Five floors of the 32-storey-tall Bentall III office building in downtown Vancouver’s Central Business District will be taken over by WeWork, a global company that operates co-working office spaces for startups and independent workers.
The New York-based company says it plans to open its first Vancouver location, to be named as WeWork Burrard Station, this fall as part of its continued global expansion.
The 80,000-square-foot space, one of the city’s largest co-working spaces, will be designed to accommodate 1,500 people once fully occupied. It is planned as a purpose-built space with hot desks, open common space, glass-enclosed offices, and meeting spaces as well as amenities to provide “an all-inclusive experience,” including free fruit, coffee, and beer on every floor.
John Slavet, the general manager of WeWork West, told Daily Hive that the company puts much emphasis into the design and functionality of its spaces to foster a sense of community.
“We have been attuned to designing the ultimate, collaborative, and compelling work spaces from both the layout and design perspective and just the physical experience,” said Slavet. “I think we deliver on that in an exceptional way in each location.”
“We have a huge team based out of New York that works globally and chooses all the design, all the finishes, down to the wallpaper. We control all the design, project management, and architecture of every location to deliver an amazing experience and Vancouver will be no exception.”
WeWork will take over the tower’s 11th to 16th floors (there is no 13th floor in the building), and Slavet anticipates the vast majority of the space will be occupied upon opening based on the amount of early interest.
“We’ve seen tremendous interest from the local startup community with referrals from the local economic officials in Vancouver,” he said. “I think we will have a lot of demand for our first location in Vancouver.”
He says there are old-line companies – namely software and engineering software companies – that have had operations in the city, and WeWork expects to serve these companies as they want high-quality collaborative work spaces.
Founded in 2010, Slavet says WeWork has rapidly developed a global scale with a focus on connectivity and building a quality community. It currently has 130 locations across 30 cities around the world providing working spaces for 100,000 members, and it plans to open 10 new locations over the coming months.
The first Canadian location opened in Montreal in 2016 with spaces for 1,200 people, and a second office with space for 1,000 people will be coming to Toronto this summer.
“The majority of our members do some sort of business with each other,” said Slavet. “They connect with each other and hire and partner and outsource and grow their businesses from being in the WeWork network. Each member gets connected to the community through in-person experiences like the events we curate.”
Approximately 600 events, including major social and wellness gatherings, are produced at its offices around the world on a weekly basis, allowing members to connect with other members and further expand their network.
Slavet added that WeWork’s fastest growing group of members are Global 2000 companies. In fact, approximately 20% of Fortune 500 companies have a presence in WeWork.
“Large companies are realizing that they don’t want to be in the real estate business,” he said. “More importantly, they want their employees to be working in an amazing community and space.”