Twinned Towers

Photo by Denis Bouvier

Taken from Nelson and Richards St., this picture presents 3 iconic buildings in Vancouver.

In the foreground we have part of the Robson Square Complex built in the 70’s. The 2 towers in the background which are the main focus of this picture are the Electra on the left and the Patina on the right.

What’s remarkable about this photo is that it makes 2 buildings appear to be side by side and the same height.

However, the Electra has 21 storeys compared with the Patina’s 42 storeys, and they are on opposite sides of the street.

The glass and steel eastern face of the recently completed Patina was designed to harmonize with the buildings in the downtown core. We can see the similarity in the amount of glass and window design in both the Electra and Patina.

The Electra at Nelson and Burrard is the former BC Hydro Building, built in 1957. This landmark heritage building is an example of the international style of modernist architecture and features coloured glass mosaic tiles by artist BC Binning.

The tallest building of its time in BC, it was symbolic of BC’s dynamic resources and the prosperous future that promised.

For years, BC Hydro’s office lights were left on all night to illuminate this fact. Horns fitted at the top of the building played the noon horn from 1967 to 1990 when BC Hydro vacated the building.

In 1995, the building was converted to strata lots and now houses 205 commercial units and 242 condos.

At Barclay near Burrard, we have the 42 storey Patina with over 250 condo units developed by Concert Properties. It has been nominated for 2 architectural awards: the Sam and the Georgie for the best in multifamily high rise development.

The Patina gained its height in part as bonus density for providing the restoration and modernization of the heritage YMCA located in front of it.

Often with bonus density, residents do not feel that the accompanying community amenities have been provided.

In this case, we have a restored YMCA in central downtown which not only functions as a state of the art fitness centre, but also as a vibrant community centre with educational programs and a childcare, preschool and family development centre.