Once the neon capital of North America, famous for its bustling nightlife, downtown Vancouver’s entertainment district centred around Granville Street has been waning in recent years—the result of aging buildings, infrastructure, and natural wear and tear. But renewed interest in cultural activities and nightlife within the City has set the stage for a renaissance of the Granville strip, propelled by the bold re-envisioning of key cultural and entertainment venues like those at 800 Granville.
Our proposal for 800 Granville is envisioned as a juxtaposition between old and new, celebrating Vancouver’s heritage and the arts. It includes the complete preservation of the legendary Commodore Ballroom, the creation of new performance and support spaces to support the viability of the Orpheum Theatre, the retention of five heritage façades, and a design that speaks to the street’s historic neon signs and eclectic character. This is all paired with more than 400,000 SF of much-needed flexible office space which will fuel activity throughout the day and into the night.
The 800 block is one of the most complete blocks of heritage buildings on Granville Street, but only one of the buildings has an official heritage designation. The design proposal ensures the conservation of all five heritage resources on the site, while being purposeful with the new addition. The retained Service Building, Cameron Block, Clancy Building, State Hotel, and Commodore complex maintains the “sawtooth” pattern that is characteristic of the historic development of this block. Sitting between the heritage base and office form, a striking one-storey reveal is set back from the street, emphasizing the detailed heritage façades.
Granville Street, where the 800 Block is situated, has been in a constant state of evolution for nearly 150 years. In such a culturally evolving context, the 800 Block is intended to preserve and revitalize the cultural heritage of the street and the city, informing the future by acknowledging the past. As a new space for culture and live entertainment, the multi-purpose performance venue has a built-in synergy with the Orpheum and Commodore, complementing the two entertainment anchors of the street; securing the future of the Commodore, and enabling the Orpheum to thrive with much needed rehearsal and back-of-house space. As a comprehensive redevelopment, the proposal ensures accessibility for all, and will return the 800 Block to its place as the heart of culture in the downtown.