Archive for the ‘Musson Cattell Mackey’ Tag

835 Cambie Street

This modest 1929 warehouse has been repurposed as an office building for many years. Originally it was built for Electrical Distributors Ltd, a company wholesaling electrical wires, cables, conduit, lamps, ranges, heaters and radios. They were also the BC Distributors of Ice-O-Matic Electrical refrigerators (still in business today making commercial ice machines). Gardiner & Mercer were the architects for the building, and in 1991 Musson Cattell Mackey designed the conversion to office space, used as classrooms by the Law Society who built their offices on the adjacent site to the south.

The electrical supply firm only occupied the space for a few years; by 1936 it was vacant, and at the end of the 1930s Barham Drugs were using the warehouse. From 1940 for at least 15 years this became a warehouse for Coast Paper, later joined by Package Productions, who were wholesalers of cartons. Before it was restored in the early 1990s it was also used as a distillery and as a restaurant. It’s seen here in 1985.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1776

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Posted January 25, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Bentall Centre (towards Dunsmuir Street)

Bentall to Park Place

It’s really hard to believe these two images are nearly 30 years apart. The shot on the left was taken in 1986, when Park Place – the tower in the middle – was less than two years old. Designed by Musson, Cattell Mackey it was the first building to get additional density (from Christ Church next door) in exchange for heritage retention of the cathedral. There’s an office building in Houston that Park Place referenced, and our book, The Changing City, describes how the building’s Spanish pink granite and “copper-rose” reflective windows create an interesting reflective surface, with the building cutting a distinctive profile on the skyline. Our pictures were taken from the plaza of the Bentall Centre – apart from somebody shuffling the benches it looks the same (and as good) now as it did then.

The darker, squarer building on the right was brand new in 1986 – the crane was still up and the roof is still being glazed. At the time it was going to become the new home for the Bank of British Columbia (and initially called Tower 885) but it would soon be taken over by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. It was designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership, based in Toronto.

The biggest changes that can be seen are probably that one building has gone, and three have appeared. On the far left, on the corner of Burrard and Dunsmuir, the previous version of the YWCA building was far bigger than the Cactus Club and plaza that are there today. Behind it 777 Dunsmuir can just be seen, a later phase of the Pacific Centre Mall. Behind the Hong Kong Bank is the recently completed Residences at Hotel Georgia, a 48 storey mixed-use tower. Over on the far right Cathedral Place, a 1992 office building has been built. The smaller associated gallery museum (now the Bill Reid Gallery). In 1986 the Georgia Medical-Dental building was on that site, but just out of the shot, demolished in 1989. The other obvious change is 28 years of tree growth, especially apparent on the area around the Burrard SkyTrain Station (now called Art Phillips Park).

Alcazar Hotel – Dunsmuir and Homer

The Hotel Alcazar sat on Dunsmuir Street, close to the Dunsmuir Hotel. Designed by Dalton and Eveleigh, it was completed in 1912 in the boom that saw much of Downtown Vancouver developed. It cost $140,000 to build for Dr D H Wilson and it lasted for 70 years before it was demolished. Dr Wilson was a medical doctor, born in Ontario in 1855, who practiced in Manitoba. He was elected to the Manitoba legislature in 1882 and became Minister of Public Works, got married in 1887 and resigned from politics in 1888. He moved to Vancouver the next year, practiced medicine for another five years, and then retired (again) with directorships in a number of financial and insurance companies. When he died in 1926 his estate was worth $85,000.  

The site of the hotel sat for another decade before Musson Cattell Mackey’s postmodern headquarters for BC Hydro were constructed on the site. These days the front of the office includes a water feature called Water Works by Tokyo-born Tony Bloom that was inspired, it is said, by a traditional Japanese deer scarer, a shishi odoshi. The Alcazar also featured some somewhat unexpected art in the form of Jack Shadbolt murals from the 1940s that could be found in the dining room.

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.

Canadian Pacific Railway Station

Canadian Pacific were responsible for the dramatic and explosive growth of the city, and probably made the most money out of it as well. The final tower to be built on Marathon Reatly land (Harbour Green Three in Coal Harbour) is just nearing completion. (Marathon are CP’s land company). Back in 1921 the CP Station on Cordova Street was only seven years old. Designed by Barrett Blackader & Webster of Montreal, it was the third CP station in the vicinity.

The first station was built on piles over the beach, and opened in 1886. The second was a gothic castle-like structure designed by Edward Maxwell half a block from this one, and opened in 1898. It lasted just 16 years before this final, grander classical design was completed. These days the towers of PWC Place by Musson Cattell Mackey (2003) and the one tower of the ill-fated Project 200 by Francis Donaldson from 1973 sit alongside and behind the station at Granville Square. Long term, plans call for more commercial buildings around the station and over the tracks – although not, now, a soccer stadium.