Mount Pleasant office project to incorporate heritage house

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Real Life Up House
A mixed-use development at 35 and 43 West 6th Avenue proposes restoring a heritage home, and including it in the design of a new four-storey building. Credit: Yamamoto Architecture

You could call it the intentional ‘Up! house.’

A new proposal in Mount Pleasant aims to preserve a century-old heritage house, while constructing a new, modern building around it.

The Coulter House was built in 1901, and was added to the Vancouver Heritage Register in 2016.

The proposal, at 35 and 43 West 6th Avenue, proposes rehabilitation and conservation of the heritage house, while constructing a new five-storey building with manufacturing and restaurant space on the ground floor, and office space on the second, third and fourth floors.

The Coulter House will become the entrance to the new office building, and the developer, Conwest Group of Companies, says they are currently working with an established local restaurant group that intends to incorporate the house into a new restaurant concept.

Bill Yuen of Heritage Vancouver says from the available imagery so far, the new building seems to swallow the house, which doesn’t complement in a manner that respects the house.

“We would question how sensitive the proposed form of the building is to the scale of the house and how much the building detracts from it,” he said. “It also seems to decontextualize the house from any relationship it has with a natural setting.”

Alyssa Myshok, co-founder of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group, says the proposal is the direct result of city policies.

“The sad part is this is the result of a direct translation of the City’s heritage policies — insensitively paste a quaint 100-year-old plus heritage house on a large modernist commercial building where a simple entry would otherwise be, and you are rewarded with an even larger out-of-scale mass,” she said.

Even worse, Myshok says that if the proposal is rejected, the character house, described as well-maintained, will likely be demolished.

Up House Seattle
This house, near Seattle, was the real-life inspiration for the Pixar movie, Up! Credit: Termirov1960/Wikimapia

A house in Ballard, Washington, just outside of Seattle is well-known as the inspiration for the Pixar movie Up!, although it was not incorporated into the surrounding development as the Coulter House will be.

The owner, Edith Macefield, refused to sell to developers for over a decade, turning down $1 million. She recently passed away, with the house finally being put up for sale, although it is still standing as of November 2017.