The City of Surrey, B.C., has fallen in love with local architect Bing Thom. The Vancouver-based architect, also well known for his work internationally and especially in Washington, D.C., was recently announced as the lead designer for a new performing arts center in the City Centre area, the main downtown hub of Surrey that has been undergoing a public overhaul.

Thom’s new $36 million Surrey Centre Library opened in late 2011, so the city isn’t straying too far from a proven designer with the announcement of the 1,600-seat performing arts venue. Mayor Dianne Watts says having a major performing arts facility will “foster our creative economy” and help create a dynamic downtown experience for the city outside of Vancouver.

The center will include a flexible main stage theater and an additional 250-seat studio theater. Thom has already started the site selection, siting of the new facility, budget preparation and determining project timelines.

Initial renderings of the proposed structure fits with the look of the emerging City Centre area, complete with the City Centre tower in the background, another Thom-designed structure. Surrey’s fascination with Thom started with the popular Central City Shopping Centre project that refurbished a shopping center and added a curved 367-foot tower, the tallest in Surrey, to the building, which also integrated shopping experiences with Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus.

Couple that project with the aforementioned library and Thom has made a name for himself in Surrey, complete with curved angles jutting into the landscape, a look that remains somewhat in tact with the release of the first visuals of the performing arts center.

But as Surrey continues its transformation into a big city (it is the second largest city in British Columbia and one of the largest in Canada), a new tower, library and performing arts center aren’t the only projects on tap. And Thom isn’t the only designer, either. A new City Hall, designed by Kasian & Moriyama and Teshima Architects is also under construction and should be open by fall 2013.

The $100 million project works into the City Centre master plan, helping redefine the entirety of Surrey’s downtown core, a definition being written largely by Bing Thom. 

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