury selected the proposal submitted Sharp Centre for Design and who is responsible
interior designers. by Morelli Designers and Signature Design Com­ for revitalizing neighbourhoods with modern res­
The Association of Registered Interior Designers munication for the ingenuity and effectiveness of idential developments in the city, has announced
of Ontario (ARIDO) has announced the winners the anchoring system and mounting brackets, he is to create a studio called Will Alsop at RMJM,
of its annual ARIDO Awards Program, which hon­ and its modular system of nesting ballast blocks. as part of the RMJM worldwide architecture firm.
ours innovation, creativity and professional The jury also remarked on the great flexibility of His studio, based in London, UK, will seek to win
achieve­ment in the province’s interior design in­ the various elements. “The movable furniture el­ ambitious commissions inter­nationally and Alsop
dustry. Judges selected 32 designs from 10 cate­ ements can be quickly installed by the setup has expressed his intention to focus particularly
gories; among the winning entries were 11 Awards teams, and will help prevent deterioration of the on Toronto, where he has worked extensively
of Excellence, 20 Awards of Merit and one Project festival sites. The proposal is discreet, and re­ since the year 2000 after winning the Sharp Cen­
of the Year. The winning projects showcase a wide spects the architectural concept of Place du tre for Design project, which picked up the pres­
range of interior design talent, from retail to Quartier des spectacles,” explained Mario Ga­ tigious RIBA Worldwide Projects Award. Another
residential, corporate to health care, public and gnon, President of the Association des designers of his designs, for a major office and event space
institutional spaces to major restoration projects, industriels du Québec and the jury Chair. The at the Filmport film studio project in Toronto, is
and specialty elements to trade show displays. jury also sought to underscore the innovative currently under construction.
They include a museum of biodiversity, a 2010 nature of the concept submitted by NIP paysage
Olympic Games store, a retail concourse, confer­ by awarding the firm an honourable mention. Omer Arbel collaborates as industrial
ence centre, dentistry office, and restaurant, as The City of Montreal will issue a call for tenders designer of the 2010 Olympic Medals.
well as private residences, condo sales offices, between now and spring 2010 for the design and Every medal won at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic
corporate offices, and a design show display of production of the winning concept. and Paralympic Winter Games will be unique—a
crystals. An integrated graphics program was www.realisonsmontreal.com first in Games history. Recently unveiled to great
honoured, along with a custom-made conference critical acclaim, the medals designed by Omer
table system and a fireplace. What’s New Arbel are characterized by an undulating form
www.arido.ca meant to abstractly represent ocean waves, drift­
Online interviews from The Roadshow: ing snow and the mountainous landscape sur­
EVDS professor recognized for his Architectural Landscapes of Canada. rounding Vancouver. On the medal’s surface,
exemplary contributions to architecture. Eight interviews can now be watched online from Arbel applied two large master artworks of an
Architect and University of Calgary Environmen­ the participants of this fall’s cross-country tour orca whale (Olympic) and raven (Paralympic) by
tal Design professor John Brown is this year’s of The Roadshow: Architectural Landscapes of Vancouver-based Corrine Hunt, a Canadian artist
winner of the Residential Architect Magazine Canada. The Roadshow tour took place from Sep­ of Komoyue and Tlingit heritage. Hunt’s artwork
Leadership Award in the rising star category. The tember 23 to October 2, 2009, a series of linked, was produced at a large scale, and then a specific,
Leadership Awards are the editors’ choice broad-based national events that focused archi­ cropped section of the larger art was applied to
awards, where architects and firms specializing tectural discourse in Canada at the level of the each of the individual medals, making each
in residential architecture are singled out for public, the profession, and the schools of archi­ unique. A silk scarf printed with the master art­
their exceptional accomplishments and contri­ tecture. The Roadshow seeks to promote and fa­ work will be presented to each medallist along
butions to the profession. “This award means a cilitate an emergent and evolving discussion re­ with their medal, enabling them to see how their
lot to me. I am passionate about improving the garding contemporary architecture in Canada. medal connects with those awarded to other ath­
quality of the average house,” says Brown. “This Beginning in Vancouver, The Roadshow brought letes at the Games and to make the artwork com­
isn’t the sexiest type of architecture and it doesn’t together a group of eight critical architects and plete. Like a puzzle, it takes all of the individual
get the big headlines, but it affects the lives of so designers from across Canada. At every venue, medals to complete the artwork. Omer Arbel is
many people, and even small improvements can each of the eight architects and designers had 10 an industrial designer and architect based in
have a really big impact. It is very gratifying to minutes to present one project and articulate this Vancouver who leads his own design office.
have this kind of work recognized by your peers.” project’s engagement within a consistent frame­ www.omerarbel.com

11/09 canadian architect 13


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Circle Reply Card 21


New Way of Life

Martin Tessler
Vancouver’s Olympic Village reveals its ABOVEWorkers rapidly put together the final elements of GBL
bid for sustainability and its transform- Architects’ residential projects along West 1st Avenue—two
ative effect on Southeast False Creek. of the many buildings that comprise the Athletes’ Village for
the 2010 Winter Olympics.

PROJECT Millennium Water—2010 Athletes’ Village, Vancouver, British strides in creating more livable, healthier cities, conducive to density.
Columbia There’s little question that anyone who has grown accustomed to its benefits
ARCHITECTS GBL Architects Inc., Merrick Architecture_Borowski
would roll back the clock to a time when a hapless stroll down the street
Lintott Sakumoto Fligg Ltd., Nick Milkovich Architects Inc.,
Walter Francl Architecture Inc., Acton Ostry Architecture Inc., could involve the overturned contents of a chamber pot landing in unfortu-
and IBI Group—Lawrence Doyle Young + Wright nate places. And it is hard to fathom the basic disconnect between “in here”
TEXT Hannah Teicher and “out there” on the part of the person doing the overturning, a person
who would surely be walking down that same street that same day. However,
Conversations on building are often centred on sustainability these days, the sanitary sewer, the storm sewer and all their attendant advances have
claims to LEED credits flying, either as one-upmanship or creative bluster. only served to reinforce that disconnect, fostering a convenient dependence
What is often lost in these conversations is a sense of the underlying trans- on underground systems to hide the unpleasant realities of everyday life.
formation that any real bid for sustainability would require. The City of Intricately connected to those unpleasant realities is the more unpleasant
Vancouver and the Millennium Water design team set ambitious goals for reality which has now come to the fore, one which will inform urban engi-
the Olympic Village, alternatively referring to developing “new ways of liv- neering just as much if not more so than the 19th century’s advances. The
ing in the city” or more simply, developing “a sustainable community.” And growing unease about climate change and resource depletion underlies the
there is a sense in much of the framing policy documents and design work design team’s stated goal of developing “new ways of living in the city.”
that realizing this goal necessitates more than the sum of its technical parts. While these unpleasant realities could inform the design but be incorporat-
But when it is actually built, how does it work towards fostering the shift in ed to disappear, both the design team and the city seem to have strongly
attitudes or ways of living that it seeks? taken the side that they should be incorporated as a legible aspect of the de-
The sanitary engineering movement of the 19th century made huge velopment. In the Official Development Plan, this is stated very plainly.

11/09­canadian architect 17
Danny Singer
ABOVE led by Durante Kreuk Landscape architects, some marvellous and surprising land­
scape elements have been inserted into the Athletes’ Village site. RIGHT AND OPPOSITE Several
views illustrating GBL Architects’ residential projects that comprise the Athletes’
Village.

“SEFC (Southeast False Creek) is to demonstrate ment system and the neighbourhood energy util-
a comprehensive approach to sustainability re- ity bring the bowels of the city to the surface, af-
flected in both open space and building design.” fording selective glimpses of systems at work,
This is a useful point of departure, but could still hints of the messy realities behind comfortable,
lead in a number of directions: displaying tech- convenient human inhabitation.
nical prowess, offering up the subtleties of pas- Though incentives for disconnecting down-
sive design, or revealing the nuances of everyday spouts are taken up in a haphazard fashion
systems deliberately manipulated to foster a around Vancouver, most stormwater goes directly
more sustainable version of modern urban life. into the combined stormwater and sanitary sys-
Where the Olympic Village achieves the latter, tem with the result that in heavy rainfall events,
it is most successful in laying the groundwork for sewage overflows into False Creek. This unten-
a new way forward for development in Vancou- able situation has added to the impetus for alter-
ver, another stated goal of the ODP. “SEFC is to native approaches to stormwater management,
promote the implementation of sustainable de- relieving the burden on the combined system by
velopment principles in an urban setting, and allowing rainwater to infiltrate where it hits the
thereby contribute to improving the mainstream ground. Within the Olympic Village’s building
Martin Tessler

practices of urban development throughout the parcels, rainwater is collected in cisterns to pro-
region.” This occurs most strongly on an infra- vide irrigation and feed a greywater system for
structural level; both the stormwater manage- toilet flushing, a feature which required an ardu-

