Hornby Street – 1000 block, west side

In our 1981 picture there was a parking lot on a raised podium on Hornby Street. Down the street London Place was nearing completion; a hybrid condo-over-office building in the red brick favoured by the City Planner of the day, designed by Anthony Debecki. The parking lot was the former playground of the Dawson School, with a site stretching from Hornby to Burrard and Helmcken to Nelson. The first building was completed as the West End School in 1893, on Burrard; it was enlarged in 1897, and became the King George Secondary School when a new Dawson elementary was built at the end of the block on Helmcken Street in 1913. The schools were demolished in 1972.

Once the School Board sold the block it was acquired by Peter Wall, who built the dark glazed Wall Centre on the site. Three architectural practices designed the almost black glazed initial towers; Hamilton, Doyle, Bruno Freschi and Chris Doray. One tower houses the Sheraton Wall Centre hotel, the other is condos, and that end of the block was completed in 1994.

At this end of the block, on Nelson, we can see the podium of the equally dark (but originally promised crystal clear) One Wall Centre, with condos over additional hotel rooms designed by Busby and Associates, and eventually completed in 2001. Once the switch to dark rather than clear glazing was revealed during construction, the City issued a stop work order. Eventually a compromise was agreed with the condos in clearer glazing, and the lower hotel floors retaining the dark glass. It was re-clad a darker shade, but slightly different from the hotel floors on the failing upper floors a few years ago. (The failure was said to be of the seals on the clear glazing, and replacement was also necessary because solar gain heated units beyond the capacity of the air conditioning to handle on very sunny days).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W08.02

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Posted April 16, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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