The Atrium at 800 Yates is a 200,000 SF office building that prioritizes urban fit, sustainability, and occupant well being. Cafés, restaurants and shops line the three bounding streets and the perimeter of the internal atrium. Rain gardens ring the site, serving to catch and clean run-off, soften the cityscape, and buffer the sidewalk from traffic. All of these visual and practical features help to attract visitors from the offices above and from the surrounding downtown, encouraging the complex’s common usage as a meeting spot and pedestrian hub. The owners and management frequently program the main floor space for non- commercial and cultural events. The building has become a well-known venue that attracts performing arts organizations and charitable groups. The Atrium, as it is known locally, has hosted music concerts, festivals, fund-raising dinners, and conferences.

Overhead, innovative custom wood trusses support a 7,200-square-foot skylight. Panelized hemlock grilles sweep around the atrium’s curving walls, and cedar soffits overhanging the street bring warmth and definition to the sidewalk.

The seven-storey central atrium space functions as the building’s return-air plenum, and allows daylight into the heart of the structure. Conditioned air is delivered near the floor, so the air requires less cooling.

Project Data

Convection draws the air to heat-generating occupants and equipment, where it’s needed. As the air warms, it rises naturally to exhaust through the ceiling. Displacement ventilation uses less energy to deliver higher quality air more quietly, and is a key component in the building’s LEED Gold-certified environmental strategies.

The design team, collaborating with a visual artist, produced a number of pieces for the project. This included a mural, Prelude, on the hoarding panels surrounding the construction site; Interlude, the stone floor mosaic of the atrium with two wood sculptures; and Coda, the deconstructed and collaged pieces of Prelude, now hanging as finished artworks throughout the building.

Offices & Commercial, Mixed-Use, Interiors
800 Yates Street, Victoria, BC
1 acre
Jawl Investment Corporation
Project Team
F. D'Ambrosio, G. Damant, J. Brown, M. Cencich, M. Culham, J. Harvey, T. Kopeck, K. Logan, J. Marinus, R. Nykolaishen, T. Ogden, E. Sangster, M. Zupan
Hirschfield Williams Timmins, Avalon Mechanical Consultants Ltd.
Applied Engineering Solutions Inc.
Bullock Baur & Associates
CN Ryzuk & Associates
Wakefield Acoustics Ltd.
JD Dunsmore & Associates Inc.
GHL Consultants Ltd.
LEED Consultant
Advicas Group Consultants Inc.
Landscape Architect
Murdoch de Greeff Inc.
Bill Porteous Studio
Design-Build Engineers
Skylight structure: StructureCraft in collaboration with DAU
Ductal high performance concrete


