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Beach Town House Apartments

1949 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6G, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/02/09

Exterior view of the Beach Town House Apartments; City of Vancouver, Julie MacDonald, 2006
Main entry
Exterior view of the Beach Town House Apartments; City of Vancouver, Julie MacDonald, 2006
Southwest elevation
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/02/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Beach Town House Apartments is a seven-storey-plus-penthouse, concrete-frame apartment building, H-shaped in plan, and features wraparound windows. It is located in the West End section of downtown Vancouver, and overlooks English Bay.

Heritage Value

Built in 1949 from a 1940 design by architect William K. Noppe, the Beach Town House Apartments building is important for its historic, cultural and aesthetic aspects. In particular, it represents the beginning of the post-World War II transformation of the West End from single family/rooming houses and walk-ups to the mid- and high-rise precinct developed in the 1960s.

Characteristic of Modernist design practices, the Beach Town House Apartments incorporates practical, efficient amenities, as well as innovations that inspired local emulation, such as structural flat-slab floor construction which served both aesthetic, functional, and economic preoccupations.

The Apartments are significant for their association with the well-known architect William K. Noppe, who is representative of an influx of architectural and engineering specialists, dislocated by events of the Second World War. These professionals came to Vancouver, often via other North American cities, to practice and in some cases, to teach at the University of British Columbia. The design of the Beach Town House Apartments building was instrumental in introducing European Modernist aesthetics to the city.

The Apartments building is historically notable for becoming an instant city landmark because of its innovative features. It was one of the earliest mid-rise apartment blocks in the West End and was touted as the largest apartment building in western Canada at the time. It was also the first set of apartments to be purchased through a cooperative system, predating strata titling by some years. At the community level, it was geared to upper income buyers and was advertised as "fireproof, soundproof, safe, and permanent".

The building is aesthetically significant for the incorporation of elements typically associated with Modernist design: generous fenestration in horizontal bands, flat roofs, an integration of the requirements of the automobile, access to the outdoors, and a minimum of embellishment without traditional historical references.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Beach Town House Apartments include:

Siting, Context and Landscape
- Location on Beach Avenue at the edge of the West End, facing English Bay

Architectural Qualities
- H-shaped floor plan, which maximized light and views for each apartment

Architectural Elements
- Flat concrete slab technique within a reinforced concrete frame construction, without column
haunch (drop plat capital) and a grid of supporting beams
- Curved inside corners of projecting bays
- Setback penthouse massing
- Corner wraparound windows
- Electric fireplaces
- Recessed radiators
- Automatic elevators large enough to accommodate furniture
- Mechanical garbage disposal on each floor
- Automatic oil-fired hot water heating throughout
- Practical and up-to-date kitchens
- Silent plumbing
- Individual thermostat heating controls
- Heated garage

Landscape elements
- Main entry with defined formal planters on the south facade and curvilinear entrance canopy
- North entry with a more informal landscape aesthetic
- Roof garden accessible by all tenants



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.582

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Multiple Dwelling


Architect / Designer

William K. Noppe



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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