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Old January 29th, 2008, 11:32 AM   #1
raggedy13
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A Lesser Seen Neighbourhood: Vancouver's West End (Pt 1of2)

On Friday afternoon I spent a few hours strolling around the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver. It doesn't show up too often on SSP and even then it is usually just the main retail streets of Robson/Denman/Davie that circulate about it. Sandwiched between these streets is also a great residential area - one of the most successful in the city. Straddling downtown's CBD, the neighbourhood has the highest population density in the city and is often cited as being one of the densest residential neighbourhoods in North America.


from wikipedia

It is really one of Vancouver's most diverse neighbourhoods in both people and architecture. It is one of few neighbourhoods in Vancouver that has seen various waves of development over the last ~120 years, adding a rare mix (for Vancouver) of multi-era historic and modern architecture. It's home to the city's largest rental stock as well as "Davie Village" - the city's gay district.

I took a lot of pictures so I thought I'd divide them into two separate threads with the second coming perhaps a week or two after this one. Enjoy.

-------------------------------------------------------

Looking north up Burrard Bridge, my chosen gateway for the day to the West End...






First glimpse of the West End across False Creek...


Our city's new tallest u/c with the towers of the West End in the forefront and sprawling to the left...






A water taxi dock on the shore of False Creek...






A look at the oddly designed Aquatic Centre in the foreground...


Water taxi in action...


Looking down Beach Avenue...


Finally there...
































The pink bus stops and rainbow banners of Davie Village










Looking further west into the West End with the Coast Hotel rising in the distance...


One of the 'newer' highrises in the West End...






An old (still functioning) firehall...


Some of the random corner stores spread throughout the residential streets...




An interesting mosaic tiled building...


They like their palms in the West End...












A school...








This place just screams macaroni grill :rolleyes: but apparently a good restaurant (never been myself)...




The Queen Charlotte - some great 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture - there were a number of buildings of this style built around Vancouver back in the day...




























Another mosaic tiled building...






...and that's it for now. Next part will start with some pictures of one of the main retail streets in the neighbourhood - Denman Street. Hopefully that wasn't too many pictures, I tried to keep it down best I could.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 06:56 PM   #2
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Very interesting neighborhood. That's where I stayed. Looks like a mix of Miami, Moscow, Chicago and Seattle. At one point Vancouver was marketing itself as the Miami of Canada which explains the 60's tiled balconied beach buildings and palms. I also see a hint of Commieblocks and some Victorianna.

Surprisingly, there is not much Asian influence in the architecture.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philadweller View Post
That's where I stayed. Looks like a mix of Miami, Moscow, Chicago and Seattle.
Not a bad description

In my second part you'll be able to see some definitely more Miami-esque buildings along the waterfront - complete with more palm trees.

Yeah, there isn't much Asian influence as most of the buildings in the area were built pre-1980, before Vancouver's big influx of Asian immigrants.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #4
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An interesting mix of buildings, some truly horrible architecture, but overall it must be great for the city to have that many people living in what's really an extension of the CBD. I guess it's often a fairly vibrant area?
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Old January 30th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #5
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"some truly horrible architecture"

I have to agree with that. Some of those taller buildings from the 60s and 70s have absolutely no style. Were they built by government appointed architects? Why was BC getting such low quality buildings back then compared to now?

These two take the cake. The one on the right looks as if the builders ran out of materials to build balconies all the way up and on the left I do not know why that brown surface just ends. Very sloppy buildings that appear makeshift.

What is that brown terd in the foreground? Looks like a paper bag folded over.


This one I nominate as the ugliest building in all of North America.


Which architect is responsible for this slab of creativity I wonder?
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Old January 30th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #6
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Raggedy, these are your own pictures, are they not? New threads of our original pictures should be started in the URBAN SHOWCASE section. Please request the thread be moved over. Thanks!
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Old January 30th, 2008, 07:25 PM   #7
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^My bad. Thanks for the tip. Guess I should've read the fine print. As a moderator, are you able to move threads?

EDIT: Nevermind, I see there is a stickied thread for making such requests.

Quote:
Originally Posted by philadweller
What is that brown terd in the foreground? Looks like a paper bag folded over.
That's the aquatic centre.
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Last edited by raggedy13; January 31st, 2008 at 05:57 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 09:48 PM   #8
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Great neighborhood. I stayed there the december before last when it was unusually cold and windy. I just loved how lively the area was day and night, and the restaurants were great.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 07:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philadweller View Post
"some truly horrible architecture"

I have to agree with that. Some of those taller buildings from the 60s and 70s have absolutely no style. Were they built by government appointed architects? Why was BC getting such low quality buildings back then compared to now?
Yes, many of the buildings are pretty unattractive concrete pillars but at the same time I'd take the 60s/70s West End towers over the even more hideous (in my opinion) fat commie block slabs that were going up in many other cities back in those days. At least some of the West End's towers make an attempt at creative design and make for some interesting specimens of the that era of architecture.

