Powell Street Office + Residence

Kirsten Reite and Lance Burger purchased their home in 2008. It was a derelict 100 year old building, which had recently received a “do not occupy” notice from the City of Vancouver – which meant the building was condemned. Although the building had suffered years of neglect and water damage, Kirsten, an architect, and Lance, a contractor, could see the potential of the building and had the combined skills to realize this potential. The project included a whole building renovation to a significant historical building in Vancouver’s historic Japantown. It was a huge undertaking with Kirsten and Lance doing the majority of the work themselves.

The permit process was very complex and consisted of three separate applications: demolition, base building and tenant improvements. The final design of the building includes a full restoration of the façade with a modern interior that includes many of the building’s historic features. The couple was able to successfully merge the preservation of a significant historic building with a more modern and minimal aesthetic while positively contributing to a neighbourhood that is steadily showing signs of revival.

The building is a former Canada Bank of Japan (when first constructed), and served numerous other uses after it was confiscated from the Japanese owners after ww2. The neighbourhood is quickly evolving, but at the time of purchase it was not so desirable. Now, the area is the home to many head offices of major Canadian companies as well as smaller local creative studios including Kirsten’s architectural firm — KRA – Kirsten Reite Architecture — whose office, along with Lance’s contracting company Bon Constructors, is located on the main floor of the building. Kirsten and Lance preserved as much of the old bank as was possible, including the original safe which stands in the centre of the office as a materials library.

Much consideration was put into using materials and systems that were a low impact to the environment as well as for their cost, longevity and practicality with the overall renovation budget coming in at $550,000.