LMN Architects • Just by the numbers, the Vancouver Convention Centre West—designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects—is impressive: 1.2 million square feet located on an 11-acre former brownfield site on the city’s waterfront, topped by a six-acre living roof that hosts 400,000 indigenous plants. The jury was wowed by how well the LEED Platinum building was integrated into its context and how it made links between the public space along the harbor and the downtown urban fabric. “I thought it was a miracle to take a convention center, which is really a big blob, and to make it work in a city scale,” juror Bill Valentine said.
The Convention Centre site is more water than land, and the design team was conscious of the local subaquatic ecosystem. At high tide, two-thirds of the building’s footprint—which rests on a precast marine deck supported by steel piles—hovers over the water of Vancouver Harbour. A sea-water pump system uses water from the harbor (which is at a constant temperature) for heating the building in winter and cooling it in summer. LMN collaborated with marine biologists to restore 200 feet of shoreline and develop an artificial reef, a five-tiered concrete-frame structure that will be soon be host to a convention of barnacles, mussels, and starfish.