Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

Melville Street – 1100 block

On the right is another modest office building occupying a corner site Downtown. This one dates from 1959, and it’s known as the Wyland Building. We’ve drawn a blank on the architect; it wasn’t an especially complicated building when it was first built (with simple international style glazing) and bears a close resemblance to a number of similar offices developed by Dominion Construction, so they could have designed it in-house, as they did for several other buildings in that era, but we haven’t found any evidence to support that theory. It had a makeover in the 1990s to replace the glass, and spandrel panels in matching reflective glazing.

At the other end of the block was a brand new building in our 1981 image. Sun Life Plaza had just been completed; and it’s still standing today but almost hidden by the two buildings added in 1997 and 2000. We don’t know the designer, although the landscaped plaza was designed by landscape architect Don Vaughan. The two later buildings are Orca Place, a condo building, and 1138 Melville next door is an 18 storey office building. They were designed by the same architects; Orca Place by Waisman Dewar Grout Carter, and the office building by Architectura, the company’s new name in the late 1990s. In 1981 there was a pair of smaller office buildings; the smaller building was designed by Thompson, Berwick Pratt in 1952 for advertising agency Cockfield Brown & Co. The building beyond it was developed after 1955, and was demolished with the site used as a parking lot by 1990.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.09

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Posted August 19, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Central Business District (2)

Here’s another Archives aerial shot that’s almost replicated by Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter. This time we were able to line up both the Marine Building and The Hotel Vancouver. This image was taken three years earlier than our previous aerial shot, so in 1953, and there’s no sign of the Post Office between Georgia and Dunsmuir, just a series of houses and small commercial buildings. They would soon be cleared away, later joined by the Georgia Medical-Dental Building across from the Hotel Georgia, and the Birks Building next to The Vancouver Block on Granville. The new BC Tel building, the biggest building at the bottom of the picture, on the corner of Seymour and Robson), is still standing, although today it’s slightly bigger, with an extra glass skin as can be seen in the earlier  post about the Orillia to the west on Robson Street, which has long gone.

We can only spot three gas stations on this image, (none here today, and only one in the whole of Downtown), but there were apparently four gas barges out in Burrard Inlet, while today there’s just one of those as well.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives Van Sc P136.2

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Posted August 5, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

False Creek North (2)

We looked at a view across False Creek a few years ago. That view – of the BC Place stadium and Cambie Bridge has already changed quite a bit. This one is more stable, as much of this stretch of Yaletown is built out (although there are some more distant towers that will fill in the background in a year or two). We first photographed this shot eight years ago, and we could have posted it at any time after that, as almost nothing changed over the next six years. Last year the tall tower on the left appeared, which led us to re-shoot.

Based on the buildings that are visible on the left (and the ones that are missing), we think our before image was probably taken around 1978. The new seawall around False Creek South is completed, but the landscaping had not been planted, so there’s no tree visible on the left. The BC Electric Building is prominent centre left, and the tall (28 storey) tower to the left of that is The Century Plaza Hotel, designed by Peter Cole and completed in 1972, and to the left again, The Heritage, an early West End tower completed in 1970 and designed by Eng and Wright. It was built before the strata act, so is a 99 year leasehold building. It’s pretty much the only building visible in 1978 that’s still visible from this point today, so it was the only aid to lining up the images.

To the right is the cluster of Downtown towers; the tallest white tower on the left of the cluster is The Royal Centre, from 1973, and the tall dark tower is the TD Tower on the Pacific Centre, built in 1972. The smaller cousin of the TD Tower, completed in 1974, can be seen on the right, with the Scotiabank Tower (from 1975) to the right again. Furthest to the right, and looking small because it actually on the Burrard Inlet waterfront on the other side of the peninsula, 200 Granville, is a tower designed by Francis Donaldson and completed in 1972 for Project 200 (the 1960s scheme that would have seen the waterfront transformed and Gastown obliterated).

