The atrium, a speculatively-built office building

D' Ambrosio architecture + urbanism for the Jawl Investment Corporation have created a design which attempts to answer these questions; can it help to revitalise a moribund street or district, and enrich the community at large? Can the economics of a high-density, downtown office development work in a mid-rise, green-building form?

The Atrium, a LEED Gold-targeted building actively engages its civic context. To reintegrate this block of the city into the urban fabric, the Atrium complements Victoria's historical downtown by taking a mid-rise form, built to the street walls. The building's palette of natural, durable materials brings a welcome sense of stability and longevity to the neighbourhood.

A transparent ground floor, housing cafes and restaurants, invites people to walk past, look in, and stay a while. Rain gardens edging the site, a first in Victoria, catch and clean polluted street run-off, and soften the cityscape. At the centre of the building, a wood-lined atrium is connected to the street by a seven-storey vitrine and serves as a semi-public urban room.

As a speculative office building, the design provides large, flexible floor plates in a high-quality office environment that has attracted premium tenants. In this context, the atrium, which might at first seem to sacrifice leasable area, adds critical value. It increases the desirability of interior offices by providing them with daylight and views. Its dynamic volume succeeds as entrance hall and meeting space, while invisibly serving as a return air plenum in a high-efficiency environmental control system.

Integrated mosaic and sculpture contribute to the public realm, and validate an increase in the site's density allowance. Ultimately, the atrium offers a combined response to the project's typological investigation: it contributes to the success of the building as a spec office, and simultaneously expresses the building's intention to contribute more to its community than is expected of its type.

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