Monday, September 17, 2012

601 Herald - a real success


I have been meaning to comment on 601 Herald for some time but life gets in the way.   The other day to reward Daniel for being able to take out the old dishwasher and install the "new to us" dishwasher without a manual and no help from me we let him choose somewhere to go to lunch and he picked Shizen Sushi which is almost across the street from 601 Herald.   It gave me a chance to look and think about the building.

The lot before the building went up
601 Herald Street shows what can be done to make a building to no only fit with the surroundings but to actually enhance the look and feel.  Too often in this city buildings have been constructed that do not really fit with the neighbourhood and effectively reduce the overall consistency.   What 601 Herald has done is nothing dramatic and could easily have been with other buildings constructed over the years in this city.

What I also like about 601 Herald is that is not an attempt to build reconstruction of a 100 year old building. Faux heritage is always a mistake and I have yet to see any of them survive the test of time.

This brick building on Pandora could have been like 601 Herald at no extra cost in construction but that was not done
I look at various brick clad buildings in the old town that were built since the 1970s and I have to ask why was there no effort given to make the buildings compliment what was already there?   Think of the Salvation Army building at Yates and Wharf, there is no way it could have cost more to have built one that helped pull together the area stylistically.  

I am not saying build old buildings, and 601 Herald is not that all, but build as if the streets around you existed.  This is where 601 Herald has been such a success and the reason I am looking forward to Reliance Properties proposal for the Northern Junk site.   I notice both developers are from Vancouver and not locals, I am not sure what that means.

601 Herald has window shapes and small scale ornamentation that can be found in older buildings in town, it this homage it does to the past that makes it work where it is.   It was also built keeping in mind it was going to abut buildings more than 100 years old and they have succeeded in doing that well enough to actually improve the look and relevance of the two neighbouring buildings

The lot was a long term empty spot on the corner of Herald and Government.   The lack of anything on the corner effectively ended any real sense of Old Town continuing further northwards.  There is still a nice streetscape on the west side of Government between Herald and Catham but the used car dealer on the southwest corner of Herald and Government and the empty lot on the southeast corner has disconnected them from the rest of the city.   



The  two narrow old buildings on the east side of Government were stranded mid block which made them look out of place.   The Yen Wo Society Building at 1713 Government is a nationally recognized historic building.   The Lung Kong Kung Shaw and the First Chinese Empire Reform Association Building at 1715-1717 Government Street is the second building.  They are both important heritage buildings that needed help to retain a modern relevance and not just be fossilized artifact.  The construction of 601 Herald Street to the same height as them in a style that is in keeping with their look and feel has allowed them to be more than they have been.   
The two buildings are not helped by the large tree in front
Trevor Linden is a property developer I can get behind if this is the sort of work he is involved with.

Now we need someone to buy the building that houses QV Bakery at the corner of Fisgard and Government  to help improve the street.
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