Sunday, April 05, 2009

vancouver convention centre - your very own tour

On Saturday we joined thousands of other Vancouverites at the open house of the new Vancouver Convention Center. It will be the media hub of the 2010 Olympics less than a year from now.

It is a large spectacular building in a spectacular setting on the waterfront right next to Canada Place.

An escalator takes you from the bottom to the second level and this globe display, from which you can look down on the lower level.

The ballrooms (this day one huge room; I assume they have movable dividers that make them into A,B,C and D), are five and one half stories and Ballroom D has a bank of windows looking over the water.

When we toured, around 11:30 Sat. a.m. a puppet/cirque performance was going on (complete with this huge aluminum puppet and about eight puppeteers behind the scenes pulling the strings).

Many of the walls are made of wood ends. These lumber-stacked walls are built from B.C. Hemlock and were assembled by a robot named Victoria in Saanich on Vancouver Island.

The building has six acres of rooftop gardens. These have been planted with wildflowers, grass, and will hopefully be the nesting ground for birds. The gardens recreate a Gulf Island beach habitat. The rooftop also has four beehives.

Outside the building there are wide walkways - most with designated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians. For those of us who have helped pay the $800+ million tab for this building (essentially everyone who pays taxes in this province), this access is a nice feature. Though we might never attend a conference inside, at least we can enjoy the public space around it.

My boys and I on the upper deck.

"Forty percent of the building is suspended over the water. The foundation has been designed to recreate a natural shoreline and will act as marine habitat for sea urchins, starfish and sea lettuce" (as per the visitor's program we were given).

Altogether a gorgeous building with many green features: the rooftop gardens, the fish-friendly foundation, a seawater heating and cooling system and a from-scratch kitchen philosophy.

Speaking of eating - the tour made us hungry. So on Benjie's recommendation, we walked a few blocks to the Steamworks Pub and had a very delicious lunch before strolling around Coal Harbor, then catching the Skytrain for home.


Watch more of the cool weekend proceedings here:


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