Vancouver’s all abuzz over the latest announcement by Canadian media giant Telus. And for good reason. The company announced this month it plans to build a $750 million, one-million-square-foot headquarters in downtown Vancouver. And it means business, if the specs and visuals on the office/residential space serve as any indication. 

Designed by Henriquez Partners Architects of Vancouver, B.C., and to be built by Vancouver-based Westbank Projects Corp., this site certainly knows glitz and glamour and will transform almost an entire block of prime downtown space into what the company claims will be a technology-advanced and eco-friendly site, serving both office needs and offering residential space.

The 22-story signature tower for offices will be the first LEED Platinum tower of its size in Canada and the 44-story residential tower—expect about 500 new residential units—will be LEED Gold.

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And to hear Darren Entwistle, Telus president and CEO, tell it, this new project is unmatched by anything. Ever. Anywhere. “Telus Garden will be a breathtaking place to live and work, an architectural icon that will consume 30 percent less energy thanks to its responsible, leading-edge design,” he says in a statement. “It will be a celebrated urban oasis that is literally alive with plant life and showcases our great province's arts and culture.”

Well, okay. Maybe it won’t be that fantastic, but it’s still cool, I’ll give him that.

The building does plan to feature 10,000 square feet of green roofs, provide organic produce for local restaurants, offer two elevated roof forests, feature local artwork and project programmable colored images on the fritted glass of the western façade. The company hopes to show off cultural events and symphony concerts on the screen. Cultural, indeed.

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The actual construction should help out too, with hundreds of millions of dollars expected to get pumped into the local economy during the three million person-hours of employment, all beginning in fall 2011 and wrapping in 2015.

Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, is obviously a fan of the tax revenue Telus Gardens should represent and likes the idea it will further Vancouver’s image of sustainability. "Their proposal to build to LEED Platinum is extremely ambitious and sends a signal that in Vancouver, going green is good for business and the environment,” he says.

Telus will fund its share of the development predominantly through leveraging its existing real estate holdings in the block combined with the sale and lease of space in the new buildings. The company has also entered into an agreement to purchase the city-owned parkade at the corner of Georgia and Richards streets, consolidating the entire block, other than the Kingston Hotel, to create a unified development. 

With Westbank being known for high-end luxury hotel building across Canada and Henriquez Partners having done work on a variety of community centers, hopefully Telus can bring their grand plans for Vancouver to reality and benefit everyone. Really, that should be the goal.

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