Several factors influenced the design of the new Arc’teryx flagship store in Vancouver but all led to the prominent use of zinc on the exterior. The retail chain, founded by local climbers in 1989, offers high-performance outdoor equipment and clothing. Custom titanium zinc panels, installed on a diagonal facade along with natural granite to symbolize the nearby mountain horizon, highlight the retailer’s largest Canadian store.
The building itself was previously two adjoining linear structures that required major renovation to meet design objectives. Architectural and construction management services were provided by Unison Construction Management Ltd.
“We demolished a significant portion of the front of the building and reconstructed it to increase support for the facade height that was added,” said Ehsan Vali, Unison’s lead designer on the project. “It was a big challenge for our structural engineers. And we had to bring the building up to code in all disciplines — it was quite complicated for what you would expect from a 4,000 square foot building.”
Selection of the zinc for the exterior was inspired by Arc’teryx itself, according to Vali. “A lot of their products rely on metal components. They’re very durable and require precision in their manufacturing,” he said.
Titanium zinc was also used on the interior as infill material for various racks and product display areas.
Arc’teryx, which operates five stores in Canada and 32 stores globally, positions its products as “built on the principle of obsessive, precise design and production” that provides “timeless quality and unrivaled performance.”
“I knew I wanted to use metal and zinc caught my attention early on,” said Vali. “I discovered that the nearby mountains contain significant deposits of both zinc and copper. And I came across different pictures of actual raw zinc and noticed the very linear, angular, clear lines with a bit of sheen. We quickly settled on titanium zinc as the right material to deliver the ‘cool’, modern aesthetic to complement the brand.”
Approximately 2,000 square feet of custom panels were fabricated and installed by Ace Copper Specialists in Surrey. “I wanted a fabricator and installer that could do an art piece,” said Vali. “Ace did a fantastic job. We’re very pleased with the outcome.”
Paul Dore, president of Ace Copper Specialists, worked closely with Vali in designing the 24” x 48” custom graphite-grey panels, according to Jason Dore, the company’s chief operating officer. Early in the design process, Dore provided a sample zinc shingle to the design team and “they loved it,” according to Dore.
The mountain-inspired architectural design called for the panels to be installed on the diagonal as well as wrapped around a sharp 90 degree corner.
“To further complicate the job,” said Dore. “The cap line at the roof was at a slightly different angle than the angle of the shingles. We hand-fabricated all of the top shingles on-site. And the designer didn’t want seams when we wrapped the panels around the corner. The installation had to be perfect to keep the angles all in place. The job was a challenge but turned out to be really striking.”