VHF Burrard Street Walk – the Central Business District

Burrard Street is home to our current Central Business District.  It is where Vancouver does business.  The stretch from Hastings south to Georgia is home to most of the corporate headquarters in British Columbia.

We walked south along Burrard from the Marine Building while Maurice, our guide extraordinaire once again, introduced some of the buildings to us.  One of the first buildings we came across was the Douglas Jung Building. This government office building is nothing to wow at architecturally.  The name, for me, is more interesting than the building itself.  Douglas Jung was the first ever Chinese-Canadian Member of Parliament.  I first found out about Douglas Jung on a previous Vancouver Heritage Foundation walking tour of Chinatown.

I also find the piece of public art outside the Douglas Jung Building more interesting than the building itself.  This piece is called Public Service/Private Step.  It is by artist Alan Storey who seems to specialize in moving art pieces.  The pendulum in the HSBC Building on Georgia Street and the giant wheel at Sapperton SkyTrain Station in New Westminster are also examples of Storey’s work.  The “elevators” in Public Service/Private Step actually mimic the exact movement of the elevators inside the Douglas Jung Building.  Today was the first day I actually saw those boxes move.  I guess I must have only passed by this building on weekends previously when nobody is at work.

The collection of Bentall Towers is synonymous with business in Vancouver.  These two bank towers are a couple of the older Bentall Towers.  Maurice pointed how the concrete columns extend from top to bottom.  He said it was a modern interpretation of the old classical columns found on 1920’s bank buildings.  And, of course, these buildings are primarily occupied by financial institutions.  The logos of National Bank and the Business Development Bank of Canada occupy the tops of the towers.

Continuing with banks, this smaller glass and concrete structure has occupied the corner of Burrard and Dunsmuir for many years now.  It’s at the foot of the Bentall Tower complex on the west side of Burrard.  To my memory, it has always been a branch of the Bank of Montreal.  Maurice said that this branch was home to beautiful metal trees with thousands of metal leaves that created a canopy inside the bank.  According to Maurice, they were removed over 20 years ago. The reason?  They were very difficult to clean.

Across the street on the east side of Burrard is the newest of the Bentall Towers – Bentall 5.  It’s sleek steel and glass look topped off with Bell Canada’s corporate logo is in line with Vancouver persistent steel and glass architecture.  The logo of Teck Resources marks the entrance to Bentall 5.  Much of the money in town flows from corporations dealing with British Columbia’s natural resources.

One can also tell from this Park Place cairn down the road that the money in town is in finance (RBC), mining (Goldcorp) or lawyer firms (Davis LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP).  I guess these are the people who can afford to get the nice seats at a Canucks game.

Not to despair, though.  Burrard Street is not just for big business and the suits.  There’s a little something for everyone.  How about a little Tacofino to satiate your hunger on a walk along Burrard.

Next up: Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Further Reading:

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