Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

Downtown from above (1)

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 from above (2)

Here’s another Archives aerial shot that’s almost perfectly 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. The before 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, Trish Jewison, twitter, April 2019.

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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 from above (1)

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, posted in December 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, December 10 2018

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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

Looking north from Cambie Street

The City’s viewcones, that protect views of the mountains from selected spots, get a negative review from some of the city’s architects and developers. Buildings have to be shorter, or their shape altered to avoid blocking parts of the view. The most extreme example was the Trump Tower, that was designed to twist out of the way of the viewcone. Here’s the view north from Cambie at West Broadway. The picture is from further down Cambie than from where the view is protected, but the same mountains are involved.

The before picture is dated somewhere between 1960 and 1980. Off in the distance is the tower of Granville Square, completed in 1972, and on the left is the concrete bunker of the CBC Building, completed two years later. Although the Harbour Centre is now a very obvious element of the city skyline from this spot, it’s not showing in the image. It was completed in 1976, so we can pin the picture down to around 1974 or early 1975. That’s the older Cambie Bridge, on a slightly different alignment, replaced in 1985 with the new box girder structure.

This bonus 1976 image shows that the view of Downtown from the east sidewalk (nearly at 12th Avenue) has almost completely disappeared when the trees are in leaf – here in in the fall. That’s the VanCity office building, (now owned by the City of Vancouver), under construction, with a steel frame. Although that type of construction might suggest greater seismic performance, the building has recently had a comprehensive retrofit with angled steel bracing on the outside to improve its seismic rating.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-275

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Posted March 18, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Mount Pleasant

West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s). Vancouver entrepreneur and rum-runner J W Hobbs who managed Stimson’s West Coast activities paid $400,000 for the building in 1927. Stimson’s bought the site with the intention of tearing down the recently completed building to construct the Marine Building, then discovered it was a profitable enterprise and instead bought the site at the end of the street.

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.

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