In the course of our daily reporting, we often uncover unusual projects, places, or connections that don't make the final cut. Instead of keeping it to ourselves, we're pleased to share our Architrivia.
Last week's Throwback Thursday chronicled the history of a Downtown Eastside landmark, the Carnegie Centre, which formerly housed the Vancouver Museum from 1905 to 1957, before the facility moved to a dedicated building on Burrard Street. It wasn't until the Heinrich Report of 1965 that a new museum on the south shore of False Creek was seriously considered, marking the genesis of the current complex that opened to the public in October 1968.
After changing names to reflect Canada's centennial, then reverting back to its homely Vancouver Museum moniker, the institution once again employed an immaterial rebranding in 2009 when it became the Museum of Vancouver. Sharing an entrance and foyer with the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, the Gerald Hamilton-designed building is composed of three quadrangles bordering a conical planetarium structure.
Visitors enter the UFO-like entrance via a curved bridge suspended over a fountain framed by a large stainless steel crab sculpture. This section of the complex, arguably the most visually distinct, was actually an afterthought, only made possible by a generous gift from lumberman and philanthropist H.R. MacMillan. The expressive and futuristic Modernist design of the planetarium — which appears to mimic many characteristics of Frank Lloyd Wright's work — conveyed the international interest in space exploration in the 1960s. Its roof was designed to reflect the form of a traditional woven basket hat made by Northwest Coast First Nations people.
First the site of a First Nations village and later used as an equipment depot by the air force during the Second World War, Vanier Park is now home to a range of civic buildings, including the Museum, the City Archives, and the Vancouver School of Music. Nicknamed "the Taj Mahal on the creek" shortly after its christening, the venerable Museum of Vancouver and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is one of the most important cultural institutions in the city, and evinces the philanthropic zeitgeist that pushed booming extraction industries to sponsor monumental educational facilities.
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