ICBC headquarters office to relocate to new 10-storey mass-timber office building next to SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station in Vancouver

Jun 13 2024, 8:01 pm

The easternmost end of the Great Northern Way corridor in the False Creek Flats of Vancouver is set to gain the major presence of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) corporate headquarters office.

After conducting a comprehensive search across the Metro Vancouver region for a suitable headquarters location, ICBC confirmed today its decision to relocate its corporate hub to The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive. This is located immediately adjacent to VCC-Clark Station on SkyTrain’s Millennium Line and the iconic “Monument of Vancouver,” more commonly referred to as the “East Van Cross” sign.

Currently under construction at the northeast corner of the intersection of East 6th Avenue and Keith Drive, The Hive will be a 10-storey, mass-timber office building.

The Hive will feature 164,000 sq ft of Class AAA office space, which will be entirely leased to ICBC.

In an interview with Daily Hive Urbanized, ICBC spokesperson Brent Shearer says the Crown corporation intends to be at The Hive over the very long term, with an initial 15-year lease and options to renew.

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Location of the future ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, next to SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station. (Google Maps)

Current construction progress, as of this week:

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, as of June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Future condition:

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Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

The Hive is just over half the total size of ICBC’s existing headquarters location of 151 West Esplanade Avenue at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, which has served as the Crown corporation’s headquarters since it was built in 1980. Prominently situated on the Lonsdale waterfront, the existing six-storey building with 300,000 sq ft of office space is owned by ICBC.

The new Vancouver building boasts flexible large open floor plates that are each about 20,000 sq ft and suitable for larger organizations, as well as a warm and inviting interior space design concept from the showcase exposure of mass-timber materials. Workers will also have access to outdoor terraces on each level and a grand outdoor rooftop area with panoramic views of the downtown Vancouver skyline and North Shore mountains, in addition to various other amenities such as a cafe and bike end-of-trip facilities.

“Moving to 2150 Keith Drive is in line with ICBC’s goals of a smaller and more sustainable footprint that’s centrally located and near public transit. It will offer our employees a work environment in terms of building amenities and wellness features. Beyond that, it fits well within the timeframe of our previously announced relocation plans,” said Shearer.

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

Daily Hive Urbanized previously reported in September 2022 that ICBC had decided to depart from its Lonsdale location and begin the process of seeking a smaller space in a more convenient and centralized location, with SkyTrain proximity being a key priority.

Continued semi-remote office work policies for headquarters staff have meant only up to 40% of the Lonsdale office space is occupied on any given day. As well, the Lonsdale location poses accessibility challenges, with only 30% of headquarters staff living on the North Shore and the remaining 70% living elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, south of Burrard Inlet. As well, due to the building’s growing age, some major reinvestment is now needed for its continued optimal use.

Shearer notes there will be a forthcoming announcement on the plans for the Lonsdale building after it is vacated by ICBC.

“It didn’t make sense to have a facility that was that big, continuously. So now, ICBC is right sizing and moving to Vancouver, which is obviously a big win for the City of Vancouver,” Marco DiPaolo, an executive vice president with commercial real estate firm Colliers International, told Daily Hive Urbanized in an interview this week.

ICBC considered about three dozen potential office locations across Metro Vancouver, before whittling down the options to a shortlist of four locations in the False Creek Flats (The Hive) and Broadway Tech Centre in Vancouver, and Brentwood and Metrotown in Burnaby. Early this year, the 2024 provincial budget provided ICBC with a $338 million multi-year capital budget, including $164 million for the headquarters relocation.

The Hive was originally intended to be the new headquarters location of Nature’s Path, which had pre-pandemic plans to be the building’s anchor tenant — a relocation from its existing Richmond location.

ICBC’s headcount for its Lonsdale headquarters is 1,500 workers. During The Hive’s planning process prior to the pandemic, it was previously stated the new building could accommodate up to 2,000 workers for Nature’s Path’s long-term expansion.

“It’ll be roughly the same number of ICBC employees working out of the new location,” said Shearer.

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, as of June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, as seen from inside SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station on June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, as seen from inside SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station on June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, as seen from inside SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station on June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The new building is owned by Arran and Ratan Stephens, who are perhaps best known for being the owners and founders of Nature’s Path. They worked with BentallGreenOak to pursue the development and traverse the municipal government’s development permit application process, which was approved in 2019.

Colliers was brought in to look for potential secondary smaller tenants after the building’s office space size grew from the addition of two floors, which better enabled a multi-tenant occupancy with Nature’s Path being the anchor tenant. But like many organizations, over the course of the pandemic, the organic food manufacturer’s office space needs decreased significantly.

When construction first began on The Hive in Spring 2022, Nature’s Path had indicated that their plans for occupying the building were in flux, and they were reviewing their spatial needs.

“They said, ‘Look, this might be better if we take it to market, and let’s see what happens,'” said DiPaolo, who also noted the family has a number of real estate holdings across the city.

“They took a chance on developing a building and went ahead with building it, even though they didn’t have a tenant yet, they went ahead with building it.”

They also retained the project’s unique mass-timber design, which goes beyond the typical design for such structures. The award-winning project’s architectural firm is Dialog, which worked with mass-timber specialists Fast & Epp, Kalesnikoff, and Kinsol Timber Systems. Ventana Construction is the main contractor.

Typically, taller mass-timber buildings incorporate a structural concrete core that not only encases the elevator shafts and existing stairwell, but also provides seismic stability from within.

