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Renovated pub just tip of the iceberg for New West architect

New Westminster architict Eric Pattison checks out the progress of construction for new offices and commercial space below the Brooklyn Pub on Columbia Street. He designed, the new space, as well as renovations to the pub and the addition of five two-storey townhouses above it, a project he calls one of the most challenging of his career because of the location
New Westminster architict Eric Pattison checks out the progress of construction for new offices and commercial space below the Brooklyn Pub on Columbia Street. He designed, the new space, as well as renovations to the pub and the addition of five two-storey townhouses above it, a project he calls one of the most challenging of his career because of the location's unique site on a steep slope overlooking Front Street.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Eric Pattison has helped build tall office towers, imagined new life for old heritage buildings. But he's never designed an iceberg.

That's essentially what the New Westminster architect did for his commission to renovate and expand the Brooklyn Pub on Columbia Street at the eastern end of Downtown. It's turned out to be one of the most challenging projects of his career, said Pattison.

When the owner of the Brooklyn, Kosta Efstrathiadis, approached him about enlarging the pub with a new glass atrium similar to the one at his Taverna Greka restaurant a few doors away, as well as constructing five two-storey townhomes on top of the building, Pattison knew there would have to be some complex engineering and seismic work done below ground to support the structure that overhangs a steep bluff above Front Street.

Pattison submitted his plans to the city for permits, and it was suggested he look at building beneath the overhang as well, to discourage vagrants from taking up residence on the protected slope.

His client green lit the idea.

Starting with rough conceptual sketches on note paper, Pattison had to devise a building that would serve three disparate functions, as well as how to construct it on a steep, narrow site hemmed in by an active rail line and busy arterial road below. All while the pub stayed open as usual.

LEFT: How the project will look from Westminster Pier Park.

"It's complex, but I wasn't intimidated by it," said Pattison. "The idea was easy, but the buildability and execution of it was tough."

The design and approval process took three years.

Almost a year into construction, passersby on Columbia Street would be hard-pressed to notice anything going on. Most of the work has been progressing below street level, bolstering the structure's soil anchors, building new concrete retaining walls, hanging steel support beams, installing services including running a hydro line beneath the rail tracks.

When construction finally bursts forth above the street, Pattison is confident it will result in an admirable anchor for the eastern entrance to Downtown.

The building's three components will be accessed from a common atrium where the pub's small parking lot now sits. The townhomes, pub and offices below will all feature expansive floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the unrestricted views of the Fraser River, the SkyTrain and Pattullo bridges and Pier Park. Air conditioning will allow those windows to stay closed in the summer to buffer the train and truck noise from below.

"It will look like a brand new building," said Pattison.

 

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