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Archive for the ‘buildings in Vancouver’ Category

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The Sun Tower, 128 West Pender St. I took this photograph from the vantage point of Victory Square.

For my latest venture beyond the garden gate, I travelled downtown via transit, in search of vintage buildings.

Much as I sometimes lament the rapid growth and “development” in the city of Vancouver, I need to remember that everything changes! With citizen input and the ongoing work of city planners (some of whom actually listen to our ideas), these changes thankfully include the preservation of some wonderful buildings from bygone eras.

Today’s quotation:

Let us then understand at once that change or variety is as much a necessity to the human heart and brain in buildings as in books; that there is no merit, though there is some occasional use in monotony; and that we must no more expect to derive either pleasure or profit from an architecture whose ornaments are of one pattern, and whose pillars are of one proportion, than we should out of a universe in which the clouds were all of one shape, and the trees all of one size.

–John Ruskin, (1819-1900), from: “The Nature of Gothic” first published in The Stones of Venice, Vol. 2, 1853

Ever since Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1886, thousands of buildings have come and gone, many of them understandably so. However, I feel gratitude whenever a beautiful piece of architecture is preserved rather than being torn down. Although I agree with Ruskin’s ideas in the above quotation, that architecture and design evolve over the years, I still appreciate being able to enjoy Vancouver’s older buildings. Tucked in between the modern towers, our vintage structures remind us of the passage of time, and of the inevitability of change!

Here are a few of my favourites:

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Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.

The above photograph shows the former entrance of the Provincial Court House building on West Georgia St., between Howe and Hornby Streets. Now housing the Vancouver Art Gallery, it was built in 1906, and is a Neo-Classical structure. It was designed by Victoria architect Sir Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867-1935), who also designed Victoria’s Legislative Assembly buildings and that city’s Empress Hotel.

A land exchange took place in 1974 between the province of B.C. and the city of Vancouver, in which the City acquired a 99 year lease on the courthouse building. Construction began in 1981 on the $20 million re-design of the building, with Vancouver-based Arthur Erickson Architects at the helm. This was part of the three block development called Robson Square.

In October 1983, the new Vancouver Art Gallery opened to the public. Now, in 2019, the City is planning to move our beloved VAG to a new location, in a new building.

For me, the present VAG is a treasure, both in design and accessibility. Robson Square and the gallery represent the heart of our city. I do hope this precious gathering place can be retained, even if and when the gallery itself is moved.

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Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia St.

It’s huge, imposing, and is a central focal point in the city’s downtown. I love the Hotel Vancouver. It’s such an elegant old building. There are even sculpted griffins on the corners, watching over the downtown bustle! I took this photo from across the street, while standing on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral, at the corner of Burrard and Georgia Streets. Years ago, that magnificent old church was almost demolished, but thankfully thousands of people protested, and it’s been saved. Notice its slate roof, (far left on the photo, above the cross).

Opened in 1939, this is actually the third “Hotel Vancouver”, and is currently called Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. It took eleven years to build, because construction was halted for five years during the Great Depression. Begun by the CNR (Canadian National Railway), and completed jointly with the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway), the hotel was considered a miracle of construction and engineering. It is seventeen stories tall, and was designed by architects Archibald and Schofield.

https://www.fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver/hotel-history/

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The Sun Tower, 128 West Pender St.

At 82 meters tall, the Sun Tower was at one time the tallest building in the British Empire. Designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway, it was completed in 1912, and was originally the home of the Vancouver World newspaper. It was first called the World Building, then renamed the Bekins Building, and finally The Sun Tower, and was HQ of the Vancouver Sun newspaper for many years. From 1968 to 1996 it was occupied by the Geological Society of Canada. The dome stands out even today, due to its distinctive faux aged copper colour of pale turquoise. Because it is currently encased in scaffolding due to conservation work, I decided to let this unique building peek out from behind trees in Victory Square.

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Hudson’s Bay department store, 674 Granville St.

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has a very long history here in Canada. But that’s a story for another blog post!

