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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Recent landmarks: an analysis of Vancouver's program for commemorating modern architecture Wickham, Andrea Lynne


The City of Vancouver has led North American cities in commemorating Modern heritage. In 1990, City of Vancouver planners initiated the Recent Landmarks study, thus launching a progressive, specialized program aimed at documenting and conserving the city's post-war architecture. While this program has raised awareness and catalogued a large stock of Modern resources, few of the identified buildings have been protected with legal heritage designation. Thus it seemed appropriate to explore Vancouver's Recent Landmarks program in this thesis and assemble comparative information (from other jurisdictions) against which to measure it. Thus the primary purpose of this thesis is to point to contemporary heritage conservation initiatives and programs in North America that are specifically concerned with twentieth-century buildings, in order to inform heritage planning in Vancouver. The secondary purpose is to amplify current efforts to broaden and redefine the notion of structural heritage to include twentieth-century work. This thesis surveyed representatives (i.e. civic planning or cultural/landmark Department staff, and representatives of local chapters of DOCOMOMO, the international organization formed to document and conserve the works of the Modern movement) in Toronto, Victoria, New York, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. The results of the thesis show that by 1999, all but one of the five surveyed North American municipalities had addressed the issue of Modern heritage. However none of the consulted cities had developed distinct programs to address this resource. For example, while several cities reported listing Modern buildings on their heritage inventories, none of the municipalities canvassed reported the development of studies or inventories that were focused on post-war landmarks. Thus from this information, it appears that the Recent Landmarks initiative in Vancouver remains quite exceptional. This program has identified several (and spurred the designation of some) significant Modern buildings, stimulated the creation of reports and studies, and made strong attempts to engage the public. In sum, the results gleaned from this thesis survey show that the Recent Landmarks initiative remains a leader in the specialized realm of heritage conservation for Modern architecture, and that many North American cities have yet to match Vancouver's efforts.

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