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C.B.K. Van Norman, Architect
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Dates of existence
The Vancouver architectural firm C.B.K. Van Norman, Architect was founded by its principal, C.B.K. Van Norman, in 1930. The firm expanded to include further partners in 1955, at the time that it was renamed C.B.K. Van Norman and Associates. The firm operated until Van Norman's death in 1975.
Charles Van Norman graduated from the architecture program at the University of Manitoba in 1928, the year that he came to Vancouver. He worked briefly at Townley and Matheson before starting his own architectural practice in 1930. Over the course of the 1930s, Van Norman's work increasingly was of the West Coast Modern style, and consisted of residential, commercial and small light industrial buildings.
In the late 1930s, Van Norman became interested in the potential of prefabrication as a means of facilitating quicker and more economical construction. In the early 1940s he designed a series of modest homes, dormitories and mill site buildings, the company store and the Bridge River Pump House for the Powell River Company, many of which entailed use of prefabricated components to some degree. He designed a variety of prefabricated buildings using the "Loxtave" hexagonal unit system for Prefabricated Buildings Ltd., a Burnaby manufacturer, and for Precision Housing Company Ltd., owned by Van Norman himself. Clients included departments of the Canadian government, predominantly the Indian Affairs Branch, Foreign Affairs and the Veterans Land Act administration. He also designed buildings for a number of overseas projects in Scotland, Ireland, England and Israel.
In the years after World War II, Van Norman focused on residential and commercial projects, including a number of houses for British Pacific Properties Ltd. (the developer of the British Properties neighbourhood in West Vancouver) and the BPPL-developed Park Royal Shopping Centre, including more than two dozen stores in the interior.
Van Norman's most prominent Greater Vancouver buildings were the residences for Walter Koerner (Matthews Avenue), M. McLeod (Newton Wynd, West Vancouver), Cecil Budd (Belmont Street), and for himself (West 61st Avenue); the B.C. Electric substation (King Edward Avenue @ Maple Street); Canada Customs Building (West Pender Street), Burrard Building (Burrard at West Georgia Streets) and the Beach Towers residential complex on English Bay.
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Revised 2019-07-18, SLW