The North Shore Heritage Society is “alarmed” at the possible demolition of two iconic buildings in West Vancouver.
The owners of Villa Maris, also known as the Pink Palace, and the nearby Shoreland Apartments on Bellevue Avenue, plan to demolish these buildings over the next seven years. Shoreland apartments would be replaced by a new rental building, including a smaller building for civic workers. The Villa Maris or Pink Palace will be replaced by a new condo building.
North Shore Heritage Preservation Society president Peter Miller says the buildings are listed in West Vancouver’s survey of architecture. Villa Maris, or the Pink Palace, is a 12-storey, pink concrete apartment block, was built in 1965.
According to West Vancouver’s heritage registery, the character-defining elements of the Villa Maris include the parabolic arches, which act as a screen wall rather than carrying any structural weight, and which frame the outdoor walkways above the building entry and the curved shape of the structure, which responds to an irregularly shaped lot.
“The historic place is representative of tall waterfront apartment buildings of the time, which replaced single-family houses from an earlier era and evoked fanciful images of flamboyant seaside ‘resort’ lifestyle,” says the registry.
Miller says the pink and blue colors of the buildings were inspired by the waterfront buildings in Miami, where garish colours and arches were the reigning aesthetics that evoke a feeling or relaxation and luxury. “In colour, form and detail these buildings allude to the playful apartment hotels of Miami Beach… a rounded form, with curving slim edged balconies and lacy decorative metal railings,” says the registry.
Miller said bright pink, blue and yellow buildings are common on the Miami waterfront, and evoke an ethos of recreation and opulence. He has written to the District of West Vancouver and hopes the changes would keep the old aesthetics.
“Our first hope for these two buildings but particularly Villa Maris would be that the change of use and seismic upgrading be done without disturbing the exterior architectural form and colour. Should this not be feasible, we would like to see the new building embody as many of the buildings’ character-defining elements as possible. In this way the heritage of this part of West Vancouver would not be completely forgotten,” he said.