Historical Tall Wood Buildings In Canada - The Leckie Building

To my delight - and as a student of timber engineering - original tall wood buildings constructed across Canada since the 1850s through to 1940 are drawing increasing attention as modern tall wood buildings are being introduced as a viable modern day construction alternative.The Leckie building is an exceptional example of tall wood building and inspires us to design more meaningful architecture, as demonstrated by the recent completion of the World's Tallest Contemporary Wood Structure in Prince George, British Columbia.

The Leckie Building, located on the southeast corner of Cambie and Water Streets, is situated in Vancouver's historic Gastown neighbourhood which is home to the city’s earliest area of commercial buildings. The Leckie Building is one of the largest warehouses in Gastown built for the J. Leckie Company, a leading manufacturer of boots and shoes. The prominence and size of the building clearly indicate the growth and prosperity of the company at the turn of the 20th century.


Photographs courtesy of Parks Canada


The Leckie Building is a seven-storey wood building constructed with massive timbers faced in brick and granite. The notable height and high density makes it a landmark in the area.

The first part of the structure was built in 1908 and a large addition to the east was constructed in 1913. Both parts were designed by local architects W.T.Dalton (1854-1931) and S.M.Eveleigh (1870-1947) who thought highly of the quality of buildings. They elevates the design beyond a purely utilitarian response to commercial need by using high quality materials such as an intricate brick pattern.


Photographs courtesy of Fremar Construction Ltd.


The massive cubic form contains Edwardian design elements including the high-fired pressed-brick cladding on the front, west and alley facades, laid consistently in a modified Flemish bond.  The Edwardian details also include the fenestration pattern and its pilasters, which make the building uniquely distinctive.

Renovated and restored in 1991, the site received a City of Vancouver Heritage Award for the structural upgrading. Today it is occupied by a variety of quality tenants including a technology company currently ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in North America.

Photographs are courtesy of Fremar Construction Ltd.


As a graduate student of Timber Engineering, tall wood buildings will increasingly become a trend for their strength, flexibility and economy.

Learning from traditional tall wood buildings, like 'The Landing' featured previously on Houseporn.ca, serve as both as an example and inspiration to future design.

Researched and Written by Sylvia Ma, Master Student of Timber Engineering at the University of British Columbia.

Posted In: British Columbia

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