An eight-story building at Vancouver Community College will feature a cutting-edge electric/hybrid automotive shop to train students on servicing and maintaining electric vehicles and provide education on clean energy. The 343,832-sf Centre for Clean Energy and Automotive Innovation, to be designed by Stantec, will house classrooms, labs, a library and learning center, an Indigenous gathering space, administrative offices, and multiple collaborative learning spaces. Areas will also be dedicated to design media, fashion, jewelry, and CAD/BIM.
The structure is focused on sustainability both in design and in the teaching and learning that will take place within. The building will be outfitted with powerful HVAC systems that respond to climate change and mass timber as the primary structural material in the atrium space. Designers will aim for low embedded carbon and to meet British Columbia’s Step Code 2, LEED Gold Certification, and Rick Hansen Foundation Gold certifications requirements.
Special considerations were given to Indigenous consultation and involvement in the design. Two Row Architect is the Indigenous design collaborator. The proposed design was informed and inspired by the pre-settlement history of the site, based on stories shared with the integrated project team by Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations knowledge keepers.
The significance of the canoe, including its relationship to the land and water, and the craft involved in the making of the canoe, emerged as a design theme. This led to the exploration of design and massing opportunities that conveyed the idea of a traditional Coast Salish canoe. Dark metal panels on the façade mimic traditional Coast Salish canoes. Angled panels represent a canoe as it is being carved. Wood details in the interior will minimize maintenance and further allude to the canoe narrative.
“That didn’t mean we wanted to put a canoe on a building,” says Eleonore Leclerc, Stantec principal and architect. The canoe, water, and land are symbolized in three important design elements: the atrium represents water, the solid volume represents the earth, and the overstructure represents the canoe in construction. “It’s less figurative and more conceptual,” Eleonore says.
On the project team:
Owner and/or developer: Vancouver Community College
Design architect: Stantec Architecture
Architect of record: Stantec Architecture
Indigenous design collaborator: Two Row Architect
MEP engineer: Stantec
Structural engineer: RJC Engineering
General contractor/construction manager: Bird Construction