Originally constructed in 1925-26, the Spencer building is an iconic structure located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, BC. Initially, it was the site of the Spencer’s Department Store; however, the building has been repurposed and has evolved throughout the years. Today, it is the site of Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus as well as government, business, retail and restaurants comprising of the greater complex known as the Harbour Centre.
Primarily comprised of masonry cladding and cast stone in an art deco style, the building required major repairs to its enclosure. In particular, the windows, which were primarily original with single pane glass in heavily corroded metal frames, required careful consideration within the context of heritage.
In 2014, RDH was retained to complete a condition assessment of the windows and walls using bosun’s chair visual reviews. Following the assessment, RDH could identify the areas that required restoration and conservation.
Because of the delicate nature of the building, RDH assisted the Owners with a trial repair phase in 2015, where components were removed and replaced/restored and a new silicate-based coating was applied on the cast stone. This trial repair provided RDH with valuable information to base the larger conservation plan upon and develop a conceptual repair strategy complete with budgets and schedules.
RDH was then retained to complete the rehabilitation of the west elevation and heritage conservation of the balance of the building. Due to the Spencer Building’s heritage designation, RDH prepared a Conservation Plan in consultation with the City of Vancouver Heritage Commission and then we finalized the repair concept with a goal to retain as much of the existing building fabric as possible. The Conservation Plan consisted of a Statement of Significance, a conservation strategy with emphasis on the future long-term performance for building enclosure, and maintenance planning.
RDH led the rehabilitation and conservation phase as construction managers, overseeing the direction of the design and construction process, optimizing the budget, managing risk, and working directly with trade contractors to ensure the success of the project.
In March 2018, The Spencer Building project was presented with a Recognition Award for Heritage Conservation from Heritage BC. This project is expected to be completed by July 2018.