Telus Garden development takes up city block in downtown Vancouver

Demolition has finished and excavation is starting for the new $750-million Telus Garden mixed-use complex that will transform a downtown Vancouver city block into a green showcase by 2014. The project also promises to be . designated to be LEED Platinum.

The landmark 1-million square-foot, $750-million project, bounded by Georgia, Robson, Seymour and Richard streets in the heart of the city, will house the new headquarters for communications giant Telus on nine floors of the signature 22-storey office tower. A second 46-storey residential tower, built to achieve a LEED Gold standard, will house 400 residential units, with 50,000 square feet of retail space and underground parking.

The architecture, by Vancouver’s Henriquez Partners Architects, incorporates both technology and enhanced environmental features. It has 10,000 square feet of green roof, providing organic produce for local restaurants. Cantilevered sky-gardens located over levels four to seven and 16-19 in the office tower extend over the walkway below. The gardens are fully accessible to those within the building and provide a green leisure space for employees.

Between the Telus Garden’s two towers on the Georgia Street side there is a large pavilion. Anthony El-Arij, P.Eng., associate with Glotman Simpson, the structural consulting engineers, describes the pavilion as “like a spine with ribs.” It will span 220 feet with a steel arch and 30-foot glulam outriggers.

Also on the Georgia Street side, the building will have LED lighting that can project programmable coloured images on fritted glass. This facade can also serve as a media wall to broadcast cultural events such as symphony concerts to the public.

Cobalt Engineering, which has the contract for mechanical engineering on both projects, designed the project’s energy conservation features such as a district energy system, high efficiency heat pumps, a waste heat recovery system, and geothermal heat exchangers.

Adam Simes, Cobalt’s senior mechanical designer in charge of the district energy system, explains that Telus has a large data processing centre located across the street from the new headquarters. The centre generates volumes of heat from the processing machinery, heat that is usually vented out. “We are capturing this waste heat,” Simes said. The heat is transferred to a central plant in the Telus Garden complex, where it is upgraded and used to provide 80-90 per cent of the heating and hot water requirements.

Gary Rhode, an associate partner at Cobalt, which is also handling the electrical design for the office tower, explains they took an integrated approach: “All systems will communicate together as one system,” he says, adding that these include lighting, security, digital metering, HVAC and other functions.

Such integration will automatically turn on lights and heat in an employee’s office area when that person swipes through the building’s security entrance. Integrated systems monitoring also can provide for a comparative analysis of energy usage between floors. “If energy consumption is higher on one floor than the one above it, the operators can look to see if someone is leaving the heat or lights on at night,” says Rhode. “It is going to be an incredible building in terms of how it operates.”

Based on energy modeling, the Telus Garden is designed to be 35% more energy efficient than the relevant ASHRAE base case.

Firms and organizations involved with the project are: Henriquez Partners (architect), Glotman Simpson (structural), Cobalt Engineering (mechanical and district energy system, LEED coordination, electrical design for office tower), Nemetz & Associates (electrical design for residential tower), C.E.S. Group (commissioning agent and LEED verification), Westbank Corp (project manager), ICON Pacific Construction (general contractor), Geopacific Consultants (geotechnical).


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