18 canadian architect 11/09


GBL Architects

Martin Tessler

11/09­canadian architect
19
Martin Tessler Martin Tessler
ous negotiation process with the Engineering Department due to concerns the city’s relationship to the resources it draws in and discharges.
over non-potable water in residential units. This is a significant accom- Expressing this interface of water systems could have been taken further,
plishment which could begin to have an impact city-wide by establishing a exposing the stream that had been boarded over during the site’s industrial
precedent; for good and for bad, nobody using the facilities would give a period. Restoring it would have created a practical challenge for the devel-
second thought to where the water in the toilet came from. oper by cutting the site in two, but could have offered an opportunity to pre-
In the public realm, on the other hand, stormwater management is made serve a piece of ecological heritage in a city whose small streams have been
highly visible. Rather than sloping toward the curb, the streets slope toward lost to development. It might also have provided a unique site constraint for
the middle. A narrow, open runnel carries water to pipes at the end of the the residential buildings, pushing the quest for a new form of development
street, which then drain into a bioswale on one side of the site and a wet- beyond the adoption of a mid-rise form.
land on the other. The meandering wetland with its habitat shelves and dark Filling in the stream did give rise to one distinct feature. Though the
water provides a glimpse of a water system at work for anyone who cares to stream’s habitat value had been low as a consequence of being covered over
pause and consider it, and a picturesque diversion for anyone who doesn’t. for 60 years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans required 2 to 1 com-
More subtle, and perhaps more powerful, are the direct rainwater outfalls pensation for filling it in. The result has taken the form of reconstructed
which punctuate the boarded slips protruding from the seawall. Where fish habitat along the length of the foreshore and a “Habitat Compensation
groupings of large granite blocks step down to the water in between the Island.” This highly visible reshaping of the interface of land and water in
slips, steel channels protrude from the level of the seawall promenade. If just one single instance reveals the possibility of many more such construc-
someone with an affinity for the rain happened to be sitting on the granite tive operations in the future. Imagine an altered False Creek dotted with
blocks appreciating a wet day, they just might be surprised by a sudden wa- habitat compensation islands, peninsulas and spits.
terfall as the rain reached a critical mass in the channel above. More than Where “the reveal” in architecture operates in a limited manner, ex-
the other visible stormwater strategies, this episodic event stitches together pressing the junction of two materials, here it operates instrumentally, at a
the constructed system branching through the site and the large body of larger scale, expressing the interface of multiple systems and even multiple
water which absorbs the effluvia of its urban surround. At the edge, it cracks times.
open a reveal. It viscerally challenges the lingering notion that the city is Mapping character-defining elements of the Olympic Village—or Ship-
functionally distinct from an unconstructed “nature.” This seemingly minor yard—neighbourhood, the public realm plan identifies the progression of
moment has the potential to act as a catalyst, transforming attitudes about shorelines from the 1889 foreshore through multiple iterations of a ship-
Danny Singer

Danny Singer

20 canadian architect 11/09


Danny Singer
building, working waterfront. On this map, the new sustainable community a visual panorama of Vancouver, with Southeast
OPPOSITE TOP
incarnation of the area with its own shoreline alterations represents the lat- False Creek (SEFC) visible to the left of the Science World
est iteration in a changing waterfront. It only requires a small leap to imag- Sphere—an earlier intervention into False Creek that was built
ine that just as the rise and fall of shipbuilding were inscribed into the for Expo 86. OPPOSITE BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT A view of False Creek from
physical built character of the area, future economic changes linked to cli- the VanCity building; Hinge Park; a pedestrian walkway leading
into the village; another view of site—the green roof is that
mate change and resource pressures will inscribe themselves. Given such of the Southeast False Creek Community Centre.
evident physical evolution, development on the site is uniquely situated to
capture and convey this sense of change unfolding over time, not only as larger issues the development sets out to address. But the residential archi-
“history,” but as an adapting, shifting future. tecture falls down in this regard.
The Salt Building, the sole industrial building retained on the Shipyard A number of practical sustainable strategies were applied across all the
portion of the site, fulfills its heritage mandate through the refurbished residential buildings. Exterior sun-shades on the south and west sides of
cladding and exposed wood trusses which recall its industrial function and the buildings automatically unfurl to reduce unwanted solar gain. Daylit
time period. But this static representation of history is upended by a simple corridors and wide stairs have views to and from public spaces in order to
move in the ground plane. The building was raised in order to meet the new encourage walking. Corner units and through units are prioritized to pro-
plaza level at the north end, presenting the opportunity to leave a gap where vide cross-ventilation wherever possible. The neighbourhood energy utility
the plaza meets the building at the south end. Passersby on the south side captures waste heat from sewage and redirects it to a capillary mat system in
catch a glimpse of piles and pile extensions while on the north side, those the ceiling of every unit. Rainwater is collected on each roof to provide
who happen to use the public washrooms descend from the current land- water for irrigation and toilet flushing. Fifty percent of the roofs are green.
scape to the historic one, coming face to face with the original piles, a built The walls achieve an average R-value of 16. Twenty percent of the units are
consequence of the 1889 shoreline. As the force of history gathers such a affordable housing and an additional 110 units are rental housing. All of this
strong presence in this small space, it undermines the sense of permanence is a major improvement on conventional development in Vancouver, and if
embedded in the current built condition, suggesting an inevitably evolving repeated, could make major inroads on the energy and water fronts.
role for both the community and its inhabitants. And yet, even though the buildings are low- to mid-rise, in distinction to
At their best, both the public realm and the public buildings reveal the their towering counterparts across False Creek, they look and feel remark-
site and its systems in nuanced, provocative ways which engage the much ably the same. Squinting east from Southeast False Creek to CityGate or
Danny Singer

Danny Singer

11/09­canadian architect 21
Michael Elkan

Acton Ostry Architects INC.


Walter Francl Architecture

Acton Ostry Architects INC.


utility plant feasible, a window to solid wall ratio of 70 to 30 was applied
across the site. In the market-rate buildings, this ratio was distributed uni-
formly through window wall systems, such that the walls are still made of
glass, but with a slight spandrel panel creep to make up that 30 percent. In
order to convey that this development is qualitatively different, the 70/30
Acton Ostry Architects INC.

might have been deployed more inventively across all four façades, both re-
sponding to solar orientation and reimagining the irrefutable primacy of
“the view” in market housing, working from the understanding that the
views might be just as valuable when carefully framed.
Given its prominent waterfront site, and its soon to be prominent place
on the world stage, the architecture operates at more scales than most
buildings. It operates at a large urban scale, given its high degree of legibili-
ty from across False Creek or up on the Cambie Bridge. It has an impact at
an intermediate urban scale from within the site, and at a more intimate
scale from within the units. An additional scale is made meaningful through
the massing of the roof gardens, situated a storey or two below the ultimate
roof line such that these semi-private green spaces rest within the field of
view of a significant portion of the occupants on an everyday basis. These
spaces become an easily accessible part of life, a place for casual use and
encounters, rather than a questionable amenity requiring a special trip or
the exclusive domain of penthouse dwellers. And this is where an evolution
ABOVE, TOP TO BOTTOM Walter Francl Architecture and Nick Milko­ of form can be felt, a byproduct of the mid-rise massing perhaps, but more
vich architects are working hard towards completing their than the introduction of mid-rise in and of itself. Four or five storeys above
Southeast False Creek Community Centre; a view out toward
the street, with perhaps one storey enclosing them on one side and several
False Creek with the new community centre still under con­
struction; Acton Ostry’s Salt Building is the only remaining on another, these spaces become a lifted ground plane with an indetermi-
historical structure on the site. nate relationship to the city. The surrounding units frame offset, fragment-
ed views, affording a surprising connection to the bridges and viaducts in-
north and west toward the downtown core, the buildings blur together with habiting the same strata.
their window-walled neighbours. The mandate to achieve an R-value of 16 Where these tangible differences emerge, they really do reinforce the
could have given rise to a distinctly different envelope, revealing the sus- City’s aspirations to create a more sustainable community. Where the sus-
tainable ambitions of the development, or at least provoking questions as to tainable strategies are shaped in service of a “marketable” package, becom-
what drove the difference. To make heating with a single neighbourhood ing either attractive amenities or invisible features, they do much less than

22 canadian architect 11/09


Ed White/GBL Architects
City of Vancouver

SiTE PLAN

Client Millennium Southeast False Creek Properties Ltd. Environmental Keystone Environmental Ltd., Aqua-Tex Scientific
Structural Glotman Simpson Group of Companies Consulting Ltd.
they could to foster the qualitatively different re- Mechanical Cobalt Engineering & Associates Ltd. Code & Certified Professional Pioneer Consultants Ltd.
Electrical Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd., Acumen Consulting Building Envelope Morrison Hershfield Group Inc.
lationship to the urban environment that a sus- Engineers Transportation Ward Consulting Group
Civil Vector Engineering Services Ltd., Stantec Sustainability Recollective Consulting
tainable community would entail. CA Geotechnical Geopacific Engineering Inc. Commissioning KD Engineering (TBC) Co.
Landscape Durante Kreuk Ltd., PWL Partnership Landscape Cost Consultant BTY Group
Architects Inc. Scheduling Quoin Project and Cost Management Ltd.
Interiors Coordinated Hotel Interiors Ltd. Area 1,500,000 ft2
Hannah Teicher currently works for SHAPE Architec- Contractor Metrocan Construction Ltd., ITC Group of Budget $1 billion
Companies Completion November 2009
ture in Vancouver.

