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Greener Up Top
Expanded Vancouver Convention Center sports six-acre green roof
Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project

The new west wing of the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) not only provides 1.2 million square feet of new function and meeting spaces, but also an angular six acre green roof, the largest non-commercial roof in North America. Designed by Seattle based LMN architects working with Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership and DA Architects & Planners, the building has become an instant icon for the city.  

Right at the city’s waterfront edge but also overlooking the nearby mountains, the convention center is unusual, said Warren Buckley, CEO and President of BC Pavilion Corporation, the group that owns the convention center, because, “It has the ability for someone to walk out of a meeting room and access the ocean.” The steel and concrete structure is fronted by a giant glass curtain wall that captures these views.

The convention center was originally built as the Canada Pavilion for the 1986 World’s Fair.  Now called the east wing, the sail-like roofed structure connects to the new west wing via a pedestrian bridge.  The VCC facilitates a total of 471,000 square feet of meeting halls and rooms, exhibit spaces, and ballrooms.

Both wings will become hosts for the broadcast and media center for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, providing the “home base” for announcers, scorekeepers, and journalists.  

The space’s sustainability features are part of the building’s target for LEED Gold certification. Most visible, is the green roof. Aside from being a visual centerpiece, it also acts as a natural habitat and an insulator for sound and weather. Inside functions were like a “choreographed series of spaces shaped by the roof,” LMN Architects design partner Mark Reddington noted, revealing glimpses of the exterior surfaces from within.  The geometry of the roof was created so portions that slope can align with the interior floors, added Reddington.  

At the foundation of the building a five-tiered concrete structure resembling bleachers, which dips into the ocean, was designed to provide a habitat for the marine life and ecology found along the shoreline, merging the building with the environment.  A seawater heat pump system will be used to produce cooling for the building during the warmer season and heating during the cooler season, while keeping a backup heater based on steam for additional needs. About 80% of the gray water for toilet flushing and irrigation of the green roof will be recycled from treated sewage water produced by the building.  Water from the harbor that will go through a desalination plant will be used to make up for additional non-potable needs.    

Martina Dolejsova