Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Offices - 1962
2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC.
Description of Historic Place:
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Offices consist of three linked, low, flat-roofed pavilions clad with stone, wood and extensive glazing, located at the Beach Avenue entrance of Stanley Park. It is set amid extensive foundation plantings, across a lawn from adjacent roads.
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Offices building is significant for its historical, symbolic, and aesthetic values, particularly as an outstanding example of the important regional West Coast Modernist post-and-beam design idiom.
Constructed in 1962, the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board Offices have historical value as the then new home of the Vancouver Parks Board as it centralized its activities during the 1960s. The building was constructed with a suburban residential scale in keeping with the pre-high rise form of the West End. The building's prominent location at a principal entrance to the city's pre-eminent park is symbolic of the Parks Board assumption of a higher profile, as it evolved from a steward of park lands to a community and recreational services provider. The Offices' accessibility and setting express the egalitarian cultural mission of the Parks Board, responsible for an extensive building program of community and recreation centres in suburban neighbourhoods throughout Vancouver in the decades following the Second World War.
The building is also significant for its association with lead architect Percy Underwood, partner of the locally prominent firm Underwood McKinley and Cameron, later Underwood McKinley Wilson Smith.
The building is exemplary of the more organic or naturalistic aspects of Modernist design principles. That is, building forms express differing office functions within, simple materials are employed in a direct, natural manner, custom-designed furniture and lighting fixtures are coordinated with the overall building detailing, and importance is placed on close physical and visual connection between interior and exterior spaces. Its detailing is also typical of this naturalistic idiom. For example, the exposed post-and-beam construction, simple flat roofs of varying height, extensive banks of wood windows and clerestory fenestration all respond to the benign climate of the Pacific Coast. The superior integration of form and details make the building a masterpiece of the West Coast style.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Offices include:
Siting, Context and Landscape
- The building's location, within Vancouver's largest park, and siting at the south entry of the park
- Continued use as the Vancouver Park Board office
- Appropriateness of the building massing and design to its park setting
- Flat roof with visible beam ends extending to the exterior
- Horizontal massing and appropriate scale for its park setting
- Architectural features, such as the protruding bays supported by wooden brackets, and the grid of glazing on the front facade now covered by a columned glass wall
- Use of natural materials, including stone facing on the building exterior, in the retaining walls, and the stone bridge to a doorway in the northwest wing
- Vertical board siding
- Architectural details, including entry soffits and upper windows above the entry doors
- The variety of wood window configurations, often banked, and combining fixed and casement types
- Original interior furnishings including chairs, tables and benches
- Significant row of deciduous trees to the west,
- Espaliered Atlantic cedar at the south entry,
- Curvilinear planting beds containing both native and introduced plant material
- Tree and shrub entryway planting, curved paths and lawn areas