In partnership with Vancouver Island-based Aryze Developments, TELUS is planning to construct a purpose-built, office building at a prominent city-owned site in downtown Victoria.
The telecommunications giant was selected by the municipal government to develop the 27,900-sq-ft triangular vacant parcel at 767 Douglas Street — the prominent corner of Douglas and Humbolt streets — immediately east of the Fairmont The Empress Hotel, and north of Crystal Gardens.
The project, named TELUS Ocean, will be a 53-metre-tall, 11-storey, flatiron-shaped building with approximately 155,000 sq. ft. of total floor area, including 117,000 sq. ft. of office space over eight upper levels.
This includes two office floors dedicated to 250 TELUS employees and an innovation hub showcasing advanced communications and information technology. The remaining office levels will be available for lease by other tenants.
A unique multi-level indoor and outdoor space on the rooftop will be purposed as an event and gathering venue, while the ground level will have about 5,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space that activates the new public realm created by the project, including plazas.
A large video screen helps activate the south plaza, which is suitable for outdoor community events.
The multi-level office lobby, doubling as another event and gathering space, creates a further sense of place with its undulating water feature that spans the interior and exterior. It is lined with a sculpted wood bench that acts as an artful backdrop to the amphitheater on the lobby’s second level. The main entrance is also demarcated by a “tidal pool” planter with colorful native plants.
As for the overall form of the building, carved landscaped terraces address privacy concerns of an adjacent residential building, and provide outdoor work and amenity spaces for office tenants.
The building gained its name from both its historical infill location and the glass facade design said to be inspired by the rolling waves of the ocean.
“TELUS Ocean’s uniquely shaped site seeks to act as an urban node and nexus that transitions itself between surrounding cultural and commercial uses to residential uses such as hotels and apartment buildings,” reads the design rationale.
“A welcoming public realm is created by pushing the building envelope inwards at grade, while pinching down at the southern vertex to preserve key views. A bold thematic link to the local context is integrated into the building façade, with light shaping window wells that form the visual cue of a rolling ocean wave.”
Three underground levels will accommodate 127 vehicle parking stalls and 140 bike parking spaces.
Similar to the TELUS Garden office tower in downtown Vancouver, the building’s rooftop is topped off by solar panels, which will help power exterior lighting.
With a goal to provide the city center with an economic boost and an anchor business, the City of Victoria chose TELUS’ development proposal after receiving six bids from a procurement process that first began in 2017. The city says the TELUS Ocean proposed scored highest.
The event and gathering venues offered by the building are anticipated to enable new synergies with the adjacent Victoria Conference Center and hotel.
TELUS will acquire the city-owned property for $8.1 million, plus up to $1.1 million depending on the final proposal submitted. Both the company and the municipal government will share the environmental and geotechnical costs to remediate the site, with the city contributing $2.37 million.
The property’s land was created by the infilling of James Bay in the early 1900s, and then later home to a furniture manufacturer and large laundry plant. Currently, the site is occupied by two car rental operations.
In 2015, the company completed the 22-storey, 450,000-sq-ft TELUS Garden office tower, which is home to its main corporate headquarters and Amazon’s first Vancouver office. The building was sold to an unnamed buyer in 2018, with the company leasing its office space.
Early this year, the company completed TELUS Sky in downtown Calgary — a 59-storey tower with 422,000 sq. ft. of office space and 341 homes.