The Empire Landmark Hotel is the latest brutalist icon set to be demolished in a frenzy of property speculation. Is it wrong to destroy an entire decade?
For nearly 40 years from his vantage point at the top of the Empire Landmark Hotel, Yunus Khan has watched Vancouver grow up. You would barely recognise it, he says of the city as it looked when he took his first job at the hotel, doing maintenance. Beyond the 42nd-storey window, the jagged silhouette of the North Shore mountains, the lush surprise of Stanley Park, and the cobalt passage of Burrard Inlet are just about the only landmarks that remain unchanged.
These are all new, Khan says, indicating a cluster of condo towers and the ultra-modern Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre further south. Construction cranes rise around them. Any older building you see now, its going. They break it down, make a high rise.
What the view from the Empire Landmark offers is perspective: on the Canadian citys past, present, and future. But not for much longer. The hotel, a downtown Brutalist icon from the 1970s, closes for good on 30 September. It will be demolished to make way for a proposed luxury condo development.