There has been a shift in work and office culture with the introduction of hybrid working – during the pandemic, business districts became empty city blocks. Bentall Centre, an interconnected business hub in the Downtown core of Vancouver, is using a series of revitalization upgrades to breakdown the pre-existing physical and perceived expectations of an office complex.
By establishing a vibrant retail and food & beverage strategy, the boundaries of work and play blur to activate the ground level, creating a draw back to the office to build a sense of community on site. Connecting retail amenities at grade, a fully revitalized below grade concourse, and the Burrard Station Skytrain this dynamic destination is for not only office employees, but residents and visitors with layers of activation across the site.
In studying the ebb and flow of the site, we recognized the space between Bentall Towers 1 and 2 as an opportunity for a dedicated entrance. Although there are already a number of existing entries, many of them exist within the lobbies of the towers or tucked into nooks of the site. The portico will become an essential piece to welcome those passing by into the newly revitalized retail concourse below.
The new set of escalators are covered with a sleek glazed structure framed by a colonnade of white, structural steel fins. This new materiality and bright vibrant white aims to compliment not compete by bringing in a modernized version of the iconic repetition seen in the columns of the flanking Bentall Towers. The underside of the portico roof features a warm wood slat ceiling which will tie together the subtle additions of wood on site, to the tower soffits and landscaping.
New planters incorporate seating and soft landscaping, anchoring the portico to elements of the existing plaza. Planting material selected specifically for this shaded corridor will bring much needed vibrancy and colour to the cool hardscape surroundings. The top of the lush green roof is intended to be visible from offices above and the trails pouring over the sides visible as you ascend the escalator below – part of the strategy of using greenery as an indicator of vertical circulation on site.
The lighting approach was a key element in the portico design. As part of the revitalization, the office complex hours stretch beyond the typical 9-5, so with nuanced lighting at the planter level, at the steel fins and along the roofline and ceiling bring visibility, security and enhanced porosity to a previously dark and shady corner of the site. While sun gets cast down and reflects off the metal finishing of the vertical shaft during the day - bringing in much needed natural light to below - a soft up-lighting shifts to creates the feel of light being emit from below at night.