Surrounded by water and framed by mountains, the unique urban cityscape of Vancouver’s downtown is defined by its spectacular natural setting. ‘The Exchange’ is located in the heart of this downtown area. Selected by the city officials as one of a few new, high density, office developments in the city’s central business district this new tower will bring valuable diversity, revenue and jobs to the neighborhood and to the city as a whole.
The design rationale for the new ‘Exchange’ tower is entirely derived from its surrounding context and environment; in particular the existing Old Stock Exchange building, which is to be preserved and rehabilitated on the site. This refined, handsome and elegant building has facades of carefully composed vertical pilasters that are designed both to best accentuate its height and at the same time ground the building within the streetscape of the city.
The new tower blends in an establishes a dialogue with this prominent original building in order to create an overall composition that looks at once to Vancouver’s future without obscuring its past.
By both breaking up the mass of the tower over its entire height and by recessing its bulk from the perimeter of the site above the Old Stock Exchange, the new building allows the existing structure to fully define the streetscape, retaining and confirming its proud position within the heart of Vancouver’s downtown.
As the form of the tower retreats lower down to better define the original form and independence of the Old Stock Exchange, it consequently grows higher above to maximize its potential on the site. Here at the upper, more valuable floor levels, the tower steps out in two directions to provide larger, more efficient floor plates. These steps consequently create terraces on the tower’s sides that are optimally positioned to exploit the best views of the surrounding city and the dramatic panorama of the mountains beyond.
The stratification and stepping of the tower’s form, coupled with the chamfering of its corners both reduces its overall bulk and impact on its neighbors and leaves the Old Stock Exchange building as the single-largest element on the site, emphasizing its presence within the city center.
Restricted by viewing corridors from creating a strong intervention on the skyline, ‘The Exchange’ instead looks to create a distinctive icon within the space of the city itself. Viewed from the street, its cantilevered form creates a unique identity further pronouncing its individuality and historical pedigree.
A respect for the architectural and significant socioeconomic heritage of this original building is also paramount to the origins and identity of the tower’s façade design. The strongly vertical nature of the Old Stock Exchange’s façade is echoed in the elegant pinstripe of the tower’s external aluminum mullions. This unified system responds to the solid pilasters of the Old Stock Exchange Building that is to be retained on the site whilst accentuating the verticality of the tower itself, defining a more uniform and slimmer overall appearance of the building from all orientations.
The vertical mullions perform a further function, shading the building envelope and significantly reducing its cooling load requirements. Their passive screening effect also greatly improves the visual privacy between the tower and its immediate residential neighbor, Jameson House.
‘The Exchange’ opened in 2017, will be the first LEED Platinum Heritage Conversion in Canada.
The project was designed in collaboration with Iredale Group Architecture commissioned by Swissreal and Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund International. MKT Arkle Development Management Inc. acted as project managers and PCL Constructors Inc. as general contractor.
Project name: The Exchange
Location: 475 Howe Street, Vancouver BC, Canada
Client: Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund International / Swissreal
Area: 37,370 m2 (Above Ground GFA)
Architects: Harry Gugger Studio
Local Architects: Iredale Group Architecture
Photos: © Harry Gugger Studio; ©Credit Suisse
About Harry Gugger Studio (HGS)
Harry Gugger established Harry Gugger Studio (HGS) in 2010 in order to create closer ties between his academic work and practice. He aimed at creating an environment that fathoms synergies from his two decades of partnership at Herzog & de Meuron and the research work of his chair ‘Laboratoire Bâle’ at the Swiss Federal Technical Institute in Lausanne (EPFL). In doing so, distinct interrogations of science, engineering, environment, society and art should find vigilant responses.
Already within its first years of practice, the Studio, based in Basel, successfully designed and executed work in Switzerland, Canada the Middle East and Central America. Projects range in scale and functions, from urban schemes and civic buildings, to private houses, exhibitions and furniture. Particular emphasis is placed on the singularity of each project, aiming at exploring its distinct potential, in close collaboration between HGS, clients, users and corresponding consultants.