The West End from above

This is another pairing of an Archives image with Trish Jewison’s helicopter shots. She’s the Global BC traffic reporter. The before shot is from 1969, and shows just how many new towers had been completed in the previous decade in the part of the West End where Denman meets Davie. The after is from Trish’s twitter feed in May 2020.

On the left, on Beach Avenue, the Sylvia Hotel had already been standing for over 50 years, but further east its big slab neighbour had only been standing for 10 years. The skinny, wide Ocean Towers was designed by Rix Reineke. Together with Peter Kaffka’s Imperial Tower (the tallest tower in the picture, just right of centre) they changed the design of the city. Both were fine examples of modernist architecture, but the design of Ocean Towers, completed in 1959, created opposition because of the way it blocked light and views behind it, and Imperial Tower in 1962, almost 120 feet wide and 30 storeys high increased concerns. New zoning rules introduced as a result required towers to avoid being slabs, and spaced apart, and those rules still apply, and can be seen across most of Metro Vancouver.

There are three new towers on the same block of Davie just above Imperial Tower in the picture, and a fourth (with blue balconies) across the street. They’re all spaced out at a minimum of 80 feet apart, and have squarer floorplans, similar to CBK Van Norman’s design for Beach Towers from 1965 on the lower right of the picture. Those four towers are all on lots that previously held retail or parking uses, so the extra 585 rental apartments haven’t displaced any existing residents. Even the Safeway Store was rebuilt, and it’s a much nicer store too.

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Posted 5 April 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

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