The new downtown Vancouver office building at 980 Howe, designed by HDR|CEI Architecture and Endall Elliot Associates, is a state-of-the-art building with sustainable design aesthetics. Developed by Manulife Real Estate, 980 Howe is set to target LEED Gold Certification while propping some of the most interesting design solutions for public and corporate uses.
In early November 2015, Manulife Real Estate opened the doors to their latest AAA property in Western Canada. Construction began in June 2013 on the 16-storey tower, offering ample work space of 250,000 square feet. Floor plate areas range from 15,160 square feet to 16,611 square feet.
Adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown entertainment district, 980 Howe contains essential street level retail space which superseded the previous uses on this plot of land. Key office tenants of the building include BGC Engineering and Jarvis McGee Rice Trial Lawyers.
Manulife Real Estate told Vancity Buzz the retail tenants on the ground level will be Canadian founded businesses Railtown Café and Freshii. Railtown was launched by Vancouver chefs Dan Olson and Tyler Day, who own and operate the award-winning Railtown Catering out of the same facility.
The built form boasts nine-foot-high ceilings and a shared penthouse meeting room on the 16th floor, complete with roof terraces. Floor-to-floor glass incorporates high performance glazing in conjunction with high efficiency mechanical heating/cooling and electrical systems.
The double-height entrance lobby is furnished with marble, granite, and wood. According to the collaborating designers of this project, the objective was to evoke a highly sustainable building in a model of clean, contemporary office design.
At the concept phase, the design team was dubious about the feasibility of the model, as an all-glass curtain wall structure would have a hard time achieving the energy efficiency standards required for the project, which is targeting LEED Gold. This also meant that construction materials were thoughtfully selected to achieve important design targets.
The solution comprised of the high performance building envelope which works in tandem with the landscaping strategies at roof level. The designers employed rain gardens and uses hardy west coast plants for rainwater harvesting. Highly transparent low-iron glass is used on the lower floor façade to address how light and shadow affect the building. High efficiency mechanical systems are used for heat recovery within the building and the built-in occupancy sensors limit energy use.
On the exterior, the façade features four delicate lines of dichroic glass that are integrated into the southeast and southwest glass walls. Designed by local architect Bill Pechet, the dichroic glass brings nuances of shifting colour to the passersby. Depending on the perspective, the colours of the façade change from brilliant yellow-green to a softer aquamarine.
As for parking facilities on site, the building can accommodate about 200 vehicles, 5 electric car charging docks, and 55 bicycles in secured storage. End-of-trip facilities are conveniently located on the ground level beside the spacious, secured bike storage. With separate men’s and women’s change rooms and showers, these facilities are in addition to those in the fitness centre.
Future improvements to the building envelope will consist of photovoltaic panels on the roof with planters, and rainwater will be collected in a cistern to be used for irrigation purposes. Part of Manulife Real Estate’s growth strategy is to develop and acquire high quality assets in the cities which they do business.