History & Heritage
February 8, 2019

The Facade about Heritage Buildings

You know them~those buildings you walk up to that look heritage and wonderful from the front but once you are in them they are kind of a modern box. In many cases these are heritage buildings that have had their facades maintained as part of the development permit process, with the new modern building tucked in behind.

Facade Retention 200 block of Knightsbridge, London

Christopher Cheung in this Tyee article explores  why just maintaining a building’s old facade was perceived as conserving it, and why some developers will preserve the whole building, “Some developers will do more than the minimum preservation required if there’s an incentive: the prestige of saving a building beloved by the community; incorporating heritage features to make their condo project stand out; or to win extra density from the city.”

Christopher observes: “Density for preservation is a tricky exchange. Across the Salish Sea in Victoria, heritage advocates lobbied city council this month, worried that too much extra height and density is being offered to developers who are protecting too little heritage in the city’s Old Town.”

Architect Javier Campos, the president of Heritage Vancouver who bluntly states “Keeping a façade is an acceptable thing, and it was very popular in the 1980s and ’90s, but it’s so unidimensional. It’s such a shallow commemoration. To me, it’s one step above having a plaque. If it’s significant enough, the answer should be restoration.”

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The theme of ‘Heritage: The Tie that Binds’ highlights the power of cultural heritage to bring people together and create a sense of belonging.


Wednesday, Feb 20: Places That Matter: Community Celebration

Hear the stories of Places That Matter sites from the people and organizations who brought their history forward.This free celebration includes refreshments and displays related to Places That Matter sites and local history, a short program of inspirational stories featuring our Master of Ceremonies, Author, Musician and Historian Aaron Chapman, as well as live music from the Vancouver Chamber Players Wind Trio.

Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St. 6pm – 8:30pm, FREE


Saturday, Feb 23: Tea at Chinatown House

Visit Chinatown House, an innovative new hub in a converted building that is providing space for co-working and cultural programming. Hear about the project from Leslie Shieh, co-founder of Tomo Spaces and learn about the intangible cultural heritage of the area from Helen Lee, a planner with the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Transformation Team. Cantonese instructor and certified tea master, Christine Wong, will serve tea and discuss its relevance in Chinese traditions and everyday practices.

Chinatown House, 188 E Pender St. 1:30pm – 3pm, $20


Sunday, Feb 24: Oakridge Community History Walking Tour

In the post-war period, the Oakridge area was the hub of Vancouver’s Jewish community, home to many families and community organizations. Join Michael Schwartz, Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC for a tour of this neighbourhood. Visit architectural landmarks including the Jewish Community Centre, King David High School, modernist homes, and Temple Sholom synagogue, and learn how these spaces provided the foundations for a vibrant community.

Oakridge Neighbourhood. 10am – 12pm, $20


To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org or call 604 264 9642.


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The Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) has released it’s 2018 Emerging Milestones: a list of events, policies and decisions that it considers relevant in the shaping of Vancouver as a unique, urban settlement. Compiled by urban planners, architects, historians, and residents of Vancouver, these milestones are related to land-use or social, cultural, and economic events of the last year.

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Today, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture Lisa Beare announced an RFP for corporate naming rights for BC Place, the 54,500-seat stadium right next to the smaller, 12-years-newer, Rogers Arena.

Boasting the largest retractable roof in the world, BC Place is one of the many legacies of Expo ’86, and is operated by B.C. Pavilion Corporation, the Crown corporation responsible for the BC Pavilion, in that seminal year of, well, showcasing BC.

In addition to operating BC Place Stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre, PavCo has also administered the ground lease and development of the land west of the stadium (now known as Parq Vancouver, a Paragon Gaming hotel-casino-spa-fitness concept).

But for the past decade, ever since Roofgate — sorry, Deflategate was taken — and the 2014 completion of the roof reno, BC Place has largely flown under the radar as a major, name-brand venue for a generation of youth looking for something to do.

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This month historian and researcher, Jolene Castillou Cumming will tell the illustrated story, “West End Newspaperwomen & Journalists”.
You are encouraged to listen, sketch and bring your own stories and historic photographs of the West End to share with your community.


Wednesday, January 16

4:30 to 6:00, story telling from 4:45-5:45

JJ Bean Cafe, 1209 Bidwell  (Bidwell & Davie)

Free, complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJ Bean


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This Christmas card from the 50s via the Museum of Vancouver is just the thing for PT.  It looks west down Georgia from just east of Granville:


The biggest changes: (1) That Christmas tree is on a parking lot at the southwest corner of Granville and Georgia, where the first two Hotels Vancouver were, and where Pacific Centre is now.  But if you had to choose a corner today that still says ‘this is the centre’ – it would be this one.

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As Daily Scot reminded me, how can you have a series on Seventies architecture without including the Landmark (Sheraton and Empire) on Robson:


Price Tags started to follow the demolition of the tower (Our Falling Tower), especially since it was going to be slowly drilled apart over 2019.  Indeed, it is on Christmas Eve – missing the restaurant, several floors lower.  Built in 1973, designed by Ross Lort for developer Ben Wosk.


The problem with the Landmark is that it wasn’t.  Unlike the much lower Harbour Centre, also with a revolving restaurant, it didn’t have that Jetson’s flair; it never really showed up on sketches of the city’s skyline.  Opened in 1973, designed by Bill Lort for Ben Wosk, it was tall but undistinguished.

It marked no special place, just another block on Robson.  It had no dialogue with the Blue Horizon, a few blocks up the hill.  Those brothers never spoke. Since the two hotels were built in competition by the Brothers Wosk, trying to outdo each other with the tallest tower (Ben beat Morris with the Landmark), that seems a shame.

And because it has nothing special other than height, it won’t be missed.

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