Here in Vancouver, the first store opened in 1887, on Cordova St., following the arrival of the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) here on the west coast of Canada.  The present store, situated at the corner of West Georgia and Granville Streets, is actually the fourth HBC store in town. Designed by architects Burke, Horwood & White in the Edwardian style, it was opened in 1914, and has been through various phases of expansion and structural changes over the years. Stretching from Granville St. eastward to Seymour St., this handsome building is another of Vancouver’s treasures.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been going to The Bay, as it’s called by locals, and it really hasn’t changed inside all that much! Beginning in the late 1940’s, I went shopping there with my mom, and am pretty sure that this is where my old photos with Santa Claus were taken!  And of course, the HBC store has always provided cafeterias for customers. They used to be more elaborate, but everything changes!

Here’s a link to the Hudson’s Bay Company store’s history in Vancouver:

http://www.hbcheritage.ca/places/places-other-institutions/vancouver

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The Vancouver Block, 736 Granville St.

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Trusty old clock, atop the Vancouver Block, as pictured from the Art Gallery courtyard.

Opened in 1912, The Vancouver Block is a 15 storey Edwardian commercial building designed by the Parr & Fee architectural firm. Near the corner of Granville & Georgia, and situated on the highest point of land in downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Block sat at the commercial core of early Vancouver. The beautiful clock on top of the building is visible for miles around. At least it used to be, before the days of high rise towers.

Here’s a link:

https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=10821&pid=0

As a teenager back in the early 1960’s, I had one of my first part time jobs in this building. It was a brief stint during the summer holidays, answering the office phone and making appointments for a holidaying dentist. I babysat for his kids regularly. I vividly remember going up to his office in the elevator, past the shiny brass and polished wood of the building’s lobby. The elevator had a real live person as the operator, naturally!

Another of my part time jobs as a teen was in a pharmacy just around the corner from the Vancouver Block, next to the Strand Theatre on West Georgia St. A school friend of mine (thanks, Mary!) got me that job, which entailed writing out invoices, addressing envelopes, and mailing them. An intriguing detail in the pharmacy was a water-filled jar containing live leeches, hearkening back to the days when leeches were used as a medical treatment! Those were the good old days, when life was simpler!;)

***Thanks for reading this blog post, which turned out longer than I had planned. I’ll keep them shorter from now on;). Your interest is much appreciated!***

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The Birks Building, at West Hastings & Granville Street, built in 1908, was originally a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Vancouver, a modern and growing city, is home to an increasing number of stark-looking concrete and glass structures which, it seems to me, are lacking in beauty. With this in mind, I decided to embark on yet another “Urban Trekking” mission, in order to discover some of our oldest, most imposing buildings in the downtown core.

At the south east corner of West Hastings & Granville Street, I spotted what is now called The Birks Building, housing Vancouver’s venerable jewellery store, which we’ve always called simply “Birks”. This store was formerly at the corner of Granville and Georgia Street, in a lovely old building which has since been demolished.

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The Birks Clock, on Granville Street at West Hastings.

The famous “Birks Clock” was moved to its present location in front of the store when Birks  moved north a few blocks. Many Vancouverites, (myself included!) were relieved that this iconic clock was saved. For years, it had been a special place for friends to meet each other downtown. “I’ll meet you under the Birks clock”, we’d say, when planning a get-together.

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The Sinclair Centre, on West Hastings, at the North West corner of  Granville & Hastings.

The Sinclair Centre is actually four historical buildings which were joined and renovated in 1986. One of them is the Winch Building, built from 1908 to 1911. There is a bright and welcoming atrium in the middle of the complex.

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Sinclair Centre (please note: Canadian spelling of “Centre”. Merci beaucoup!)

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The Permanent Building, 330 West Pender Street. Gorgeous doorway. They don’t make doors like this any more!

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This was a delightful find! Especially on the grey, worn streets of downtown, it’s always a treat to discover something beautiful. Someone cared enough to use their imagination in creating this small but lovely “tableau” of living plants and a wrought iron gate. I think this is on the south side of West Pender Street, near Granville. (Note the padlocks!)

