A landmark building on downtown Vancouver’s skyline, the former Westcoast Transmission’s building is one of less than half a dozen structures like it around the world. Its unique design involves steel cables that hang from the top of a central concrete core. The cables support the perimeter of the steel floors, with the central concrete core as the only interior support, thus creating a column free structure.
To preserve this historical icon, the project developers decided to transform the office building into an upscale 180-unit condominium tower called the QUBE.
Part of the transformation of the building, originally built in 1968, required that it be seismically upgraded to meet current building code seismic load resistance requirements. However, its status as a historical landmark building meant that its unique exterior appearance could not be changed in any way. Specifically, the shape of the core at the bottom of the building had to be preserved. In addition, the client did not want to change the column-free open floor space that the original design created. As the floor plates were already not large, this presented a challenge. Most traditional methods of seismic upgrading involve adding walls or columns. The solution also had to be time efficient, with installation done concurrently with other trades work.
Glotman•Simpson, in cooperation with Fyfe, a carbon fibre producer from San Diego, offered the solution to this challenge, using externally bonded composite carbon fibre reinforcing to seismically upgrade the building.