A Fusion of Old and New at Vancouver’s Sinclair Centre

July 6, 2016


Sinclair Centre in Vancou­ver is a govern­ment office and retail complex made up of four distinct heritage build­ings constructed in 1910 and 1937, all of which were restored and connected by a glass covered atrium and galle­ria walk­ways in the late 1980s. Entro’s wayfind­ing program for the Sinclair Centre stands alone as a contem­po­rary system that is inte­grated with the archi­tec­ture, with­out being constrained by the histor­i­cal refer­ences of the build­ings.

Recent reno­va­tions have consol­i­dated and expanded the Govern­ment of Canada Pass­port and Service Canada offices within the atrium court to provide better visi­bil­ity and access for a higher volume of people. Future plans for the upper atrium level will provide a simi­lar level of access for a planned expan­sion to the Cana­dian Immi­gra­tion and Citi­zen­ship Office. A dimin­ished retail pres­ence has meant a shift in the iden­tity of the centre to one that is primar­ily a busi­ness or corpo­rate hub for govern­ment services. Public Works Canada was respon­si­ble for lead­ing the revi­tal­iza­tion at Sinclair Centre and part­nered with CTA archi­tects for the project which also enlivens one of the grander but unap­pre­ci­ated inte­rior public spaces in the city.

Entro’s wayfind­ing solu­tion moves people toward the central space of the complex using a series of ‘street’ infor­ma­tion pylons with colour coded eleva­tor iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, simpli­fied direc­tions and orien­ta­tion maps. The wayfind­ing has also estab­lished itself as a key element for unify­ing all the bilin­gual signage commu­ni­ca­tions. Discus­sions with the client deter­mined a need for clear sepa­ra­tion between a new Sinclair Centre iden­tity and related signage and that of the Federal Iden­tity Program (FIP) typi­cally used to iden­tify govern­ment build­ings and services. Entro’s solu­tion combined a new bilin­gual word­mark for Sinclair Centre with a maple leaf motif as contem­po­rary emblems in contrast to FIP but one that could, at the same time upgrade the FIP signage within the atrium. The distinc­tive colour palette for the program is derived from the green copper dome of the 1910 Post Office Build­ing clock tower and the stately blue of the Cana­dian pass­port. On the exte­rior, the word­mark and leaf motif are rendered in contrast­ing stain­less steel finishes and sit in relief against the histor­i­cal stone facades.