Archive for the ‘Thompson Berwick Pratt’ Tag

Hornby Street looking north

These two pictures were taken in 1986, and there hasn’t been a lot of obvious change in the buildings since then. Even the street trees are the same – with an additional 34 years growth. On the edge of the picture, on the left, is the Mayfair Hotel, developed in 1964 and designed by Peter Kaffka. Next door is a 1980 office building that’s only 6 floors tall, designed by the Blackwell Design Group, and strata titled.

Beyond the tower (and seen on the left of the picture below), 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, and adding rain protection for pedestrians. Before it was built the Richmond Apartments stood on the corner. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is to the north. and across the street the Georgia Medical Dental Building is the only change. The art deco building was designed by McCarter and Nairne, and was similar to their Marine Building (if less flamboyant). It was replaced nearly 30 years ago by Cathedral Place, designed by Paul Merrick for Shon Georgia Developments (in a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong). On the street, Hornby street now has a 2-way separated bike lane.

The tower on the right in the upper picture is the North American headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC). Designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners, and completed in 1986, it was the headquarters of W A C Bennet’s brainchild; the Bank of British Columbia. Designed to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses, it grew to have $2.7bn in funds and over 1,400 employees but serious management problems led to the bank being taken over by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada in the same year it was completed.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2662 and 800-2670



Posted 11 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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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


Posted 19 August 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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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


Posted 25 July 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


Alaska Pine – Thurlow and West Georgia

We’re on the 600 block of Thurlow Street, looking south at West Georgia in 1981. The office building in the middle of the picture was the home of Alaska Pine, one of Canada’s most important lumber and pulp businesses. Founded in 1939, the company was incorporated by the Koerner brothers, Leon, Otto and Walter C. From a wealthy, fourth-generation lumber company in Czechoslovakia, they fled Europe in 1938-1939 and settled in Vancouver. The Koerners saw an opportunity by taking Western Hemlock, a species previously regarded as inferior and almost unmarketable, and after a seasoning process, rebranding it as “Alaska Pine.” They successfully marketed it by exporting to the UK and Europe; during the war they supplied 75% of the ammunition and ration boxes used by the armed forces of the British Commonwealth. After the war they expanded their business throughout British Columbia by acquiring older, run-down mills and businesses, and adding them to their expanding empire of lumber mills and stands of timber. They added pulp mills in the late 1940s, and employed almost 5,000 people when they moved into their new headquarters building in 1953.

Designed by Thompson Berwick Pratt it was in the international modernist style. Great West Life Insurance occupied offices on the main floor, and there was a bank branch as well. GWL had developed the building, and Alaska Pine were their main tenant. In 1954 the Koerners sold the controlling interest in their business to Rayoniere of New York, and in 1959 the Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd. name was changed to Rayonier Canada Limited, although Rayonier continued to make use of the “Alaska Pine” brand name. A 1956 Macleans article about Theo Koerner explains how the family arrived in Canada, established their business here, and the progressive ideas the family introduced to make the business a success. In retirement Theo became a generous philanthropist, and the family name is still attached to many facilities. Although Rayonier continue to operate a world-wide business, they no longer have any BC interests. They were acquired by three existing BC lumber companies in 1980, and continued as Western Forest Products, still headquartered near here in the Royal Centre.

The building didn’t last very long; by the late 1980s it had been demolished, and in 1992 a new 24 storey office building was completed, designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners. Manulife developed the building, and the region’s main gas company moved in as the lead tenant – first as BC Gas, then Terasen and now known as Fortis BC. Now owned by The Holborn Group, part of the podium has been incorporated into their more recently completed Trump Hotel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.17


Posted 15 July 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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BC Hydro Building – Burrard Street


Today it’s called The Electra, and it’s a mix of condo residential and commercial units. It was converted from an office building in 1995, and had to have a new skin as offices generally don’t have opening windows, but that’s a requirement for residential space. The building was completed in 1957 as BC Electric’s new headquarters. The office was stunning in its setting when it was developed; over 20 storeys, every window lit up every night, surrounded by low-rise commercial buildings and decades old wooden houses. Built by John Laing, it was designed by Ned Pratt with Ron Thom of Thompson, Berwick, Pratt, and the flattened lozenge shape was a result of the client’s requirement that desks should be no more than 15 feet from a window, for natural light as well as the view.

Leslie Sheraton’s picture was shot in 1958, when the buildings on Burrard Street included a car dealership; Sherwood Motors, offering Willys 4-wheel-drive and jeep, as well as English Rover, Humber, Nash and Hillman cars. There was also a White Spot, still owned at the time by Nat Bailey, and offering the latest innovation – ‘Take Home Chicken Dinners – just Heat and Serve”.

Artist B.C. Binning’s blue, green and black mosaic tiles were an integral part of the building’s design, and were carefully preserved when the conversion to residential and office condos was carried out, designed by Paul Merrick Architects. During that conversion the Hornby Street side of the building was given a far more animated façade.

Todat Peter Busby’s Wall Centre tower is much taller, behind the Electra from this angle, and Electric Avenue is in front, a 456 unit condo building designed by Rafii architects and completed in 2005. The complex also has a multi-screen Cineplex movie theatre and retail stores (mostly restaurants). The White Spot was replaced in 1983 with a 71 unit condo building designed by Eng and Wright. Tucked in behind the street trees, the two storey 1938 car dealership is still there, repurposed as a Denny’s restaurant and retail uses decades ago.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2008-022.045