Today almost all the towers that hide Downtown are part of Concord Pacific Place, designed over 30 years by a variety of Vancouver-based architects. The most obvious background tower is the Wall Centre condo and hotel, now re-clad dark as the developer (but not the architect or the City of Vancouver) always intended. The recently completed tall tower on the left is another Wall building, this one designed by Dialog and offered as rentals rather than condos.

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Posted July 4, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Central Business District

We’ve been scouring our ‘borrowed’ images to try to match this 1956 aerial – it’s in the Vancouver Archives, and John Mackie says it was taken on December 27th by Bill Dennett – (the Archives didn’t record the date). Although it’s nearly impossible to find a contemporary image with the same angle, distance and elevation to match, this is a pretty good approximation, also take in December (the 10th) last year by Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter, close to sunset, and posted on her twitter feed.

We can line the images up because the Hotel Vancouver is visible on the left, and although the Marine Building has disappeared in a forest of towers, the Post Office in the centre is still very clearly visible. Since December there are two big holes through the building, and two cranes on the roof (with two more to come). In 1956 the structure was just being completed – the largest welded steel building in North America, at the time. Now it’s getting two new office towers, an atrium retail space, and will be the largest building in Vancouver, with thousands of new office employees, many working for Amazon who have pre-leased much of the space. Before it was built in the mid 1950s the street had small houses and commercial buildings, just like the block to the east still had in 1956.

Across the angle of West Georgia was a Texaco gas station next to a building only recently demolished. It was one of ten gas stations we can identify in the picture – today there are none. There’s another gas station at the bottom of the picture, next to the Drill Hall, and on top of the Dunsmuir Tunnel, which can almost be seen, heading for the waterfront. The Vancouver Sun printing works can be seen across the road from the gas station, on Beatty Street. Today it’s the heat plant for the central steam system, but proposed as another interestingly designed office tower.

It’s also possible to see the Hudson’s Bay building, and Spencer’s Department store – now SFU office and teaching space. The block to the east of the Post Office (closer to us) is the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Playhouse today, but in 1956 the block was still full of houses and small commercial buildings. They must have been close to demolition, as the theatre opened in 1959.

The same is true of the block to the south, which today has the Main Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. It too still had houses dating back to the turn of the century, (including this row on Robson) when this was a residential neighbourhood, with rooming houses and small businesses. While some of the houses had been cleared by 1956, the fire station was only recently opened. Larwill Park, in the foreground, hidden today behind the Spectrum residential towers, is still a parking lot (awaiting a decision on a new city Art Gallery), but in 1955 it was the bus station, opened in 1947.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 296-033; Trish Jewison, twitter.

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Posted July 1, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

False Creek North railyards

We struggled a bit to get this ‘after’ shot lined up – there’s literally nothing in the ‘before’ image that we can directly line up today. The warehouse buildings off on the right were on Beatty Street – and some are still standing today, but there’s a lot of development between Cambie Bridge (where the picture was taken from) and those buildings (many developed in the early 1900s). The bridge itself has been replaced, and isn’t exactly in the same position today as it was in the undated, but likely 1970s ‘before’ picture.

Expo Boulevard now crosses the former railyards, and Concord Pacific towers are lined up along the street, down to the edge of False Creek. One of the few remaining development sites sits on the left, underneath the bridge. It’s been reserved for decades for non-market housing. The comprehensive plan for False Creek North reserves the land, but doesn’t provide the necessary finances to build the non-market components of the project. Provincial and Federal funding for new housing dried up soon after the deal was struck, so the site (and several others) have been frozen until a funding source could be found. That may change soon, as both levels of government have now started releasing funds, and the City of Vancouver have become increasingly pro-active and innovative in getting new non-market housing built.

