News and Insights

The Exchange: Where visions become reality

The Exchange in downtown Vancouver is a project that merges past and future into a unique work of art. CS REF International developed the property, which opened in November 2017, from the ground up.

Vancouver has a vision. Though the country itself is known for being modest, the Pacific metropolis in British Columbia, Canada, is aiming for a superlative. It wants to be the "world`s greenest city." In a comprehensive action plan, strategists and planners used 15 parameters to determine how the economically and culturally robust city could once again set new standards in sustainability. After all, the secret capital of Canada's west coast has always been a pioneer in this field. It is no coincidence that virtually every international ranking includes Vancouver among the top cities for quality of life and prosperity.

The economy remains consistently high, especially by North American comparison. This goes hand in hand with the second-lowest office vacancy rates and explosive demand for sustainable real estate. Tourism is booming as well. These were reasons enough for the Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund International (CS REF International) to invest in a complete property development project. Christoph Schumacher, Head of Global Real Estate for Credit Suisse Asset Management, noted that "Vancouver`s ambitious and convincing sustainability concept was a perfect match for the Environmental Excellence strategy that Credit Suisse has pursued for some years now. There was also a desire to handle a project from development to completion. With the completion of this project, the fund is entering a new era and proving that with the right expertise, major projects can be designed and built successfully from A to Z." Along with local investor SwissReal Investments and an investment of CHF 217 million, six years ago a project began that would change the face of Vancouver forever.

The Exchange proves that with the right expertise, major projects can be realized successfully from A to Z.

Christoph Schumacher, Head of Global Real Estate

The future is built on history

The Exchange is a unique symbiosis between its historical structure and an architectural vision in the middle of the financial district. The foundation is The Old Stock Exchange, a building from 1929 that perfectly embodies the architecture of its time. The addition is a 31-story modern office tower, which is seamlessly integrated into the eleven floors of the stock exchange and extends the building vertically. At 116 meters and 31 floors, The Exchange is now Vancouver's tallest office building. It has been certified in Canada with a Platinum certificate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). 

It is also the first property in Canada to receive this certificate for heritage conversion. Rightly so, because the office building has 50% lower energy consumption than comparable commercial properties. Carbon emissions are even cut by 85%, thanks to its construction style. The complex also has rainwater storage and a solar panel to supply the hot water system, among other things.
 

With this project we have helped to shape a piece of the future.

Marc-Oliver Tschabold, Fund Manager

Mayor Gregor Robertson holds opening speech

The ribbon cutting for the property was on November 9, 2017 and attended by prominent media representatives, members of the brokerage and construction industry, and Gregor Robertson. Robertson, who has been mayor of Vancouver for nearly ten years, was considered a visionary even decades ago. From the very start, he was a strong advocate of this innovative building project and oversaw it along with his team every step of the way. During his speech, he highlighted the great demand for sustainable real estate in Vancouver.

Basel architect Harry Gugger, who created the design along with the local architectural firm of Iredale, summarized the concept as follows: "This prominent original building [and new tower] create an overall composition that looks at once to Vancouver’s future without obscuring its past."

Novum

Novum

Gugger, whose award-winning work can be found around the globe, is a specialist for the conversion and further development of historic buildings. Among his most well-known projects that he realized in his role of partner at the world-famous architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron are the design for London's Tate Modern Gallery, based on an oil-fired power station, and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, along with the Caixa Forum in Madrid, which is an architectural mix of museum, auditorium, and conference center and has garnered international attention.

Architecture prize for Heritage Architecture

Shortly after completion, The Exchange received the Architecture Prize for Heritage Architecture 2017, which is given for outstanding design along with innovation and functionality. In the presentation of the winners' projects, it was noted that the new building allowed the existing structure to define the streetscape and confirm its proud position within the city. Marc-Oliver Tschabold, fund manager for CS REF International, is pleased with the award and is proud "to have this property with its distinctive architecture, exceptional sustainability and, last but not least, its profitability in the portfolio of CS REF International".

A hallmark attracts tenants

The Exchange, with a facade reminiscent of pinstripes that gives the property a unique identity, is one of Vancouver's top addresses. Howe Street, one of the center's four main streets, is in the middle of the old financial district and close to the harbor and rail station. Even during the construction phase, the property attracted potential tenants, so it is no surprise that two-thirds of the total space has already been leased. The National Bank of Canada has moved into its offices in the Tower and is an anchor tenant with just over 4,000 square meters. This is the perfect headquarters for the country's second-oldest financial institution, which has been among the world's most sustainable banks according to global rankings.

Executive Hotels and Resorts, a 4-star hotel company located in Vancouver with numerous properties throughout Canada, operates a boutique hotel in the historic part of the building. 202 rooms and a gourmet seafood restaurant await Vancouver's many business travelers and tourists. A little piece of Switzerland is moving to Canada as well, thanks to Lindt! The famous chocolatier operates a 180 sq.m flagship store with chocolate bar on the ground floor, directly adjacent to the entrance of the old stock exchange. Other tenants include Hyperwallet Systems, a global provider of payment systems, The Sovereign General Insurance Company, and Smythe LLP – a CPA firm. There are negotiations with a great number of renowned prospects to rent the remaining space and many contracts are about to be signed. Overall the property offers room for around 1,700 jobs. Thanks to its sustainable overall concept, the future looks bright for new visions.