BY RICHARD GILBERT - Construction has started on a new $200-million green office tower development at the Old Stock Exchange building in downtown Vancouver, which will be Canada's first LEED Platinum heritage conversion.
“Normally, we would invest in a fully-developed, leased property,” said Rainer Scherwey, director with Credit Suisse Real Estate Asset Management.
“This office tower represents the first time in North America that we are confident enough to build a major project from the ground up.”
Scherwey made this comment at a joint news conference with the City of Vancouver.
Credit Suisse is one of the largest private real estate investors in the world.
“We are excited that a global giant like Credit Suisse has chosen Vancouver for its first ground-up development in North America,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“Not only will The Exchange add critical new office and job space, but it will hit the highest green standards and deliver a major economic benefit to our city.”
The Exchange will be Canada’s second tallest office tower to achieve LEED Platinum certification, which is the highest sustainability rating from the Canada Green Building Council.
Energy consumption will be half the load of traditional office buildings, with a 35 per cent reduction in energy costs and an 85 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.
The City of Vancouver approved a development permit in August 2013. The permit allows Suisse Credit to retain the former Stock Exchange building, which was built in 1929. A new 30-storey office tower will connect with and extend over the heritage building.
Seven levels of parking are proposed below grade, with access from the lane.
Swiss architect Harry Gugger is the design architect and he will be working in collaboration with lead consultant Iredale Group of Vancouver.
“The Old Stock Exchange is a refined and handsomely crafted building. The new tower will not look to compete with this prominent heritage building, but rather to successfully work with it to provide a composition that at once looks to Vancouver’s future without obscuring its past.”
Gugger’s most notable work includes the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing and Tate Modern Gallery in London.
According to a September 2012 City of Vancouver Report, the Green Building Rezoning Policy requires that rezoning applications received after Jan. 31, 2011, achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification.
This includes 63 LEED points, with targeted points for energy performance, water efficiency and storm water management, along with registration and application for certification of the project.
However, Credit Suisse has voluntarily committed to achieve a LEED Platinum rating by submitting a preliminary LEED scorecard that indicates the project could attain a minimum of 86 LEED points.
If this is achieved, The Exchange would be Canada’s first LEED Platinum heritage conversion.
The rezoning application includes the site at 475 Howe Street, which is occupied by the former Stock Exchange Building.
PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. is the construction manager.
Consultants include Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. (structural), Integral Group (mechanical), Schenke Bawol Engineering Ltd. (electrical) and Donald Luxton & Associates.
This 11-storey office building was built in 1928-29 to the designs of Townley and Matheson Architects, and is a good example of a between-the-wars highrise.
The building housed the Vancouver Stock Exchange trading floor and administration offices until the Stock Exchange moved to expanded facilities around 1960.
The building is of heritage value for its contribution to the development of downtown Vancouver, its architectural expression, the role of its prominent designers and for its representation of the local business community.
Credit Suisse is proposing to restore, rehabilitate and designate the building exterior as heritage, as well as the interior elevator lobby, which includes the marble clad walls and decorative ceiling.
The new tower will have more than two interconnected storeys at the lobby through to the third floor.
During construction, The Exchange will create 400 jobs.
Upon completion in 2016, there will be 1,700 permanent job spaces.
The City of Vancouver was recently projecting a critical shortage of office space by 2031, if land-use policies remained the same.
However, with a new Metro Core Jobs & Economic Land Use plan in place, there are now seven new office towers under construction in downtown.
These new developments will create about 2.18-million square feet of new office space. More than half of that space is already pre-leased.