When I recently heard that Canada Post has plans to close and sell off the Main Post Office building in downtown Vancouver, it reminded me that I have a few photos of it in my archives that I have been meaning to post for some time now... [And since I have been dawdling over this post, this huge modernist ship has already sailed off to new owners, who have as yet unformulated plans for it, besides the ambiguous "large-scale mixed-use development" response to queries!]
The General Post Office [as it was previously called] at 349 West Georgia Street is a squat bulky structure sprawling over an entire city block with a no-nonsense functionality to its demeanor. Designed by McCarter, Nairne, and Partners [the firm that also designed the stylistically different Seaforth Armoury building on Burrard Street that I had posted about earlier], it took five years to build and was completed in 1958.
It was touted as the world's largest steel-welded structure of its time and sported a rooftop helipad for those deliveries of an urgent and delicate nature! [James Bond-style postal missions notwithstanding, that well-intentioned heliport had never seen much action!]
There is also a 2,400 feet long conveyor belt system running underground to the CPR Waterfront Station that was not utilized for any secret deliveries either!
This bas-relief sculpture of the elegantly caped-and-capped postie was made by a now forgotten European sculptor with a local studio [signed P.K.-HUBA on the sole of the postie's right boot, but I could find no trace of him mentioned elsewhere].
[I know the daughter of Ronald Nairne [the architect] who remembers visiting this sculptor's studio some Saturday mornings with her father to check on the progress of the work and the sculptor would allow her to "help" him with parts of the piece [the draping part of the cape, she pointed out!]. He also made a bust of her that she still has, but she doesn't remember much else of him either.]
Canada Post will be moving out of this building to new facilities by the Vancouver Airport in Richmond in 2014. It remains to be seen if this example of west coast institutional modernism will be saved, reinterpreted and forwarded on as a purposeful current address!
More information on this building can be found on the Heritage Vancouver website.