Seaspan ULC hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, November 27 to mark the official start of construction on a new head office in North Vancouver. The four-storey, 7,800-square-metre (84,000 sf) corporate headquarters, scheduled for completion in late 2017, will be constructed at the foot of Pemberton Avenue on the south western spit of Seaspan's property. Once complete, the building will include state-of-the-art office space, meeting rooms, expanded bike storage, electric vehicle charging stations, a full-service cafeteria, as well as panoramic views of the Vancouver Harbour front. It will house 350 Seaspan staff (up from the current 130) from across its various companies. The office design will also incorporate a number of green-building standards such as passive heating and reduced water use, and involve an extensive reconfiguration of the current parking lot, including the addition of 122 new stalls.
"Today is an exciting day for Seaspan and its 2,200 employees," said Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth. "This ceremony not only marks the latest step in Seaspan's renaissance in Canada's shipbuilding and marine industrial base, but also represents our role in the resurgence of sustained employment and economic activity on the West Coast."
Noting that the existing building is nearing 50 years in age and had won the Park & Tilford Award when it was built, Whitworth described how the new building would be equally innovative. While the old building had a budget of $2.5 million, costs for the new building will be upwards of $40 million. Designed by architect firm Dialog with project management and construction work to be undertaken by CORE (project manager) and Ventana (builder), the building will take about 18 months to complete. Whitworth thanked Seaspan staff Chris Hext (Director, Risk and Security, Seaspan) and Nancy McKenzie (Chief Financial Officer, Seaspan) for their efforts to date in leading the project.
Squamish councillor Chris Lewis, accompanied by Chief Gibby Jacob, provided a traditional blessing of the land; newly elected Member of Parliament Jonathan Wilkinson, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale Naomi Yamamoto, and District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton expressed notes of congratulations before lining up for a ceremonial groundbreaking photo to mark the occasion.
Seaspan's groundbreaking event follows on the heels of the start of construction on the first NSPS ship - the Canadian Coast Guard's Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (OFSV). Construction of the OFSV started this past June after the on-time and on-budget completion of Vancouver Shipyard's two-year, $170-million Shipyard Modernization Project.
Seaspan expects to hire another 1,300 trade workers and office staff over the next five years. It is estimated that Seaspan's NSPS work will create 5,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs over the next 20 years, produce almost $500 million per year in GDP for B.C.'s economy, and mean thousands of people will get the opportunity for an exciting new career in shipbuilding.
"We have successfully completed the first step in transforming Vancouver Shipyards into the most modern facility of its kind in North America and established a shipbuilding and ship repair centre of excellence on Canada's West Coast," said Whitworth. "Now Seaspan is focused on ensuring our shipyard, marine and corporate employees have a modern, clean and exceptionally built head office."