Innovative engineering behind BIG’s Vancouver Tower

Buro Happold’s structural design supports the top-heavy, complex building in a high seismic zone; engineers are using BIM technology to design a concrete structure with post-tensioned walls.

April 23, 2012 |
Buro Happold designed a concrete core with post-tensioned walls, which can prote

Multi-disciplinary engineering firm Buro Happold is providing structural engineering services for the Beach and Howe mixed-use tower in Vancouver. Buro Happold is design engineer, working in collaboration with local engineer of record, Glotman Simpson.

The structure meets the challenge of stabilizing a tall building whose mass is at its top – and making it safe in a high seismic zone. The 49-story building, designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, combines 653,890-sf of residential, retail, and commercial space in an urban complex at the entrance to the Granville Street Bridge.

Typically, the mass of a building is at its base. In response to the constricted urban site, the mass of the Beach and Howe tower is inverted. The tower’s small triangular base curves away from the bridge to allow light and air to enter lower apartments. As it rises, the building’s shape transforms into larger, rectangular floorplates that culminate in a square top. The designers describe the tower’s shape “as a curtain being drawn aside, welcoming people as they enter the city from the bridge.”

Buro Happold designed a concrete core with post-tensioned walls, which can protect against damage in case of an earthquake and also improve performance. This creative solution meets the tower’s structural and seismic requirements. BD+C

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