3 Cool Vancouver Buildings That Don’t Exist Anymore

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

I watched the demolition of the Empire Landmark Hotel in the West End over the course of about 11 months. I would walk by and it seemed like each day, bit-by-bit, a floor was gone. It wasn’t a particularly lovely building by any means, but it was an icon on the Downtown Vancouver landscape. Rising 42 storeys and topped with a revolving restaurant, it opened in 1973 and closed in 2017. Now it’s a hole in the ground until two new residential towers are built.

It got me thinking about the ever-changing landscape in Vancouver, and how even in my neighbourhood some trees outlast buildings. So, here are three architecturally stunning buildings that Vancouver has gained and lost over the last century. If you can think of any more, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

3 Cool Vancouver Buildings That Don’t Exist Anymore

Georgia Medical Dental Building
1950s: Georgia Medical-Dental Building viewed from the Vancouver Art Gallery steps. Archives# 2008-022.040.

Georgia Medical Dental Building
Built: 1927-1929
Demolished: 1989
Where: On the corner of Hornby and Georgia
What’s there now: Cathedral Place
About: Built in 1927-29, the Medical-Dental Building was the first art deco skyscraper built in Vancouver and was designed by the same architects who did the Marine Building, McCarter and Nairne. “Like the Marine Building it rose in tiers, topped by pale terra cotta that dripped off the brick facade like ice cream,” reported the Vancouver Sun.

The Changing Vancouver blog calls this next one “the saddest loss of a heritage building in the city.”

Birks Building on Georgia and Granville
June, 1946. Birks Building on Georgia and Granville. Photographer: Don Coltman. Archives# CVA 586-4399.

Birks Building
Built: 1912-1913
Demolished: 1974
Where: Granville and Georgia
What’s there now: Scotia Tower
About: “[It was] an 11-storey Edwardian masterpiece with an elegant terra cotta facade and a graceful curved corner,” according to the Vancouver Sun. “The corner of Georgia and Granville was rounded glass windows all the way up. It was quite spectacular. That’s where the Birks clock was for years and years. It was a familiar meeting place: ‘Meet you at the Birks clock, Georgia and Granville.’”

Second Hotel Vancouver
1917. Second Hotel Vancouver. Georgia and Granville. Photographer: Philip Timms. Archives# CVA 677-21.

Second Hotel Vancouver
Built: 1912-1916
Demolished: 1949. It closed 10 years earlier and turned into a government administration building during World War II, while the third Hotel Vancouver was opened.
Where: Georgia between Howe and Granville
What’s there now: TD Tower
About: “Features included arched windows, castle-like turrets and a 14th floor that was adorned with eight-foot tall terra cotta moose and buffalo head sculptures. Gargoyles, Canadian-style. The hotel was big, with 700 rooms, several dining rooms, two ballrooms, a billiard room, shops and offices. And it was a study in elegance, from its three-storey entrance portico to its renowned rooftop garden.” [Source: Vancouver Sun]

Related reads: City Hall History, Pacific Central Station, Waterfront Station, Heritage Hall, Hotel Europe.

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