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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

AbCellera expands in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant

AbCellera, the Vancouver-based biotech company, is expanding into a new, nine-storey purpose-built office and laboratory in Mount Pleasant.

The biotech company will move to a new campus at 110 West 4th Avenue and Manitoba, on the former site of the A&B Party Rentals building. It will add 700 jobs to the growing company.

The new building was designed by Francl Architecture and will be developed by Beedie. It’s designed to be highly flexible, with the potential to have up to 70 per cent lab space and 30 per cent office space located anywhere in the building. In total, there will be 211,380 square feet of office and laboratory space.

Renderings: New AbCellera campus HQ 

AbCellera street level render mid-block of West 4th Avenue
Street level render mid-block of West 4th Avenue. Credit: Francl Architecture
Rendering of southwest corner
Rendering of southwest corner. Credit: Francl Architecture
AbCellera biotech facility render of building corner
Street level render corner of West 4th Avenue and Manitoba. Credit: Francl Architecture
Bird's eye view of new AbCellera campus
Bird’s eye view of new AbCellera campus. Credit: Francl Architecture

“Plug and play” features throughout the building will allow for quick and easy access to utilities infrastructure, and allow the facility to adapt quickly — a necessity in the fast-changing biotech industry.

The new building is designed as two blocks, with the majority of the massing on the east side of the property at Manitoba Street. The façade will consist of solid panels and glass openings, with “smart glass” — meaning it can adjust its tint on the fly to reduce heat and glare depending on the weather.

Tenants will have access to landscaped rooftop terraces on both portions of the building.

AbCellera campus rendering
AbCellera campus rendering. Credit: Francl Architecture

Building adds to AbCellera’s biotech campus

AbCellera already has three other properties within the immediate vicinity of the site. The vision is to create a large-scale biotech campus integrating the existing facilities in Mount Pleasant with the new building.

AbCellera biotech facilities in Mount Pleasant
Location in Mount Pleasant. Credit: Francl Architecture

AbCellera is a Vancouver-based success story and is on track to becoming Canada’s most valuable and fastest-growing biotech firm. It was founded at UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories, and is best known for developing a new method that can search immune responses more deeply than any other technology.

The company’s success has led to partnerships with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and recently, with American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company, to develop a potential antibody treatment against COVID-19.

Video: Eli Lilly CEO on partnership with AbCellera

The location of the new AbCellera campus is ideally situated close to the new St. Paul’s Hospital and VGH. It’s also close to rapid transit — and the developer says the building will be designed to minimize reliance on internal combustion vehicles and maximize of use of EV, ride share, transit and cycling. There will be 268 underground parking spaces and 88 bicycle spaces.

There will be a small plaza on Manitoba and West 4th Avenue with seating, designed by Gauthier+Associates Landscape Architects.

Rendering of AbCellera campus landscaping
Rendering of AbCellera campus landscaping. Credit: Gauthier+Associates Landscape Architects

Mount Pleasant transforming into high-tech and biotech centre

Mount Pleasant is quickly becoming a centre for biotech and high-tech companies. The city recently passed changes to light industrial zoning in the area to create more employment space through increased height and density on West 2nd Avenue.

Conceptual mixed-use industrial and office developments along West 2nd Avenue
Conceptual mixed-use industrial and office developments along West 2nd Avenue with the new I-1C (Light Industrial) zoning. Credit: City of Vancouver

Developers are also rushing into the area, with several proposals on the books for office buildings and light industrial buildings in the surrounding blocks. 

Fifth and Columbia exterior rendering
Rendering of upcoming office development at West Fifth and Columbia by Rendition Developments in Mount Pleasant. Credit: MGBA/Rendition Developments

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Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner is an experienced journalist and media relations professional, based in Vancouver. As founder of urbanYVR.com, he has been reporting on urban development across the Lower Mainland since 2016, and has also served as vice-chair of the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee. In October 2022, he was elected to Vancouver city council and is no longer actively reporting for urbanYVR.

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