Archive for the ‘Downtown’ 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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Thurlow and Melville Street – north side

This is another early 1980s image showing a part of Downtown where relatively little change has taken place in nearly 40 years. The image is from after 1979, and we’re standing at the corner of Melville looking north on Thurlow. On the left is a 1975 office building of 11 floors designed by Waisman Architectural Group. Beyond it is a 1965 eight storey office called the Philips Building. Across the lane is an orange brick clad building known by its address, 1112 West Pender, completed in 1960; it was designed by McCarter, Nairne & Partners. The office at the end of the block was developed by R C Baxter in 1966, and is another Waisman Architectural Group design.

All four are still standing today, although they represent the more modest density buildings that are now being redeveloped as larger, more energy efficient towers. There are two buildings visible today on the west side of the street that weren’t around in the 1980s. In front of the Baxter building is the white tower of the Delta Pinnacle hotel, built in 2000, while beyond it there’s now a green-clad condo tower designed by IBI/HB and completed in 2012 called Three Harbour Green.

The dark glazing closest to us on the right is Four Bentall Centre, the tallest in the Bentall cluster at 35 floors and completed in 1981, designed by Frank W Musson and Associates. Beyond it is 1090 West Pender. It’s a 1971 twelve storey office building designed by Gerald Hamilton for Dawson Developments, and with the parkade alongside it’s in the process of being demolished. It will be replaced by a 31 storey office tower with an underground parkade. Beyond it is Manulife Place, a 22-storey office completed in 1991.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-1403

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Bute and West Pender Street – westwards

The building on the left, seen in this 1981 image, was called the Pender Building, and it was developed in 1947 as a six storey office building. When it was first built it was known as the Graphic Arts Building and it was designed by John Harvey. The building was also home to the printing presses of the Sun Newspaper, whose offices were on Beatty Street at the time.

It was replaced in the early 2000s with a 33 storey condo building, with a retail podium, called The Ritz. Before the Pender Building was built there were five houses here, developed in the early 1900s. By the 1940s the Pioneer Foundry was located here, before the office building was constructed.

The development of the tower shows the way Downtown was headed before the planners put the brakes on adding new residential buildings in the Central Business District. The success at getting more people living downtown led to an interest in developing residential buildings that in turn increased land values. That then made it difficult for developers of commercial property to compete for older buildings to redevelop. There was a serious possibility of running out of employment space in the longer term, as well as an added problem of new residents having unreasonable expectations of limited office development and economic activity close to their homes. As a result the planners instituted an extensive study, the Metro Core Jobs and Economy Study, which led to restrictions on future residential use in much of the CBD. Residential development continues outside the office core – the population Downtown is now greater than in the West End. Within the CBD, a recent surge in demand now has more new office space under construction than at any time in the city’s history.

On the right is the edge of the Evergreen Building, (today a Heritage ‘A’ office) designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in 1980. There’s a new small condo building being built in the space next to it, but in the 2000s there was an approved proposal to convert the office space to residential use. Fortunately a new developer was willing to step in, renovate the building (and designate it as a Heritage Building, so its status will remain as commercial) and obtain a bonus to transfer space elsewhere Downtown. In the background is ‘Qube’ – the former 1969 Westcoast Energy Building that was converted in 2006 to residential use, with a new glazed screen to match the original (but now with opening windows, as required by residential code).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-312

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Posted August 12, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Beatty Street – 700 block

Two of the warehouse buildings seen in this 1981 image are still standing, and one has disappeared. At the far end is a 1914 building, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for F T Cope. George Snider & Brethour built it at a cost of $75,000. In the middle is a building costing $140,000 for the National Drug Co, and also built by George Snider & Brethour a year earlier, designed by H S Griffith. Thomas Hooper was hired to make $1,500 of alterations in 1914. With replacement windows it looks much more recent, and since our 1981 image was taken it’s had a blue tile makeover.

The third warehouse was the most expensive. In 1912 a permit was issued for a building to cost $150,000. Designed by Parr, McKenzie & Day for John W Gibb it was to be occupied by The Canadian Fairbanks Company.

Cope & Sons were electrical suppliers. Frederick T Cope was company president, an Englishman (from Oxford) who emigrated to Manitoba at 19, and arrived in Vancouver in 1895 when he was 35, and established the business two years later. In 1914, when they built the new warehouse, Frank R Cope was company treasurer and Bert F Cope company secretary. In 1911 both were still at home with Fred and Marjory, their mother, who was born in Ontario, but had their own homes three years later.

The National Drug and Chemical Company of Canada started in business in 1905, initially in Montreal, then rapidly across the country through expansion and buying out other businesses. David Bole was already a successful drugstore operator from Manitoba, and established the national wholesaling and manufacturing business with six million dollars of capital. State-of-the-art factories were established for both pharmaceuticals (in Montreal) and by 1908 125 items, including cough syrup, skin cream, shampoo, and toothpaste were manufactured in Toronto. The Vancouver distribution centre was opened soon after Calgary and Regina. In 1920 National Drug reorganized its administrative structure, as business had increased by 250 per cent in the previous 10 years. The business still operated here in the 1950s, and is still in business today as Canada’s leading drug wholesaler (now part of US business McKesson).

