|Paul Merrick's CBC - I love the little light leaks!|
In Argentina we say that the devil knows more not because he is the devil but because he is an old man. At age 80 I qualify.
In the late 80s as an Artist/Teacher for the Outreach Program of Emily Carr I went to many places in the interior. Twice I went to the mining town of Cassiar. They would never mention what they mined there as it was the toxic asbestos.
|Alex in Cassiar. BC late 80s|
I was experimenting with a photographic technique called Extended Range Night Photography:
High Dynamic Range the Easy Way
The process (it could only be done with b+w film) involved using Kodak Tri-X exposed at f-5.6 for 35 seconds, right after sundown. I then had to develop the film in a slow working developer called Kodak Technidol. This resulted in pictures in which the highlights (such as street lights) were not completely overexposed while still holding some detail in the shadows. Of course now in this 21st century digital cameras can mimic and get shadow detail without blowing out the highlights.
When Vancouver Magazine art director Chris Dahl found out
of this he directed me to photograph all the buildings involving architect Ned
Pratt and his associates (Ron Thom and Paul Merrick) for a Sean Rossiter
article on Ned Pratt. While I was known as a portrait photographer thanks to Dahl & Rossiter I took lots of architecture photographs, may with my swivel lens panoramic cameras.
Sean Rossiter - A Constant Ache in My Heart
|Paul Merrick's CBC|
In the process I fell more in love with Merrick’s CBC building and in particular with his pyramidal skylights.
Alas in all the modifications in these years to the building that won a Governor General’s Award the skylights are gone.
If we had serious, critical journalism in Vancouver and if Sean Rossiter were alive I would propose we work on an essay pointing out how Vancouver has no respect for its older buildings and much less for the architects that built them.
The Main Post Office, of later International Style had extremely high ceilings in which I could imagine clouds being up there. There were banks of the loveliest stainless steel postal boxes. These are gone. The building has the original façade and the inside has been gutted for the Amazon landlords. I jokingly point out with tongue not so firmly in cheek that the CBC might one day be the Google Building.
Few now know that the original Eaton’s on Granville and Robson that became Sears and then Nordstrom’s was designed by eminent LA architect (a fellow Argie) Cesar Pelli (died in 2019) and that one of the black towers on Georgia is also his.
I wonder if anybody now has any idea who Bruno Freschi, Arthur Erickson, Ned Prat, Ron Thom and Bing Thom did for a living.
We live in a city with a poor memory and lack of respect for its past. My friend, architect Abraham Rogatnick, told me a year before he died, “I am not long for this world and I am glad.”
At age 80 I concur.