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The Dominion Building, (terracotta colour), at 207 West Hastings Street, as seen from the corner of Hastings & Homer. Built in 1910, this was Vancouver’s first steel-framed high-rise.

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Ceiling lights and decoration on the outside entrance of the Dominion Building.

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Pink Alleyway!! between Granville & Seymour Streets, just to the south of Hastings.

On the day I took this photo, there was a lively “Public Disco” event taking place.

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Inside the amazing Paper Hound Bookshop, on West Pender Street. Not just any old second hand bookstore, this one has a great selection of carefully chosen and  nicely displayed books. Notice the original brick wall, which was uncovered during restoration.

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Vintage sign discovered underneath the plaster on the wall of the present-day Lola & Miguel store on Pender St., in Gastown, during renovations. The Daily World was a newspaper published in Vancouver in the early 1900’s.

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Another original brick wall in Gastown, in The Old Faithful Shop, on West Cordova Street, decorated with a vintage Canadian canoe!

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Waterfront Station on West Cordova Street, in Gastown. Northern terminus of the Canada Line, dock and station of the Sea Bus to North Vancouver, and as you can see, a cruise ship is in port! Also the terminus for The Expo Line and the West Coast Express train.

Originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as the Pacific terminus for their transcontinental passenger trains from Toronto and Montreal, the station was opened in 1914.

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Angel of Victory”, statue of a fallen soldier and angel, at Waterfront Station in Gastown.

Created by Montreal sculptor Coeur deLion McCarthy, this bronze copy of the original dates from 1921.

Just to the right of the building in this photograph, you’ll see two lovely trees. Yes, we have Palm trees in Vancouver. This is the mild and temperate Pacific Coast, after all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Marine Building in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
My favourite heritage building in our home town. Re-blogging!

Joie du Soleil

The Marine Building The Marine Building

Located at 355 Burrard St. in downtown Vancouver, the Marine Building was designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners in the late 1920’s. An elegant old “skyscraper”, its distinctive “Art Deco” styling depicts maritime themes as well as B.C.’s nautical flora and fauna.

As a child, I thought the creamy-coloured Art Deco details resembled icing on a cake, when viewed from a distance. Opened in October, 1930, this was the tallest building in Vancouver until 1939.

I am so thankful that the beautiful Marine Building remains standing in the downtown core. Being a young city, Vancouver does not have the historical old structures that European cities do. Many of our older buildings, which dated back just over half a century or even less, have been demolished already. With the constant threat of a major earthquake in this region, city planners are advocating replacing existing old buildings with quake-proof…

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Robson Street entrance/exit of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch

When it was first opened in May of 1995, the appearance of the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch left some of us rather bewildered. I say that because its design was quite different from anything we had seen before in our young and modern city. “Is the architect emulating the design of the Roman Colosseum?” we wondered. (“Colosseum” is the Roman spelling.) But now, twenty-three years later, most of us have grown to appreciate this unique and welcoming building, which is conveniently located in the centre of downtown Vancouver.

Bounded by Georgia, Robson, Homer and Hamilton Streets, the VPL covers an entire city block.

https://www.vpl.ca/location/central-library

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Georgia Street entrance/exit, Vancouver Public Library

Architect Moshe Safdie and DA Architects won the bid to build the library after the City held a design competition, with their design being the most popular choice. The resulting “Library Square” includes the Federal Office Tower and retail and service facilities, along with the nine story library.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_Public_Library

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Library Square with Office Tower, and one of the ubiquitous Vancouver cranes

No matter where one goes in Metro Vancouver, cranes dot the skyline! Construction is ongoing. The following photo shows the proposed design of the building going up across the street from the VPL:

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Now that is some design!! Merrick Architecture/Westbank Projects Corporation.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a book-lover, and libraries are like a second home to me. One of my earliest memories is of my mom reading Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, aloud to me at bedtime. Mom loved literature, and wrote beautiful lyric nature poems, some of which were published in our local newspapers.

