Upon opening in 1959, Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre was responsive to the suburbanizing city’s needs. Now, the mall is facing a restructuring of epic proportions, one that promises to transform it from a humble—though high-performing—retail centre in a sleepy part of town, into a “little piece of a microcity,” as architect Gregory Henriquez describes it.
A collaborative project between Henriquez Partners Architects, QuadReal Property Group, Westbank Development, and Tokyo-based interior design firm Wonderwall, the futuristic new vision for Oakridge entails 10 towers of different heights up to 44 storeys, three mid-rise buildings with commercial, office, and residential uses; the city’s largest civic centre with a community space, a public library, a seniors’ centre, a theatre capable of containing four separate events simultaneously, and a childcare facility; one-million-square-feet of retail space; 10 acres of park; and three levels of underground parking. It expects to become home to 6,000 residents.
The restructuring will transform Oakridge Centre from a humble—though high-performing—retail centre in a sleepy part of town, into a “little piece of a microcity”.
“If you think about what makes a city, one leg is the built environment, another leg is the transportation structure, another leg is the energy infrastructure, and the fourth leg is the cultural infrastructure,” says Westbank CEO Ian Gillespie, who imagines the new Oakridge as a vital part of an increasingly car-free urban style of living in Vancouver. Adds Henriquez, “it’s a place you may never have to leave.”
Henriquez asserts that despite its scale, the new Oakridge will feel livable and intimate to residents. “You’ll have High Street, which is a going to be a very intimate scaled environment with lots of dynamic retail frontages, you’re going to have 1st and Cambie, which is going to be sort of more intimate retrial structures, and we’re going to have pavilions in the park that are going to have restaurants and things that are going to have a very small scale and relate to the park,” he says. “And then you have the inside of the shopping centre which I don’t see as a shopping centre, I see as an extension of the city.”
How Oakridge Centre will be effectively transformed into Vancouver’s “largest civic centre out of the downtown core” is a process to keenly anticipate—the $5-billion project is set to be completed in 2025, with retail spaces open as early as 2022.
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