Mid-century modern buildings & art
Beautifully rendered in precast white concrete and perhaps representing the forward thinking optimism of 1960s space exploration (is it a spaceship?), the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium and Centennial Museum complex – now known as the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and Museum of Vancouver (MOV) – was designed by Gerald Hamilton and named for B.C. forestry magnate Harvey Reginald MacMillan. It opened to the public in 1968.
The space itself, designed in the New Formalist style (which Hamilton first applied to a degree on the East Asiatic House building), consists of 3 museum wings clustered around one central core (the Planetarium) and an enclosed courtyard. Be sure to check out the beautiful relief patterns on the exterior of these wings.
There’s also a gorgeous 6 meter tall stainless steel Crab fountain sculpture at the entrance to the complex which was designed in 1968 by Vancouver artist George Norris (Postal Station D). A time capsule rests at the base of the sculpture to be opened in 2067.
Located at Vanier Park in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood, this site is also home to the City of Vancouver Archives’ Major Matthews Building, a virtually-underground brutalist bunker of a structure, designed by Bill Leithead, c. 1972, as well as the Gordon Southam Observatory (1979), and the Vancouver Academy of Music.
The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is noted on the Canadian Register of Historic Places as well as Vancouver’s own Heritage Register. Oh, and the building’s spaceship design? It’s actually said to have been based on the conical shaped hats worn by the Coast Salish First Nations people who once resided here.
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