Oppenheimer Lodge – East Cordova Street

This non-market housing building was only 4 years old when our ‘before’ shot was taken in 1978. The building has lasted remarkably well for one over 40 years old. In the late 2010s it had a $2.7m makeover to replace the roof and windows, and to patch up waterproofing, but compared to many buildings from the same era it’s doing really well. The 147 units of non-market seniors housing was originally developed by the Federal Government, using the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It’s now owned by the Provincial BC Housing agency, who in turn identified the City of Vancouver to manage the seniors complex.

This was one of the last designs by architects Erickson/Massey, the Vancouver starchitects of their day. They split up in 1972, and Arthur Erickson then started his solo practice. While this was being built he was designing the Museum of Anthropology. Geoffrey Massey, son of movie star Raymond Massey, also continued in practice, and died in December 2020 from pneumonia in a hospice near Lion’s Gate Hospital in North Vancouver aged 96.

In 1973 the Vancouver Sun reported on the project. “Applications are now being received for low-rent bachelor apartments at Oppenheimer Lodge, Cordova Street at Jackson. Applicants, men or women, must be at least 40, single, with incomes of less than $250 a month and savings of less than $1,000. They must be residents of the skid road area. Oppenheimer Lodge is being built jointly by federal, provincial and city governments.

So far there have been 460 applications for apartments at Oppenheimer. Lucky ones, for about $54 a month, will get a 10-foot by 16-foot living room, plus a fridge and a stove and a private wash-room. Not exactly opulent, but bright and cheerful. The unsuccessful will return to dingy rooming houses and cheap hotels, where $60 rents an 8-foot by 10-foot bedroom, no place to cook. And the bathroom is somewhere down the hall. “Selection is a monstrous task,” says United Church minister Bob Burrows. “There is so much need. “Perhaps the hardest thing we’ll have to do is break the news to those who miss out.”


Posted 21 June 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with

%d bloggers like this: