Water Street Adaptive Reuse Development (1886-1911)

Vancouver, British Columbia

2014 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award (Adaptive Reuse/Rehabilitation)

This complex, three-phase construction process rehabilitated five adjacent heritage buildings in Vancouver’s historic Gastown district and integrated new construction, revitalizing the area and transforming it into a vibrant quarter. Each of the five buildings, constructed between 1886 and 1930, had their own unique stories. The Alhambra Hotel (1886), remains one of the oldest intact structures in Vancouver; the Garage Building (1930), was one of Vancouver’s earliest purpose-built automobile garage and service stations; the Cordage Building (1911), was an early mixed use structure; the Grand Hotel (1889) and Terminus Hotel (1901), provided short and long-term lodging for seasonal resource trade workers in the fishing and logging industries. The project involved joining the five buildings and undertaking an exhaustive restoration and rehabilitation of their storefronts.

The unabashedly contemporary additions are distributed along the street edge in a manner that complements the character of the historic streetscape, or are set back to minimize their visual perception from street level. This massive project addresses the pressures of Vancouver’s overheated real estate market in an exemplary way, respecting the low-rise architecture of the streets while integrating infill construction in a creative and unobtrusive manner that respects the unique qualities of Gastown, a designated national historic site.

Owner: The Salient Group
Architects: Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
Heritage Consultants: Donald Luxton & Associates

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