Archive for the ‘Downs Archambault’ Tag

Carnegie Library and City Hall

As we noted in the YMCA Building post, by the late 1890s the city was in need of a library – a real library rather than a room in another building. American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (his family moved from Sctoland when he was 13) was funding libraries all over North America, and Vancouver was viewed favourably for an investment in literature. (There were 125 Carnegie Libraries in Canada, almost all in Ontario, but Victoria and New Westminster got one too). G W Grant was hired to design the building, which was most definitely outside the CPR part of town, on the south-west corner of Westminster (Main) and Hastings. Carnegie donated $50,000 on the basis that the City would donate a site and spend $5,000 a year on running the library.

Work started in 1902 and nearly two years later the library opened. It was located next door to the new City Hall. An earlier City Hall was located at Powell Street in 1888. In 1898 the City moved to the building you can see to the south of the library. It was originally erected in 1889 as a market hall designed by Sansom and Dawson (although oddly it has been attributed to C O Wickenden). It was built of Bowen Island bricks where Mayor David Oppenheimer had a financial interest in the brickworks. Unfortunately the clay, or the firing, wasn’t the finest, and Wickenden had to hastily change the design to add two buttressing towers to make sure the building stayed up.

In 1929 with the amalgamation of two other cities into Vancouver larger premises were needed and Council decamped to the Holden Building, an existing office also altered to become City Hall.

The Library stayed until the early 1950s, taking over the former City Hall as an Annex. After the Library moved to their new building on Burrard Street the Museum used the Carnegie building, and the old City Hall was demolished in 1958. After threats of demolition the renovated Carnegie Centre opened as a social service centre for the Downtown Eastside in 1980, incorporating a branch library and with a subtle addition designed by Downs Archambault to the south.

Image source: Library and Archives Canada

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Second CPR Station – West Cordova Street

Here’s the newly completed CPR station in about 1900. Not T C Sorby’s first station – that lasted a very short time – just over 10 years. This one sat right at the foot of Granville Street, and despite its grandeur it only lasted fifteen years before being replaced by the one still standing today. The designer was a German immigrant, Edward Colonna (who had changed his name from Klonne when he became a US citizen). Colonna came to CP from designing the interior of rail coaches, and before that working in New York for Louis Comfort Tiffany.

On leaving CP in the early 1890s as the railway boom was ending he designed for Maison de l’Art Nouveau in Paris, both jewellery and furniture. He then moved to Toronto, where he worked for 20 years before retiring to Nice where he died, aged 86, having been paralyzed and bedridden for over 20 years. Colonna’s station design was only partly complete when a severe downtown in the economy saw construction halted. The building’s final appearance was completed in 1899 by Montreal based (and born) architect Edward Maxwell, who reworked Calonna’s design but stayed true to its Gothic style. Indeed for the now demolished Ottawa station he adopted a similar chateau style, and for a economy sized version head to The Keg in New Westminster where Maxwell’s $35,000 1899 station can still be found.

Today the site consists of a parkade that’s associated with the offices in the replacement station and the office tower at Granville Square built in the 1970s as one of the few completed parts of Project 200, a huge urban renewal scheme that would have seen Gastown swept away (with far fewer heritage buildings left to feature on this blog). In the background you can see the hotel and office building on Canada Place, a three way design between Zeidler Roberts, an international firm headquartered in Toronto, with Downs Archambault and Musson Cattell Mackey. MCM also designed the 2003 Price Waterhouse Coopers Place on the left of the picture.

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