11/09­canadian architect 23
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26 canadian architect 11/09
Beyond the Edge
In advance of this winter’s Olympic And it’s not until one is inside, walking through the vast hallway spaces
games, an ambitious extension of that surround the interior meeting rooms, that the wood pattern in the
Vancouver’s shoreline accommodates a building is understood. From the outside, all that is seen is the warm glow
much-needed convention centre facility of cedar and hemlock. Inside, it’s evident that the wood panelling is de-
signed to look like lumber stacked in a mill yard. On the walls running from
and additional public space along the
east to west are the regular lines of what look like 1” x 4” strips of wood. On
waterfront.
the walls extending from north to south, it appears as though the ragged
ends of milled boards haven’t been properly aligned; this result is achieved
PROJECT Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, British by gluing on wood caps in varying sizes to create an uneven mosaic.
Columbia
That disconnect between the faraway images and the up-close reality has
ARCHITECTS DA Architects + Planners, Musson Cattell Mackey Partner­

ship, LMN Architects happened for many people in this city, including architects who once feared
TEXT Frances Bula that the centre was going to become a hulking, life-draining box in the mid-
PHOTOS DA Architects + Planners dle of prime harbourside land.
Ever since LMN Architects of Seattle—renowned convention-centre
The most popular images of the new Vancouver Convention Centre West builders working with the Vancouver firms of Downs Archambault and
show it from above or afar—images that emphasize its vast acreage of green Musson Cattell Mackey—came out with the first designs for the convention
roof set amid the city’s downtown towers or its waterfront profile of low centre in 2003, people worried about how a 1.2-million-square-foot build-
hills faced in glass. Neither of those distant images conveys the experience ing was going to fit into the fabric of Vancouver’s unique downtown, where
that the average person has at ground level up close. Approaching the centre a couple of generations of planners have worked to ensure that mountain
along the seawall that runs from Stanley Park—a walk that is among one of views are preserved and that city streets feel comfortable and human-
the city’s most popular—is akin to a small boat gliding alongside the world’s scaled. As they looked at the models and the drawings, images that shrank
largest ship. the centre to miniature scale, they imagined what it would look like in real
The glass walls of the 11-storey-high-equivalent convention centre slope life and were almost always concerned about the sheer bulk. That was even
out the way the hull of a freighter does from its narrow underwater keel. though LMN kept emphasizing that they weren’t building the usual black-
High above is the roof edge, the deck rail of this mammoth. The roofline box convention centre. They kept reminding people that they would be put-
continues, angling up and finally extending to a point beyond the edge of ting the meeting rooms inside or underground, wrapping those functional
the building, forming a triangular prow high above. That’s just one of the spaces in wood, and then designing glass façades on all sides so that there
many unusual physical experiences of the building that the photographer’s would be a sense of connection between visitors and passersby alike, both
lens can’t capture. It’s also a distinct contrast to the original convention inside and out.
centre to the east, where public access on terraces high above the water The project got poor reviews twice by the city’s influential Urban Design
make it feel more like the deck of a cruise ship. Panel during 2003 and 2004, which included one formal vote of non-sup-
Inside, the view of the city through the exceptionally clear, tilted-out port. As a corollary to their concerns about the bulkiness of the building’s
glass walls—reminiscent of an airport lounge—makes Vancouver’s towers
and streets look like the most vivid museum display imaginable. The famous OPPOSITE The new convention centre leans toward Burrard
six-acre living roof, which has been planted to reproduce the look of a ver- Inlet. It will serve as the main media centre for the 2010 Winter
dant island off the coast of BC, pops into view at unusual points inside and Olympics. BELOW LEFT Vancouverites enjoy a sunny day on the
newly built plaza in front of the new facility. BELOW Visitors
outside the building, jolting visitors with touches of cognitive dissonance as assemble on one of the external balconies to appreciate the
they register the line of ragged wild grasses waving in the wind next to the view of the mountains beyond.
city’s sleek glass office towers.

11/09­canadian architect 27
28 canadian architect 11/09
massing, the panel members noted on several occasions that the interior
and exterior spaces needed to incorporate quality materials because they
were covering such vast spaces. Cheapening out on a few details in a small
structure can go unnoticed, but mediocre-quality pavers or wall materials
covering a few acres would be the equivalent of looking at skin blemishes
through a magnifying glass.
A second major concern was how the centre would contribute to Vancou-
ver’s urbanism and create a sense of civic life around it. Another conten-
tious point was its relation to the original, smaller convention centre de-
signed by Eb Zeidler, whose Teflon-coated sail-shaped roofline has become
one of the symbols of the city. Architects and planners didn’t want the new
centre to compete with the old one, but at the same time they wanted it to be
distinctive and beautiful.
Finally, the green roof—one of the building’s most commented-on fea-
tures—generated considerable attention. Landscape architect Bruce Hem-
stock’s original idea was to make the roof look like an uninhabited island
off the BC coast, with planes rising and folding up from the water. But it’s
expensive to recreate BC topography, so the roof eventually became a sim­
pli­­fied collection of angled planes. And because the roof needed to be
strong enough to support the soil required for the vegetation, its edges be-
came very deep. The aesthetic of that broad edge became the focus of many
subsequent critiques.
When the centre finally got approval in 2005, it was only by a slim 4-3
margin. At the next stage in the process, under the review of the Vancouver
Development Permit Board, there was equal ambivalence from the Advisory
Committee. Craig Henschel, an architect whose role it was to represent the
public, voted against the project, calling its design awkward and clumsy.
Today, the finished building has pleasantly surprised the project’s de-
tractors. “It appears to me that they have largely pulled it off architectural-
ly,” says architect Bruce Haden, who was on the Urban Design Panel when
the convention centre was being reviewed. “They made some smart moves
in materials. In terms of the level and quality of details, it’s better than I ex-
pected.”
He is concerned, though, about how well the building connects to the city.
It’s still too early to tell how the wide walkways on two sides and the city’s
biggest public plaza on a third will be energized over time. The city’s plan-
ning department and Urban Design Panel had consistently urged the cen-
tre’s design team to wrap the lower level of the building with retail to attract
more people to the area. The storefronts exist, but only on the north side,
and they won’t be leased until after the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter
Games are over. The restaurant, a complementary building on the west side
of the plaza, also won’t open until after that time. And the planned small-
boat dock is yet to be built, so it’s hard to know how the completed urban
space will operate.
And there are still some regrets by various other architectural observers
who consider it a lost opportunity that the public cannot gain access to the
huge green roof as originally planned. Others think that the roof edge looks
too heavy, with little thought into making it a design element instead of
what might be the world’s largest roof gutter. And there are still others who
complain about other unresolved elements, like the second-floor north-
facing terrace that looks like a large fire escape with a blank wooden wall
behind it.
But the public is prepared to embrace this new facility. More than 65,000

OPPOSITE TOP With its folding roof planes, the convention centre
forms a pleasant complement to a most striking context.
OPPOSITE BOTTOM with the public forbidden to walk on the rooftop

garden, the visual composition of the folding roof planes is


apparent only when viewed from above. LEFT to maintain
visitors’ orientation, the central atrium space permits a clear
visual connection to several levels.

11/09­canadian architect 29
people came out to visit the centre on its opening
weekend in April. Since then, it has also attracted
a steady stream of walkers, joggers and picture-
takers because of all the pathways through the
site. It not only extends the city’s enormously
popular seawall along its north side, but it also
includes a grand staircase further south and, in
between the staircase and seawall, there are
angled walkways that allow people to wander
through what feels like a green hillside that rises
slowly from the west.

the new convention centre has


TOP LEFT

improved connectivity for cyclists, jog­


gers and pedestrians along Vancou­
ver’s sea wall. MIDDLE LEFT The interior of
the exhibition hall allows myriad acti­vi­
ties to function simultaneously. LEFT
blocks of wood resembling the stack­
ing of sawn lumber 100 years ago
comprise the aesthetic for the interior
public spaces. above, TOP to bottom Visitors
gawk at the mountains beyond the
North Shore, as seen from the centre’s
expansive windows; The new conven­
tion centre sits along the shoreline,
with the downtown skyline rising
behind.

30 canadian architect 11/09


Folding Floor

TOP A construction photo illustrating


the placement of hundreds of piles to
support the new convention facility.
ABOVE The low rise of the new conven­

tion centre almost blurs into a land­


scape form along the edge of Burrard
Inlet.

1 2 EXHIBIT HALL
BALLROOM/MEETING ROOM
LOBBY AND PREFUNCTION
ADMINISTRATION
3 SUPPORT AND SERVICES
COMMERCIAL/RETAIL
PUBLIC CIRCULATION
Roof Plan Key PARKADE Landscape Site 0 50M

terrace

canada
place
exhibit hall waterfront
road

Section 1 @ Thurlow Terrace/Harbour Green transition 0 50M Section 2 @ East Prefunction/32m Commercial 0 50M

registration parkade
lobby entry
burrard
plaza
canada
thurlow terrace place
harbour
concourse

harbour
green exhibit hall

Section 3 @ Thurlow Terrace/Harbour Green transition Section 3 @ South Lobby/Harbour


0 Concourse
50M

0 50M

11/09­canadian architect 31
3

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CLIENT Province of British Columbia (PAVCO) with Project Man­ 6


agement by Stantec Consulting
DA Architects + Planners TEAM Ron Beaton (Partner in
Charge), Christian Audet, Michael Canak, Tomas Cho, Mark 6
Ehman, David Galpin, Sean Hemenway, Patrick McTaggart, Alex
Piro, Natasha Saksman, Svetlana Sharipova, Alan Shatwell, Peter
Smith, Jessica Winters, Patricia Yam 4 8 9
Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership Team Jacques Beau­
dreault (partner in charge), Usman Aziz, Harvey Huey, Dale Koso­
wan, Alan Kwan, Beatriz Leon, Felito Liao, Elena Martynova,
Paul Mason, John Moorcroft, Tyra Moorcroft, Frank Musson,
Janet Nepromuceno, Gustavo Rodriguez, Mark Thompson, David canada
Weir, Mark Whitehead, Edith Wormsbecker, Ivona Zebrowski 7 place
harbour 5
LMN Architects TEAM Rob Widmeyer (partner in charge), Chris eXhib
green
Baxter, Jim Brown, Tom Burgess, John Chau, Rina Chinen, Kirk ballr
Hostetter, Joseph Lee, Fred Novota, Niti Parikh, Mark Reddington,
Brian Tennyson, Lori Wilwerding, John Woloszyn canada place lobbY

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STRUCTURAL Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers and

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ELECTRICAL Schenke/Bawol Engineering Ltd. coMM

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Marine/Foundation Westmar Consultants Inc.
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LANDSCAPE PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc. publi


Building Envelope Morrison Hershfield parK
Environmental EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd
Specialty Lighting Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design land
Acoustical Arup Acoustics and Daniel Lyzun & Associates Plan 18000
Building Code LMDG Building Code Consultants Ltd. 0 50M
Fire Protection Engineers GHL Consultants Ltd.
Construction Manager PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc.
BUDGET $625.9 M 15
COMPLETION SPRING 2009 14

15 10

16

Plan 32000
canada
1 open to ballroom below
11 place
2 VCEC program harbour eXhib
3 terrace green 12 13
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Plan 18000 canada place lobbY
4 Thurlow Terrace
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8 ballroom
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9 kitchen publi
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Plan 14000
10 Thurlow Terrace land
11 Thurlow entry Plan 14000
12 Burrard entry 0 50M
13 new VCEC lobby
14 commercial/retail below
15 waterfront walkway/bikeway
16 restaurant 23
17 drop off

Plan 03500
18 waterfront drop off
19 bus turn around
20 waterfront Road access point
21 Park Restaurant 20
22 lobby
23 loading dock 21

HARBOUR CANADA EXHIB


EXHIBIT HALL PLACE
GREEN 19
22 BALLR
BALLROOM/MEETING ROOM
18 LOBBY
LOBBY AND PREFUNCTION wATERFRONT ROAD
ADMI
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FUTURE wATERFRONT SUPPO
SUPPORT AND SERVICES SHAw HOTEL CENTRE
TOwER COMM
COMMERCIAL/RETAIL
PUBLI
PUBLIC CIRCULATION
PARK
PARKADE
LAND
LANDSCAPE
Plan 03500
0 50M

32 canadian architect 11/09


That public approval is sweet relief to the pro-
vincial government. During construction, the
project, which was mostly paid for by the prov-
ince with some money from the federal govern-
ment and Tourism Vancouver—eventually dou-
bled in cost to $883 million. Several negative
headlines were generated during construction
because of both cost overruns and the tremen-
dous noise resulting from 1,443 concrete pillars
being driven into Burrard Inlet to support the
portion of the centre that is built out over the
water.
For the architects who worked on the centre,
that public interaction with the building is a key
point. Mark Reddington of LMN believes the
building succeeds because it addresses so much,
from large to small. The roof, the greywater recy-
cling, the daylighting, the addition of a concrete
skirt underwater to encourage marine life, and
many more features make it a sustainable build-
ing. The major plaza is the city’s biggest, and it’s
a people-welcoming space. And the thought given
to even small architectural details—the fine-
mesh aluminum grating that is used extensively
to provide a lacy screen in front of mechanical el-
ements—give the building a visual lightness that
is unusual for a structure so large. Reddington
doesn’t mention it, but the wood beams suspend-
ed from the ceiling do the same. They look struc-
tural, but they’re really just a visual trick, one that
makes the ceiling look like it’s entirely made of
wood, even though the mechanical systems are
visible above the beams.
There’s so much in this building to look at—
now Vancouver’s biggest indoor space apart from
sports stadiums—that it will keep laypeople and
architects busy debating for years to come about
which elements are successful and which aren’t.
As Vancouver architect Oliver Lang says about the
centre, it works because the team took some
chances. “It has a real presence. It says we’re
here and we can go head to head with anyone on
the West Coast. In terms of materials, it’s very
contemporary and doesn’t try to mimic some­
thing from the past. It takes positions and they’re
confident ones.” CA

Frances Bula is a journalist specializing in Vancouver


urban issues and city politics. She has a regular col-
umn in Vancouver magazine, and makes frequent
contributions to The Globe and Mail.

RIGHT Vancouverites relax along a newly

constructed elevated boardwalk, one


of several outdoor amenities resulting
from the construction of the conven­
tion centre.

11/09­canadian architect 33
Circle Reply Card 24
Circle Reply Card 25
Oval and Above
As part of the 2010 Winter Olympics, this
innovative speed-skating facility will
eventually be part of a thriving new
community on the banks of the Fraser
River.

PROJECT Richmond Olympic Oval, Richmond, British Columbia


ARCHITECT Cannon Design
TEXT Ian Chodikoff

Nic Lehoux

36 canadian architect 11/09


Across the Fraser River from Vancouver lies the
city of Richmond. Spread out across 17 islands,
Richmond operates as a busy transportation hub
for the Greater Vancouver Regional District, yet
over half of its total area is comprised of farm­
land, parkland and natural areas. With a popu­la­
tion of just under 200,000, slightly over 60 per­
cent of its people are either Chinese or South
Asian in origin, making it one of the most diverse
municipalities in British Columbia. Long consid­
ered a vast suburban wasteland known primarily
for the Vancouver International Airport and for
malls catering to its strongly Asian popu­la­tion—
rather than its industrial riverfronts popu­lated by
fishing boats and historic canneries—the urban
identity of Richmond continues to evade the
hearts and imaginations of most Vancouverites.
However, this is about to change. Having enjoyed
con­siderable growth over the past several years,
Richmond’s reputation for banal sub­divisions and
a lack of pedestrian-scaled public space will final­
ly be put to rest, now that its new speed-skating
facility and athletic centre is set to play host to the
2010 Vancouver Olympic Games in February.
Already open for nearly a year, the Richmond
Oval will not only become a competition venue
for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, but will
also remain as an anchor building to bolster
future interest in redeveloping the surrounding
region once the speed-skaters return to their
respective nations after the Winter Olympics.
When visiting the site today, the area’s potential
still remains locked in the imagination of archi­
tects and planners. If it weren’t for the building’s
supergraphics declaring its presence, visitors to
the new facility would certainly feel lost, con­
vinced that they took a wrong turn in the middle

Hubert Kang
of an industrial park. But despite the current
barren qualities of the site, one could be con­
vinced that with the addition of the Oval, a very
livable community with vibrant commercial and
residential activities could be established in a
relatively short time frame. Already, some meas­
ures have been taken. The Water Sky Garden and
Riverside Plaza (also known as BC Spirit Square)
occupy some of the vacant land sur­round­­ing the
Oval. Here, the installation of public art and
amenities have been encouraging accessibility for
pedestrians to this newly formed public space.
The first of the two initial site improvements
is the Water Sky Garden, which contains a $1.2-
million public art project—the largest ever under­
taken by the City of Richmond. Designed by
Hubert Kang

