Gracefully rising 22 stories, the BC Electric Building, now the “Electra”, is testament to the province’s economic development in the 1950s and 60s.
Working closely with Ron Thom, architect Ned Pratt and engineer Otto Safi r cantilevered lozenge shaped floors from a central core and wrapped the exterior in a glass, porcelain and aluminum curtain wall.
Designed to take advantage of Vancouver’s natural beauty, the
tapered shape and slender profile created spaces in which no desk was further
than 15 feet from a window and views of sea, mountain and sky.
A West Coast water motif was reinforced by the vibrant abstract tile mosaics by artist B.C. Binning, as well as the illuminated blue and green vertical “zippers” at each end
of the tower. Like Pratt’s Dal Grauer Substation, the BC Electric Building became
an internationally significant Vancouver Modern landmark, and was one of the
first Modernist structures to be designated a heritage building by the City. In 1994
the building was converted to condominiums known as the “Electra” by architect
In the early 1950s, the BC lumber industry sponsored the building of model homes in ten major cities across the country to promote the use of Western woods and plywood in residential construction. The first of these so-called Trend Houses was built in Thorncrest Village, a Toronto suburb, in 1953. Based on the success of this pilot project, an expanded plan was undertaken in the spring of 1954 in which 10 more modern houses were erected and opened to the public. Designed by prominent local architects, these houses also featured the latest in modern planning and design, as well as Canadian-designed furniture, fabric, craft, and art.
The Trend House program was significant in promoting modern architectural ideas and materials used in BC to a wider Canadian market, as illustrated by the Victoria Trend House above.