Posted by Cameron McNeill on November 08, 2011 in Architectural Design
When Old Becomes Modern Again
Vancouver is an amazing city, one of the most beautiful in the world. Whenever I travel, I find that when I come home, I look at the city with a fresh perspective, a new set of eyes. How would a tourist look at this place? How would they understand the history and culture – where we’ve been, and how our roots were laid down? One way, would be through the city’s built heritage.
Vancouver’s Heritage Register (www.heritagevancouver.org), adopted in 1986, contains a list of 2,172 buildings and structures, streetscapes, landscape resources and archaeological sites, which have architectural or historical heritage value. These listings are evaluated with the following criteria:
- Architectural significance
- Historical significance
- The extent to which the original context of the building and its surroundings remain
- The degree of alteration to the exterior of the building
Despite Vancouver being a young city, we have many gorgeous heritage buildings and recently many are being given a new life with a complete restoration and conversion into residential lofts and condominiums. We salute many local developers, who deserve recognition for retaining and celebrating these important buildings of our past. Developers such as Amacon (The Beasley, District), Aquilini (Maynards Block), PCI (Exchange) and The Salient Group (Trapp Block, Terminus, The Paris Block, Bowman Block), are marrying heritage buildings with new design, creating some incredibly interesting (and very cool!) new residences.
Here are three of my favourites:
1 | 540 Beatty Street (Metroliving)/Townline/Circa 1911
Situated in Vancouver’s Crosstown neighbourhood, the Crane Building was originally built as a warehouse for the Chicago-based Crane Company. It served as the company’s local offices and showroom for their plumbing products. In 2008, Townline converted the building into 57 residential loft apartments. In designing the homes with respect to their heritage past, Townline incorporated over-height ceilings, polished concrete floors, exposed the original brick, and for today’s conveniences created contemporary open-concept kitchens with top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances by Bosch and Liebherr. The building retains its original façade and brickwork, cast iron pillars as well as restored original windows.
2 | 55 Water/Reliance Holdings/Circa 1912
This collection of rentable live/work spaces is located in the fully renovated Malkin & Co. Grocery warehouse in Gastown just steps from the waterfront. This project was amongst the first to combine residential and office components into one floor plan. The restored brick façade maintains the historic character of this building. Exposed sandblasted brick, original old-growth beams, and fir flooring are prominent in every suite in respect to the location’s historic significance.
3 | Woodward’s District /Westbank and Peterson Group/Circa 1903
This bustling community led the charge in the Gastown revitalization in recent years and is now home to SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts as well as office space, restaurants, grocery stores, and 536 highrise residences. A stunning indoor atrium and outdoor space with public art are also centerpieces for this community. The large neon “W” still denotes the landmark as does the brick façade maintained from the original Woodward’s building. The days of $1.49 Tuesdays may be gone, but the legacy of this historic site has now returned to its former glory and will live on for many years. Heritage buildings shape the city, provide a sense of identity, add character and help us understand where we came from. Let’s ensure we respect our past so its future is bright.
(Photo Credit: Townline)