Iredale Group transforms BMO's main branch in Vancouver
BMO Bank of Montreal opened this Vancouver main branch in 1974. The pavilion’s clean lines and transparent skin reveal a dramatic geometry of structural columns that branch out to form a tree-like canopy above the main hall. Below the main hall is the concourse level, which before the renovation housed the teller stations, and public service offices. The concourse doubles as a major pedestrian route using escalators to connect the underground mall to street level.
In order to maintain the cleanliness and formality of the existing structure, the teller stations were relocated to the pavilion floor and constructed as one sweeping counter that weaves its way through the rectangular array of columns and establishes a simple, formal gesture. The movement of clientele was reinforced by a radical arc inscribed into the floor with an epoxy terrazzo finish, shadowing the curve of the main counter. Glazed partitions behind the counter maintain transparency and a simple pallet of materials helps maintain a clean, modern aesthetic.
The irregular spacing of the existing structure coupled with the pedestrian traffic flow patterns led to the development of a more organic layout and form language. While the forms are meant to imply movement, mimicking eddies and swirls of a mountain stream, the soft curves are also designed to evoke a sense of calm within a high-traffic space. The bulkheads above the glazed office partitions were pulled back to visually expand the main corridor, allowing the glass walls to float on their own.
The curves formed by the drywall bulkheads are mirrored in the terrazzo flooring, playing on the reflective qualities inherent in water. The fluid form language of the concourse level relates well with the sweeping curve introduced in the upstairs pavilion, maintaining a consistent vocabulary throughout the entire renovation.