For me, even the imposing Central Branch of the VPL is welcoming, and offers much more than “just books”.

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The Promenade/Enclosed Concourse of Library Square

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Light is such an important factor in architectural design…(so many skylights to clean!).

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Remember these? Yes, it’s an old-fashioned phone booth, for our convenience, in Library Square!

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Leaving Library Square and its soaring skylights, we’re back out into the reality of Robson Street with its hustle and bustle, traffic, cafes, and shops. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mossy stairs to nowhere, at Shaughnessy United Church on West 33rd Avenue.

Mossy stairs to nowhere, at Shaughnessy United Church on West 33rd Avenue.

Some people trek through the wilds of Patagonia, or the Himalayas, or Malaysia. I trek through my home-town of Vancouver. I call this “Urban Trekking”.

Instead of complaining about all of the changes and rapid “development” which are happening around us here, I’m looking for pockets of magical beauty in the city.

Here are a few recently discovered beautiful spaces, nestled inside the urban wilderness.

Gastown Alley

Gastown Alley

Shop in Gastown

Shop in Gastown

Display of succulent plants in Gastown shop

Display of succulent plants in Gastown shop

Trilliums in my back garden

Trilliums in my back garden

Today’s Quotation:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

—Marcel Proust

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Small is beautiful.

-E.F. Schumacher

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, here in Vancouver B.C., there was a brief burst of “Thin Houses” being built.

The lots which these thin houses were built on are usually 16.5 feet wide, and approximately 120 feet deep, but the depth can vary. They were created when wider lots, usually about 50 feet in width, were divided up, leaving the existing house on a 33 foot lot, and making room for the new, skinnier house to be added in.

The beauty of these houses lies in their simplicity. They are on a private lot, but with lower taxes, lower maintenance because of smaller size, and lower heating costs, among other advantages. There is room for a small garden, front and back. It’s like living in a townhouse or condo, minus the strata council!

Here in Vancouver land is at a premium, due in part to the city’s location, tucked in snugly beside the towering Coast Mountains and crisscrossed by waterways and bridges. It’s a popular place to live, and has become one of the most expensive cities in North America, making living here almost impossible for many people. So building “infill housing”, such as the thin houses, was a good idea, creating higher density in established neighbourhoods. But therein lay the problem! Thin houses were not universally popular, and building them went out of fashion soon after the trend had begun.

There are probably around fifty or fewer of these thin houses in Vancouver, scattered in amongst the “regular” homes. I’m always pleasantly surprised to come across thin houses on drives and walks in the city, and I’m including photos of six of them.

As far as densifying the city goes these days, “Laneway Houses” are now being built city-wide, and are a practical and attractive addition to our city. Not without their detractors, laneway houses nevertheless are enabling more people to share in living in this beautiful place.

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Second in the series “Hidden Treasures of Vancouver”, is a lovely but not too well-known spot called the Jericho Sailing Centre. Situated between Locarno Beach on the west and Jericho Beach on the east, this delightful centre offers memberships to owners of non-motorized boats. Not only does it have proper launching ramps and safe storage, but also an enclosed space to work on your boat. The caretaker’s cottage is a gem, and can be seen in the first two photos here. But best of all, there’s great beer on tap in the Jericho Galley Cafe, not to mention the delicious sweet potato fries and salmon burgers. And the view! Fantastic sunsets, and a great way to end a day of sailing, paddling or rowing. Hard to believe this is right in Vancouver. It’s a great escape!

Jericho Sailing Centre Caretaker's Cottage

Jericho Sailing Centre Caretaker’s Cottage

One-of-a-kind garden decor!

One-of-a-kind garden decor!

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View from the boat shed

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“Skip”, a work in progress

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Sailboats at Jericho and Vancouver skyline

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Brisk Westerly blowing the B.C. flag. “Sleeping Beauty” mountains in background.

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Looking West, toward the Strait of Georgia, also known as the Salish Sea.

Ready to set sail!

Today’s quotation:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely seas and the sky.

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

-from: “Sea Fever”, by John Masefield

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