Award of Excellence, RAIC / Architecture Canada in partnership with the Canada Green Building Council
Green Building Award
800 Yates / Atrium
International Architecture Awards, The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
Awards Short List
800 Yates / Atrium
Commercial Building Award, Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB)
Excellence Award, Judges' Choice Award
800 Yates / Atrium
Wood Design Award, Canadian Wood Council
Non-Residential - Commercial
800 Yates / Atrium
PCI Design Award
Retail / Mixed Use
800 Yates / Atrium
Wood Design Award, Wood WORKS! BC
Interior Beauty Design
800 Yates / Atrium
CRD EcoStar Award
Integrated Watershed Management
800 Yates / Atrium
NWCB Outstanding Project of the Year Award
Interior Commercial (British Columbia), Light-Gauge Steel Framing (British Columbia)
800 Yates / Atrium
CISCA Construction Excellence Awards
Western Region Interior Finishes Gold Award
Ceilings & Interior Systems
800 Yates / Atrium
Wood Design Award, Canadian Wood Council
Special Award
800 Yates / Atrium
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
The overall goal was to bring into new use a largely abandoned urban block that included an empty lot and two unoccupied and derelict buildings. The program was to redevelop the site with a mixed- commercial and office complex that would also restore and revitalize the pedestrian portion of the adjacent public rights-of-way. The economic viability and long-term success of the development drove the targeting of provincial government agencies as anchor office tenants and the courting of local entrepreneurs to establish ground level businesses. The three major streets fronting the project posed the challenge of making successful public space alongside constant urban traffic. The response balances the mainly private program with the public space by: making a consistent and permeable street wall; scaling the building, canopy and entrance heights to the street widths and adjacent buildings; and separating the pedestrian sidewalk with gardens, trees and parking lanes from the travel lanes of the street.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
The architectural expression balances context-inspired materiality and scale in a contemporary composition. The poured-in-place steel- reinforced concrete structure is clad in a unitized curtain wall system with a combination of high-transparency window panels, zinc panels and fine textured concrete. As part of the underlying environmental agenda and the achieved LEED- Gold certification, attention to solar orientation included consideration of both interior natural lighting and the quality of adjacent outside public spaces such as entrance courts and restaurant terraces.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
The design posits that the long-term success of the project depends on the urban fit, occupant wellbeing, as well as environmental and economic sustainability. Pre-construction tenancy commitment was obtained from the BC Ferries Corporation and the BC Provincial Land- Titles Agency and this helped facilitate the project’s development financing. By the strategy of attracting government institutional tenants as well as private sector office tenants, the mix achieved a balance of priorities of a speculative office building and those of civic architecture. The other atypical strategy of the project was that it was the first downtown Victoria commercial office development targeting LEED Gold certification from the Canadian Green Building Council. By all accounts, The Atrium raises the standard for its building type in the City.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
The high degree of transparency in the street level around the building’s perimeter and the semi-public atrium space itself extend the public pedestrian realm and contribute to its animation. The amenities include sheltering niches and canopies, public seating, bicycle racks, lighting, artwork and a richly landscaped buffer between street and sidewalk. Through careful handling of the street frontages, program uses such as retail shops, cafés and restaurants contribute to an inviting and comfortable public realm. A primary ambition for the Atrium was to create a building that will endure, contribute to and earn the regard of the community.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
Founded mainly on native bedrock under this previously developed urban site, the two sub-levels and seven above- ground floors occupy nearly 100% of property area therefore all rainwater is managed on site. This is achieved by the heat-dissipating extensive green roof, storm-water collection system and ground level rain gardens (bio-filtration beds). Bounded by a seating wall that incorporates cut stone blocks from one of the deconstructed buildings that formerly occupied part of the site, the gardens are extensively planted and provide a beautiful green frame for this urban block.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
Horizontal spandrel panels of polymer fibre-reinforced concrete panels express a natural colour and a fine grain of texture, recalling the handcrafted scale of glazed concrete, brick and stone used on Victoria’s historic buildings. Inside the Atrium, bands of panelized hemlock vertical slats follow the sweep of the curving walls of levels 2 through five. Tongue and groove cedar soffits bring colour and warmth to the building at street level.

Small-dimension lumber is also used structurally as twelve expanded-lamination wood trusses and turned parallel- strand timber kingposts that support the atrium’s 7,200 square-foot skylight. The lenticular shape of the truss chords is achieved by building up arched strands of salvaged Mountain Pine Beetle-killed lumber, and spacing them with elliptical blocks of reclaimed Douglas Fir glulam.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
The building envelope has a low lifecycle cost and incorporates a low-energy/high comfort integrated HVAC arrangement. Supplied from the perimeter walls, the air displacement ventilation system distributes low-velocity air near the floor level. Air is circulated through offices via convection dispersing occupant and equipment-produced heat. The resulting annual energy performance has been calculated at 376 MJ/m2, which is a 42% reduction in energy cost savings.

Glazing performance was strictly controlled through the use of thermally- segregated framing of high performance glazing and by regulating the amount of glazed area in the exterior envelope. Glazing percentages are 45% at levels 2 through 5, and 65% at levels 6 and 7. The target glazing areas were achieved through a careful composition of operable units with zinc and glass spandrels.
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU
The insulation values for the building were optimized for energy savings: overall insulation value in the exterior walls is RSI 4.93 (R28); overall window U value is 0.35; overall roof insulation is RSI 7.0 (R30). The increased insulation permitted cost savings by reducing the size of the heating/chilling plant. Funding assistance for these measures was obtained through the British Columbia Hydro High Performance Buildings (HPB) Program.
Jawl Investment Corporation (Award sponsored by Golder Associates)
The Atrium: An Example in Placemaking
800 Yates / Atrium © DAU