DIALOG Modernizes North Vancouver’s Shipyards into a Mixed-Use Development

What was once a catalyst for settlement along Vancouver’s North Shore during the First and Second World Wars has transformed into an outdoor gathering space completed with interconnected plazas, transit routes, and recreational spaces across North Vancouver’s waterfront.

Photo Credit: Andrew Latreille

The Shipyards is a DIALOG-designed mixed-use development that enlivens the site’s shipbuilding history with year-round markets, exhibitions, performances, and festivals.

Remnants of the site’s historical composition are included in the new development. An existing machine shop was restored, and new structures and landscapes added. The new structures align perpendicular to the Burrard Inlet shoreline, just as the buildings and internal roads of the shipyards were.

“The heritage value of the place is associated with its location in Lower Lonsdale, the commercial core of North Vancouver, and the earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings on the North Shore of Burrard Inlet,” said DIALOG.

Rendering Credit: DIALOG

Using its original steel components and geometry as a starting point, this project prioritizes the heritage character of the original machine shop building amidst modifications that suit its new functions.

The retractable roof takes on the character of similar arrangements inherent to the Shipyards area. The additional new structures on the site, such as a hotel and restaurants, adopt a contemporary form and act as a foil to the heritage machine shop.

At the centre of the reimagined machine shop is the Shipyards Commons, where programming for public events takes place. In the summer, the area features a sheltered water play zone; in the winter,  it serves as an ice-rink larger than Robson Square.

Photo Credit: Kenneth Chan
Rendering Credit: DIALOG

Casual seating is placed down the east, north and west edges of the Shipyard, but visitors looking to prolong their stay can find a seat at a café and restaurant patio located on the south end of the site.

Visitors venturing beyond the Shipyard Commons will  find a series of shops along the first two floors of the north-south corridor and a small boutique hotel on the third. Capilano University’s Lonsdale campus will settle into their new home on the second floor of the west building overlooking the Commons.

With The SeaBus, Lonsdale Quay Market, and the Polygon Gallery connecting to a series of transit routes, plazas, and recreational spaces, the Shipyards completes North Vancouver’s waterfront circulation.

Rendering Credit: DIALOG

A north-south spine from Esplanade, a major roadway neighbouring the site, welcomes a series of shops adjacent to the Commons, continuing to the waterfront where a combined pedestrian and bike route known as Spirit Trail intersect.

From here, visitors have the option to enjoy the view of Vancouver Harbour or continue exploring one of many routes available to pedestrians.

“The Shipyards is the centre of a revitalized civic heart of Lonsdale. Inspired by the history of the site, it’s the final puzzle piece connecting a string of waterfront spaces along Spirit Trail. It offers a public amenity that is distinctly North Vancouver, and promises to be a regional attraction for a new generation in this historic precinct,” said Shane Oleksiuk, Project Architect.