Archive for the ‘J McLaren’ Tag

West Pender Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

 

This stretch of West Pender still has two buildings today that can be seen in this 1981 image (looking west). The Uniglobe Building (seen in the previous post) is at the far end of the block, and dates back to 1956, (although it’s had a re-skin and looks quite different). It was  designed by J McLaren, who was actually an engineer rather than an architect, and was the headquarters for Macmillan Bloedel for 12 years, until they commissioned Arthur Erickson to design a larger replacement nearby on West Georgia. The Shorehill Building, designed by McCarter and Nairne and Partners, still looks the same, although it’s more hidden today than in 1981. It dates back to 1966; between those buildings the taller Coast Hotel has been added, built in 2010.

Closer to us was a modest two storey building that dated back to 1954. It was developed for Gypsum Lime Canada, but was also the offices of the architects who designed it, Semmens Simpson. For a brief period this partnership designed some of the best modernist international buildings in the city, including the new City Library on Burrard, and a series of West End apartment buildings. Their own offices were designed in the same simple but effective style, with minimal ornamentation. The office was replaced in the late 1990s by a condo and hotel tower designed by Hancock, Bruckner Eng and Wright. There are 39 apartments on the top floors and the Delta by Marriott Pinnacle Hotel on the lower floors of a 36 storey building. When there was a lower building on the site you could see the Harbourfront Hotel – now the Pinnacle Harbourfront. It was once home to one of the city’s three revolving restaurants, but the Empire Landmark was recently demolished and this one is no longer operating. Built in 1975, it was designed by the Waisman Architectural Group. The same architects designed the charcoal painted concrete grid tower to the west, completed in 1968.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W19.13

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

We’re looking east on West Pender, and the building on the left is still standing, although with a new screen of windows. In 1981 it still looked the same as when it was first built, in 1956. It was developed for Macmillan and Bloedel, the fast-growing forestry and pulp business. It was designed in-house by Dominion Construction, who had their structural engineer J McLaren, sign off on the design. Dominion’s president, Charles Bentall, also an engineer, had been in trouble with the AIBC for exactly the same issue, but the company continued to design their own perfectly well-designed buildings (without an accredited architect) for several years.

DA Architects designed the building seen next door today, the new Coast Hotel, opened just in time for the 2010 Olympics. The 1966 Shorehill Building beyond it (designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners) can be seen more clearly in 1981 than it can today but it’s effectively unchanged. While the low buildings beyond from the 1950s have today been replaced with a hotel and office buildings, the United Kingdom Building, another 1950s tower, designed by Douglas Simpson, is still standing on the corner of Granville.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W19.16

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West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

This large slab office, seen here in 1981, has been recently replaced by the Trump Tower. It started life as the Shell Oil building, completed in 1957. It was built by Dominion Construction, who designed it in-house. Although there was an architect employed by the company, engineer John McLaren was credited with the design, although it should have had an accredited architect to sign off. It was initially headquarters for Shell’s Western Division. Initially established in Canada in Montreal, Shell, like other North American oil companies established a new office in Vancouver, then moved operations to Alberta some years later as oil exploration and exploitation shifted the centre of Canadian activity. (The company headquarters moved there from Toronto in 1984). The office uses continued, with the building apparently renamed as the Weststar Building, (although that could be an error, as the Westar Building was next door).

Plans were approved to reuse the abandoned building. In 1994 it was proposed for reuse as the Newport City Club – but that project failed part way through redevelopment. The Vancouver Sun reported the project: “Six floors of the Weststar Building on 1188 West Georgia are being converted into the Newport City Club that will house three restaurants, a health club, meeting and reading rooms. Final approvals have been received for construction in north Squamish of the companion Newport Ridge Golf and Country Club, a 5,800-yard executive-type course, 900 residences (single units and townhouses) and a 100,000 square foot clubhouse. “Due to geographic limitations there’s only 90 acres for golf we’re developing a course with 7 par-threes and 11 par-fours,” says Newport vice-president Peter Heenan, a Vancouver businessman.” The project was developed by Andrew Leung, who had previously developed resorts and golf courses in the Dominican Republic, and the financial backing was supposedly coming from three Hong Kong businesspeople.

By 1996, the 1957 structure had been stripped of its exterior walls and interior finishes, but within a year the project was in financial trouble, and soon in receivership with a number of court actions and builders liens.  A new proposal was submitted to replace it with a 27 storey office tower to be called Golden Ocean Plaza, but the project never proceeded. The site would sit as a vacant and derelict frame for many years. It was later owned by Cadillac Fairview, and in 2003 they sold it to the Holborn Group, who had already acquired the adjacent Terasen Building. The Trump Tower (with no financial involvement by the Trump organization; just a management and branding role), took several years to develop. Initial designs were rejected, until the Arthur Erickson inspired ‘twisting’ tower was approved, with an initial sales launch as the Residences at Ritz-Carlton, but the market for luxury residential towers in 2008 was depressed, and the deal fell through, to be relaunched four years later under the Trump brand, finally opening in 2016.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.13.

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Posted September 19, 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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