Respect for heritage: Vancouver office tower project set back to preserve public view of Rogers Building

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      For over a century, the Rogers Building has been a remarkable landmark in downtown Vancouver.

      Named after its original owner, Jonathan Rogers, an aldermam and successful property developer during his time, the 10-storey building was completed in 1912.

      As the Vancouver Heritage Foundation recalls, this prominent structure at the corner of Granville and West Pender streets “indicates the great prosperity and growth that Vancouver experienced just before the First World War”.

      A new and taller building is now being proposed next to the Rogers Building on West Pender.

      While the planned 29-storey office and commercial building will tower over the heritage building, its siting has been designed so as not to overshadow its predecessor.

      A report regarding the proposed rezoning of 443 Seymour Street, which also has a 601 West Pender Street address, has been prepared for council by Theresa O’Donnell, the city’s deputy director of current planning.

      According to O’Donnell, the commercial building project of Reliance Properties is being set back on three sides.

      O’Donnell explained that instead of sitting directly on the property line it shares with Rogers Building, the new structure is set 12 feet away from the heritage building “above the sixth floor”.

      The new building is also being set back from the property line along the West Pender and Seymour frontages.

      By doing so, “public views of the Rogers Building’s heritage façade are respected and its heritage elements continue to remain prominent”, O’Donnell wrote in her report.

      There’s also a practical reason for the separation of the two buildings.

      “This spacing is designed to improve the working environment for office occupants facing the interior courtyard,” O’Donnell sated.

      According to the city planner, shadow studies show that while the Rogers courtyard is “already partially shadowed by its own massing and nearby developments”.

      O’Donnell noted that the “addition of a new tower to the east would add negligible additional shadows onto this courtyard”.

      “The 12 ft. spacing still allows some visual relief and more pleasant experience for office occupants than if an adjacent building’s wall was right on the shared property line,” the city planner reported to council.

      The Rogers Building is now managed by Equitable Real Estate Investment Corp. Ltd.

      On its website, Equitable notes that the Rogers Building “features a cladding of white terra cotta tiles, a projecting cornice with dentils, and an elaborate entranceway on Granville Street, which features large granite pillars shipped from Aberdeen, Scotland”.

      “Though no longer part of the building, the Rogers Building originally featured a full cafeteria and barbershop in its large basement,” according to Equitable.

      The proposed rezoning for 443 Seymour Street or 601 West Pender Street, currently occupied by a six-storey parkade, is scheduled for public hearing on Tuesday (May 26).