The Canadian Fairbanks Company was created in 1905 by Henry Fuller, who bought out the Canadian interests of the US parent company, at the time the largest machinery and mill supply company in Canada. They immediately occupied a new warehouse on Water Street developed by McLennan & McFeely. They had a warehouse and machine shop in the building. Within ten years they were looking for larger premises, and moved into the Beatty Street warehouse.

The developer, John Gibb, was a broker with an office in the Rogers Building and a home in the West End. His father, David Gibb, was a retired contractor with an excellent reputation. A 1915 court case shows his son’s business scruples weren’t quite as pure. It referred back to the 1912 deal with Canadian Fairbanks to occupy the building, with lease payments of $242,000 over 10 years, (starting at $22,000 for each of the first 3 years).  The building had to be ready for 1 August 1913, and if delayed no rent was due. Walter Meuller was hired to build the warehouse for $106,000. It became clear in May 1913 that Mr. Gibb was suffering “financial embarrassment” (to quote the judge), and it also transpired that he did not own the land outright, as he had claimed, but rather held an equity stake. That meant banks wouldn’t advance him a loan to complete the building. Mr. Gibb actually needed over $200,000 to complete the building and obtain tiitle – he had a deal with Harvey Haddon to advance $106,000 on completion, but that wasn’t going to solve his problem. He was willing to sit back and seemed to think that, as the agreed rent was a bargain, he might get out of his predicament. Fairbanks weren’t willing to wait, and paid the contractors to finish the job, in October.

This was highly unusual, and as the judge noted “Failure of Gibb to satisfactorily carry on construction or to complete within the time specified did not entitle the plaintiff to enter on the premises and proceed with the work.” Trustees were appointed immediately after the 1 August date was passed, and the interest in the property was transferred to David Gibb, John’s father. A Fairbanks manager was initially a trustee, but his head office forced him to withdraw, and launched the case to try to obtain a significant sum that they had paid to complete the building. The judge didn’t agree, but imposed the $20 per day pre-agreed fine for missing the August 1st deadline, and another $800 because the building didn’t use equipment sold by Fairbanks in its construction, as the lease agreement stipulated. Fairbanks also received their costs.

Despite this rocky start, Canadian Fairbanks were still occupying the building in the 1950s. It was cleared to become the plaza in front of the BC Place stadium, constructed in the early 1980s, allowing new windows in the side of the National Drug Co building. The Terry Fox memorial, designed by Douglas Coupland, is located here. The other warehouses have been converted to office use; one is home to a private school.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E18.04

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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

Burrard Street – 1200 block, north side (3)

We’ve seen this block in earlier posts – one shows the street in 1914 when there were houses here. In this 1981 image this location was the home of radio station CKWX, who had hired architects Sharp, Thompson, Berwick Pratt, (with the design by Ron Thom working with artist BC Binning), in 1954. The building was completed in 1956: it won the Massey Silver Medal for architecture in 1958. It was described as a “skylit concrete bunker” The glassed-in entrance showcased wall mosaics by BC Binning, their blue-gray tile patterns symbolizing the electronic gathering and transmission of information.

The radio station had started in Nanaimo, but first broadcast in Vancouver in 1927, run from studios in the Hotel Georgia, and later moved to Seymour Street. The wavelength also moved around, but settled on 1130, the current broadcast wavelength, in 1954. In the early days in this new studios, from 1957, the station broadcast a rock & roll format, fronted by DJ Red Robinson. He left the station in 1962 after it had adopted a steady move to more mainstream ‘hit’ music. In 1973 the station switched again, this time to a country lineup; that lasted until 1996, when it changed to an all news approach – still running today at News 1130. The station moved locations, and this site was redeveloped in the late 1980s. (The station currently broadcasts from West Broadway and Ash Street).

In 1990 The Ellington, addressed to Burnaby Street, was completed – an 84 unit 20 storey condo tower. In 2013, ‘Modern’, another condo building designed by IBI/HB was completed on the 1300 block, down the street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W18.02

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Posted July 25, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (1)

The building on the right of this 1981 image is the Alaska Pine building, which we looked at in the previous post, but from a different angle. It was designed by Thompson Berwick and Pratt for Great West Life Insurance, who developed it for the Alaska Pine lumber and pulp headquarters. They occupied it in 1953, after Dominion Construction built it in under a year. Run by a Czech immigrant family, the Koerners, the lumber company was named for the alternate name for the hemlock, a tree previously considered as effectively valueless before they introduced European kiln drying practices that allowed it to be used for construction and box manufacture. The Shell Oil offices are further west.

Here’s another view of the building, past the McMillan Bloedel tower, and the Royal Centre (closer to us) in an undated image we think was taken in the late 1970s. Alaska Pine was replaced in 1992 with a 24 storey office building designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners. It was headquarters for BC Gas, (later renamed as Terasen and now known as Fortis BC), but it was developed by Manulife. More recently it was acquired by the Holborn Group, who incorporated part of the podium into their more recently completed Trump Hotel to the west.

The condo and hotel tower, the second tallest in the city, is carefully located on the block, towards the back of the plot, so that by twisting slightly on each floor the upper part of the tower avoids one of the city’s viewcones that limit tall buildings on part of the site. There’s a long, low swooping canopy over the front of the hotel that picks up the rhythm of the bays of the older office building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.15 and CVA 800-59

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