Fairmont Medical Building
- Category: Commercial
- Address: 750 West Broadway, Vancouver
- Date: 2018
The goal of this project was to create value for the owners, increase marketability, and improve the user and tenant experience. This familiar challenge, faced by every commercial building owner at one time or another, resulted in a distinctive solution with economic, social and cultural benefits.
Designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners in 1959, the 14-storey modernist building originally had mosaic tile façades, which were covered over in the 90’s with exterior insulated panels (EIFS) to improve energy efficiency. The current rejuvenation of the tower retains the EIFS panels, but a new tri-colour pattern recaptures the visual interest of the mosaic tiles and highlights the building’s modernist geometry. The tower façade renovation was completed as part of the building’s regular maintenance program and demonstrates how thoughtful design can cost-effectively transform an existing building with high-impact results.
The design of the entry courtyard and lobby focused on making a positive impact on health and well-being. Specifically, the design reinstated the open mezzanine in the lobby, and introduced natural light and materials into the space. A wood screen extending from the lobby to mezzanine level creates an inviting atmosphere and is a directional cue to draw people towards the elevators. Adding an entry vestibule, new windows and improvements to the mechanical system increased the thermal comfort of the visitors who often wait in the lobby for transportation.
Improved accessibility was also addressed in the renovation. Fully accessible public washrooms were installed at the main floor level and access to the washrooms improved. Access to the building from the main floor entry and 2nd floor parking level was also improved. Automatic door openers, flush door thresholds and flooring suitable for walking aids and wheelchairs were installed in all public areas. High lighting levels with attention to glare and reflection control were chosen to aid visual impaired users of the building.
Renovations also included the base of the building. The street-level façades are clad in a basalt stone and feature an elegant curve that spans over the old parapet. A new canopy that gently sweeps up along Broadway also accentuates this prominent street corner.
A critical challenge of this renovation was to carry out the construction in a fully occupied and operational building. Each day approximately 300-400 people visiting the over 100 medical offices in the building needed to pass by the construction site. This necessitated planning ahead during the design and construction documents to phase construction so building access could be maintained.
In terms of sustainability, energy performance was significantly improved, and a healthy interior environment was created. The 1950’s heating system for main and second floor was replaced with a high efficiency heat pump system that over time will be expanded to serve the whole building. By improving the building envelope and implementing a passive ventilation strategy, the heating and cooling demand was substantially lowered while an overall higher comfort level was achieved for the public areas.
The renovation successfully created a distinct and recognizable building that enhances the prestige of the property and the city skyline. It also achieved more than its initial economic objectives. Socially the project contributes to the well-being of its tenants and visitors. Culturally, it makes a positive contribution to the built environment by revitalizing and celebrating Vancouver’s modernist architectural heritage.