No Longer A Terminal Condition – City Duo Looks Into Port Town’s Iron Heart

Ironworks (Formerly 1900 Pandora Street – DE419697)
It is hard to believe nearly a year has passed since Darren and I were rushing down Powell Street, late for a tour of the Ironworks building. My recap of that experience has been similarly delayed, but the double-whammy of the pandemic, and my father-in-law’s passing, upended many of our plans. Even so, I still remember thinking it was surreal how a chance encounter with a Conwest representative gave us the opportunity to see something more than a scale model.

Granted, we were not the first to see this site, and apparently staff from Coquitlam liked what they saw so much, they included it in a brochure touting their city. Instead, credit belongs to Vancouver’s planning department, as in 2009 they put forward a proposal that hoped to reinvigorate Cedar Cove. That permitted up to 300,000 sqft of employment space here, but nothing happened until 2015, when an innovative design saw this company move ahead of their sheepish counterparts.

Until then, this heavily polluted 2.31 acre lot had seemingly scared most other companies off, as almost two decades had passed since Terminal City moved their metalworks production to Langley in 1999. Only Hollywood North was present during that period of intermission, as over 700 film and television shows were shot here, including one of my favourites, Supernatural. Arguably, almost all that remained of this block’s historic industrial character was the patches of exposed brick poking through its streets.

As I drove over them to reach this building’s guest parking, I can confirm they have held up surprisingly well over the decades. Down the hill at JJ Bean, we first chatted with Conwest’s representatives over a coffee and a muffin. That was an early indication food would play an important role in our visit, and from the start we made it clear we intended to write about this adventure, and did so for passion, not money.

Some people like historic paving stones, others prefer lifting 100-year-old buildings into the sky, whereas we enjoy watching the changes in our city, and keeping people informed about them. Our guides were equally passionate about this mix of strata offices, stacked industrial bays, and warehouses. They also boasted about the elevators, as some are designed to accommodate heavy-duty use. We did not photograph those, or the main lobby, as they were covered up since some finishing touches were still being added.

We would not mind seeing a bit more paint ourselves, as the loading space between these two buildings seemed a bit spartan. It does have a few splashes of colour, and detailing, but as Conwest is a sponsor of the Vancouver Mural Festival, we think they could do a bit more to enliven it. Granted, that will improve once the owners of these stratified commercial spaces move in, and are joined by a restaurant planned near this area’s main gateway.

In contrast, the rooftop will immediately be a big draw, as the amazing views of the North Shore, and well-equipped dining area easily compensates for the mechanical systems that apparently prevented a green roof. It was explained that coming together over a good meal is one of this company’s core values, which was evident in their headquarters on the fourth floor. Included among their spacious meeting areas, and quiet gym, was another well-stocked kitchen with a similarly stunning view.

The architect firm behind this design is located here too, and exterior corridors ensure every business can enjoy plenty of light and fresh air. Their combined presence represents a vote of confidence for the area they are calling Port Town, and is buoyed by optimism over Vancouver’s growing demand for employment space. In fact, before we left, we were teased about Conwest’s (recently approved) Riverworks development. Maybe one day, we will get to see it up close too.

Until then, you can see more photos from this tour, and these scenic vistas on our Instagram. However, for other enquires we suggest you contact Conwest Group, here or by phone at 604-293-3477.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer – Conwest Group
Architects – TKAD Architecture + design
Landscape Architects – PMG Landscape Architects

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