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Photo credit: Ema Peter


Surrey’s new City Hall, designed by a joint venture of Toronto-based Moriyama & Teshima and Vancouver-based Kasian, is a touchstone case. Arguably, nowhere in Canada is suburban urbanization more rapid and ambitious than in the Surrey City Centre development. In fact, it’s not really fair to call this evolving area suburban anymore. (…)

Any plaza of this size is a challenge to animate on a daily basis, and this one is no exception. Although the library edge can be critiqued for its failure to provide an active, or even a landscaped threshold, with City Hall, a concerted effort has been made to activate the plaza. A six-storey-high glazed wall connects its main atrium to the public square at grade, and broad oversized steps serve as prime seats overlooking the plaza. A living wall adjoins these steps, adding greenery and creating a pleasant microclimate for lingering. Tucked alongside, a café is designed to spill out into the public space. According to City planning manager Don Luymes, a future mixed-use tower will add shops and restaurant patios along the plaza’s eastern edge. (…)

A monumental cantilevered roof frames and unifies the building’s three volumes. The roof’s striking underside, made from Douglas fir, creates a sense of warmth, particularly in its deep projection over the adjacent plaza. Wood is also used on the ceiling and walls of the City Room. Further blending plaza and atrium, the striated pattern of the pavers covering the plaza extend through the atrium, which is laid with tiles in identical grey and charcoal tones. The pattern, says Diarmuid Nash, lead architect with Moriyama & Teshima, alludes to the log booms in the Fraser River that once fuelled the regional economy. (…)

Surrey City Hall is targeting LEED Gold certification, and includes many sustainable features. A green roof tops the building, and while not accessible, contributes to the building’s energy performance. It is heated and cooled in part with geothermal energy, as the entire Precinct is intended to be. Translucent glass fins provide shade to protect the building from excessive solar gain. The atrium is naturally vented, allowing heat to dissipate in the summer while encouraging air circulation throughout the building.

From the beginning, a primary goal of the building design was to create airy spaces that allow natural light to penetrate deeply. This helps reduce energy costs, but more importantly it contributes to the liveability and comfort for occupants of the building. One staffer told McDonald, “I didn’t realize how natural light could change my life. I now go home each day with lots of energy, and I think it’s because of all that light.” Office spaces also include operable windows, and outdoor decks on the upper floors give employees greater access to light and fresh air. [1]


[1]      Toderian, Brent. “City Room.” Canadian Architect, February 26, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/city-room/.

Additional information:

“Architecture.” Kasian, July 8, 2021. https://kasian.com/services/architecture/.


“Surrey City Hall + Civic Centre.” Architizer, November 17, 2014. https://architizer.com/projects/surrey-city-hall/.


“SURREY CIVIC CENTRE & PLAZA.” EOS Light Media, n.d. https://eoslightmedia.com/pdf/?project_id=330.


“Surrey Civic Centre ARCHITECTS Honoured WITH Oaa Design Award.” Daily Commercial News, December 5, 2017. https://canada.constructconnect.com/dcn/news/associations/2015/04/surrey-civic-centre-architects-honoured-with-oaa-design-award-1006887w.


“Surrey Civic Centre Plaza.” AE 75th Anniversary. Accessed July 26, 2021. https://www.ae.ca/projects/details/surrey-civic-centre-plaza.


“Surrey Civic Centre.” Moriyama & Teshima Architects, January 31, 2019. https://mtarch.com/projects/surrey-city-hall-and-city-hall-plaza/.


“Surrey Civic Centre.” Stella Custom Glass Hardware, Inc., November 15, 2018. https://www.stellaglasshardware.com/our-projects/surrey-civic-centre/.


“Surrey Civic Plaza.” City of Surrey, n.d. https://www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/surrey-civic-plaza.



Project Title: Surrey Civic Centre
Artists:  Moriyama & Teshima, Kasian
Year: 2014

Place: Surrey, British Columbia

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