Waterfront Eyecare Centre
Interior Volkswagen Sales Building
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Waterfront Eyecare Centre building is a one storey flat-roofed commercial building located on the north side of Front Street in Penticton, British Columbia. The building is notable for its striking location at the base of a clay bank overlooking Okanagan Lake. It is also notable for its use of concrete, glass and metal, and its inward-sloping display widows.
This historic place is valued as an early expression of the International Style of commercial architecture in the Okanagan. This represented a radical departure from earlier commercial buildings in Penticton, which primarily displayed brick faÃ§ades and classical detailing. The uniqueness of the Waterfront Eyecare Centre building is evident in its stylistic detailing, which includes a flat roof without a ledge and large single-paned windows arranged in three rows and divided by metal mullions. The windows are sloped inward to reduce the penetration of sunlight into the showroom for enhanced viewing, characteristic of the architect's innovative approach. The building is dramatically sited at the base of a hill overlooking Okanagan Lake. Sympathetic changes in the 1990s included the addition of concrete buttresses, a new roof overhang, and a renewed colour palette symbolizing the colours of the Okanagan landscape.
The Waterfront Eyecare Centre building is also valued as an expression of the social changes occurring in Penticton in the mid 1950s. The building's original purpose was a showroom for Interior Volkswagen Sales, indicating a period of prosperity and growth, increased consumerism, and motor vehicle culture. During this time automobile-related travel expanded and Penticton became a destination for motor holidays. The Hope-Princeton Highway was completed in 1949 and the Summerland-Penticton route was upgraded in 1952. During this time, autocourts and holiday parks were built near the lake front. The Volkswagen dealership was designed to serve customers from Hope to Grand Forks.
The building is valued for its association with the artist and architectural designer George Angliss. Angliss was born in Penticton, studied at the Vancouver School of Art and the Ontario School of Art with a career that spanned 46 years and included work as a graphic artist, architectural and theatre designer and builder, art director, and instructor at the Alberta College of Art. While very well known in the arts community, especially in Alberta, Angliss was also very active in the architecture field. As an early builder of post-World War II post and beam buildings in the South Okanagan and Alberta, he was strongly influenced by other mid-century contemporaries such as Bert Binning and Ron Thom (members of British Columbia's "Art in Living Group"), who also blurred the lines between art and architecture. George Angliss's architecture displays practicality, innovation and resourcefulness, and shows influences from individuals such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Nuetra and styles such as Japanese, Bauhaus, and West Coast architecture, demonstrated by his application of simple esthetics in his approach to light and space. He was likely the first Penticton-born person to receive a commercial design commission in the City.
The building is also noteworthy for being the cornerstone for a node of modern architecture on the Okanagan Lakeshore which now includes the Penticton Art Gallery and Lakeview Terraces.
Source: City of Penticton Civic File for: 200 Marina Way
Key elements that define the heritage character of this site include:
-prominent location at the base of the East Hill overlooking Okanagan Lake
-International Style form comprising a flat-roofed concrete frame and a curtain wall of plate glass rectangles divided by vertical and horizontal bands
-inward-sloping curtain walls and windows
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Health and Research
- Hospital or Other Health Care Institution
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Penticton Civic File for: 200 Marina Way
Cross-Reference to Collection