The railtracks were all in place in the early 1900s, and were actively used through several decades, but by the 1970s use had ceased and many of the tracks had been removed. As industrial uses gradually withdrew from the Central Area waterfront (on both sides of False Creek), the Province acquired the land from the railway company. After some initial development concepts for high density residential conversion, the opportunity was taken to locate a World Fair, which became Expo ’86. After the fair the land was sold to Li Ka Shing’s property development company, now known as Concord Pacific, who thirty years later are planning the final phases of development, having seen over 9,000 units built on their land, and other developers taking on other parts of the former Expo Lands.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-358

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Posted June 6, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, False Creek

Granville Street – 800 block, west side (2)

This 1974 image of Granville Street looking north shows the edge of today’s McDonalds restaurant, the second building from the Smithe Street intersection. It was originally developed by William Catto in 1911, who we think was a Yukon doctor and mine-owner. In 1974 it was a camera store. The Plaza cinema next door dates back to 1936, designed by Thomas L Kerr, but there had been a cinema here, the Maple Leaf, from 1908. In 1974 it had become the Odeon, before the redevelopment of the adjacent buildings as a larger cinema, and more recently it has become the Venue nightclub, hosting live music and DJs.

To the north is one of the older buildings on Granville, the Vermilyea Block No. 2. (Block No. 1 was a block further south). William Blackmore designed the ornate 3-storey building in 1893 for John Vermilyea, one of the earlier settlers who arrived from Ontario in 1876 and initially had a farm in Richmond. In 1913 it became the Palms Hotel, converted for new owner F T Andrews, and run as a hotel for many years. In the 1980s the Palms was demolished, although the facade was restored and incorporated into a new Odeon Cinema, (which in turn closed several years ago).

Next door, in 1974, was a single storey building, built in 1920. It can be seen slightly better in this 1946 image (right). The permit says it was built for J F Mahon and designed by Edwards & Ames. It cost a remarkably precise $16,266. Edwards and Ames were agents, not architects, often representing the interests of members of the Mahon family. In 1974 it had a deco gothic 1935 façade, rather than the 1920 original, which was apparently designed by Thomas Kerr.

John Fitzgerald Mahon was an early Vancouver investor, who arrived in 1889 but soon returned to England leaving his brother, Edward, to look after his extensive interests in British Columbia, including lands on the North Shore and a mining town in Kootneys he named Castlegar, after his Irish ancestral home. (Edward Mahon purchased and developed the Capilano Suspension Bridge property where members of his family lived and operated the business) The family home on Hastings Street was later replaced by the Marine Building. In England John Mahon ran a private bank with another Anglo-Irish family; Guinness Mahon. When the Odeon was redeveloped to a multiplex movie theatre, a new building was developed here, linking the two older theatres which were incorporated into the new structure.

The third building that became part of the Cineplex Odeon in 1986 was still the Coronet Cinema in 1974. It had first been built as a theatre, The Globe, in 1912 for the Pacific Amusement Company, designed by D C Gregory and costing $40,000. Later it became the Paradise, with an unusual bas relief sculpted art deco façade added in 1938, also designed by Thomas Kerr. It was remodeled again in 1965, by architects Lort and Lort, but the 1930s façade was unaltered.

Odeon sold the cinema to the Empire chain in 2005, who closed the cinema several years ago, and it’s been looking for a new use ever since. Various ideas have been considered for office and retail space, including returning to three separate buildings. Now a proposal has been submitted for Cineplex (again) to take over the complex, redeveloping it as ‘The Rec Room’, with a variety of entertainment offerings including bowling, virtual reality and restaurants and bars, all under one roof.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-442 and CVA 586-4619 (extract)

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Posted May 16, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Robson Street west from Hornby

This 1986 image shows changes to this part of Robson Street have been subtle, and minimal over 33 years, but that’s about to change. The trees have grown bigger, so fortunately these are winter shots, although despite that the Blue Horizon Hotel on the right in the distance now disappears behind the tree trunk. The most obvious change to come has already started in the middle distance. This ‘current’ image is already out of date – The Empire Landmark Hotel (once a Sheraton) is steadily being demolished to be replaced by two condo and non-market rental towers, with new retail and office space in the podium. There are more towers underway further down the hill as well.

On the right of the picture the First City Trust Building was completed in 1969, designed by Frank Roy with Thompson, Berwick Pratt and Partners. Now known by its address, 777 Hornby, in the 1990s it received a makeover that included redesigning the podium glazing. Before it was built the Richmond Apartments stood on the corner. Mayfair House, on the left, completed in 1980, still looks the same.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2672

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Posted March 28, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown