3 ways to see the very first Doors Open Vancouver

Dec 19 2017, 8:16 pm

The behind-the-scenes event Doors Open is making its Vancouver debut on Saturday, October 4.

With 20 buildings participating, you’ll need a good plan to make the most of your day. So we’ve got three great ways to try out Doors Open Vancouver: an architecture adventure, a building technology tour, and family friendly fun.

And of course, be sure to check out doorsopenvan.ca for a full listing and to plan your own day.

Architecture Adventure


Vancouver’s rich architectural history will be on display in many shapes and styles for Doors Open.

Start your day off locally with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Office. This 1962 West Coast Modernist structure was designed by Percy Underwood to suit the natural landscape of the park and the more residential feel of the West End in the 1960s.

Next, make it over to Woodward’s for a tour with architect Peter Woods of Henriquez Partners  and learn more about what goes into turning an old department store into a neighbourhood under one roof.

Then be sure to get your Arthur Erickson fix for the day at the Scotiabank Dance Centre and watch for his influence in the building design. There will be tours all day but try to take the architectural tour led by Noel Best of Stantec Architecure at 1pm for a truly unique experience.

Finally head downtown for the Roman Colosseum! Er… I mean, the Vancouver Public Library where architectural tours will depart every hour from 11am- 3pm.

Right across the street is Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Canada’s largest Proscenium theatre. Although only the lobby and plaza will be available, architects from the Proscenium Architecture firm will be on site from 11am – 1pm.

Bonus: The Orpheum

This beautifully ornate home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is likely be the day’s most popular attraction. Be sure to arrive early, especially if you want to take one of the architect led tours being offered.

  • Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Administration Office; 2099 Beach Avenue; Hours 10am – 5pm
  • Scotiabank Dance Centre; 677 Davie Street; Hours 10am – 5pm; Architecture tour at 1pm with Noel Best of Stantec; behind the scenes tours will run every half hour but space is limited
  • Woodward’s; 149 West Hastings Street; Hours 10am – 5pm; Architect-led tours at 10am and 11am with Peter Woods of Henriquez Partners Architects.
  • Vancouver Public Library; 350 West Georgia Street; Hours 10am – 5pm; Architectural tours will depart every hour from 11am – 3pm
  • Queen Elizabeth Theatre; 650 Hamilton Street; Hours 12 – 3pm; Architects on site from 12am – 3pm (Greg Piccini and Kerri Shinkewski, Proscenium Architecture)
  • The Orpheum; 601 Smithe Street; Hours 1- 4pm; Architect-led tours from 1 – 4pm with Hugh Cochlin and Ron Clay of Proscenium Architecture

Technology Tour


Grab your bicycles because this tour is best seen on wheels! With its seawall views, start at the False Creek Energy Centre. Tucked under the Cambie Street Bridge this building is barely visible to the public. This facility captures heat from city waste water and sewage in order to return the heat as energy to city buildings.

Continue down the Seawall to the Creekside Community Centre. Built for the 2010 Olympics the building was designed to LEED Platinum environmental standards. An architect will be on-site from 10am – 12pm for a more in-depth look.

The National Works Yard is a 12 acre facility near Strathcona Park that tests sustainable technologies while housing many of the necessary facilities to ensure an efficient transportation system in Vancouver by road, bike, bus and feet.

Be sure to finish your day in David Lam Park at the False Creek Pump Station. This pump collects water straight out of False Creek to supply a network of mains and fire hydrants. Earthquake proof, high force water displays will be happening at various times of the day.

Bonus: VanDusen Visitors Centre

From an aerial perspective the building resembles an orchid flower, which carries through the environmental design and the LEED certification. Just remember that the Doors Open access is for the Visitor’s Centre only. There will be no free access to the garden.

  • False Creek Energy Centre; 1890 Spyglass Place; Hours 10am – 5pm; Architect-led tour at 11am with Bill Pechet of Pechet Studio and Walter Francl of Francl Architecture.
  • Creekside Community Centre; 1 Athletes Way; Hours 10am – 5pm; Architect on site 10:30am (Scott Mitchell of Francl Architecture and Neil Prakash of Nick Milkovich Architects) and 1pm (Walter Francl of Francl Architecture and Nick Milkovich of Nick Milkovich Architects)
  • National Works Yard; 701 National Avenue; Hours 10am – 5pm; Architect tours 10am – 4pm on the hour with Scott Kemp and Michael Hickman
  • Dedicated Fire Protection System False Creek Pump Station; 1400 Homer Street (David Lam Park); Hours 10am – 5pm
  • VanDusen Visitors Centre; 5251 Oak Street; Hours 10am – 5 pm; Architectural tours at 1pm, 1:30pm, 2pm & 2:30pm with Harley Grusko of Perkins + Will Architects.

Fun for Families


There are many family-friendly sites available for viewing at Doors Open Vancouver. Below are some of the most easily accessed and fun for the little ones.

Animal loving children will have a lot of fun at the Vancouver Animal Control Shelter where they can meet the resident cats, dogs and other animals looking for their owners and maybe even a permanent home. Meanwhile, in Stanley Park, the Vancouver Police Department’s Mounted Unit will open up their stables for a look at the horses.

Up by Queen Elizabeth Park is the Hillcrest Community Centre. There will be a story hour at 10:30am in the library there as well as architectural tours all day for parents. However, be sure to leave your swimsuits at home as there is no free pool access for this event.

Future firefighters will want to check out the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Training Centre. Home to Canada’s only UN certified Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) team, this top of the line training centre also features a burn building where controlled fires are lit for training purposes.

Finally, see the Mayor’s office at City Hall and learn more about city programs and services. The building opened in 1936 and also features a lovely park that would be a great place for a family picnic lunch.

Or choose your own adventure!

Don’t forget, the full list of buildings is available at doorsopenvan.ca so you can plan your own day too.

You can also follow Doors Open Vancouver on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for chances to win VIP wristbands to bypass the lines, and to keep up with Doors Open news.

Join the conversation yourself by tagging your posts #DoorsOpenVan – if you tag your photos on the day of Doors Open Vancouver, you’ll be entered to win an exclusive guided tour of the Vancouver Art Gallery! You can also enter by filling our our Doors Open survey on our printed map (available day of) or online after your visit.

And please do walk, bike, or take public transit to Doors Open, as parking is limited at almost all locations. HUB and the Bicycle Valet will be offering secure bike parking at City Hall, False Creek Flats, and Queen Elizabeth Plaza. Tell your friends!

Vancity Buzz is a proud sponsor of Doors Open Vancouver

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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