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B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building

157 Water Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of the B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building; City of Vancouver, 2004
Front elevation
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Other Name(s)

B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building
Edward Cook Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building is a seven storey plus lower level commercial masonry building on the north side of Water Street in the historic district of Gastown.

Heritage Value

Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building is representative of the importance of Gastown as the trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railway and Pacific shipping routes, and the consequent expansion of Vancouver into western Canada's predominant commercial centre in the early twentieth century. As Vancouver prospered, substantial warehouses were built on piles on infilled water lots between Water Street and the Canadian Pacific Railway trestle. The massive cubic form, high density, clear-span floor-plate and notable height of this structure are a clear indication of the extent and prosperity of wholesale trade during this period.

This building is also valued as an interesting example of early twentieth century warehouse style and construction. Although the exterior elements conform to the contemporary architectural vocabulary, it is distinguished by its height and form. As the tallest building on the north side of this block of Water Street, this warehouse contributes significantly to the street's saw-tooth street profile. Additionally, as the warehouse of the B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Company, the building's unique windows were chosen to demonstrate the variety of products they offered. The second through fifth floors used very large panels of plate glass in fixed sash with operable casements to one side, while the top two floors employed more conventional double-hung wood-sash windows.

The B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building is also significant for its association with Edward Cook, an important early Vancouver land-owner and contractor. Cook originally planned the building to be three stories high, but there was so much demand for rental space during construction that he increased the height to seven floors.

Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Character-Defining Elements

THe character-defining elements fo the B.C. Plate Glass and Importing Co. Building include:
- location on the north side of Water Street, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the Canadian Pacific Railway yard
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks at the front or sides; original loading bay area at the rear (now covered by a later addition)
- tall, slender form, seven storey plus lower level scale and massing, with flat roof
- typical Edwardian era design elements, such as tripartite front facade articulation, regular fenestration pattern, and a substantial projecting bracketed cornice
- masonry construction, such as the tan brick front facade and common red brick side and rear facades
- front facade fenestration, with: unusually large sheets of glass on the second through fifth floors in fixed wood-sash with operable sash beside; double-hung wood-sash windows on the sixth and seventh floors; and large retail display windows at the ground floor
- rear facade fenestration, with a mixture of double-hung wood-sash and casement wood-sash windows, with metal spandrel panels between banks of windows
- heavy timber frame internal structure



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.593

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services

Architect / Designer



Edward Cook

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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