Vancouver wood building combines elegant designs, modest budget

Through the Dock Building project for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, the design team at Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture (MGA) aimed to demonstrate, all projects, from working industrial buildings to boutique museums, can and should be realized with grace and architectural dignity.

“Delivering thoughtful, elegant architectural design is always possible regardless of budget,” said Michael Green, CEO of MGA.

Located on Jericho Beach in Vancouver, the Dock Building serves a large marina of sailboats. The facility provides washrooms and showers, offices for the Harbour Master, instruction space for children, and a variety of workshops to maintain boats, sails, and gear. The project’s practical working needs, modest budget, and prominent siting required a simple solution honouring the cannery and industrial heritage of waterfront buildings that were once found on the site a half-century before.

The massing is simple. Two intersecting wedge volumes mirror each other to create a lantern to the sea and to the land. Facing land is glue-laminated timber (glulam) and translucent polycarbonate wall bringing light into the workshop spaces and glowing along the beach at night. Facing the sea and the marina itself are a series of garage doors opening to the shop bays as well as glazed offices. A wood screen above the offices hides the mechanical systems in the high volume of the wedge facing the water. A knife-edge gutter provides an overhang for the shop doors.

The building resides on the waters’ edge just where high tide meets the beach. Almost half of the project budget went to the foundation and piles, leaving the design team with the challenge of meeting the project’s functional needs while delivering something more meaningful to the community.

White standing seam panels are used for the exterior. The structure is a mix of glulam posts and beams with light timber infill decking and walls. The interior is predominantly construction-grade plywood, providing a tough, easily replaceable finish.

The Dock Building exemplifies what a creative team, an ambitious client, and a big vision can produce, says Green.

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