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1250 René-Lévesque tower earns Canada's first perfect WiredScore mark

1250 boulevard René-Lévesque in Montreal. (Courtesy BGO / Sun Life / Stéphane Brügger
1250 boulevard René-Lévesque in Montreal. (Courtesy BGO / Sun Life / Stéphane Brügger

1250 boulevard René-Lévesque in Montreal, jointly owned by BentallGreenOak (BGO) and Sun Life Assurance Company, has become the first platinum-certified office building in Canada to obtain a perfect score from WiredScore.

The perfect score demonstrates best-in-class digital connectivity, infrastructure, readiness and innovation for the 47-storey building, according to WiredScore. 

“We responded to every criterion that they consider important,” says Joe Pincin, general manager at BGO in Montreal, who manages 1250 René-Lévesque and three other buildings in the city.

The perfect score “indicates that we’re on top of things and that we are ahead and are following the technology,” he says. "It’s a way of communicating to our tenants what we’re actually doing, because sometimes people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.”

Pincin says “we were very, very surprised,” that the building is the only one in Canada to have obtained a perfect score.

Twenty other buildings worldwide have achieved a perfect WiredScore mark. WiredScore did not immediately respond to a request from RENX to provide names the other buildings.

1250 René-Lévesque “provides a very complete user experience for our clientele,” Pincin says.

Connectivity via multiple providers

For example, tenants in the building have access to all major Canadian service providers. They can also access an array of international service providers via the Cologix data centre on the fifth floor of the building. 

Pincin says operation of the building is technology-based, moreso than other buildings.

The building’s operations technology network is connected with fibre optics and provides centralized, redundant connections to all IP-based building systems. 

A 24/7/365 network operations centre monitors the operations technology network and can provide remote diagnostics, updates and maintenance.

Systems are backed up by dedicated emergency generators and service providers have access to two auxiliary emergency generators.

WiFi is available with optimal signal strength throughout the building. Signals can be obtained in all common areas and while riding elevators, in mechanical rooms and throughout the five-level underground parking lot.

A network of antennas and signal boosters have been installed over the past 15 years throughout the building’s lower levels.  

The building is also 5G-ready. 

All IP-based building systems have been integrated to the operations technology network. The building is as future-proof as it can be given close working relationships with all major service providers.

“Any tenant can upgrade their technology via our system,” he says. “We could, for example, provide in-suite air quality monitoring and occupancy sensors.

"We don’t have it currently, but it’s possible to do, so we are setting everything up and as we go along, we’re expanding the operability of our own base building systems.”

High level of air filtration

Visitors to the building are impressed to see infrared filtering systems were installed several years ago, he says. “We are very advanced on that front.” 

Pincin says the system ensures a high level of filtration within the building.

“When COVID came along, everyone was tripping over themselves,” Pincin says. “We were like ‘Well we’re already there. We don’t need to retrofit our systems.’”

Completed in the early 1990s, 1250 boulevard René-Lévesque was designed by architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates for IBM Canada and Marathon Realty.

It was originally known as the IBM Marathon Tower until it was acquired in the late 1990s by Oxford Properties.

BGO and Sun Life acquired the building in 2019 from Oxford Properties and PSP Investments

With more than 1 million square feet of class-AAA office space, the building has more-than-98 per cent occupancy, far superior to Montreal as a whole, where the office vacancy rate stands at 17 per cent.

Major tenants at 1250 René-Lévesque

The largest tenant is PSP Investments, which occupies about 30 per cent or 300,000 square feet.

Other major tenants include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Air Liquide Canada, CIBC Wood Gundy, BMO Harris Bank and Quebec’s College of Physicians.

The largest block of space currently available is 6,396 square feet on the 45th floor. “Generally speaking, we have small residual spaces – a couple of thousand feet here and there,” Pincin says.

A tenant which Pincin declined to name – and which occupies about 60,000 square feet – has been attempting to sublet about 10,000 square feet since before the pandemic.

Pincin estimates more than 5,000 people worked in the building prior to the pandemic. Given hybrid work models, it is now about 40 per cent full.

In recent years, the building’s HVAC infrastructure has been almost entirely revamped and replaced, making it much more energy efficient, he says.

During the pandemic, the mezzanine-level conference centre for tenants was renovated.

Pincin attributes the building’s popularity to several factors, including a recent flight to quality by tenants.

“Our building is perceived as being one of the best in the city. It’s reputed as being very well-maintained.

"There’s a perception of well-being – air quality, a lot of natural light, accessibility, and location. I’m hearing this from the brokers.”

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