We’re looking across the street, almost due south from Dunsmuir Street. It’s 1981, and work is starting on the site hoardings for Daon Development Corporation’s Park Place office tower. It will be big; taking the developable floorspace from Christ Church (on the site next door) allowing a restoration of the cathedral while preserving and enhancing the surrounding are with a park and water feature. To the left of the third Hotel Vancouver is the back of the Georgia Medical Dental Building. Initially the plans for spending some of the $17m involved some quite contemporary changes designed by Busby Bridger (including a glass roof), but ultimately the historic structure remained unchanged.
The Medical Dental building was a McCarter and Nairne designed art deco fifteen storey office building completed in 1929. It was the first office building to include a parking garage, and was full of physicians and dentists. Interestingly, the 1930 street directory showed there were a few other tenants besides over 150 doctors – the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Dentists each had their offices there, but there was also the International Club of Vancouver, the BC Dental Supply Co and both clinical and x-ray labs.
The website for its replacement says “opened in 1991, Cathedral Place was developed through a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong under the company name of Shon Georgia Investments Ltd. With the formation of this new corporate group, Mr. Shon saw an opportunity to realize a long-time dream of his father, Charles Shon, to redevelop the Georgia Medical-Dental Building site creating an enduring architectural landmark. The celebrated and respected architect, Paul Merrick, was asked to head the design team. The office Tower is now known as Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place.” Given the more recent completion of an entirely different tower called the Shaw Tower, it’s no surprise that the replacement is generally known as Cathedral Place. The office is still owned by Shon Group Realty.
Early versions of the scheme were designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore Owings Merrill of Chicago. Heritage Vancouver’s newsletter at the time described it as having “a kind of 1920s or 1930s stepped back Skyscraper Gothic style“, which is pretty much what the Merrick design has as well.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.35