Eugenia Place

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1919 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC

Eugenia Place
EugeniaPlaceVanExterior-update.jpg

Eugenia Place in Vancouver's West End on Beach Avenue
Building Information
Developer Burrard International Holdings
Architect Henriquez Partners Architects
Number of Units 16
Number of Floors 19
Year Built 1991
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof Metal
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1919 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region Vancouver
Municipality Vancouver
Zoning RM-5B
Title of Land Condominium



Contents

Background

Eugenia Place at 1919 Beach Avenue has what may be one of the most stunning locations in all of Vancouver. It rises 19 floors above Beach Avenue which runs along the shoreline of English Bay, a captivating stretch of beach steeped in history.

The distinctive Pin Oak Tree on the roof

This unmistakable building is easily recognized by the 37 foot Pin Oak tree on its rooftop, rooted into a special circular cauldron specifically designed for it. Architect Richard Henriquez, of Henriquez & Partners, chose to design Eugenia Place to pay homage to the rich history of the West End of Vancouver's downtown.

The building was developed by the Burrard Group headed by Caleb Chan, and it was named for his mother, Eugenia. Caleb's father, Chan Shun was a business man and philanthropist from Guangzhou and moved to Canada from Hong Kong in 1989. Over the last 40 years, the Chan family has funded more than 100 foundations contributing to medicine and education around the world. Caleb and his brother Tom funded the Chan Shun Concert Hall in UBC's new performing arts centre in memory of their father.

From the early days of the West End, this building's overall height, including the oak tree, was meant to symbolize and represent how tall the old growth forest was before it was logged and cleared for development. Early settlers in the area lived in cabins and tents, and tribute to this is paid with planters along a water feature leading up to the main entrance and within designs within the lobby. A mock Tudor apartment from the 1940s represents the building Eugenia Place replaced.

The oak tree on the top of the building gives Eugenia Place a very unique and memorable aspect. It is one of the most frequently photographed buildings in the West End by both locals and by the numerous tourists who visit Vancouver each year. For this design, Henriquez & Partners were winners of the Governor General's Award for Architecture.[1]


Eugenia Place as seen from Google Earth

Location

Vancouver's West End has evolved into a highly sought after area to in which to live. Numerous condominium developments and apartment buildings fill the neighbourhood. With higher density living comes more services and amenities. Denman Street, Davie Street, and Robson Street are all within a few blocks of Eugenia Place. They are all literally 'packed' with stores, restaurants, boutiques, hotels and bars. The West End has something for all tastes.

The world famous Stanley Park borders the West End as it reaches for the southwest corner of the peninsula. To the north of Eugenia Place, is the Coal Harbour neighbourhood and to the east, Yaletown. The downtown business district may take 15 minutes to walk to ... faster if roller blades are donned.

A beautiful sunny day at English Bay, near the foot of Eugenia Place
The Seawall lining English Bay extends along the shore of False Creek under three bridges and curls around towards Granville Island across the small inlet. Small Aquabuses cross the water frequently ferrying passengers to and from Granville Island and further in to the Science Centre. The Seawall extends the other direction to Stanley Park and goes completely around the 1,001 acre park used by about 2.5 million pedestrians annually.

The West End has a diverse mix of cultures and lifestyles. The Davie Street area is known for its eclectic eating places, pubs, and nightclubs, and for its gay community. Apartment buildings and condominiums closer to Beach Avenue may feature young families and a retired community. Schools in the area include piano lessons, the Pooh Corner Day Care, Vancouver School Board elementary and middle schools, and a Sailing School. There is even a Belly Dancing School on Robson Street about a 15 minute walk away.

Coffee cravings are easily satisfied by dozens of shops, too numerous to mention, that can fill any "designer-coffee" need. Bike rentals and car-shares are easily accessible and widely utilized by local residents of the area.[2]

Eugenia Place among its neighbours

Construction

There seems to be little doubt that Eugenia Place with its distinctive oak tree is a building that stands out in the minds of those who have seen it. The award winning design from Henriquez & Partners follows the postmodern style of architecture with a hefty burst of Vancouverism thrown into the mix.

At the foot of the tower are low stone walls that reproduce the foundations of four houses that stood on that site long before Eugenia Place.

The distinctive sea-green coloured glass and rounded bay window that rises the height of the building looking much like a half of a cylinder added to the front facade. This interesting design aspect greatly enhances the ocean views from within the suites. A wider range can be viewed then from from a flat surfaced picture window, no matter how large.

The rounded conical expression at the top of the structure is where the oak tree is planted. The half cylinder reaches the ground and tapers inward forming what some have likened to a large screw anchoring the building to the ground.

Suites are very private as there is only one suite per floor. They all range in size of around 3,000 square feet, with variations. Construction, which completed in 1991, incorporated high ceilings and interior space uncluttered by columns. There are large sun-porches and the seaside balconies are covered to protect residents from Vancouver's sometimes heavy "dew-fall".[3]

Water features of Eugenia Place

Layout and Features

Eugenia Place greets residents with a walkway passing a water feature and historic depictions of neighbourhoods' past.