I also wouldn't say they were of any lower quality than residential towers in other cities of that era. For a more local example:

I wouldn't exactly call this the most inspiring, quality development either...


I'm in no way trying to slam Philadelphia's older residential towers but just trying to point out that the West End's 60s/70s towers lack of charm and the subsequent improvement of architectural quality since is by no means a phenomenon unique to Vancouver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by philadweller View Post
This one I nominate as the ugliest building in all of North America.
I actually really like those towers. Why? I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'd take these curvacious octagonal(?) towers over some uninspiring slab any day.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 09:15 PM   #10
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Yes but Philadelphia only has only a few of them. (The one above is worse than anything in Vancouver IMO) Vancouver is infested with them. Instead of agreeing with me you are getting very defensive. Vancouver has a lot going for it. Unfortunately the architecture is not one of of the cities best assets. I'll take Stanley Park any day or your view of the mountains. Who is responsible for the abundance of soulless boxy commieblocks that were built in Vancouver?

Its all a matter of opinion. Philadelphia is much older more establised city. Vancouver went through booms and the result of the booms were a lot of the same looking buildings.
image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr


vancouver (i really like the newer stuff going on) here is the older stuff from the 50s 60s and 70s....West End....etc
image hosted on flickr

image hosted on flickr

Last edited by philadweller; January 31st, 2008 at 09:28 PM.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 09:34 PM   #11
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Nice neighborhood, despite some terrible buildings as pointed out here.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 12:40 AM   #12
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No respect for modernism, I see. The West End has some of the consistently best high rise architecture anywhere in Vancouver, Canada, or anywhere for that matter.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 04:03 AM   #13
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Yaletown, the Expo site, and Coal Harbor have great towers -- mostly the newer ones. I agree that the West End has a lot of ugly ones. Some nice ones too of course. But generally the 60s and 70s were a horrible time for architecture and the West End's early success in getting highrises built reflects that.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 04:28 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the input everybody. Interesting variety of opinions being offered.

Quote:
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Instead of agreeing with me you are getting very defensive.
I wasn't aware I had to agree with you...
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Old February 1st, 2008, 08:37 AM   #15
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Well now people know Vancouver isn't a sea of glass or whatever Great pictures, I prefer the West End to Yaletown(where I reside) in many ways. love to bike up along the seawall to that hood. The highrises are mostly commies but keep in mind they are some gems like the Sylvia Hotel, the 1930's midrises, the clapboard turn of the century's, and that tiled modernist building pictured.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 08:28 PM   #16
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NYC has commieblocks too as does every great city. Variety makes a skyline beautiful.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 09:37 PM   #17
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Nice snaps!

The one place that reminds me of Vancouver with 60s/70s highrises is Honolulu. A lot of them are almost identical, it's like a team of architects designed both city's highrises simultaneously.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 04:04 AM   #18
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Looks nice, some parts look like a Japanese city
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Old August 27th, 2008, 10:23 PM   #19
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If I can remember correctly and I think I used to go there....it is the Vancouver Aquatic Center. Gym/Fitness Center, Olympic Swimming pool and 3,5,10 meter diving boards.....I've jumped off the first two...but I think I chickened out with the 40 footer!

Quote:
Originally Posted by philadweller View Post
"some truly horrible architecture"

I have to agree with that. Some of those taller buildings from the 60s and 70s have absolutely no style. Were they built by government appointed architects? Why was BC getting such low quality buildings back then compared to now?

These two take the cake. The one on the right looks as if the builders ran out of materials to build balconies all the way up and on the left I do not know why that brown surface just ends. Very sloppy buildings that appear makeshift.

What is that brown terd in the foreground? Looks like a paper bag folded over.


This one I nominate as the ugliest building in all of North America.


Which architect is responsible for this slab of creativity I wonder?
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Old August 28th, 2008, 08:13 PM   #20
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The West End actually has some impressive older architecture, both houses and apartment blocks. The feel of the West End with it's tree lined streets, beaches, and Stanley Park border area is very good as a neighbourhood. The feel of community activity and density is significant. Also the human scale and variety of the buildings makes it very livable.
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