1145 Robson Street

There aren’t many large office buildings on Robson Street, but this one has been around over 70 years. It received a makeover in 1986, when it got a post-modern appearance designed by Downs Archambault, and a new name as John Robson Place. Our 1974 picture shows it as it was completed in 1948, when it became the Unemployment Insurance Commission offices. Over the years other government departments were also located here, including Indian and Northern Affairs. 

The Vancouver Sun announced the project in 1948. “SIX-STOREY BUILDING FOR ROBSON STREET Preliminary work has begun on a six-storey, $375,000 office building for Alvin Estates Limited at 1145-1155 Robson, between Bute and Thurlow. The building is reported to be for occupancy of a government agency. Contractors are Allan and Viner Construction Company. Swinburne A. Kayll is architect and F. Wavell Urry is consulting engineer. Plans show a six-storey reinforced concrete building with 99 feet frontage and 131 feet depth. Entrances are to be finished in marble and glass block. Provision is made for two passenger elevators.” The picture shows that the builders, who were also the developers, actually built seven floors.

Once completed, (and in fact, while it was being built) the developers leased it to the Federal Government. The conservative member for Quilchena got the Public Works Minister, Alphonse Fournier, to admit that the development was undertaken without any competitive bidding. They had apparently acquired the land for $45,000, spent $450,000 to build it, and promptly sold it to the government for $1,100,000. The minister pointed out that the value of a building permit may not reflect the actual cost, or the additional fitting out, and that the building was a bargain, and the best option available to house the necessary work of the employment department. (He seems to have neglected to respond to the lack of competitive bidding).

These days the space is occupied by a number of businesses; software developers, accountants, a mining company, a travel agency and management agencies and now has retail units at street level

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-332 – 1100


Posted 12 April 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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