Beach Town House Apartments
1949 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6G, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Beach Town House Apartments is a seven-storey-plus-penthouse, concrete-frame apartment building, H-shaped in plan, and features wraparound windows. It is located in the West End section of downtown Vancouver, and overlooks English Bay.
Built in 1949 from a 1940 design by architect William K. Noppe, the Beach Town House Apartments building is important for its historic, cultural and aesthetic aspects. In particular, it represents the beginning of the post-World War II transformation of the West End from single family/rooming houses and walk-ups to the mid- and high-rise precinct developed in the 1960s.
Characteristic of Modernist design practices, the Beach Town House Apartments incorporates practical, efficient amenities, as well as innovations that inspired local emulation, such as structural flat-slab floor construction which served both aesthetic, functional, and economic preoccupations.
The Apartments are significant for their association with the well-known architect William K. Noppe, who is representative of an influx of architectural and engineering specialists, dislocated by events of the Second World War. These professionals came to Vancouver, often via other North American cities, to practice and in some cases, to teach at the University of British Columbia. The design of the Beach Town House Apartments building was instrumental in introducing European Modernist aesthetics to the city.
The Apartments building is historically notable for becoming an instant city landmark because of its innovative features. It was one of the earliest mid-rise apartment blocks in the West End and was touted as the largest apartment building in western Canada at the time. It was also the first set of apartments to be purchased through a cooperative system, predating strata titling by some years. At the community level, it was geared to upper income buyers and was advertised as "fireproof, soundproof, safe, and permanent".
The building is aesthetically significant for the incorporation of elements typically associated with Modernist design: generous fenestration in horizontal bands, flat roofs, an integration of the requirements of the automobile, access to the outdoors, and a minimum of embellishment without traditional historical references.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of the Beach Town House Apartments include:
Siting, Context and Landscape
- Location on Beach Avenue at the edge of the West End, facing English Bay
- H-shaped floor plan, which maximized light and views for each apartment
- Flat concrete slab technique within a reinforced concrete frame construction, without column
haunch (drop plat capital) and a grid of supporting beams
- Curved inside corners of projecting bays
- Setback penthouse massing
- Corner wraparound windows
- Electric fireplaces
- Recessed radiators
- Automatic elevators large enough to accommodate furniture
- Mechanical garbage disposal on each floor
- Automatic oil-fired hot water heating throughout
- Practical and up-to-date kitchens
- Silent plumbing
- Individual thermostat heating controls
- Heated garage
- Main entry with defined formal planters on the south facade and curvilinear entrance canopy
- North entry with a more informal landscape aesthetic
- Roof garden accessible by all tenants
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.582
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Multiple Dwelling
Architect / Designer
William K. Noppe
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection