Inside the renovated Vancouver International Film Festival Centre (PHOTOS)

Sep 24 2020, 8:50 pm

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) Centre in downtown Vancouver has received a complete makeover, just in time for the kickoff of its 39th annual festival today.

At a cost of $2.8 million, this is the venue’s first renovation since it opened 15 years ago.

The aesthetic and functionality renovations, designed by Vancouver’s Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects & Designers, includes a new additional 41-seat Studio Theatre with a 17-ft-wide screen.

This secondary auditorium has a retractable seating system and a removal wall that can open up to the atrium as a flexible, multi-purpose space.

Major upgrades were also performed on the dated common areas, including the installation of a large video wall in the three-storey glass atrium, a relocated and reimagined concession that now includes a cafe with comfortable seating, and a striking new wood feature extending along the atrium’s second floor balcony.

BEFORE — Multi-purpose space and concession in the atrium:

vancouver international film centre viff

Original condition of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF)

AFTER — New concession area and Studio Theatre:

vancouver international film centre viff

Newly completed renovations of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF 2020)

viff vancouver international film centre studio theatre

Cross-section artistic rendering of the renovated VIFF Centre’s Studio Theatre and new concessions in the atrium. (VIFF)

Other improvements entail a new 500-sq-ft education suite with a 70-inch display presentation system, and a new media lab with three 46-inch displays for showing new media work.

The VIFF Centre is a key venue for the annual two-week-long film festival, which is primarily online this year, as well as the not-for-profit society’s year-long community programming. This year’s festival features over 100 feature films and events.

vancouver international film centre viff

Newly completed renovations of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF 2020)

“Despite the roadblocks presented by the pandemic, we’ve sought out opportunities hidden within the challenges,” said Kyle Fostner, the interim executive director of VIFF, in a statement.

“We have uncovered inclusive new ways to share our love of film, while building foundations that will benefit the organization for years to come. The result is an ambitious and innovative festival model firmly rooted in our identity as a ‘creator’s festival,’ boasting the best films and filmmakers in the world.”

BEFORE — Atrium:

vancouver international film centre viff

Original condition of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF)

AFTER — Atrium:

vancouver international film centre viff

Newly completed renovations of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF 2020)

The VIFF Centre at 1181 Seymour Street is located within the podium levels of the 430-unit Brava Residences, immediately across from Emery Barnes Park.

The two condominium towers and film centre podium were built in 2004 by local developers Amacon and Onni Group, under a joint partnership. As a community amenity contribution, in exchange for the city’s approval of extra residential density, the developers funded the construction cost of the film centre.

The film centre’s original 14,000-sq-ft design was designed by Hewitt & Kwasnicky Architects. The 169-seat Vancity Theatre remains as the centrepiece of the venue.

vancouver international film centre viff

Newly completed renovations of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF 2020)

vancouver international film centre viff

Newly completed renovations of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF 2020)

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Seymour Street entrance of the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre. (VIFF)