As a part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District and one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, the City of Surrey in British Columbia has the catalyst for a new urban core in the Central City project.
Challenging the context in which it is situated with its form and scale, this large mixed-use project integrates 450,000 square feet of academic space for Simon Fraser University, 500,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of retail space with an existing 700,000 square foot regional shopping centre.
Photographs courtesy of Nic Lehoux
Capped by a dramatically curved tower which in turn generates a series of curves and vibrant forms in the walls and floors below, the original aging shopping mall was revitalized with the galleria that floats over it, supported by a series of large concrete cruciform columns. This new building, which houses the university, was grafted onto the existing rectilinear mall in a symbiotic relationship with the building’s dynamic forms, openness, transparency, and new uses which have re-energized the centre.
The galleria is linked horizontally through a system of bridges to the office tower to form a complex weaving of vertical and horizontal circulation.
The mall curves around a five-storey tall atrium space, which is capped with an engineered wood roof whose skylighting brings natural light into the space. Conceived as the living room of the new university, the atrium was designed to act as a hub for the project. This is the entrance, meeting place and public face of the campus.
A new public plaza gives way to the entry’s glass façade which is inclined outward, reducing the reflection and also imbuing it with a sense of dynamic force; its structural framework is generated by tapered columns of composite timber, which lends warmth and intimacy to a large space, and celebrates the ethos of this project. The sense of dynamism and responsiveness recurs in the form of the office tower, a sleekly twisting mass clad in curtain wall glazing with a warped prow that reaches out over the street. The fritted spandrel panels gleam in the sun and turn white in shade or under cloud.
Central City has gained international recognition as a paradigm of the transformation of suburban hubs through increased building density, sensitive design and the layering of complimentary uses. Amenable spaces that will naturally mix shoppers, students and office workers in inspiring surroundings is the new prototype of a new kind of city.
Architect: Bing Thom Architects
Structural Engineer: Jones Kwong Kishi
Mechanical Engineer: Keen Engineering
Electrical Engineer: RA Duff & Associates
Heavy Timber: StructureCraft
Text and illustrations are courtesy of Bing Thom Architects. Photographs courtesy of Nic Lehoux