A-frame Maritime Museum by CBK Van Norman

Maritime Museum, Vancouver

I’ve always loved this building. It’s part of the Vancouver Maritime Museum and was built in 1966 to house the icebreaker St. Roch. You can just see the top of the mast through the upper window. Unfortunately the ship now requires better climate control for its conservation, and the whole museum may be moved to a new museum in North Vancouver. City Hall, please don’t knock this building down to remove the ship. It’s unnecessary. And please don’t knock the 1958 portion of the museum down either; the city has lost quite enough architecture – and any sense of its own history – already. In the photo at bottom, the white and yellow submersible is a NASA vessel called the Ben Franklin.

UPDATE: Thank you to the Vancouver Archives for the information that this building, and the neighbouring 1958 portion of the museum, were both designed by well-known Vancouver architect CBK Van Norman, who also designed the Burrard Building. (Excellent history of that building is in the Vancouver Heritage Society’s pdf brochure and map of downtown modernism here and also see docomomobc.) I hope the fact that it’s a Van Norman helps to prevent the demolition of the museum, though his Canada Customs Building was demolished in 1993.

Maritime Museum, Vancouver

Maritime Museum, Vancouver

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6 Responses to “A-frame Maritime Museum by CBK Van Norman”

  1. ECurrie Says:

    Please don’t move the ship! Find another way. They are always moving things in Vancouver, when setting and context are as important to the integrity of the building as the structure itself!
    Glad to see this in your collection.

  2. LB Says:

    Yes! Vancouver needs to stop erasing itself every 30 or so years, like some sort of thief covering its tracks. In particular it needs to stop demolishing civic, shared buildings and replacing them with bad architecture that is far more private and commercial in function.

  3. MJ Says:

    Really enjoy your blog, and am glad to see this post — I’d hate to see this building go too. I’m wondering if you know anything about the design history of St. John’s Church at 1401 Comox in the West End? Seems a late version of the cedar modernism you showcase here and elsewhere in the blog. Sadly, it looks like it’ll be demolished to make way for a new highrise. I’d love to see the existing structure renovated, and remain a community oriented space…

  4. LB Says:

    Thanks, MJ. Have you seen this?:
    I don’t know anything about who designed the church but I’ll see if I can find out.

  5. LB Says:

    And this:

    (Posted 19 March 2010)
    Reader MPM of the Georgia Straight article on March 11 by Ned Jacobs posted the following important point:
    “I’m still amazed that the St Johns church has not been classified a heritage structure. In Vancouver, especially on the west side, we have a few of these classic west coast churches – St Johns being the only one in the downtown core. This is a truly west coast style, one of the few original architectures that we have in Vancouver, yet somehow the heritage council can’t see it. It would be sad for the city and the neighbourhood to lose a classic and beautiful structure like St Johns for just another tower.”

  6. MJ Says:

    Ah! Yes. I was wondering if others felt the same way about the structure, and it seems that at least one reader does. I have been following the resident activism (& trying to lend my two cents) and appreciate their work, but have been surprised that people don’t seem that interested in saving the structure itself. Maybe there’s something I don’t know — perhaps it isn’t salvageable.

    I also don’t know much about the politics of heritage status designations in this city, but it sounds like mid-20C vernacular architecture isn’t high on Heritage Vancouver’s priority list…


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