The Hive does not have any structural cores, as its honeycomb-shaped exterior serves the dual purpose of fulfilling aesthetics and functionality to push the innovative boundaries of such buildings. The honey-combed-shaped timber frame is a perimeter-braced seismic structure that connects with four internal cross-laminated timber (CLT) shearwalls. This structural exoskeleton will be the tallest timber-braced frame in North America.

The exoskeleton and building roof also serve to provide solar shading for the interior spaces, function as outdoor gardens, and collect rainwater that feeds into the property’s surrounding landscape bioswale feature.

But The Hive still has the conventional taller mass-timber building design feature of a seismic concrete base reaching up to the second level’s floor plate.

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

2150 keith drive vancouver the hive icbc headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver. (Dialog/BentallGreenOak)

Other green building design features include 100% electric mechanical systems without any reliance on natural gas, natural thermal insulators resulting in lower energy costs, and a biophilia design for the interior workspaces.

Fundamentally, continued Di Paolo, The Hive’s design aligns with the Stephens family’s mantra of sustainability and environmental stewardship.

“A lot of developers don’t really go out of their way to do mass timber and make environmental sustainability their number one objective of developing buildings,” said DiPaolo.

“By taking that chance, they were rewarded with an ICBC commitment for the entire building.”

The Hive is expected to reach completion later in 2025, at which point ICBC will take possession of the building. However, the actual use of the office space by its staff is not expected to begin until early 2027, as it will take some time to configure and furnish the interior to the Crown corporation’s workplace specifications.

Four underground levels in the building will provide 193 vehicle parking stalls.

Beyond building design considerations, The Hive is at a highly optimal location.

Currently the “dead end” west of Commercial-Broadway Station, serving as the westernmost terminus of the Millennium Line, VCC-Clark Station’s accessibility to the region will improve by multitudes in 2027 when SkyTrain’s Broadway extension reaching Arbutus opens. The future subway creates a new Millennium Line connection to the Canada Line at Broadway-City Hall Station, providing new regional options for accessing downtown Vancouver, the Cambie Corridor, Vancouver International Airport, and Richmond. This is central to ICBC’s objectives for the new office location.

“When the SkyTrain expansion is completed, that location will become even more accessible in terms of public transit than it is today,” said Shearer, noting that the Lonsdale location’s accessibility due to the gridlocked North Shore bridges has been an issue for many workers.

“Having this new more centrally located office space is hopefully going to reduce commute times for people and improve your employee experience and work-life balance.”

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, located next to SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station, as seen on June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, located next to SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station, as seen on June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

icbc headquarters the hive 2150 keith drive vancouver construction june 12 2024

Construction progress on the new ICBC headquarters office at The Hive at 2150 Keith Drive, Vancouver, as seen from inside SkyTrain VCC-Clark Station on June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

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Platform level of VCC-Clark Station on SkyTrain Millennium Line. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

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Construction on SkyTrain Millennium Line’s Broadway Extension, as seen immediately to the west of VCC-Clark Station, as of June 12, 2024. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

VCC-Clark Station has been around for nearly two decades, but it is only now — due to the Broadway extension and the municipal government’s Broadway Plan densification policies — that it is truly being activated as a hub of activity.

Over the longer term, high-density, mixed-use developments will drastically transform the industrial and surface parking lot uses surrounding the station area, which will in turn also provide more housing, retail, food and beverage, amenities, and services for ICBC workers. The Hive with the major tenant of ICBC will be the very first of these major changes in the immediate area.

“I think it’s going to have a pretty significant impact in the Great Northern Way area, and it has gotten a lot of attention lately. There’s a lot of development happening in that area… The area is turning into an innovation hub,” added DiPaolo.

Immediately to the west of The Hive and VCC-Clark Station, PCI Developments has plans to redevelop the Rogers/Shaw compound and warehouse at 1155 East 6th Avenue into three towers up to 35 storeys, including two towers with 550 rental homes and one tower with office space, plus a mix of creative industrial spaces and retail/restaurant uses, including a grocery store to serve the area’s new concentration of residents and office workers.

Just to the south, Vancouver Community College intends to redevelop its Broadway campus — currently largely used as surface vehicle parking lots — into a high-density district with new academic spaces, community uses, and thousands of homes.

Electronic Arts also recently established a major new office location by taking over the former MEC office building, and lululemon has approved plans to build a new global headquarters office complex just further to the west.

In 2022, Best Buy made a similar strategic move, when it relocated its Canadian corporate headquarters office from a 140,000 sq ft office space at a business park in South Burnaby’s Big Bend industrial area to a brand-new office building at 425 West 6th Avenue near SkyTrain’s Olympic Village Station, where the company now has about 78,000 sq ft of office space.

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ICBC’s existing headquarters office at 151 West Esplanade Avenue on the Lonsdale waterfront, North Vancouver. (Shutterstock)

151 West Esplanade Avenue North Vancouver ICBC headquarters office

ICBC headquarters office at 151 West Esplanade Avenue on the Lonsdale waterfront, North Vancouver. (Google Maps)

151 West Esplanade Avenue North Vancouver ICBC headquarters office

ICBC headquarters office at 151 West Esplanade Avenue on the Lonsdale waterfront, North Vancouver. (Google Earth)

151 West Esplanade Avenue North Vancouver ICBC headquarters office

ICBC headquarters office at 151 West Esplanade Avenue on the Lonsdale waterfront, North Vancouver. (Google Earth)

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