440 Burrard Street

When this image was shot in 1974 there was still a lane to the north (on the left of the picture), and across it was a 2-storey office building. On this other southern half of the 400 block of Burrard was this five storey office building was completed in 1949. Although it faced Burrard, it was addressed to West Pender as 999.

Up to 1947 there was a Shell service station on the corner, and before that an open air Chevrolet sale lot. Charles Bentall’s Dominion Construction acquired the site and completed the building in only 22 weeks. It was the first to be named as the Bentall Building, and had a CIBC Bank on the main floor and the Canadian Australasian Line offices on Burrard. Designed in a contemporary style with five floors of offices it was soon occupied by a series of Insurance companies  including Northwestern Mutual Fire Assurance, Travelers Insurance and Eagle Star, as well as the headquarters of Canadian Forest Products. Northwestern Mutual had prompted the development; based in Seattle, they were looking to expand north, and no new office space had been built in the city since the war had ended.

Charles Bentall, an engineer by qualification, had lost a court case in 1938 prompted by the AIBC, (the local Architects Institute), to prevent him from designing and signing off his own buildings, because he wasn’t a qualified architect. That means another designer should have been associated with the new structure. However, until the 1950s (when architect Frank Musson worked for Dominion) the company continued to design many of their own projects, with Claude Logan, a draughtsman, (and noted jazz pianist) credited with the design of several projects.

In 1984 Commerce Place, a silver reflective office complex designed by Waisman Dewar Grout Carter was completed to replace the 1949 building. Developed by Bentall, it houses offices for the CIBC Bank that have been on the same spot (with a short break for construction) for nearly 70 years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-16

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Posted January 1, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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