Description of Historic Place
The Evergreen Building is a ten-storey concrete office building with a unique trapezoidal plan expressed on each floor as a series of receding terraces, integrated with overhanging plantings. It is located at the edge of an escarpment, on the corner of West Pender and Jervis Streets, with views overlooking Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, Jervis Park, and the North Shore mountains.
The heritage value of the Evergreen Building lies in its associative and architectural significance.
The Evergreen Building is significant as a landmark project by internationally-acclaimed architect Arthur Erickson. A Vancouver native, Erickson's career dominated the development and growth of the country's architectural profession during the late twentieth century, and he has been recognized as one of Canada’s most brilliant architects of the modern era. Profoundly influenced by his world travels, Erickson's architecture reflects his belief in the importance of site, light, cadence and space, embodied in the 'green' nature of this urban building. He continues a Vancouver-based practice, and recent award-winning projects have further enhanced his reputation and stimulated public interest in his distinguished career. Additionally, this building is an example of his collaborative work with pioneering landscape architect, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who participated with Erickson on a number of his landmark projects.
The Evergreen Building stands as one of Erickson's most significant works in an urban setting, and marks the mid-career evolution of his design aesthetic. Completed in 1980, the Evergreen Building was commissioned by John Laxton, for whom Erickson has designed two significant residences. Sensitive to a difficult, trapezoidal site, the spatial complexity and restrained detailing respect and emphasize the context with diagonal lines in a bold sawtooth pattern. Erickson took full advantage of the stepped configuration, creating complex geometries through the interplay of offset zigzag and linear floor plates, each floor diminishing in floor area within the tapered, trapezoidal building footprint. Additionally, this building illustrates Erickson's fundamental belief of incorporating nature within architecture. Designed in memory of a former escarpment, this unique building is stepped in a series of receding, angled balconies, recalling a mountainside, hence the building’s name, Evergreen. Plantings overflow the concrete brows into which the railings are set, creating the effect of a terraced garden and softening the edges of the building's distinctive profile. Furthermore, the building reflects Erickson's principle of the interplay and cohesion between interior and exterior spaces, exemplified by a continuity of materials, such as the raw concrete columns and the concrete lobby flooring. The transparency of this narrow building reflects Erickson's ideal of a new, more open working community, as expressed in the Vancouver Law Courts and here developed further in a commercial model.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Evergreen Building include its:
- corner location, on a north sloping lot, with views overlooking Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, neighbouring Jervis Park, and the North Shore mountains
- free-standing form, scale and massing, as expressed by its trapezoidal plan, tapered ten-storey height, flat roof and receding angled balconies, creating a sawtooth profile that opens a view corridor on Jervis Street as the building steps back eastward from the street
- monolithic, reinforced concrete construction, with the use of exposed, unpainted concrete with visible form marks
- exterior architectural details, such as stepped terraces and projecting balconies on the north facade
- regular fenestration: consistent use of anodized aluminum sections; floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows on the ground floor; large ribbon windows on upper floors; and small transom windows above the main windows on the upper floors
- integrated landscape features, such as the overhanging balcony plantings and a continuous planter along Pender Street