From its original opening in 1903, Woodward’s was long a focal point of Vancouver, providing both consumer merchandise and employment to many people in the local community and beyond. Since Woodward’s closure in 1993, the building sat vacant and previous attempts to redevelop it failed. However, by facilitating legitimate business and new investment in the neighbourhood, the redevelopment of the Woodward’s building proved important to the revitalization of Vancouver’s historic downtown eastside.
The Woodward’s buildings are all built of concrete with glass and brick façades, green spaces on rooftops and sky balconies being a predominant feature. A pedestrian bridge links the new buildings to existing parkade areas across Cordova Street, while two new levels of parking were added to the current facility. A common parkade ties all components together. The site includes two residential towers of 30 and 42 stories, and a lower building along West Hastings houses the SFU School of Contemporary Arts and Vancouver Community College. The original 1903 heritage building has been preserved and renovated for mixed-use housing, non-profit office space and a bank. A 350-seat theatre, daycare centre, retail and community centre are all incorporated into the massive complex, which is split diagonally by a large open public square and atrium.
A replica of the iconic “W” sign stands on a model of the Eiffel Tower, 270 feet high; the original “W” – too fragile to refurbish – is on permanent display in a glass surround case on the ground floor plaza.
Images: © Bob Matheson