People come to conventions to be educated and inspired. At Expo'86 in Vancouver, the World Fair's Canadian Pavilion was designed for future use as Vancouver's iconic "Canada Place". The effect is of a huge sailing ship jutting out into the waters of Burrard Inlet. It is imaginative as it's design includes a convention centre, a hotel, a cruiseship terminal and even an IMAX theatre. At the time, the translucent, white glass-fibre fabric hung from five masts was technically advanced and served to create huge unobstructed interior spaces, flooded by natural light.
This week, Vancouver's NEW Convention Centre expansion opened to the public and for it's first conventioneers. I took in the show. Situated just west of Canada Place, along the new Coal Harbour Seawall, this building also juts out over the harbour. Seaplanes land and take off from the waters at it's side. Wraparound public walkways have added fresh new views of Vancouver's picture post card beauty. The world will soon receive plenty of televised views as the Convention Centre will be used as the Media Centre for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The new Convention Centre's effect is of an angular, sharp-edged mountain with natural green, grassy slopes. The building is "green" in many more ways than one. The six acre(2.4 hectare) grass and wildflower roof is the largest living green roof in Canada. It is already home to thirty thousand bees and attracting nesting birds. Deep below, forty per cent of the foundation is resting on concrete piles driven into the seabed. Design features have been included to form a marine habitat for sea urchins, starfish, sea lettuce and Vancouver's friendly harbour seals.
The aesthetics are dominated by enormous glass walls that frame views of the harbour and the North Shore mountains. Inside, the awesome spaces are warmed by the generous use of BC. fir beams overhead and stacked BC hemlock walls(assembled by a robot, named Victoria). The unique seawater heating and cooling system makes highly efficient use of energy.
Are you coming to Vancouver?
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