Category: Uncategorized

A City of Vancouver Heritage Award for the Coulter House project!

This is the story of a little old house that somehow survived as its neighbourhood changed around it. Recently, it had the opportunity to participate in a new development, and in doing so, play a new role, not the typical role we are used to seeing old buildings play where they are just lucky enough to get casted and even exist in our modern cities, but in the case of the Coulter House, constructed as nothing special, one of hundreds, it now plays the leading role of an ambassador for old buildings. It’s a surprising, strong, provocative and unconventional project, where an old Victorian-era cottage is embedded into a new commercial building. The composition provokes the questions: Do old houses have a place in the future of the City? Are they relevant? Can they evolve? Can they inform new, modern uses? We are thrilled to have received a City of Vancouver Heritage Award for this project.

Watch this amazing 3 min video to learn more about the story. Shout out to Conwest, Yamamoto Architecture and make sure to go for a meal at Mount Pleasant Vintage & Provisions to experience it for yourself!

Vancouver’s History Becomes Part of its Future at HOUSS from Conwest on Vimeo.

When the Stucco Comes Off an Old House

How to describe the experience of revelation when the stucco comes off an old house? It’s like when the optician gets your prescription just right, and then what you are looking at finally makes sense. It’s like finding something you lost a long time ago, and the site of it brings on a wave of nostalgia, of emotion. It’s the restoration of harmony, proportions and dignity. Sometimes it’s just easy on the eyes and the result is simply a clarification. Other times, like in the case of the 1890 E.M.N. Woods House in New Westminster, designed by architects Charles Crow and Samuel Maclure, it’s like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, and we get to witness the subtlety and preciousness of honest design and craftsmanship.

Shout out to Areva Living, the brave, inspired developers and to MB Environmental, a demolition and abatement company with a true sensitivity for heritage. It’s a delight working with you!

The Greenest Building is the One That is Already Built

The Greenest Building is One That is Already Built

I strongly believe in the above powerful phrase coined by American architect Carl Elefante who I had the pleasure of hearing in person at the national heritage conference in Toronto last October. Elefante has also said “Even if … every new building from this day hence has a vegetative roof, is powered only with renewable energy sources, and is built entirely of environmentally appropriate materials, sustainability would still be far from fully realized. We cannot build our way to sustainability, but we can conserve our way to sustainability.”

Here is a link  to a presentation I moderated at the Heritage BC conference in Chilliwack titled “Demolition Should be a Last Resort – Understanding the environmental value of our existing buildings”. A big shout out to the presenters Jeffrey McCord, Marketing Representative/House Rescuer, Nickel Bros; Stephanie Mah, CAHP, Creative Director, Giaimo; Brenda Martens, BCIT faculty, Principal, ædify consulting.

More and more convincing articles on this topic appear in my e-mail and linkedIn feed. Here are a few I found inspiring recently: 

Dear Architects: If You Really Want to Be More Sustainable, Start Prioritizing Reuse Projects

Making Embodied Carbon Mainstream

Congratulations to the Sullivan Mine & Railway Historical Society!

Congratulations to the Sullivan Mine & Railway Historical Society!

As the heritage consultant for the project, I learned so much, and enjoyed every moment. I am very proud of the folks in Kimberley for completing this extremely complex restoration project on the Sullivan Mine Powerhouse building. Read more about the story here:

Mick Henningson (Society president and restoration project manager) with Elana Zysblat (heritage consultant) outside the Powerhouse building at the Sullivan Mine site in Kimberley, BC, prior to work commencing.

BCAHP Response to Kamloops Indian Residential School Discovery

The BC Association of Heritage Professionals, of which I am proud member and leader, released the following statement and call to action regarding the tragic news of the discovery of Indigenous children’s remains on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School: 

In light of the dark confirmation of the 215 children found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, BCAHP as an organization is urging its members to commit to action by listening, learning, researching and respectfully presenting the full truth of history as we work to understand and share the stories of the places and people of this province. 

For those able, please consider supporting and donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society:

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for those affected. It is available 24 hours a day at the following: 1-866-925-4419.

For more information on Indigenous Cultural Heritage please refer to:

Shuswap Indian Band Cemetery, near Invermere BC. Photo: E. Zysblat – November 2018