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The Rich and Variegated History of the Qube

From afar, it may look like any ordinary Vancouver office building, crowded by an infinite sea of condominium towers, its smooth dark glass and lack of balconies supposed evidence of its interior program. But upon closer inspection, the Qube’s deceptive and distinct attributes unveil the building’s true specialties. While it was originally built as the headquarters for Westcoast Transmission Co. in 1969, the 15-storey building at 1333 West Georgia Street was converted to house 180 condominiums in 2005.

The Westcoast Transmission building in the 1970s, image via City of Vancouver Photo Archives

Image: The Westcoast Transmission building in the 1970s, image via City of Vancouver Photo Archives

Designed by William Rhone and Randle Iredale, the building’s assembly was a sight to behold. The concrete core was constructed first, with steel cables extending out and below to build the floor plates in descending order. Those steel cables have been stretching slowly since they were installed, resulting in some tilting of the floors. Boasting column-free interiors and a robust earthquake-resistant properties, the building rests on a pedestal, seemingly hovering over the entrance. Because of this, residences actually begin on the fourth floor.

Image: The Qube condominiums, image via Abirkill, Wikimedia Commons

Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership was appointed the lead architect for the redevelopment by Anthem Properties, who purchased the property in 1998. Realizing the acute potential and unorthodox characteristics of the space, the architects opted for sweeping open concept layouts. The hallways, doorways and ceiling heights — typical for a commercial building but extremely generous for a residential structure — maintained their dimensions through the renovation. Exterior upgrades included a dramatic refacing of the windows.

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