In May 2013, the old Eaton’s block at Pacific Centre looked like this:



Just weeks from Nordstrom’s opening, it looks like this:

Pac Cen


The Howe Street side from Robson Square looks good – a complementary composition:

Pac Cen 2


Unfortunately no design intervention was able to overcome the dismal relationship with the street due to the parking ramp that serves the vast garage below and the exit doors and blank walls that alienate the frontage for almost a full block.

Pac Cen 3


  1. The Howe Street frontage is actually now worse for pedestrian activity than it was originally.

    Originally there was an enclosed “breezeway” between TD Bank and Eatons that provided access across to the Granville plaza, as well as bank and department store access. There was also a mid-block entrance to the Eaton’s store, plus the entrance on Robson near (not at) the corner.

    The breezeway was closed in the 1990s, and later, during Eatons or eatons renovations a makeshift entrance was added to the northwest corner of the department store adjacent to the closed breezeway entrance. The mid-bock entrance remained (it was the closing time exit for customers), and the Robson entrance was moved westwards to the corner (creating a congestion node at the corner itself).

    With the recent renovations, the breezeway entrance has been replaced with a secondary entrance to the upper office floors above Nordstrom (and presumably you can walk to the Granville plaza again), but there is no access to the department store. The mid-block department store entrance has been eliminated. Only the store entrance at the corner of Robson has been retained.

    So, overall, there are fewer entrances to the department store now than there have ever been.

    The beige tile and white ceiling do brighten the area, but the passage is noticeably devoid of display windows. At least with the Cesar Pelli design, there were a couple of display windows near the mid-block store entrance.

    1. While it’s true there may be less for the pedestrian to do on Howe St, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that the windows from the second floor at the corner of Howe and Robson offers a considerable benefit – a new view of Robson Square. And the fact is, that parkade entrance/exit ramp makes it an unfriendly pedestrian experience either way, so I see it as a subtle or not so subtle directive to cross the street and walk along Robson Square, as most everyone already does.

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