IBI Group / Henriquez Partners
Squeezed between snow-capped mountains, Juan de Fuca Strait, and the Fraser River delta, Vancouver has one of the world’s premier urban settings. While it boasts a mild, largely benign climate, it can be plagued by long periods of cloudy, wet weather. This suggests a climate ill-suited to the raw concrete architecture of Brutalism. Over the past decade, however, the work of Henriquez Partners has presented a strong argument for the appropriateness of bold concrete forms in urban Vancouver, with projects like the Coal Harbour Community Centre and two recent award-winning social housing projects. The firm’s Ambulatory Care Building (ACB) on the British Columbia Children’s Hospital campus (a joint effort with IBI Group and Karlsberger Associates as associate architects) succeeds on a tight budget in creating a bold but welcoming facility for young patients.
ACB replaces the demolished north wing of the Children’s and Women’s Hospital, a sprawling single-building complex with mazelike interior spaces that render its wayfinding, fresh air, and sunlight features “not very good” according to partner in charge Richard Henriquez. The hospital’s long-term program calls for smaller buildings, assembled with other nearby medical facilities into a campuslike setting using streets and landscaped quadrangles. A primary objective for the new, 115,000-square-foot facility, which provides outpatient pediatric services for 66,000 visitors annually, was to create a bright, welcoming environment for children and their parents. With more than 50 clinics required for nearly 30 specialties, treatment and procedure rooms had to be flexible enough for different disciplines to utilize them at different times of the week.
ACB is a modestly scaled building connected to the main complex by a glazed bridge on the second level. Henriquez stretched the four-story structure along a pleasant new street lined with trees, lanterns, and outdoor seating. Its animated south-facing public facade emphasizes transparency with a double-height, glass-fronted concourse shielded by an impressive concrete canopy that minimizes solar gain.
*NB: MAIBC is member of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia
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