Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

Granville Street from the air

The alignment of these aerial shots isn’t quite perfect – although the streets match up almost ideally, we’ve had to tilt the ‘after’ shot to make the streets match. The contemporary shot is on the website of aerial photography company Peak Aerials, taken in siummer 2016, while the before shot was taken ninety years earlier, in 1926 – one of the earliest aerial images available of the city.

There are only a handful of buildings still identifiably the same in both images. Two thirds of the way up, and to the right, the Lightheart Brothers apartment building, today called Brookland Court, is still offering apartments, these days as affordable non-market units. There’s a row of warehouse buildings on the right hand edge of the image which were all built in a few years in the early 20th Century when Canadian Pacific released the land for development. The building on the corner of Helmcken was developed by Leek and Co in 1910.

Along Granville Street there area series of early 1900s hotels and rooming houses, all still standing today and almost unchanged from when they were built. The majority were designed by Parr and Fee, who recycled the design with a side light well or two, and a façade of white glazed bricks and centre pivoted windows. There are several construction cranes showing in 2016, and the towers they were associated with have mostly been completed. There are three or four more already under construction or in the planning stage, including a series of three towers along Hornby Street in the bottom left of the picture, including one 54 storeys tall. A new office building is under construction as part of the same project, across the lane on Burrard Street. In future there will be more change, and more towers, as the intent is to remove the two loop ramps (although not the main offramps) and replace them with an at grade standard junction, creating two large development sites.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Van Sc P68 and Peak Aerials.

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Posted October 14, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Downtown from above

Only 17 years separate these two oblique angled shots of the Downtown peninsula. Since our 2002 image was taken, over 26,000 residential units have been added Downtown and in the West End. That’s around 140 additional buildings of 10 or more storeys. Thousands more units are under construction and in the development stream, and even then the peninsula is by no means ‘built out’ – although sites are fewer, and harder to find.

There’s still a gap on the far right, on the waterfront, where the Plaza of Nations, and further Concord Pacific sites have yet to be built. There are a number of sites reserved for non-market housing inland behind and between the condo towers built by Concord on the former Expo lands, and a recent deal should see over half developed as non-market, with others returned to Concord for more market development.

On the left of the image Vancouver House is nearly complete, (so Trish Jewison, who photographed the 2019 shot from the Global BC News helicopter took the picture recently). From this angle the twisting taper of the building is almost invisible. In the middle of Downtown, the Wall Centre’s upper floors were reclad almost as dark as the bottom, so the distinctive two-tone effect in 2002 has been lost. From this distance the Empire Landmark wasn’t so obvious in 2002, but in 2019 it’s gone, and the replacement condo towers will be shorter. The Shangri La and Trump Hotel and condo towers almost line up from this angle, so only one tall tower appears in the distance.

Over on the right, the BC Place stadium has its new(ish) retractable roof, surrounded by new towers, with the distinctive rust red of the Woodwards Tower behind. The original ‘W’ was still in place in 2002 – now it’s down on the ground, and a replacement revolves in its place. Not too many new office towers have been added to the Central Business District, but that’s changing. Ten office buildings are currently being built, the most office space ever added to the city at one time, and much of it already leased. The biggest building is the Post Office, getting a pair of office towers added on top, with the huge building (that fills an entire city block) changing to office and retail space.

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Posted September 2, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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