LMN-designed Vancouver Convention Centre West (VCCW) has been selected as a recipient of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)'s Institute Honor Awards, the architecture profession's highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture, and urban design. LMN will be honored at the 2011 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in New Orleans to be held from May 12-14, 2011.
27 winners were selected from over 700 total submissions. The Vancouver Convention Centre was recognized along with 10 other projects in the interior architecture category. The project was a collaboration among LMN (as design architect), Vancouver-based Musson Cattell Mackey and DA Architects + Planners.
"An amazingly inviting, warm public circulation is achieved through the use of daylighting, building landforms, and local materials that both reference the area's industry and provide richly detailed surfaces," AIA National jury comments. "Unlike the typical convention center, this public space has a well-chosen vocabulary of materials and spatial proportions that commits to the connection between interior and exterior, bringing the outdoors in to its interior spaces in a compelling and eloquent manner."
Situated on Vancouver's waterfront on one of the most unique civic building sites in North America, the world's first LEED Platinum convention center is designed to bring together the complex ecology, vibrant local culture and urban environment. The 1.2 million square foot design knits the convention center experience into the urban fabric of the downtown core, using the building to frame public open space and extend the city's pedestrian activity to the waterfront. Connecting to an existing harbor greenbelt, it continues a public promenade and bike trail across the site, completing an important link in the city's park system, originating from Stanley Park to the west. The architectural expression embodies the diverse elements that define its place. The design approach blurs the distinction between building and landscape, urbanity and nature, creating a major civic plaza and 6-acre living roof-the largest in Canada.
Addressing the human environment, the architectural approach creates a community experience that is simultaneously a building, an urban place, a park, and an ecosystem. The convention center program emphasizes spaces for both public and private events, gatherings, and circulation. Urban spaces formed by the building's landforms extend the downtown street grid to preserve view corridors out to the water. Waterfront and urban pedestrian activities extend the public realm through and around the site. The entire perimeter enclosure is an ultra-clear glass system, which provides strong linkages between interior and exterior public spaces, and visually reinforces the integration of urban and waterfront context into the user experience of the building.
The interior architecture takes advantage of the four primary orientations of the site, with Canada Place to the east, downtown Vancouver to the south, Harbour Green Park to the west, and Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains to the north. All of these features are clearly visible from the interior through the glazed enclosure, and each front is used as an orienting device to guide convention delegates through the facility. Pre-function areas and vertical circulation are placed to take full advantage of these views.
The primary interior expression is the use of naturally occurring materials indigenous to British Columbia, with extensive use of sustainably harvested Douglas fir. The ballroom and meeting room programs that form the core of the building's interior mass are enclosed by a wood cladding system that simulates the texture and directionality of a stack of lumber. Wood ceiling slats oriented in long, dramatic parallel lines combine with the orthogonal massing of the interior spaces to create contrast against the organic geometry of the roof and exterior shell. The strong wood expression takes on an arresting public presence at night as the building glows through its transparent skin.
The main vertical circulation column-a set of escalators creating a 3-story atrium-exposes the full extent of the interior architecture's layered experience. On the lowest level, the materials take on cool blue tones suggestive of the marine environment. Above, the glazing makes the living roof and the city visible in a light-filled composition of angles in wood.
In announcing the award, the AIA states, "A visual marvel in itself, the Vancouver Convention Centre West is an inspiring step forward in the efforts of sustainability, energy reduction, and respect to local ecology. It departs radically from the generic convention center model and provides a glimpse of something more."