49th PARALLEL COFFEE ROASTERS
Downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada
The location of the newest development of the 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters within the existing FortisBC Building at the corner of Thurlow and West Georgia in Vancouver came with a variety of unique challenges. The client had a precise vision for this location and wanted to produce not only the iconic Lucky's Doughnuts and serve their famous sustainably sourced coffee, but also an egg sandwich concept which would be freshly cooked on-site and not shipped in from other locations. A full, commercial style kitchen would be required to achieve the client’s vision, but the existing space was not zoned or deemed occupiable for such.
The site was in a vast, unused area with a very high ceiling and categorized as an exit lobby to an office tower. The main challenge was to have the City of Vancouver allow this, which required tight collaboration between various design disciplines. Interior Designers, Architects, Code Consultants, Engineers (Mechanical, Electrical and Structural) and the Contractor had to work together to have any chance to bring this to fruition. Because of the large, but confined space, a whole building system needed to be created. In theory, we needed to "build a building within a building" that would meet local health, safety and fire codes. Since we were to build a box within a box, we thought, “Why not treat it as such?” A “gift wrapped box” is what inspired the bold and graphic striped Carrera marble look tile and white oak striping that encloses the self-contained fire-rated kitchen and mechanical space.
Much of the design direction for the front counter came from the client’s desire to have a clean contemporary look and black framed glass display cases to highlight the ever-popular doughnuts. This look also allowed for a more upscale feel for the prime downtown location. We paired black metal accents with rich marbles, warm oak wood tones and leather benches to create a warm and sophisticated café environment equal to the premium food and beverages being served.
Simple, yet bold, bespoke wall sconces over seating areas and dramatic, large-scale pendant lighting over the long service counter were installed to create a sense of awe. A vast, wood ceiling "box" feature with wire mesh was added to help conceal the required large ducting vent overhead and bring one’s eye down to the service level within this large volume of space.
The challenge brought forth by the City of Vancouver's strict building bylaws and code compliance requirements coupled with the site conditions of this older building was met with a team eager to take on this difficult task. After much diligence and patience, the client’s vision was brought to life. The location is well-visited, quite profitable, and provides the local urban population with world class coffee, iconic doughnuts and mind-blowing egg sandwiches that are, ahem, un”paralleled” by no other.