The Salt Building is an iconic, historic landmark centrally located in the Southeast False Creek sustainable neighbourhood of Vancouver. The former waterfront structure embodies the legacy of the rich working past of the industrial area that once bristled with ship builders, steel fabricators and sawmills. Constructed in the 1930’s, the Salt Building was originally a refinery for sea salt shipped up from San Francisco.
A linear light monitor running down the central spine allows daylight to enter deep into the interior through a spectacular, heavy timber truss system. The formerly solid, closed form of the building has been transformed through the creation of large, glazed openings in the north and south gable walls to create direct sightlines through to a public plaza, water and mountains to the north, and vibrant street scenes to the south.
The restoration and rehabilitation of the Salt Building presented a rare opportunity to integrate concepts of adaptive re-use and heritage conservation with sustainable building practices. Another objective for the project was to rehabilitate and restore the shell and to raise the building to align with the new residential neighbourhood street levels in order that the Salt Building could be used as a social gathering space for athletes from around the world during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
The Salt Building is currently undergoing one more transformation through the integration of a restaurant, brew pub, coffee house and bakery within the historic structure. The legacy vision will realize the creation of a unique focal point for residents to gather for social interaction. An interpretive installation will educate the public about the history of the Salt Building and the unique legacy of the rich working past of the former industrial area.
The Salt Building is one of very few heritage projects in Canada to target Gold certification under the LEED Core and Shell program. The Salt Building is tied into a neighbourhood energy utility that reclaims heat from sewage wastewater to provide heat to a radiant floor heating system. The building is projected to save 1,400 gigajoules of energy and reduce over 150 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — an increase of 60% in energy efficiency. The enhanced energy efficiency is projected to realize energy cost savings of 43% compared to a standard building code-based model.
More than 75% of the existing building envelope was reused and retrofitted. Diversion of more than 98% of construction waste from landfills was achieved.