Rebuilding an Iconic Brand
The building at 698 West Hastings Street was originally built in 1908 for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. It is an elegant example of revival architecture, and represents a typical late Romantic design catering to gentle eclecticism.
A 1950’s renovation resulted in the loss of its heritage interior and provided a renovation challenge for the building’s new user, a great name in the Canadian tradition of high-end retailers, Henry Birks and Sons, the renowned jewellers.
Birks had detailed requirements for their new flagship store, including a street presence, window displays, significant entries, recognizable exterior signage and symbolism. As the new user was also a part of Canadian history, the redesign of the building allowed for the development of a theme that was interpreted as the marriage of two traditions, one in architecture and the other in the objects and artifacts of a great jeweller.
A study of the Birks’ history was utilized to match the study of the building and its history. Historical examples from North America and Europe were reviewed, and an interior concept was developed along the lines of a theatrical “belle époque” design. The design is centred on a grand staircase leading to a new mezzanine, creating the necessary break in the severe austerity of the huge interior box of the building, and providing abundant opportunity to recreate the kind of details that originally decorated the interior of the building, as well as adding a romantic quasi-baroque effect to the new interior.
From lighting to cabinetwork, the highest level of new technology and traditional craftsmanship were combined to achieve the desired effect. The design was a challenge in the creation and commissioning of many subtle details, which look as if they had been always part of the building and yet do not compromise any of the remaining art work.
City of Vancouver Heritage Restoration Award
- Architectural design
- Building permit
- Interior Design
- Project management
- Construction management