Boston-based public artist Janet Echelman,


70-foot-tall lanterns suspended by fishing line
will change colour throughout the day and night.
When designing the Water Sky Garden, attempts OPPOSITEA soaring, wing-like canopy greets visitors at the entrance of the new
have been made to naturalize the landscape with facility. TOP Concrete buttresses on the Richmond Olympic Oval feature Coast Salish-
a series of shallow retention ponds to slow the themed bas-reliefs of salmon, herons and the Fraser River by Musqueam artist Susan
Point. Set in concrete runnels, the fish design carries stormwater from the roof
stormwater run-off flowing into the Fraser River. into the Fraser River. ABOVE The Richmond Oval exudes an inviting glow at night.
While the design doesn’t recreate the lush cran­

11/09­canadian architect 37
Hubert Kang
Hubert Kang

Hubert Kang
berry bogs of Richmond, the landscape strategy involves re-engaging the TOP An expansive 100-metre clear span marks a significant mile-
variety of plant material naturally present in the local low-lying marine en­ stone in contemporary wooden construction. ABOVE, LEFT TO
vironment. The second public space intervention is Riverside Plaza. Featur­ RIGHT supported by concrete buttresses, the rhythmic wooden

ing Coast Salish-themed sculptures by Musqueam artist Susan Point, it will roof elements are apparent to visitors; a detail view of the
host a range of year-round public activities. Other public art installations composite glulam-and-steel beams.
on the site include Buster Simpson’s less ambiguous sculptural interpreta­
tion of skate blades adjacent to a new bridge crossing the Hollybridge Canal. the Oval will evolve into an international centre of excellence devoted to
Designed by Cannon Design, the 7,600-seat Richmond Oval represents sports and wellness, while allowing the multipurpose athletic facility to be
one of the finer structures designed and built for the 2010 Olympic Games. used by the local community, something that has already been done for the
Cannon, which has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary, better part of this year. Many people frequent the facility to work out on
employs close to 800 people in 17 offices throughout North America, as well treadmills, enroll in exercise classes, or play sports like badminton on one
as in Shanghai and Mumbai. The 506,000-square-foot sports facility is or­ of the four hardwood athletic courts.
ganized on three levels. The lowest level contains support functions and The Richmond Oval is the second purpose-built facility of its kind. The
parking while the main space on the second level contains the central pro­ first purpose-built Oval was completed for the 1988 Calgary Olympic
grammatic feature—a 400-metre speed-skating track that will host 12 medal Games. Before that, all long-track speed-skating events occurred outdoors.
events. The uppermost level contains a mezzanine for fitness programs and The facility in Calgary was never designed to have a legacy mode, and there­
spectator seating as well as a hospitality lounge with views of the Fraser fore remains a single-use building. A flexible program was very important
River and Coast Mountains to the north. for the long-term viability of the Richmond Oval, where it could be easily
A key programmatic feature of the facility is its anti-doping lab, which converted for track-and-field activities. All four sports courts and the re­
will handle the drug testing for all of the medal events held at the Winter maining one-third of the Oval’s section can be used for two international-
Games—a vital aspect that helps regulate and administer the realities of to­ sized ice rinks. The Oval is designed to revert to the 400-metre-long
day’s world of competitive sports. In its legacy post-Olympic Games mode, speed-skating track at any point in the future.

38 canadian architect 11/09


Building the facility was not without its chal­
lenges. The site is located on top of a river delta
where soft soil extends down over 200 metres.
Because a high-performance speed-skating track
requires tolerances that vary no more than 20
millimetres over the entire length of the Oval, it
was decided to raise the slab above the ground
plane through the design of a two-level structure
partially supported by a raft foundation, with the
remaining portion supported by concrete piles.
The resulting structure created 450 parking
stalls, additional athletes’ services, retail outlets
and even an indoor paddling training facility.
The most distinctive aspect of the Oval is its
roof. Its gentle curvature is inspired by a heron’s
wing, where the feathered wing tips are repre­
sented by a segmented roofline that helps break
up the visual monotony of the large structure.
Designed by Fast + Epp, the roof’s surface area is
vast—6.5 acres—so it is not surprising that over
one million feet of salvaged lumber was collected
from trees killed by pine beetles to create a struc­
tural ceiling that incorporates a significant num­
ber of services, while visually breaking down the
scale of such a large building component. The
massive amount of wood used remained relatively
affordable, largely due to the fact that the majority
of it was locally harvested lumber from dead pine
forests. The bones of the structure, 15 steel-and-

Hubert Kang
glulam composite arches—the longest of which
provides a 100-metre clear span—are integrated
into the complex ceiling matrix that curves in two
directions. The arches are made of BC Douglas fir
Hubert Kang

which rest upon 30 enormous concrete buttress­


es. To increase the lateral stiffness of the beams,
a composite steel beam—referred to as a “skate-
blade” beam—forms the base anchor for the
glulam arches. Building these structural members
was no small feat. The glulam elements were
transported to a steel fabrication facility where
the two materials were integrated into the com­
posite structure that we see today. Because the
interior architecture is dominated by the vast sur­
face of the ceiling, it was important to create an
appealing aesthetic that was unmarred by the
mundane yet necessary services of the facility.
For this reason, the centres of all the structural
beams were designed to be distinctive V-shaped
elements that integrate heating, ventilation, air-
conditioning, plumbing, acoustical, electrical and
lighting systems, resulting in a visually coherent
aesthetic. The HVAC ducts that are integrated into
the beams have motorized nozzles to distribute
Nic Lehoux

cool air to wherever it is needed; appropriately,


effective environmental separation between the
rinks and other sports functions is maintained.
Because the design team couldn’t find any pre­ TOPProviding very clear visual orientation upon entry into the building, the main
cedents for large wooden ceilings of this size and lobby spatially conditions the visitor to the larger space of the speed-skating oval.
ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT A speed-skater practices on the new 400-metre track; a generously
span, they developed their own. Known as the
scaled exterior plaza helps to establish the facility as a civic institution along the
WoodWave Structural Panel System, the panels banks of the Fraser River.
used for the ceiling span 15 metres in between the

11/09­canadian architect 39
SITE PLAN
1 Richmond Oval
2 Legacy Plaza
3 Riverside Plaza
4 WEST LOADING/SERVICE

composite glulam beams. The panels are built up


DD Model
from very pedestrian 20 3 40 lumber strips of pine
beetle-killed wood to form a 26-inch-deep zigzag
section. The WoodWave system is able to transfer
loads to the arches and absorb sound while meet­
ing existing fire safety requirements. The ceiling’s
structural loads are distributed diagonally through
the spliced wood members, and into supports at
Building Section
0 10M either end. The final result is truly admirable and
will likely become a seminal case study for archi­
tecture and engineering students.
Upon close inspection, the expansive wavy
ceiling is actually quite crude, revealing the par­
tially concealed electrical and miscellaneous con­
duits along with the acoustical blanketing and
sprinkler system. But given the fact that the ceil­
ing is mostly viewed from a distance, the overall
Dyke Section
appearance is impressive, even mesmerizing.
0 10M Certainly, the ceiling’s use of naturally sound-
absorptive lumber, with its thousands of open­
ings, provides a significant acoustical dampener
for the space, reducing its tendency to feel cav­
ernous and making the interior architecture
warm and inviting.
By utilizing innovative solutions in wood de­
sign to create a successful sports venue for the
2010 Winter Games, the Oval is a landmark
building that will undoubtedly raise the profile of
Richmond while helping to prime an important
site for future development. Given the nature of
the program, designing such a massive structure
while maintaining a sense of warmth and in­
timacy is quite an achievement. The number of
awards that the building has received thus far is
Street Section 0
0 10M
10M well-deserved. CA

40 canadian architect 11/09


North Arm of Fraser River North Arm of Fraser River

Ho
lly
1

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15 14 13 12
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Level 1 Parkade
0 50M

North Arm of Fraser River

0 100M

Level 1 Parkade
1 refrigeration mech room
2 mechanical room

Ho
3 tenant

lly
4 paddling centre

bri
5 sport medicine

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6 tenant

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7 change rooms
8 administration

ay
9 team rooms
10 executive locker rooms

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11 lobby

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12 tenant 9

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13 child minding 8

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16 multipurpose meeting rooms

na
17 tenant

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18 tenant
19 loading/receiving
20 parking spaces 7 6 5 3 2 1

4
Level 2 Field of Play
1 fitness equipment area
2 core fitness
3 meeting room
a d
4 tenant r Ro
Rive
5 support
6 multipurpose room
7 tenant Level 2 Field of Play
8 speed-skating oval 0 50M
9 support

