Vancouver’s Urban Architecture

Vancouver’s history begins in 1792 when Lieutenat William Broughton navigated up the Columbia River to explore, flying the Flag of the British Empire’s Royal Navy and under the Command of Captain George Vancouver. Along the trip he named modern day Vancouver after his commanding officer. Later in 1805 and again in 1806 the Lewis and Clark expedition landed in the area. The explorers considered the area a prime location for a settlement.

We will explore Vancouver’s Urban Architecture within various ‘eras’ starting with the 19th Century (1822-1899). This is followed by prewar 20th Century (1900-1945), Postwar and Mid Century (1946-1969), Late 20th Century (1970-1999), and 21st Century (2000-date). These are not any official eras, just an arbitrary decision I made to categorize it. Vancouver has wonderful examples of Neo Gothic, Victorian, Art Deco, Modernism, Post Modernism, and others. Unfortunately Vancouver lost a fair number of gorgeous structures to the I-5 freeway in the late 1950s and to a local political climate in the 1960s that led to the replacement of some excellent buildings that really should have been saved. Local historian and author Pat Jollota has written two excellent books: Vanishing Vancouver (2013) and Downtown Vancouver (2004) in her Images of America series. Both of these have historical photos of some gorgeous structures that did not survive the ambitions of progress in the 1950s and 60s.

19th Century

Prewar 20th Century

  • Kiggin’s Theater (1936, Art Deco)
  • Clark County Courthouse (1942, Art Deco)
  • The Arts Building (1925, Renaissance Revival)
  • Evergreen Inn (1928, Spanish Revival)
  • Heritage Building aka National Bank (1912, Beux-arts)
  • Telephone Building (1934, Art Deco)
  • Elks Building (1910, French Revival & Mission Revival)
  • Vancouver Main Post Office (1917, Neo-Classical & Beux-arts)
  • Carnegie Library (1909, Neo-Classical)

Post War & Mid Century

Late 20th Century

21st Century

  • Kirkland Tower (2022, Modernism)
  • Vancouver City Hall (2009, Modernism)
  • Vancouvercenter Tower 3 (2004, Modernism)
  • Fort Vancouver Main Library (2011, Modernism)
  • VITA Elementary (2022, Modernism)