In a part of downtown Vancouver now experiencing urban renewal on a massive scale, Aquilini Centre West stacks the city’s largest rental housing project in 40 years on top of retail and commercial space. Completed in 2015, this tower is the first of four that will eventually surround Rogers Arena, the home of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks. When B+H became the design architect, what had originally been conceived as a commercial building with retail space at the tower’s base had evolved into a mixed-use project with residential units on the upper 12 of its 26 storeys. B+H Architects designed the core and shell, and the residential units and residential common areas are by our hospitality studio, CHIL Interior Design.
Office towers typically have deep floor plates, and the configuration we inherited on this project was no exception. To achieve something closer to the narrower floor plates desired for residential use, we took an unconventional approach to space planning that works to the residents’ advantage: the storage lockers for each floor’s units are located near the core of that floor, rather than in the basement. There was also an acoustic issue to resolve for residential units on the east side, overlooking Rogers Arena. When a loud concert is in progress below, residents can slide glazed panels along their balcony edge into the closed position to muffle the sound.
Aquilini Centre West is built up against Rogers Arena and provides a new entry into it, along with expanded crush space. The arena and the tower are positioned between two viaducts that are primary routes into and out of the city. When we were designing this building, the City of Vancouver was contemplating demolishing the viaducts and replacing them with an at-grade street network. The building we designed currently provides lobby access at the podium level, in keeping with site conditions generated by the Georgia Street Viaduct, and will provide at-grade entry after both viaducts’ now-certain demolition.