Designed and built for a local financial firm in the 1920s by English-born architects GLT Sharp and CJ Thomson, the structure at 848 Hastings Street required extensive seismic upgrades when the Pacific Mineral Museum decided to move its collections of meteorites, fossils, gemstones, precious metals and other minerals into the space in 2000. Prior to that, it had acted as a retail and office space, however, the mining industry wanted to showcase Canada’s role as a global mineral producer.

Project Essentials

  • LocationVancouver, BC
  • ArchitectBaker McGarva Hart Architects + Urban Planners
  • BudgetC$0.8 million

The building uses British Columbian materials for its red brick and stone-detailed exterior. At first, upper windows created the illusion of another storey, however, a real second storey was added in the 1950s.

This building required major renovations and seismic upgrading to accommodate the new museum tenant. During renovations, it was discovered the building’s upper floor had two hanging ceilings that, when removed, revealed an ornate original ceiling. Also revealed was a vault door – it became the centrepoint for a gallery of valuable gems and precious metals.

Critical to Fast + Epp’s success on the project was our unobtrusive incorporation of lateral seismic bracing for the second floor display area. Three-hinged steel frames, constructed with welded steel plates, were sensitively shaped to avoid conflict with the existing architectural ceiling scrolls.