Photo from Great Northern Way showing office building and pavilion.
Photo from Great Northern Way showing office building and pavilion.

Great Northern Way Office and Pavilion

Vancouver, British Columbia
Designing the Heart of a New District

Seeing the potential in a long narrow parcel of land adjacent to the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver’s False Creek Flats district, PCI Development Group approached us to develop a new office building with a public space for workers and students. Within this brief, we saw an opportunity. Redistributing density on the site unlocked access to the spectacular views of downtown Vancouver and the North Shore mountains while at the same time significantly expanding open space on site. The result is a generous and visible public realm—with an eye-catching retail pavilion at its centre—that has become both the front door and heart of a new creative district, and an elegant office building that is stitched into the fabric of the campus and the surrounding community.

“This building and its the embodiment of Great Northern Way Trust’s vision for the area.”

― Emily Kaplun, Great Northern Way Trust

Diagram showing building form and open space of revised and original zoning.
Unlocking the Potential
Redistributing density on the site unlocked access to the spectacular views while at the same time significantly expanding open space on site.
View of public plaza at Great Northern Way with Pavilion.
Through site rezoning, plaza space is greatly expanded to create a welcoming front door to the new campus.
Detail of shading system and stepped form of building.
In Context
Steps in the building form acknowledge adjacent urban context, and are paired with a custom shading system as part of the solar shading strategy.
View of rooftop amenity with expansive views of the city and North Shore mountains.
Rezoning the site not only allowed for an expanded public realm, but the extra height capitalizes on the spectacular view to downtown Vancouver and the North Shore mountains. An indoor and outdoor amenity space allows for business and social functions.
View of pedestrian spine running through site.
The pedestrian spine was a driving force of the form of the building and a central element of the master plan. Connecting the multi-use pathway from East Vancouver to Wilson Arts Plaza, the office building, and beyond, it provides an active connection for the community.
Innovation District

Working with the Great Northern Way Trust­—whose mandate is to ensure the district is a vibrant and interesting place to work, study, and visit—we wanted our project to promote a sense of community and provide the all important link between digital media education and careers. The 1,850 square metre (20,000 square foot) large open space floorplates appeal to technology clients and allow for flexibility and adaptability. In turn these new tenants are positioned next to the institutions that will provide their talent pool of future innovators. Add to this a pavilion that is both a coffeehouse and a landmark sculptural building to anchor the regeneration of this district, and provide a much needed space for social connection, and you have a project that defines a new district.

Photo of pavilion interior showing wood walls and oculus.
The petals converge at the top to form an oculus filtering daylight to illuminate the wood clad interior creating a warm and inviting ambience.
Photo showing the red curved petals of the pavilion with Emily Carr University in the background.
The uniquely curved petal forms used for the pavilion overlap creating an undulating pattern comprised of five inner petals that form the grand singular volume and five outer petals that flare out to announce the three entrances.
Let's Get Digital

Through material and fabrication research, and in collaboration with industry partners, the design team fabricated a complex curvature Nail Laminated Timber (NLT) structural panel as proof of concept. Learning from the prototype, the design team worked with the structural engineers and fabricators to optimize the petal forms, and develop a lighter and more cost effective structural solution. The CNC milled components required a digital workflow between the design team and fabricator. A shared model ensured a smooth and accurate process from design through fabrication.

The curved CNC routered NLT petal prototype.
Structural detail of pavilion.
Photo of a petal of the pavilion during fabrication.
What Makes It Cool
Applying advanced industrial fabrication methods presents new opportunities to use mass timber to create complex building forms.

Project Team

Ryan Bragg
Yehia Madkour
Marc Haberli
Derek Newby