Bentall Centre (towards Dunsmuir Street)

Bentall to Park Place

It’s really hard to believe these two images are nearly 30 years apart. The shot on the left was taken in 1986, when Park Place – the tower in the middle – was less than two years old. Designed by Musson, Cattell Mackey it was the first building to get additional density (from Christ Church next door) in exchange for heritage retention of the cathedral. There’s an office building in Houston that Park Place referenced, and our book, The Changing City, describes how the building’s Spanish pink granite and “copper-rose” reflective windows create an interesting reflective surface, with the building cutting a distinctive profile on the skyline. Our pictures were taken from the plaza of the Bentall Centre – apart from somebody shuffling the benches it looks the same (and as good) now as it did then.

The darker, squarer building on the right was brand new in 1986 – the crane was still up and the roof is still being glazed. At the time it was going to become the new home for the Bank of British Columbia (and initially called Tower 885) but it would soon be taken over by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. It was designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership, based in Toronto.

The biggest changes that can be seen are probably that one building has gone, and three have appeared. On the far left, on the corner of Burrard and Dunsmuir, the previous version of the YWCA building was far bigger than the Cactus Club and plaza that are there today. Behind it 777 Dunsmuir can just be seen, a later phase of the Pacific Centre Mall. Behind the Hong Kong Bank is the recently completed Residences at Hotel Georgia, a 48 storey mixed-use tower. Over on the far right Cathedral Place, a 1992 office building has been built. The smaller associated gallery museum (now the Bill Reid Gallery). In 1986 the Georgia Medical-Dental building was on that site, but just out of the shot, demolished in 1989. The other obvious change is 28 years of tree growth, especially apparent on the area around the Burrard SkyTrain Station (now called Art Phillips Park).

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