Level 2 Legacy North Arm of Fraser River


1 fitness equipment area
2 core fitness
3 meeting room
4 upper lobby
5 support
6 multipurpose room
7 tenant
8 200 m running track
Ho

9 eight-court basketball
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10 two international ice sheets


bri
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CLIENT City of Richmond


Special Structural Design Fast+Epp
Ho

Structural Glotman+Simpson
lly

Electrical/Mechanical Stantec Consulting


8 9 10
bri

Landscape Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg


dg

Civil/Marine Delcan Engineering Group


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Building Envelope Morrison Hershfield Group Inc.


a

Geotechnical Thurber Engineering Ltd.


na

Wildlife and Ecology ECL Envirowest Consultants Ltd.


l

Feng Shui Fortune Teller & Associates


Urban Design Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden ARchitects +
7 6 5 3 2 1
Urbanistes
Wayfinding/Signage Karo Group 4
Code/Fire/Life Safety LMDG Building Code
Security 3Si Risk Strategies Inc.
Costing BTY Group
Project Managers MHPM Project Managers Inc.
a d
Builder Dominion Fairmile Construction Ltd. r Ro
Rive
Area 506,000 FT2
Budget $178 M
Completion December 2008 Level 2 Legacy
0 50M

11/09­canadian architect 41
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Insites

A Look at Landscape Urbanism

new projects and approaches to landscape urbanism help


designers appreciate the interconnectedness of ecology, archi- ABOVEA rehabilitated wetland and watercourse comprises just
tecture and the future of our public realm. a small component of the geographically vast and highly
anticipated Lake Ontario park, a redefined landscape that will
extend eastward from Toronto.
TEXT Graham Livesey
plinary approach that, in theory, amalgamates a wide range of disciplines
including landscape architecture, urban design, landscape ecology, engi-
The landscape urbanism movement emerged following the Landscape Ur- neering, etc. It is also committed to addressing the many challenging issues
banism Symposium and Exhibition coordinated by Charles Waldheim in and conditions facing contemporary cities. He argues that it is an approach
Chicago in April 1997. While there were key forces at play prior to this, this that focuses on process rather than a style. He writes that landscape urban-
event signalled the emergence of a reasonably coherent group of theorists, ism “marks a productive attitude towards indeterminacy, open-endedness,
designers and apologists, including James Corner, Stan Allen, the Dutch inter-mixing and cross-disciplinarity.” Ultimately, the landscape urbanist
firm West 8 (with Adriaan Geuze), the Office for Metropolitan Architecture recognizes no singular authority.
(OMA), and Foreign Office Architects (FOA), operating under the banner of In the essay, which reads like a manifesto, Corner identifies five general
landscape urbanism. The movement has been largely centred in places like themes that characterize the practice of landscape urbanism: horizontality,
the University of Pennsylvania, the Architectural Association in London, infrastructures, forms of process, techniques, and ecology. In his discus-
and Toronto, although these are not necessarily where the best examples sion of horizontality, Corner writes that it “maximizes opportunities for
can be found. The movement has been strongly motivated by the important roaming, connecting, interrelating, assembling and moving—while allowing
design competition held in 1982 for the Parc de la Villette in Paris. The differences to commingle and proliferate.” In the text there is a strong em-
winning scheme by Bernard Tschumi was influential, but probably even phasis placed on the earth as surface and a number of references made to
more so was the scheme submitted by Rem Koolhaas and OMA with its pro- the field of landscape ecology. The targeting of urban infrastructure systems
vocative ideas about the organization of functions and landscapes. What are has been an important legacy of the movement, infrastructural systems that
the theories behind this movement, and what have been the accomplish- include transportation networks, utilities, code systems, and the like. Cor-
ments of its proponents so far? ner, describing the role of this new process-oriented professional consul-
We will begin by briefly examining the theories of James Corner and his tant, stresses a collaborative and anti-heroic approach that employs a pano-
firm Field Operations; Corner is a landscape architect who is probably the ply of design techniques from cartography to diagramming. Probably the
key figure in landscape urbanism. A reading of his text “Landscape Urban- most significant aspect of the approach is the recognition of the vital role of
ism” is a useful starting point into the subject. Corner begins by stating that ecology in design. This refers to Corner’s own connections to the work of
this new discipline is a hybrid merger of landscape (understood as a broad the influential landscape architect/ecologist Ian McHarg and to prominent
cultural condition) and urbanism. Landscape urbanism is an interdisci- landscape ecologists such as Richard T.T. Forman. In summary, we can sug-

11/09­canadian architect 45
gest that Corner and his colleagues in the landscape urbanism movement the recently completed Campus Complex at
ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT
are supporting complex design processes, and engaging ecology and con- Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea incorporates
temporary urbanism. six levels of programmatic and circulation requirements while
According to Waldheim, who continues to be an important polemicist for creating a very dynamic landscape for the students. Designed
the movement, landscape urbanism is engaging with the “renovation” of the by Dominique Perrault, the building takes the form of a boule-
vard that starts from the entry to Ewha Square and ends in
postindustrial or contemporary city, as he writes in The Landscape Urbanism front of Pfeiffer Hall.
Reader:
James Corner’s projects for Downsview (with Stan Allen) and Fresh Kills are
exemplary in this regard, illustrating mature works of landscape ur­ban­ism drawings for the radical greening of lower Manhattan for the World Trade
through their accumulation and orches­tration of absolutely diverse and po­ Center “Biopolis” competition sponsored by The New York Times, West 8’s
tentially incongruous contents. Typical of this work, and by now standard fare competition-winning Markeroog (U-Meer, Markermeer, 2006) project,
for projects of this type, are detailed diagrams of phasing, animal habitats, and Stan Allen’s Taichung Gateway Park project in Taiwan, each of which
succession planting, and hydrological systems, as well as programmatic and
planning regimes. While these diagrams ini­tial­ly overwhelm with information, attempts to address urbanity in a significant way. Similar and ambitious
they present an understanding of the enormous complexities confronting any projects by those not directly linked to landscape urbanism include Will
work at this scale. Particularly compelling is the complex interweaving of Alsop’s Bradford City Centre Master Plan (2003) and various provocative
natural ecologies with the social, cultural and infrastructural layers of the con- projects by the Michael Sorkin Studio (some of which date from the early
temporary city. 1990s). A project that begins to capture the full scope implied in the land-
The ideas, and many of the early landscape urbanism projects, are highly scape urbanist position is Dominique Perrault’s Ewha Womans [sic] Uni-
evocative. However, when we begin to examine projects produced over the versity Campus Centre in Seoul, Korea. Completed in 2008, the project,
last decade under the landscape urbanism title, it would seem that land- while not extensive, demonstrates a compelling inter-relationship between
scape urbanism is stuck in the history of grand park design, while remain- landscape, architecture and urbanism that is not found in many of the park
ing well outside the history of urban design. Despite claims for the “renova- projects listed above.
tion” of the contemporary city, many of the noteworthy projects by Toronto has become something of a hotbed for landscape urbanism,
landscape urbanists tend to involve either isolated brownfield sites on the partly due to the fact that Charles Waldheim taught at the University of
extreme periphery of the city (such as Downsview Park in suburban Toron- Toronto until recently, but, mainly due to the Downsview Park competi-
to, or the Fresh Kills site on Staten Island) resulting in large parks on one tion held in 2000, probably the most celebrated demonstration of land-
hand, or fairly conventional and discrete landscape projects, typically along scape urbanism’s principles (see CA, October 2000 and November 2003).
waterfronts, on the other. From a formal point of view, the most convincing The current status of the project, which was won by a team involving
landscape urbanism projects to be completed are schemes by FOA, includ- OMA, Bruce Mau Design and Oleson Worland Architects, is somewhat un-
ing the Yokohama International Port Terminal, the South East Coastal Park certain. The Waterfront Toronto initiative is an ambitious group of pro­
in Barcelona, and the recently finished Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle by jects that includes a number of projects by design firms associated with
Weiss/Manfredi Architects. The FOA projects demonstrate significant landscape urbanism. These include the Central Waterfront project by
topo­graphical complexity, while the Seattle park fuses together a complex West 8 (in association with DTAH), Lake Ontario Park by James Corner
set of site forces, supports a remarkable set of sculptures, and replicates and Field Operations, and the Don River Park by Michael van Valken-
various local ecologies. burgh Associates (with the Planning Partnership and Ken Greenberg).
What is missing from landscape urbanism is how the projects re-envis- American landscape architects Michael van Valkenburgh and George
age the city in ecological terms; much of the work is tentative at best. Excep- Hargreaves have produced many notable large urban projects, but they
tions include a small handful of projects such as James Corner’s provocative remain somewhat peripheral to the landscape urbanism effort. When

