Brown Bag Lunch & Learn

On Hiatus: Please check back for updates

Learn about the state of heritage and conservation projects in Vancouver today with experts in architecture and design, city planning and other related fields. The speakers will offer in depth illustrated talks followed by a Q&A. Join us at new venues across the city and learn about the issues, projects and topics that are relevant to the future of Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods and buildings.


We are evaluating the structure of Brown Bag Lunch & Learn talks, so there will be no talks in the spring of 2018. Brown Bag, or a similar talk series, may return in the fall. Check back here or sign up for our bi-weekly email newsletter for future announcements.

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Oct 4 - The Mah Society Building Rehabilitation: Talk & Site Visit. The Mah Society Building is the first Chinese Benevolent Society Building in Vancouver's Chinatown to complete a full restoration. At this talk we learned, about the Society's history as well as the scope of rehabilitation and conservation work, the procurement process and planning for the future of the building from Fred Mah, James Weldon and Ian Shapcott.

April 26 - Heritage and Real Estate: Vancouver's Challenging Heritage Environment. This discussion covered a subject everyone has an opinion about – the impacts of land speculation and development, the foreign-buyer tax and other issues affecting Vancouver’s heritage architecture. When current property assessments are reportedly 95% land value and 5% building value, preserving older homes becomes more and more challenging. Our two presenters were Researcher and SFU City Program Director, Andy Yan, who studies the economics of property values and sales in Vancouver, and Gordon Price, Fellow with the SFU Centre for Dialogue, and former City Councillor and SFU City Program Director.

April 5 - Reviving Tamura Hotel: Restoring a Sheet Metal Cornice. Architect, Mitch Sakumoto, and Eagle Sheet Metal owner, Randy Sewell, discussed one of the last in the series of City of Vancouver and BC Housing SRO rehabilitation's, Tamura House. The building is a storied part of the Japanese community on Powell Street and now boasts fully restored spectacular metal pediments. The talk covered how sheet metal work is created and how the heritage elements of Tamura House have been brought back to life.


October 26 - Rejuvenating Christ Church Cathedral. Ian Birtwell, parishioner, Trustee and volunteer project manager with Christ Church Cathedral, explored the $9 million, 21-year restoration project of Christ Church Cathedral. Phase 4 addresses the failing shingle roof with a replacement standing seam zinc roof, adds improved structural support and completion of a seismic upgrade. There will also be a new sixty foot, stained glass bell tower as well as a community kitchen.

September 28th - Rehabilitation of the Burrard Bridge. Heritage Consultant, Donald Luxton, discussed the scope of rehabilitation work on the the 1932 landmark Art Deco Burrard Bridge, as well as the addition of new street lighting, restoration of the original pedestrian lighting, permanent bike lanes and the design that was selected to add fencing.

April 27th - Robert Lemon, Architect, and Neil Piller, Director of Operations, St. George's School, discussed the award-winning 2015 restoration of the 1912 St. George's Preparatory Boys School located in Dunbar.

March 30th - Mitch Sakumoto, Architect at Merrick Architecture, discussed Taylor Manor, a 1915 Tudor residence last functioning as a long term care facility. Recently it was restored and rehabilitated to become supportive housing for homeless people living with mental health issues.

February 24th - Jonathan Oldman, Executive Director of the Bloom Group, and Naomi Brunemeyer, Asset Manager at BC Housing, discussed the process, costs and community benefits of the 2014-2015 adaptive reuse project that saw the former police station holding cells at 250 Powell Street converted into community housing.


November 25th - Architect Mitch Sakumoto from Merrick Architecture updated us on the status of the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Housing Renewal Initiative and spoke about completed sites such as the Marble Arch Hotel, Gastown Hotel, Washington Hotel, Cordova Residences and the Rice Block, describing problems that have occurred while undertaking these extensive renovation projects.  At the time of the lecture, 5 of 13 buildings on the list have been completed, 5 more will be completed by early 2016 and all buildings will be complete by mid-2016 to provide housing for Vancouver’s low income and vulnerable populations.

October 28th - Architect Roger Hughes from HCMA Architecture spoke about how the Edwardian 1913 Fire hall No. 15 was saved through a combination of restoration and rehabilitation, in concert with a new building that accommodates contemporary fire fighting requirements. The project recently won a City of Vancouver Heritage Award.

September 30th - Architect Sean McEwen shared the story of how a City-wide coalition saved Mole Hill from the threat of demolition, to become one the West End’s most successful examples of heritage preservation. With an active lane filled with gardens and space to socialize, and a summertime Farmers Market on Comox Street, this high-density affordable and social housing project with a few privately owned homes is a successful model for creating livable communities.

April 22nd - Engineer Leonard Pianalto of Read Jones Christofferson Ltd. spoke about the engineering behind the restoration and roof replacement of the Bloedel Conservatory triodetic dome. In 2014, the iconic Bloedel Conservatory saw a major restoration involving the replacement of 1,400 individual acrylic domes. The $2.7 million restoration included some impressive scaffolding and took seven months to complete.

March 25th - House movers Nickel Bros. presented on aspects of moving a heritage home including engineering, costs and logistics. Adam Knipfel shared some of the experiences Nickel Bros. have had including the complex process of relocating the Dorothies and attempts made to relocate the Legg Mansion.

February 18 - Architect Sean McEwan spoke about the recent refurbishment of Kits Neighbourhood House, including the restoration and incorporation of the 1894 orphanage and home society into a childcare facility, the restoration of a 1909 church into a community hall, and the addition of newly constructed seniors housing into the completed project.


November 19 - Mike Pistrin of BC Housing discusses the revitalization process of heritage hotels used as SRO low-income housing. Buildings discussed included the recently re-opened Gastown Hotel and the Marble Arch (re-named with its original title, Hotel Canada).

October 15- Keri Briggs from Vintage Woodworks discussed the challenges facing wood window conservation and common misinformation focusing on recent Vancouver projects at the Gastown Hotel, the Rice Block and the Captain French lofts.

September 17th - The Renovation of 564 Beatty St: Glen Stokes from Bruce Carscadden Architect spoke about the restoration of the historic warehouse and the construction of a dramatic, modern addition on top.

February 26th - The HiVE: This shared work space supports new and small businesses and non-profits in a heritage space, with founder Eesmyal Santos-Brault

March 26th - Yale Hotel: The restoration of the Yale and construction of the Ralston through an HRA and density transfer, with Brent Beatson, Rize Alliance

April 30th - Crofton School: The restoration of Crofton House as part of a larger project to upgrade the campus of one of Vancouver's oldest girls schools.