On the verge of a new century, TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s mobility provider, faced a daunting challenge: how could they entice commuters out of their cars and onto transit, and help propel public transit into the next millennium? They approached us looking for a bold vision to meet this challenge.
Working closely with Translink, we intentionally designed Brentwood as the signature station for their new Millennium line—attracting the attention of the travelling public through its unique form and structure. This creative response was a purposeful departure from the industrial sameness of the region’s original Expo line: we used extensive wood in the station’s structure and canopy, and incorporated glazed walls to give the main enclosure a warm and appealing invitation to commuters below and to provide a safe, comfortable space for the riders of the line. While evoking the prestige of 19th century railway stations through the station’s elegant and simple volume, we provided a futuristic transit aesthetic through the project’s clean detailing and dynamic form. This combination has resulted in an iconic design recognized both at home and around the world.
Early in the design process the team identified Brentwood as the site for a marquee station. Its highly visible location on a hillside made it a great candidate for a signature station for the new line. Designed as an inviting beacon, the warm glow of Brentwood station is an invitation to commuters stuck in traffic on both Lougheed Highway, a major arterial in the city of Burnaby above which the station hovers, and the adjacent Trans-Canada Highway.
Brentwood station exemplifies the innovative use of wood in transit, and remains to this day an emblem of the ingenuity of the Millennium Line stations. We designed unique wood and steel structural ribs and roof components—considered disruptive for their use in transit at the time—to define the station’s identity, influencing the character of the entire Metro Vancouver SkyTrain system.
Transit stations are by their very nature green buildings, as their main function is to reduce vehicular traffic and hence carbon dioxide emissions. Nonetheless, when we designed Brentwood Station an effort was made to be as environmentally responsible as possible. The form allows for natural ventilation and reduced lighting loads, high flyash content concrete reduces CO2 in production, reclaimed and locally sourced wood and steel reduce transportation loads and the building itself touches down on the ground only minimally—its large form floating above the roadway.
Delivered as a package of two stations, Gilmore SkyTrain station—the sister station to Brentwood—shares a number of elements including its extensive use of glass and wood. The transparent station also encourages transit use through accessibility and safety.