46 canadian architect 11/09


completed, these projects will give a general coherence and continuity to
much of Toronto’s waterfront, and will also restore a number of vital lake-
shore eco-systems. Unfortunately, they will do little to connect the city
itself to the lakeshore, or provide answers to the many larger environ-
mental issues facing contemporary cities.
Has landscape urbanism created a new mode of practice? The short
answer to this question is no. Ultimately, landscape urbanism would be
more provocative if it embraced interdisciplinarity with greater conviction.
Further, the movement must actually address urbanity in all its complexity,
moving beyond the strictures of landscape architecture. As in the Garden
City movement, the dichotomy between the “country” and the “town,” or,
as Waldheim proposes, the “natural” and the “infrastructural,” remains
largely unresolved in the landscape urbanism movement. There is no doubt
that the movement has invigorated landscape design with its provocative
schemes that blend landscape, digital processes, ecology, and various ideas
drawn from recent philosophy. The attempt on the part of some landscape
urbanists to incorporate the potential design strategies inherent in land-
scape ecology is also a significant development.
The use of long-term or “scaffolded” planting strategies is a good idea,
and was used extensively in the winning project for the Downsview Park
project. The emphasis placed on the ground surface as a stage for future
“appropriation” is also intended to allow for a general design to evolve over
time, rather than existing as a static pictorial composition. While landscape
urbanists justifiably criticize the failings of much of recent urban design,
they are not actually proposing an alternative that embraces the full com-
plexity of the contemporary city. This brings us to the “large park” notion
which is the historical category into which the movement most comfortably
fits, a tradition going back at least to Central Park in New York, or even fur-
ther back to the London royal parks and the 18th-century picturesque park
tradition.
Landscape urbanism, with its emphasis on landscape ecology, is consis-
tent with what Galen Cranz and Michael Boland suggest as a new park typol-
ogy that has emerged since the early 1980s—what they label the “sustainable
park,” which places a strong emphasis on ecology. As Cranz and Boland
wrote in Landscape Journal in 2004, characteristics of this new type include
“the use of native plants, restoration of streams or other natural systems,
wildlife habitat, integration of appropriate technologies or infrastructure,
recycling, and sustainable construction and maintenance practices.” The
policies associated with this new park type include resource self-sufficiency
and integration into larger urban systems; challenges include issues of
infra­structure, land reclamation, health and alienation. Cranz and Boland
identify a number of recent parks that fit this typology, including a number
of landscape urbanism projects.
The proponents of landscape urbanism focus on process over form, and
on striving for complex proposals for complex problems. There is an
abiding commitment to the surface of the earth as a field of operation, to
en­gaging ecologies, and to designing infrastructure as ways of producing
non-deterministic projects, or the striving for open-endedness. This is
refreshing compared to the tired efforts of the New Urbanist movement.
Nonetheless, landscape urbanism is most strongly realized in the theoreti-
cal writings of Corner, Allen, et al, and is much less convincing in practice.
Most examples of landscape urbanism projects are restyled examples of
landscape architecture or large park design, with an emphasis placed on
new programming possibilities (extreme sports, skateboarding, etc.) and A perspective and computer model for Stan Allen
TOP AND MIDDLE

Architect’s new Taichung Gateway Park in Taiwan. ABOVE James


the digital manipulation of topographies. The tenets of landscape urbanism
Corner’s firm Field Operations offers a vision of Lake Ontario
remain very compelling, particularly the notion of marrying ecology and Park.
urbanism. However, as suggested above, the “landscape” component of the
movement has been established, but not the “urbanism” element. CA

Graham Livesey is Associate Dean (Academic-Architecture) and Associate Profes-


sor at the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.

11/09­canadian architect 47
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Practice

Doing your Homework

This is the second article in the series examining the changes to


the role of the architect within the P3 process using lessons ABOVE Completed in 2008, the Michael Tippett School in Lambeth
learned from the UK. the P3 process from start to finish is by Marks Barfield Architects is an excellent example of a UK pro-
presented from the perspective of an architect within a success- ject delivered through a P3 process.
ful bidding consortium.
proach, working method and understanding of the brief, as well as a review
of the team’s qualifications and additional criteria such as financial models,
TEXT Helena Grdadolnik and David Colussi
PHOTOS Tom Soar
information technology provision, long-term facility management commit-
ments, and a pledge to use local workforce or supply chain.
Since the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) P3 program began in 2001, The first stage of BSF is pre-qualification and is similar to most RFQs,
two English secondary schools (Hampden Gurney by Building Design Part- though in this case it is contractor-led. As an architect within the contrac-
nership and Westminster Academy by AHMM Architects) have been short- tor’s consortium, you can be named as a “preferred supply-chain partner”
listed for the Stirling Prize, the premier architectural prize in England; both for future work in the contract (and have no further responsibilities
schools were delivered outside of the government P3 initiative. Meanwhile, through­out the bid) or be the bidding architect on one of the sample
CABE’s research found half of the BSF schools delivered to be mediocre or schemes. I will relay my experience with the Tuke School for the latter
poor. Is the discrepancy in design quality inherent in the process or due to through a case study of a successful bid for 12 schools in London.
architects’ inexperience with this new way of working? This article will try Once qualified, bidding consortia enter into a three-month “competitive
to address these questions by examining the P3 process from pre-qualifica- dialogue” stage—a process of testing the project brief and presenting design
tion to on-site delivery from the perspective of a project architect for two ideas to the school and school board for feedback. Through this stage, the
BSF schools. contractor is taking on all of the financial risk, including paying the consul-
BSF contracts range in size from as few as four to more than 100 schools, tant teams for each stage of work. Frequent structured meetings are often
awarded to a contractor through a competitive process. The competition in- held with an unruly number of participants, due to the number of interests
cludes the design of a series of “sample schools” to demonstrate design ap- involved. This is the only chance for bidding consortia to consult directly

11/09­canadian architect 49
competitive process), but due to the sheer vol- project was the most frustrating. The inevitable
ume of schools, CABE only reviews non-sample lack of coordination that results from incomplete
schools on a randomly selected basis. construction documents was compounded by a
A “preferred bidder” is then selected for exclu- site team that did not feel obliged to follow de-
sive final negotiation with the client, though the tails/specifications as long as financial close re-
contractor is still working at risk until achieving quirements were not compromised. In addition
“financial close.” During this period, the scheme to eroding the goodwill established between ar-
is further refined to detail the consortium’s final chitect and contractor during the bid stage, it
interpretation of the client brief including area/ raises a serious question over liability. The archi-
finish schedules, external materials, indicative tect is expected to maintain design responsibili-
construction details and a full schedule of furni- ty, but with specifications/details incomplete and
ture/fixture/equipment. This binding agreement purposely kept vague prior to financial close.
between client and consortium becomes the con- Coupled with reduced control on site, legal liabil-
tract documents, though it is closer to a perfor- ity lies in a troubling grey area. This lack of con-
mance specification for the entire building than trol during construction is evident in even the
more conventional contract documents. The fi- best examples of BSF projects, where detailing
nancial close agreement also establishes a bench- and coordination is too often wanting. This dis-
mark for subsequent projects in the contract, so parity is being addressed through the introduc-
the client is pushing to have as many elements tion of a new role from the client’s side; a combi-
defined as possible while the contractor is trying nation clerk of works/technical advisor who will
to stay non-committal. The architect is stuck be- regularly be on site to ensure the design intent of
ABOVE The award-winning Westminster
Academy (2007) by Allford Hall Mona-
tween the two. The task of trying to sufficiently the broader financial close documents are carried
ghan Morris architects is a remarkably define the final building in the absence of tradi- through at detail level. While this will almost
cost-effective educational facility com- tional prescriptive contract documents while up- certainly have positive results, it is indicative of a
pleted outside of a P3 process. holding design quality is incredibly onerous and shortcoming in the wider P3 process where
demands a different working method—one that mechanisms are forced into place to compensate
with the user, so the architect’s communication many firms are still trying to reconcile. Addition- for the reduced role of the architect.
skills are put to the test. Also, these meetings can ally, beyond meeting the client requirements for Despite the diminished role on site as outlined
at times be strained (kicks under the table from achieving contractual financial close are a parallel above, CABE’s assessment of the design quality
the contractor if you unknowingly mention set of contractor-imposed deadlines relating to of P3-delivered schools found evidence that, al-
something that hasn’t been “cleared”—easy to do sequentially tendered work packages for a con- though the P3 process is no longer architect-
in these circumstances) and it can be difficult to struction date that will inevitably start the day driven, the architect is still the key to a successful
get meaningful client feedback due to limited after financial close is achieved. Aside from the outcome rather than the contractor. Schools built
time and the client’s reluctance to speak candidly challenge of coordinating this work, the difficulty by the same contractor with different architects
for fear of compromising competition fairness. lies in negotiating appropriate fees against a proj- showed a range in quality, but schools by the
In my most recent experience, the brief con- ect schedule that does not align with a typical de- same architect for different contractors showed
tained several core requirements that we dis- sign development sequence. similar levels of quality. The conclusion was not
agreed with. As the project designers, we had to In P3 school projects, all buildings are provided only that some architects were more skilled de-
strike a balance between challenging the brief’s with new furniture, computers and sports equip- signers, but some practices are more skilled at
preconceptions without appearing to ignore the ment. The impact of this exercise on time and re- getting the best building from this new procure-
school board’s brief or feedback. These condi- sources cannot be underestimated, and additional ment method.
tions are not unique to a P3 process, but are fees should be negotiated for this additional ser- As evident from the examples presented, some
amp­li­fied by the structure of the discussion and vice. Seen from another perspective, however, it aspects of the traditional role of the architect are
the compressed schedule. offers another opportunity for architects to add reduced through P3, but the question remains,
The consortium enters the competitive dia- value to the process and extend design control to with more familiarity and experience (as well as
logue with a full design team, including specialist an area beyond conventional scope. the addition of suitable mechanisms within the
consultants (acoustics, traffic, fire) as required. After financial close is achieved, there is enor- system itself to ensure design quality and appro-
One truly positive result of this fully engaged mous pressure on the construction schedule, as priately apportioned risk) can architects find new
consultant team is an integrated design process contracts typically include an optimistic fixed avenues to influence the final delivery of the
that I have not experienced on traditionally pro- hand­over date. The on-site delivery phase of the building projects completed through this pro-
cured pro­jects. At the conclusion of this phase, project is where differences bet­ween the UK and curement route? CA
bidding teams are required to submit their pro- Canada are the most profound and where refine-
posed scheme to CABE design review for evalua- ment to the P3 process could bring the greatest David Colussi, MAIBC, was the designer and project
tion, where a passing grade on design quality is a improvements to finished buildings. In the UK, architect of several new P3-delivered schools with
requirement for proceeding to the next stage. It an architect’s seal/signature is not a requirement Haverstock Associates Architects in the UK. He is now
is crucial that this evaluation is conducted prior for either Building Permit submission or as a practicing in Toronto.
to the close of the competitive process, while the condition for occupancy. Coupled with contract
school board has a stronger bargaining position documents which, though incomplete, have been Helena Grdadolnik, MRAIC, was a senior advisor at
with the bidding consortia. This step is even signed off by financial close, the architect’s role CABE, the English government’s advisor on architec-
more vital for non-sample schemes (the subse- risks being made superfluous. In my own experi- ture, urban design and public space. She is now based
quent schools that are awarded after the initial ence on the Lanchester School, this phase of the in Toronto and is a partner in Public Workshop.

