Panorama (ground) looking South West
on Yukon Street near West 12th Avenue
with Pacific Stage Lines bus.
Leonard Frank photo (1936),
Vancouver Public Library, VPL 4693
Vancouver City Hall opened December 4, 1936, and was designated a heritage building in 1976.
The building was designed by the architectural firm of Townley and Matheson, and built by the Carter-Halls-Aldinger Company. The $1 million construction cost was provided by a special bond issue.
Built during the depths of the Depression, this landmark structure visioned by Mayor G.G. McGeer was both a make-work project, and a symbol of the newly enlarged city, the result of amalgamation with Point Grey and South Vancouver.
Learn more about the improvements for City Hall grounds
About the design
The building's style stands at a transitional point between the vertical, highly ornamented Art Deco style and the simpler, more horizontal Moderne.
The main entry to the north leads, via a vestibule, to a double-height lobby, which is remarkable for its sumptuous finishes and period fittings. The floors are a rich cream and black terrazzo, and the walls are clad with highly polished sheets of marble. Engaged fluted marble pillars rise to horizontal brass banding that caps the walls, with a gold-leafed ceiling above. Mezzanine balconies look out onto the space, which still has its original chandelier light fixtures. Two clocks are set into the marble wall, and the directional signage is original. The lobby has been beautifully maintained in its original condition.
wood marquetry. Photo:
Ernie Stelzer (2003)
The stairwells that lead off the lobby are clad with polished marble panels, with black marble baseboards and floor detailing. The stair treads are a different colour of marble. The gold-leafed ceilings are highlighted with centred streamline banding. Octagonal newel posts mark the landings, and elegantly simple solid brass handrails are mounted on the inside walls.
Near the south entry is the elevator lobby. The low banded ceiling is also finished with gold leaf, and the walls are clad with the same rich polished marble. The solid brass elevator surrounds and doors are original, and the period fixtures and fittings have also survived. The cast brass building directory on the west wall is also part of the original design. The elevator cabs retain their superb rich inlaid wood marquetry and period light fixtures.
Photo: Ernie Stelzer (2003)
The ceremonial and formal spaces of the third floor, including the Council Chambers, are substantially intact. The chambers are two stories in height, with a rear wall balcony, central inset clock, high windows, large brass wall sconces, and beautifully veneered wall panels. The woodwork is lovingly detailed, and is very well preserved. The four large modernistic cast brass suspended chandeliers, with obscure glass insets, still light the Chambers.
There are some other highly luxurious period features, including sumptuous staircases, with marble walls, newels posts, treads and risers and gilt ceilings.