Larger developments usually add a gym and pool to help entice new residents to move there. Eugenia Place is a small building and through its location alone does not need the extra frills. The ocean is at its doorstep. There is vegetation all around.

The famous seawall extends in both directions for exercise and reflection. A community recreation centre is a few blocks away with indoor swimming and high fitness equipment.

The building has 16 units within its 19 floors, the top two suites each occupying two floors. The uppermost penthouse has the distinction of seeing the deciduous Pin Oak Tree in all its glory through its seasonal changes.

The oak tree on the top of the building is a metaphorical representation of the tall forests of Cedar and Douglas Fir that once stood there.[4]

Floor Plans

Few publicly available floor plans exist, but the two we have displayed here give a general representation of others.

A three bedroom variation
The elaborate five bedroom variation

Amenities

Bylaws

Eugenia Place Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No



  • Pet friendly
  • Suites may be rented
  • No age restrictions placed on ownership within Eugenia Place


Sustainability

It has a tree.

Pin Oak Tree replacement in 2017

"Eugenia Place may not have been constructed to follow any LEED Certification or "green building" guidelines ... but it has a tree. It may simply be a representation of respect for the original forests that once stood here, but it is a clear signal that Vancouver is conscious of their forests and the environment as a whole.


But alas, all good things must come to an end.


The original Pin Oak Tree, installed in 1987, died this year in 2017. The architect's requirements state that tree must be replaced with another Pin Oak Tree, even though this species is not native to British Columbia. It was selected for its heavy base and light limbs which makes it more able to withstand strong winds. The health of the tree will be checked monthly by an arborist. Once the tree has firmly rooted, it will be adorned with lights for all to see.

The $500,000 project includes fixing the roof's waterproof coating, replacing the old soil with 18 tonnes of new earth, hooks and cables to keep the tree secure, and an automated irrigation system. Funding for the project comes from all the owners within Eugenia Place.


Some buildings that were built after Eugenia Place have embraced 'green' and 'sustainable' concepts through material use, construction techniques, and the conservation of resources, such as water and electricity. Other modern buildings even incorporate roof gardens and landscaped terraces in their designs.

Did Eugenia Place set the trend for green and sustainable living? Perhaps not, but the acknowledgement of green space on the top of the building and at its foot speaks volumes.

Trivia

Vancouver's "Laughing Men" bronze statues
  • Nearby Eugenia Place is a small park where 14 ten foot statues of bronze depict men laughing uproariously. It is a popular site for visitors and locals alike. At Christmas time, an unknown person(s) under the cover of darkness, dress the "Laughing Men" with custom made Santa hats. Somehow, measurements needed to be taken for each statue and hats needed to be sewn. Some statues have their hands on their heads so hats for these needed to be compensated for. No one has stepped forward to claim credit. The mystery remains.[5]
  • Before the Safeway stores arrived in Vancouver in 1929, the only other supermarket chain was the Piggly Wiggly Corporation. It was the first 'self-serve' style shop where shoppers could roam about open warehouse and select their own items without having to wait for a the next available clerk as in a deli. Prices were marked on each item, there were refrigerated cases for cold goods, they used checkout stands and the employees wore uniforms. These are many of the standards we still see today. The last Piggly Wiggly store closed in 1930 in Kerrisdale.
  • There are unsubstantiated rumours that Leonard Nimoy once owned the penthouse of Eugenia Place. but research so far has not been able to confirm this.
  • Airplane builders, Jimmy and Henry Hoffar, asked Victor Bishop who was 23 at the time, to take out their new seaplane for a test spin around English Bay, on September 4, 1918. But during the flight, something went horribly wrong.
    • Bishop dropped 12,000 feet and crashed into the roof of one of the larger West End Houses. It left a huge hole in the house.
    • The owner, Dr. Farish came home to see Bishop, who was quite banged up, walking out of his house. Farish drove Bishop to the hospital where he was treated with cracked ice.
      Vancouver's "highest" tree being planted in 1987[6]
    • According to the local newspaper at the time: “Lt. Bishop lost considerable blood as a result of his injuries, for the gore mixed with the gasoline from the engine and dropped down the side of the building.”


  • There's no argument that the Pin Oak tree on top of Eugenia Place is unique. Henriquez thought long and deeply about the building with a tree on it, but when asked about caring for the tree itself, he replied, "I never thought about it."
    • Access to the tree is only through the top floor penthouse so arborists - and their equipment - must tromp through the elevator and apartment without scratching surfaces to attend the tree. Oaks can be afflicted with various tree illnesses such as caterpillar feeding and Leucanium scale, an insect that damages the tree by sucking juice from its leaves. Pruning usually removes the problem but debris must then be hauled manually down, back through the apartment and the elevators.
    • The non-native oak (to BC) is naturally programmed to grow to 100 feet. The current 37 foot tree is about as large as it can get for the size of pot it is in and the amount of soil available - 100,000 pounds.

References

  1. Venture Vancouver
  2. Walk Score
  3. Burrard Group
  4. Burrard Group
  5. CBC News - Vancouver's laughing statues
  6. Photo Credit - Tree Care Tips


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