50 canadian architect 11/09


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11/09 canadian architect 55


Calendar

Canadian Museums Now each country was aggressively ex­ tion to the book Parallel Nippon re­ Montreal. The exhibition also ex­
September 19-December 13, 2009 This tending its boundaries westward. traces how Japan’s architectural amines the contemporary period in
exhibition at the Art Gallery of www.vanartgallery.bc.ca scene has responded to the de­ design, sequenced to enable explo­
Alberta in Edmonton includes con­ mands of the age amid the transi­ ration of design landscapes from
tributions from the recently opened deegan day design: Blow x tion from the period of the Japanese the late 1970s to the present.
Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal On­ Blow speculative bubble to the post-bub­ www.mnba.qc.ca
tario Museum and the Gardiner October 23-December 13, 2009 This ble period. The exhibit is built
Museum in Toronto, the Canadian exhibition at the SCI-Arc Gallery in around the idea of contrast: expand­ Sick Rooms
War Museum in Ottawa and the new Los Angeles stages a bout between ing metropolises versus local com­ November 24, 2009 Roger Ulrich of
Cana­dian Museum of Human Rights two trends in exhibition: gallery munities plagued by declining birth Texas A&M University delivers this
in Winnipeg. space as installation designed by ar­ rates, grand cultural facilities with lecture at 6:30pm in Room 103 of
www.artgalleryalberta.com chitects versus the use of the gallery an international focus versus small the John H. Daniels Faculty of Ar­
space within the realm and possi­ but sensitive community facilities chitecture, Landscape and Design at
Expanding Horizons: Painting bilities of new media. To chart this for local children and the elderly. the University of Toronto.
and Photography of American collision, deegan day design repur­ www.dx.org www.daniels.utoronto.ca
and Canadian Landscape 1860- pose techniques of cinematic pro­
1918 jection and scripting to spur new Quebec in Design Journeys to the East: Arthur
October 17, 2009-January 17, 2010 This orders of spatial and structural se­ November 12, 2009-April 18, 2010 This Erickson and Japan
exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gal­ quencing, and new environments exhibition at the Musée national des November 25, 2009 Professor Michel­
lery compares the extraordinary for communing with new art. beaux-arts du Québec in Quebec angelo Sabatino from the Gerald D.
work of American and Canadian www.deegandaydesign.com City presents 75 years of work from Hines College of Architecture at the
landscape artists during the forma­ its own collection, and provides an University of Houston delivers this
tive days of each nation. Beginning Parallel Nippon: Contemporary overview of the history of design in lecture at 7:00pm at the Vancouver
with the American Civil War and Japanese Architecture 1996- Quebec, from the interior decora­ International Film Centre’s Vancity
ending with the conclusion of the 2006 tors of the 1930s and the entrench­ Theatre + Atrium. In the summer of
First World War, the exhibition November 10, 2009-January 11, 2010 ment of design in the aftermath of 2009, Sabatino retraced Arthur
presents some of North America’s Taking place at Toronto’s Design World War II to the period of effer­ Erickson’s first journey to Japan in
greatest artworks from a time when Exchange, this companion exhibi­ vescence surrounding Expo ’67 in 1961, revisiting the sites Erickson

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11/09 CANADIAN ARCHITECT 57


BackPage

Affective Change

Michael Boland Chris Allen

Cause+Affect’s interdisciplinary design


approach energizes the 2010 Winter Olym­ A rendering of one of the exhibition areas inside Vancouver House, an exhi­bi­
ABOVE LEFT

pics through its temporary pavilion called tion space intended for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. ABOVE RIGHT At a
Vancouver House. recently held Pecha Kucha event in Vancouver, an excited crowd holds up copies of
the evening’s promotional poster designed by Cause+Affect.

TEXT Adele Weder and spent several years career-building at multi- top of their game. As for those Winter Olympics,
disciplinary design firms. “I don’t think we real- it’s no surprise that they weren’t on the old-boy
The big mean Olympic machine has gathered its ized what we learned in London until we came radar of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for
share of detractors as it lumbers through town. back here,” says Steven. One glaring North the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
From the old-boy distribution of the Olympic American predilection was towards compart- (VANOC). But Cause+Affect is making an Olym-
venue architecture, to the Draconian bylaws pre- mentalization—“siloed design,” he calls it, rather pic appearance after all, as co-creators with fel-
scribing exactly what bon mots an individual is than interdisciplinary design. low maverick firms Haymaker and Brand Live—
allowed to hang in his window, the epic process Cause+Affect was founded five years ago on the of the symbolically important Vancouver House,
has occasionally seemed overzealously corporate couple’s dining-room table. A year later, they the temporary Olympic pavilion that will be the
and artless. But in a city of Olympic-sanctioned moved to their present abode, a century-old con- city’s calling card to the world. Comprised of an
everything, a unique design firm is providing a verted meatpacking warehouse with a view that exhibition component, a networking lounge and
refreshing counterpoint. Cause+Affect is a design looks out onto mountains, ocean and a jumble of other “spatial experiences,” as Jane puts it, the
and branding firm that has already done more to rail cars. pavilion will showcase Mayor Gregor Robertson’s
raise awareness of architecture and design in the Everything starts as an open-ended concept, “Green Capital” promise. Their basic ambition
lead-up to Olympic-frenzy Vancouver than the most notably their Pecha Kucha nights—the for Vancouver House, according to Steven, is that
architects themselves. And crucially, they’ve Vancouver franchise of the worldwide series of people will walk away and say, “Vancouver is
proven that edgy, risk-taking design is actually cultural micro-talks. And, the pair have almost cool.” Jane adds, “You’ll want to move here, set
good business. single-handedly transformed the fusty image of up a shop and produce wonderful things from
Principals Steven and Jane Cox were both edu- the city’s Vancouver Museum with their Movers & here.” CA
cated at the University of Manitoba—Steven in Shapers exhibition series: its beautifully under-
architecture, Jane in interior design. After com- stated slogan is “20 designers you should know.” Adele Weder is an architectural critic and curator
pleting their studies, they migrated to London, Now just in their mid-thirties, they seem at the based in British Columbia.

58 canadian architect 11/09


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