The iconic Telus Gardens Office tower, located on Georgia St. in Vancouver, B.C., presented special challenges to the innovative team at George Third & Son.
By Rob Third, President of George Third & Son
The project featured an “office bar,” which is virtually a building laid on its side that creates a horizontal office structure. The steel trusses were 60’-0” high and all exposed, as well as external of the Curtain Wall Window System. They cantilevered over the traffic of both Seymour St. and Richards St., something only a steel design could do.
“Assembling and erecting this 800 ton structural box truss in such a busy area of the city, with shoring towers on the streets, required a lot of planning and careful execution by everyone on our engineering and installation team,” said Jeff Mullins of KWH Constructors Ltd.
The tower stops pedestrian traffic as passers-by wonder how the steel can cantilever like a bridge over the street. There is an exciting view to the north and south of those main streets in the downtown core of Vancouver.
This structure was also designed to support a garden of trees on its roof, again adding to the originality of the structure.
The main iconic feature is the Pavilion Entrance Canopy, which arches above the sidewalk along 500 West Georgia Street. Spanning at 250’, this built up steel plate spine carries the load of 54 curved and shaped glulam timber arches that fan out in either direction. It imitates the rib cage of a huge body, supporting the curved glazing cover over this elegant piece of Vancouver art; the welcoming entrance to the Telus Tower.
“This is the work George Third & Son are known for. This is why my guys in the shop love working with us! It’s challenging, it’s risk, you have to stay on top of it all the time; but the rewards of making the architect’s dream become a reality, and seeing another timeless landmark that we built standing blocks from where George Third started the business 108 years ago, makes it worthwhile,” said Rob Third, president of George Third & Son.
GTS revised the steel plate to 60,000 yield material and reduced thickness from 2” to 1 1/4” – therefore reducing plate costs, weight for fabrication and erection, and welding. Erected in eight arch pieces, they were all trial fit in the fabrication shop to ensure a seamless fit on site.
GTS also offered to custom manufacture welded sprinkler lines to retain the sleek lines of the structure, rather than segmented straight sections joined with heavy “victaulic fittings.”
As the project proceeded, George Third & Son was later called upon to erect the Pavilion Canopy “under” the Existing Tower. The formwork contractor could not accommodate the section of the pavilion canopy that was in the lobby of the office tower, so ICON Pacific Const. approached GTS to come up with an installation solution to slide one third of the canopy under the concrete office tower structure. The innovative solution was to bring the steel arch parts to site and lift the 22 ton segments onto a custom built buggy and roll the parts under the existing structure and then jack down the buttress to the previously installed anchor bolts. After each segment had been trial fit, it was attached to the next segment using the same “buggy and rail” system, where they were welded together in the air. Variable falsework frames supported the arches in their increasing height as they moved out from under the tower.
“…the rewards of making the architect’s dream become a reality, and seeing another timeless landmark that we built standing blocks from where George Third started the business 108 years ago, makes it worthwhile.”
George Third & Son also included in their contract the supply and installation of 54 glulam timber wing beams CNC machined to a custom profile, from a douglas fir billet 365mm wide and 762mm high. They also needed to be pushed up from below without overhead lifting. The previously installed ceiling, which was made of glass (just to make it more difficult), and the timber arches only had 16” of space between them and the glass ceiling.
Continuous weekly meetings with the design consultant’s team explored opportunities to enhance the build-ability of the structure. To ensure the architectural accuracy and workability of the Pavilion Canopy elements GTS built a full scale mock-up of the canopy in their plant for architectural and trade review and harmonization. This enabled the trades to experience the installation and compatibility of each element to each other, as well as let the architect make modifications and improve the final design.
George Third & Son have been in business since 1910 (108 years), are a family business, and do what they say they will do. GTS excels at complex, one-of-a-kind structures, and are experts at working with the timber industry. With very inventive people on their team and a historic reputation for innovative steel design and execution, GTS leaves no stone unturned to bring the costs in line.
George Third & Son have fabricated and erected many landmark steel and timber structures, like: Brentwood Station, Commercial Street Station, Di Long Lake Pavilion (China), Husky Union Building (Seattle), Missouri Baptist Medical (Missouri), and the Richmond Skating Oval.
GTS was delighted to work shoulder to shoulder with our partners Somerset Engineering (Erection and Connection Engineers) and KWH Constructors (Steel Erectors) to bring this landmark structure to its successful completion.
“Westbank” asked GTS to install a plaque on the structure, upon completion, to commemorate George Third & Son’s craftsmanship and attention to detail on this iconic Vancouver structure.
Steel Fabricator: George Third & Son Steel
Erector: KWH Constructors Ltd.
Project Architect: Henrique & Partners
Erection & Connection Engineers: Somerset Engineering
Steel Erection Engineering: Somerset Engineering Ltd.
Timber: Structurlam Products LP
*This article was originally published in Advantage Steel no. 62 and can be found here.