Canada’s $730-million Vancouver convention center expansion on the city’s waterfront sits on the best of sites. To the north are breathtaking views of Coal Harbor, Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains. Across the street to the south is the city center. Directly to the west is the landmark Stanley Park.
But the 106,000-sq-meter project in seismic British Columbia also sits on the worst of sites: The 11-acre brownfield, which consists of fill with remnants of rail yards and an industrial past, was the most contaminated in the harbor. A remediation removed 10 ft of earth, followed by soil densification. At high tide, the building’s footprint is nearly two-thirds over water, which forced workers to drive many of the 1,000 steel piles only at low tide, at times working from barges to build the concrete marine platform and the steel superstructure.