Wednesday, June 27, 2012

UEL Residential

The University Endowment Lands continues its evolution from a sleepy, professorial enclave spotted with pre-1940's colonial and modest mid-century housing stock, to one increasingly populated by new structures that maximize square footage and cost per square foot.

It's the now classic Vancouver paradigm of small houses on large lots that encourage demolition and rebuilding.

The list of architects who built in the area is a who's who of Vancouver's early progressive designers: Sharp + Thompson, Berwick, Pratt, Thom, Hollingsworth, Downs, McNab, Lasserre, Porter, Van Norman, Erickson, McCarter + Nairne, Semmens + Simpson and McKee.

It's a significant concentration of housing and one that is slowly being lost. Recently the Muir Residence (see below) was razed. Designed by Sharp + Thompson, Berwick, Pratt in 1951, it displayed early modernist characteristics such as strip windows, a pitched shed roof and a red brick chimney on cross axis. 
Other houses that have been demolished include Maslow (S+TBP), Miller (J.L. Miller), O'Connor (McNab), Mackay (Cullerne) and Mitchell (Semmens + Simpson).

There are those that remain, in varying states: S+TBP's Freeman house sits in disrepair and for sale. McKee's Ellett house is wasting away, utterly engulfed in overgrown landscaping, boarded up and awaiting eventual demolition. 

The Jones house, by RJ Thom (at S+TBP) has been sympathetically renovated and remains intact. Porter, Chard + Wisnicki's Nemetz house sits as it always has, virtually unchanged. The Gladstone (Hollingsworth) and Narod (Thom) houses still nestle on their lots, for who knows how long. Barry Downs' late modern Oberlander house still looks serenely out onto the adjacent ravine.

It's not all bad news, however, as there is good work being built by more recent generations of Vancouver architects. Bing Thom, Nick Milkovich and D'Arcy Jones are now represented in the area, providing a welcome foil to the faux heritage that predominates, and a continuation of the dialogue that was started over half a century ago.

Below: Narod, Ellett and Oberlander houses.

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