Vancouver Convention Centre Celebrates 10 Years of Innovation

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Author: Sarah Beauchamp       


The Vancouver Convention Centre is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its West building (center right), whose roof is home to 400,000 plants and European honey bees. (Courtesy Vancouver Convention Center)

Ten years ago, the Vancouver Convention Centre unveiled its West building, tripling the facility’s capacity. Serving in its first year as the International Broadcast Centre during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the building has gone on to welcome many historic events over the years. Offering more than 466,500 square feet of highly flexible space, the Vancouver Convention Centre offers unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, the scenic Coast Mountains, and a 14-mile pedestrian sea wall. The introduction of the venue’s West building changed the meetings landscape in the Canadian city, which is ranked the top destination in North America for business meetings, according to STR’s DestinationMAP.

In the decade since the West building’s opening, the state-of-the-art convention center has attracted more than 9 million visitors from around the world — drawing big events like SIGGRAPH, the annual conference on computer graphics convened by the ACM SIGGRAPH organization — and generated more than $2.4 billion in direct spending for British Columbia. Delegates can take in all the natural beauty Vancouver has to offer from the comfort of the convention center while being centrally located downtown in the compact and easily walkable city. Both the East and West buildings are within walking distance of 13,000 hotel rooms, major landmarks like Stanley Park and the historic Gastown, and restaurants catering to every palate. There are also plenty of nearby options for pre- and post-meeting venues.

Major international groups, like TED, now call the Vancouver Convention Centre home base. More than 1,800 thought leaders attended TED’s 30th anniversary conference in 2014. For the event, organizers built a pop-up 1,200-seat theater in just four and a half days. “It’s what we’ve long dreamed of: a theater designed specifically for TED Talks,” Chris Anderson, TED curator, said. “We think that with the right design it’s possible to create an even more powerful connection between speaker and audience.”

The Vancouver Convention Centre continues to draw larger and more diverse groups. In 2015, the International AIDS Society Conference (IAS) came to the city and called for a plan to eradicate the disease by 2030. Women Deliver 2019, the largest international event on women’s health and rights, was also held in the city. In 2025, 48,000 attendees will arrive for the International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous. These kinds of global conventions are leaving lasting legacies in the Vancouver community and the city’s various industries.

“We selected Canada because it’s one of the countries in the world that delivers for girls and women,” Hannah August, director of communications for Women Deliver, previously told PCMA. “Canada shares our value that investing in girls and women has a ripple effect that drives progress for all. That’s why the government has a Feminist International Assistance Policy that puts gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights at its core. The 2019 conference [was] an opportunity to do even more.”

In addition, the Vancouver Convention Centre is the world’s first double LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified convention center (version four). Platinum is the highest level of LEED, and version four is the newest version of the rating system, considered “the framework and benchmark for the next generation of green buildings.” Apart from the facility’s extensive waste diversion program and on-site blackwater treatment plant, the most impressive of the venue’s eco-friendly features is on the roof. There, six acres stretch out over the top of the building, hosting 400,000 indigenous plants and European honey bees, which provide honey for the venue’s scratch kitchen as well as the new café and wine bar LOT185, open to delegates and the community. The sloping roof creates natural drainage and seed migration patterns for the roof’s ecology and has no public access points, allowing it to develop as a fully functional habitat for migrating wildlife.

The Vancouver Convention Centre, combined with Vancouver’s growing tech scene, make the city an ideal destination for large groups. The facility is serving as an international platform for knowledge sharing across industries, including life sciences, information technologies, food and wine, clean energy, education, natural resources, finance, entertainment, and engineering. With conventions booked through 2027, the facility looks forward to playing host to a lot more meetings that will help change the world for the better.


Attendees of Women Deliver 2019, the largest international event on women’s health and rights, walk through the Vancouver Convention Centre in early June. (Courtesy Vancouver Convention Center)


The "sails" of the Vancouver Convention Centre's East building can be seen from the West building. (Courtesy Vancouver Convention Center)


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