The Gray Block – Homer Street (2)

Gray Block 1925

Here’s another view of the Gray Brothers Building at the corner of Davie and Homer, this time in 1925. It seems that there’s a slight question of attribution for the building. While it’s said that Thomas Hooper designed it in 1912 (and there are drawings in the Archives) it appears that there were companies operating from this address a year or two earlier, and there is a 1910 building permit for this location, but not to Hooper, instead to H S Griffith.

cherry blossomThe building to the south wasn’t developed until 1946. The architects were Townley and Matheson, and their client Walter M Lowney, a US candy company who in Canada were based in Montreal. The company had factories in Boston, Massachusetts, Chicago, Illinois, and Montreal, and were the manufacturers of  ‘Cherry Blossom’ – a maraschino cherry and cherry syrup surrounded by a mixture of chocolate, coconut and roasted peanut pieces. The syrup wasn’t injected – an enzyme slowly turned candy to liquid inside the outer shell.

In 2000 Peter Busby renovated the building as his architectural offices, aiming to create open workspaces with as much natural daylight and natural ventilation as possible; and to push the boundaries of minimizing environmental impacts. Two large openings were cut in the floor slabs to create atriums at the front and centre of the building to create a stack effect and provide natural ventilation. Demolition also took place to connect the once separate office space with the former warehouse space creating large open floor areas. The office is organized around the central atrium, which was sized for optimum levels of natural ventilation and maximum levels of natural day light on all floors. The atrium also provides a visual connection between three levels of workstations. These days Perkins and Will, who absorbed the Busby office in 2004, operate from the building.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N289


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