Vancouver General Hospital

This 1900s postcard shows the original buildings of the Vancouver General Hospital. The City’s first hospital buildings were in Downtown, but the activity relocated to the southern edge of the city in 1906. (16th Avenue was the border with neighbouring South Vancouver). today it’s knows as the Heather Pavilion, but it was originally known as the Fairview Building. The two wings were added in 1908, and there was a further addition in the middle added in the early 1950s, and mostly removed a few years ago. The 1900s buildings were designed by Grant and Henderson in either the Romanesque revival style, or the Italianate Style, planned in accordance with the Beaux Art school of design (depending on which document you read).

In 2002 the structure seen in the postcard were awarded heritage protection as part of the VGH campus rezoning, and there are plans to restore the stonework to replicate the original appearance. Most of the exterior walls of the original structures remain intact despite the additions. When it opened the design was not considered to be anything special. The Vancouver Daily World said “The view from the hospital window and balconies is nothing short of magnificent overlooking as it does the whole of the city and harbor and the snow clad mountain beyond. It Is an outlook that cannot fail of having a cheering effect on the convalescing patient”. “As to the building itself, no claim may be laid to architectural beauty modern; utility was the great aim of the architects and to this beauty of lines was properly made subservient. But even in its unfinished state it is an imposing and majestic pile, solid and substantial and businesslike.”

Today there are much larger and more important hospital buildings on the campus, and the Heather Pavilion was constructed long before seismic codes became an important aspect of building design. The building has therefore been used as ancillary offices for many years, rather than as clinical facilities. The revised hospital precinct plan, in 2000, identified the possibility of upper floors being used for bio-tech research, but rehabilitation of the structure is still some way off in the future.

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Posted 23 November 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Broadway

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