250 Powell Street

Remand Centre 1When our first ‘before’ picture was taken, in 2002, the Remand Centre round the corner from the Main Street courthouse was just closing. Designed by Richard Henriquez in the late 1970s and completed in 1983, the building was taken out of commission as it became unnecessary to hold enough prisoners on remand to warrant the cost of running the building.

In 2008 the bottom floors were converted to the Community Court, but the upper floors and their massive concrete pods remained unused. A $21m makeover later, designed by Henriquez Partners, the building is now a 96 unit low cost and non-market housing project managed for B C Housing by the Bloom Group.

Remand Centre 2

Before images: 2002 and 2012; After images 2015.

The Budzey Building

Budzey 1 v2

Here’s one of the thirteen non-market housing projects funded by BC Housing on land provided by the City of Vancouver. It’s big – 147 rooms – and managed by the Raincity Housing and Support Society. It’s named after Lorna Budzey who died in 2000, a resident of Raincity’s first shelter. The building is designed by Neale Staniszkis Doll Adams Architects and is 10 storeys high.

The site was previously the home of the Drake Hotel, a small (24 room) hotel dating back to 1912, and bought by the City of Vancouver in 2007 at the same time the Province started buying SRO Hotels. The City carried out a basic renovation of the property to allow it to be used as temporary rooms for tenants whose building was being given a more significant upgrade that meant they had to move out for a while. The hotel’s neon sign, dating back to 1950, is in the Museum of Vancouver’s neon collection.

Before image, 2008; after image, 2015

MNP Tower – West Hastings Street


The MNP Tower (the accountancy tenant who were first to sign up were given the naming rights by the developer, Oxford Properties) was squeezed into a small site between the iconic Marine Building and the Guinness Tower (both also co-owned by Oxford). Initial designs were by Vancouver-based MCP, but after rejection by the Urban Design Panel a new architect, US based Kohn Pederson Fox were brought on board and they generated the gently curving dark blue-grey tower that has just been completed.

MNP 4The base of the building incorporates the façade of the University Club, abandoned for many years (except for movie shoots), which was designed by Thompson, Berwick & Pratt in 1929 when it was known as the Quadra Club.


Before images: 2011; after images 2015


East Broadway and Fraser

Fraser & BroadwayNot all the new non-market housing is being built Downtown. Here’s an 8-storey newly built 103 unit building on East Broadway. Designed by Neale Staniskis Doll Adams it incorporates the Broadway Youth Resource Centre that had been located here previously. Initial plans for the BC Housing funded construction (on a site provided by the City of Vancouver) had 11 storeys, but this was reduced to better fit with the surrounding scale of development.

South Creek Landing

South Creek Landing 1

This small corner site on Cambie Street (where the Cambie Bridge starts) used to hold a small ‘Chinese’ building built in 1987. It was last occuopied by a sushi restaurant, but before that it featured Korean cruisine.

South Creek Landing 2

Now Arno Matis has designed a 6-storey curved condo-over-retail building with some dramatic balcony details.

Before images, 2011; after images 2014.

The Flats – East Georgia Street

The Flats 1

The Flats is an innovative condo building on nine storeys on a 25 foot wide lot. It features concertina shutters on the façade that filter the light and allow residents to have greater privacy, and they add a dramatic yellow splash into an otherwise brick coloured street.

The Flats 2Designed by Birmingham and Wood (with UBC’s Inge Roecker) the site the building sits on had been vacant for at least a decade. The first building on the site was the house built by D J McPhalen back when East Georgia was still called Harris Street.

Before images, 2011; after images 2014.