Architecture
December 5, 2018

The 1970s are Coming Down – 5

Well, in this case, the 1960s are coming down.

Nineteen sixty-one, to be specific – when Royal Towers was built as a hotel across the street from New Westminster City Hall. Now the aldermen, as they were known then, had a place to get a beer before and/or after council meetings. They probably drove over, given that the place was obviously designed for the car:

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This 12-storey office building at 1090 West Pender was built in 1970 – and, like so many of its era, it’s coming down.

The off-white applied masonry, with a stamped repetitive pattern, gives it a more solid appearance than most of its glassy contemporaries, a style popularized by American architect Edward Durell Stone (stone by Stone?). It was perhaps the modernist version of the terra-cotta facades popular in the 1920s (see the Marine Building or Hudson’s Bay store) which tried to maintain the illusion of craft in a time without affordable craft.

Its successor will have no such illusion:

Designed by Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership, the architects who have done most of the work for Bentall Kennedy, it will continue the growth of the landmark Bentall Centre.

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PT is getting great comments on a post – City Council: Duplexing and Messaging – put up on November 14. 

Let’s bring it forward, and begin again with the latest post from one of our great commenters, Ron van der Eerden.  (For those who were part of the comments stream, feel free to repost, but try to add something more to the discussion.)

I doubt duplexes will be very attractive to developers, that being “big bad developers”. A few very small developers may take advantage. But for a small developer it’s a big risk and big money for what would still be an expensive product. I’m certain the outgoing council knew this would be a fairly inconsequential move with  few repercussions and unworthy of the massive consultation some would have preferred. It’s more symbolic. A baby first step.

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This lovely example of west-coast style was likely done in the early 1970s, in the 700-block Denman at Alberni, and once home to old reliables like Cafe de Paris and Ciao Bella (oh, the memories).  It will be kindling in a week or so.

Even my reliable source, John Atkin, doesn’t know the architect or when it was built.  Anyone?  Anyone?

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Perhaps there’s a fifty-year cycle in Vancouver: buildings approaching the half-century, having passed their best-before date, are targeted for replacement.  At least I’ve begun to notice that, in this economic cycle, a fair number of buildings from the late ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s seem to be coming down, or soon will be, especially in the CBD/West End.  Because most are non-descript spec buildings, there hasn’t been much notice; few seem to care that this particular era in our history is disappearing.

Ar least it’s worth noticing their departure.  Here’s one:

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I don’t think we’re going to get agreement on this.

Condopedia credits the legislative idea for the ‘modern condominium’ to a Salt Lake City lawyer named Keith Romney (cousin of Mitt):

After studying existing co-op systems in New York and Chicago, Romney presented his client with a different idea; one that would make it possible to subdivide a building into distinct legal parcels within the same structure. The concept had long since been adopted in Europe, starting with Belgium in 1924 and spreading quickly across the continent. ..

Not sure why, having noted the origins in Europe and referred to 1958 legislation in Puerto Rico, the article then credits Utah.  Wikipedia says this:

The first condominium law passed in the United States was in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1958.  In 1960, the first condominium in the Continental United States was built in Salt Lake City, Utah.

However …

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