Vancouver Convention Center and False Creek Shoreline - Vancouver, Canada
The 383,000 square foot Vancouver Convention Center Expansion (VCCE) is located on Vancouver's waterfront and extends over Burrard Inlet. This project was conceived in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and as part of the city's ongoing waterfront development. The site provides a centralized park and public gathering area, and anchors the city's popular 13.5 mile seawall and multi-use path. Key to permitting and constructing this project was the required replacement of disturbed shoreline at a two-to-one (2:1) ratio. This was accomplished with a "bio-engineered habitat skirt" around the building foundation and creation of an off-shore habitat island. To support habitat benefits, much of the shoreline is stabilized with rubble mound, rip-rap, or smaller substrate.
Following the remediation of nearly 4,000 cubic yards of contaminated marine sediments, 6.3 acres of nearshore and intertidal habitat were created. Using the over-water convention center as a habitat opportunity, an innovative bio-engineered habitat skirt was installed around its perimeter, with an intertidal zone established below its deck. The habitats in this skirt create four "marine corners": the southwest corner reef, the northwest deep water shoal, the northeast point islet, and the southeast intertidal habitat. Varying by location and depth, a diverse colony of intertidal and subtidal marine life has been established. An ongoing marine habitat monitoring program, including dive surveys, will provide detailed accounts of intertidal and subtidal biota over a three to five year period.
Offshore, a new half-acre habitat island provides additional shoreline and terrestrial habitat. Surrounded by rock substrate of varying sizes, the island increases intertidal area. Accessed by stepping stones from the adjacent parkland, the island is a popular interpretive and recreational destination where herring schools have been sighted after an 80-year absence. Populated with native fir and cedar, the island provides a glimpse of Vancouver's surrounding forests (and an occasional bald eagle). Inland from the shore, new wetlands capture stormwater from surrounding paved areas. Reed groves cleanse and filter the water, which then flows over a weir structure into nearby False Creek.
The VCCE was coordinated with additional projects within an 80 acre urban site, including 26 acres of public open space. Developed for both short-term needs driven by the 2010 Olympic Games and a long-term vision for Vancouver's waterfront, the site respects plans for future condominiums and waterfront improvements. Located to the northwest of the Convention Center, new floating marinas are planned with mooring for various sized boats, a seaplane terminal, a gazebo, restaurants, retail, and stairs, elevators, and ramps to the floating walkways.
Design and Construction
Marine biologists were included in the design team for the convention center, which includes eight acres of over-water coverage. The bioengineered habitat skirt serves as part of the building's underwater foundation, creating an artificial reef under the building itself. The stepped terraces or trays look like bleachers and are filled with substrates to support targeted marine life.
Nearby False Creek Park provides shoreline habitat as well as park land interpreting the site's industrial history. The park's design tells the story of former rail yards to the east, a central ship yard, and western works yard. Materials and details illustrate the story with lumber and brass plaques in the eastern rail yard and a spillway and nautical cleats in the ship yard. A stepped stone amphitheater stabilizes the shore while also providing gathering space and access to formerly polluted water.
"Vancouver's Evolving Shoreline," Re-Place magazine.