"Windows, Wood, WOW" - new Vancouver Convention Centre opens

Post by Mike Klassen in

4 comments

We sometimes hear that people read CityCaucus.com, especially when they are abroad, as one way "to know what's going on in Vancouver." As it happens something pretty significant happened out here on the wet coast last weekend, and we felt it was worth posting about.

Yesterday, CityCaucus.com was treated to an exclusive tour of the new Vancouver Convention Centre, and we provide a photo slideshow of the facility and its surroundings above. While it might have been just as much fun to visit over the weekend during the grand opening for the public, it would be hard to get the same look at the facility with all the huge crowds.

An astonishing 64,000 people visited the Vancouver Convention Centre over last Saturday and Sunday. As CKNW reporter Nafeesa Karim remarked about the building, "Windows, wood, WOW!"

Even some of the building's critics are melting, as in today's Vancouver Sun letter to the editor from Anne Gray:

That slurping noise you can hear so clearly?

It’s me eating my words of distaste for the vast size and cost of the new Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre. I went. I saw. I was conquered. It’s magnificent!

The building's design from the inside recalls some of the best elements of mid-20th Century modern architecture. Right angles and diagonals are everywhere, and there's barely a curve in the place to be found. The five-story high ceilings, wide open spaces, masses of glass and cool metal contrast the warmth of the wood. The walls are meant to look like stacks of lumber in a yard.

Controversy dogged the building's construction when the builders realized, a little too late, that more piles were needed in the harbour to sustain the structure's weight. It also didn't help that labour and materials costs skyrocketed during the construction period.

It will be for the public to decide if this is a building we can cherish, or if it will be a white elephant.

The signals are very good for the Centre's success. Bookings are already lining up for years in the future, and the facility gained a ringing endorsement from convention industry experts. While it's a long clip, I really felt I should share the comments by Bruce McMillan, CEO of Meeting Professionals International on the Bill Good Show last Friday on what he thinks about the building (clip).

To the builders, planners, tourism industry and City staff that helped to make the Vancouver Convention Centre happen, congratulations. Now let's get the crowds in it so we can make a profit.

4 Comments

Great post, Gord. I recommend our readers check it out, and read the comments, too.

What's what sound? It's the sound of my eyes rolling. Like in a million years you guys would be hailing the magnificence of this building if the NDP were the ones opening it, given the vast cost overruns.

I'm sure it's fabulous, and there's no question it was needed. These facts were never up for debate. What I find laughable is that while you guys recommend tweaks to the furniture budget to cut costs at City Hall, the total cost of the convention centre - $883.2 million, is nearly $400 million over-budget, almost double its original $495 million price tag. I'd love a posting on how you would have kept that budget under control...

This project is on a par with the Fast Ferries for financial mismanagement. The difference is the mainstream media's attentiveness to the latter fiasco and wilful blindness to the former. While the corporate media were fawning over this colossally expensive stationary ark, Harvey Oberfeld gave a more honest and discerning appraisal:

http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/convention-center-w-5/

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