Further details of lululemon’s proposed new global headquarters building in the False Creek Flats have been released.
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In its rezoning application to the City of Vancouver, the company’s proposal for an existing 2.7-acre private green space 1980 Foley Street — the northeast corner of the intersection of Great Northern Way and Foley Street, about two blocks from either SkyTrain’s VCC-Clark Station or the future Millennium Line extension station at the intersection of Great Northern Way and Thornton Street.
The company has enlisted Morphosis Architects — an internationally-renowned firm with offices in New York City and Los Angeles — to design the tower, with further contributions by Francl Architecture.
The so-called Store Support Centre will amount to a consolidation of the athletic clothing company’s four offices in the city, including the existing headquarters at 1818 Cornwall Street in Kitsilano.
About 2,000 staff are currently occupied in these offices, and by 2032 the number of headquarters jobs is expected to increase to approximately 4,000 positions, with the new Store Support Centre building providing the capacity to expand the office workforce under a single roof well into the future. The new purpose-built headquarters is key to lululemon’s strategy of retaining and attracting global talent.
The proposal is to construct a 214-ft-tall, 13-storey building with a total floor area of 593,400 sq. ft. of floor area, including 511,448 sq. ft. of office space and 64,536 sq. ft. of accompanying office amenity spaces, such as communal kitchens, cafeteria, and yoga studio. The floor area size is over four times larger than the Kitsilano building.
The design uses greenery to provide shading to workspaces along the south and west facade, and creates green spaces to bring in naturally filtered fresh air into the office space, which enhances natural ventilation while reducing energy consumption.
All of the office floors are organized around a large atrium that penetrates through all of the floors, with a staircase connecting all of the levels. The widening steps of the staircase between the fourth and seventh levels also double as an amphitheatre-like, town hall gathering space for company-wide presentations and announcements.
“lululemon’s love for design and attention to detail will be exemplified through a new, state-of-the-art destination facility in the community. The design of the building is organized around a central atrium space that will bring daylight and connectivity to the heart of the building,” continues the rationale.
“The company is also committed to creating a healthy work environment for the employees through the design and creation of a space that promotes and supports healthy lifestyles. The goal of the new Store Support Centre is to become the healthiest workplace in the world by implementing a design that will address health, wellness and mindfulness, as well as broader sustainability goals.”
Employees will have access to landscaped terraces on levels four, seven, and 13, with views of downtown Vancouver and the mountains.
On the ground level, adjacent to the office lobby, is 6,157 sq. ft. of retail area for a lululemon store and a 4,358-sq-ft building corner restaurant unit.
Current zoning limits heights on the site to 120 ft, but the proposal notes that the resulting bulky building while also retaining the required floor space is undesirable for both the company and the area.
“Attempting to do so results in an imposing 11-storey extruded box — a building mass that does not relate to the streetscape or the surrounding context, and is not a building that would be representative of lululemon,” reads the design rationale.
“To solve these difficulties, we put forward a strategy of relaxing the site’s height limit and redistributing the building mass away from the street. By redistributing interior program from the upper levels of the building’s main urban frontage along Great Northern Way, the perceived scale of the building is reduced. This program is relocated within a 13-storey volume biased to the northern edge of the site, surrounded by planted roof terraces that further minimize the overall massing of the building.”
Furthermore, the upper levels of the building are perched on top of a six-storey podium that respects the scale of the buildings in the surrounding area and reinforces the streetscape.
The building is also carved to create three major urban green spaces, including the covered main entrance off Foley Street, a new public plaza along Great Northern Way activated by the restaurant and outdoor seating, and a sheltered northwest corner that provides covering for the outdoor terraces.
On the building’s eastern edge, there will be a landscaped public space to reflect the buried legacy of China Creek running adjacent to the property.
According to the application, the design will meet and exceed the municipal government’s standard for green building design and operations, including rooftop solar panels that have a double purpose of screening building mechanical equipment.
The building will be designed to the certification standard of LEED Platinum, Living Building Challenge Petal, Well Platinum, and Zero Carbon Certification.
Five underground levels will also be used to accommodate 840 vehicle parking stalls and 338 bike parking spaces.