Vancouver has been on the leading edge of tech innovation and green sustainability for years. Yesterday, the city took it to the next level, specifically 24 stories higher. The official launch of the Telus Garden Centre, an enormous high-rise, has turned a revitalized section of Vancouver’s downtown core (formerly a parking lot with a couple of low-traffic shops) into a buzz-worthy landmark and centre for innovation.
“Telus Garden is Canada’s most beautiful and ambitious LEED Platinum building, and one of the most environmentally-friendly developments in North America,” said Darren Entwistle, Telus president and CEO, who recently re-entered the job after Joe Natale stepped down.
The building has offices for 1,000 Telus members, as well as for high-profile tech sector tenants like Amazon, Accenture, and others. The $750 million development between Georgia, Robson, Seymour, and Richards Streets showcases advanced and eye-catching design, including Vancouver’s first cantilevered office spaces above city sidewalks, maximizing vertical space (made possible thanks to a very flexible interpretation of the city’s building rules), as well as numerous outdoor garden patio meeting spaces with phenomenal views.
“Our vision was to create a new headquarters for our team that would dramatically reduce Telus’ environmental footprint,” said Andrea Goertz, Telus chief sustainability officer and senior vice-president. Telus achieved it with some architectural innovations that would warm David Suzuki’s heart: an energy system that cuts conventional power demand by 80 percent and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than one million kg a year; rainwater recapture systems that irrigate the gardens throughout the building; garden terraces on six levels planted with a community food garden; more plants of all kinds than many city parks.
The ambitious building design was intended to boost productivity of the Telus workforce, not just warm the hearts of the Silicon Valley North granola-eating crowd. With a largely mobile workforce where employees often have more freedom around when and where they work, Telus’ efforts to boost productivity meant planning for a range of working styles, offering an office design with private meeting rooms, mobile work stations, open seating areas, large outdoor terraces and green spaces and more.
The building aims to be a cultural center as well, with its iconic canopy along Georgia Street covering a new public plaza with seating, music and a free Wi-Fi zone; a media façade will feature local community programing; there’s even a custom-made piano in the office building lobby where local musicians can entertain the crowd (right beside a koi pond, naturally – in case you forget the building’s green credentials for a second).
Local government reps at the launch event enthused about what the flagship building symbolized for the region. “As a leading technology company here in B.C., it’s fitting that the new Telus Garden showcases new building and environmental techniques,” said Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk. “This new building is a symbol of technology and ecology working together.”
“Telus is Vancouver’s largest private-sector employer, and it is an honour that Telus would choose to invest in Vancouver for its national head office,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Telus Garden alone will be home to over 2,500 jobs in the heart of our vibrant downtown.”