The Birks Building is located on corner of Granville and West Hastings Street, one of the most prominent street corners in Vancouver, BC, a city renowned for being one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world.
Originally designed and constructed entirely in granite in 1908, the building is now tenanted by Birks, Canada’s premier luxury jewelry brand and a respected designer and manufacturer of fine jewelry, timepieces, sterling silverware and gifts.
Located in the heart of Vancouver, British Columbia, The Birks Building is a Beaux Arts-style temple bank building on the south east corner of Granville and West Hastings Street, which remains one of the most prominent street corners in Vancouver, a city renowned for making numerous lists of the world’s most livable cities over the past decade.
Even as early as the 1890s, the corner of Hastings and Granville Street was emerging as the financial and commercial center of the city. Various banks had made their home in the 600 and 500 blocks of West Hastings, including the Bank of BC, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada and the Molson’s Bank.
Now tenanted by Birks, Canada’s premier luxury jewelry brand, the three-storey granite structure was originally designed and completed in 1908 by the Toronto-based architecture firm of Darling and Pearson as the new Vancouver head office for Bank of Commerce.
The building was constructed entirely in local granite, with the exterior featuring a strong base of banded stone that supports a colonnade of Ionic columns and a frieze punctuated with windows for the top floor of offices. The composition was finished off with a copper cornice. The original banking hall windows along Granville Street were accentuated with carved arches and scroll work. The imposing bronze doors at the front entrance on Hastings Street were cast by Canadian Allis-Chalmers, Ltd. and were featured in the company’s 1913 catalogue.
Across the street, George Trorey moved his business up from Cordova Street in 1899 to the bustling north east corner of Hastings and Granville Street where he installed the iconic clock in front of his jewelry business. He would later be bought out by Montreal-based Birks Jewelers and the clock quickly became associated with the new owners.
In 1912, Birks moved their jewelry business from Granville at Hastings Street to a new location at the other end of Granville Street at Georgia. They also moved the clock up to the corner where for decades everyone knew where “Meet me at the clock” meant.
The rare four-sided Birks clock has been a stalwart fixture on the streets of Vancouver since 1907. For more than 100 years, the clock, which has been accurate within two seconds since construction, has been a familiar location to meet friends, family and visitors.
In the 1990s, the building went through extensive renovations, alterations, seismic upgrades and was completely redesigned by world renowned architect, Orberto Oberti, who created a one-of-a kind flagship store for Birks, who moved into their Granville at Hastings Street location in 1994, after which the building became known as the Birks Building. Not only did the store move, but so did their iconic clock, returning to the corner across the street from its original location in the early 1900s.
In 2006, the historic one-and-a half ton Birks clock, which stands 6.5 metres high, was moved to make way for the Canada Line Construction. Horologist Ray Saunders was tasked with the extensive multi-year restoration, which included the replacement of over 36 intricate parts, a new clock face, dials, roof ornamentation and a modern internal heating system.
Ray Saunders, who has practiced his trade around the world since 1960, was also commissioned to rebuild the Gastown steam clock, which sits directly across from the Leckie Building, another building proudly owned and managed by Talia Jevan Properties.
The refurbishment of the Birks clock was completed on January 11, 2010, just in time for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, for which Birks was the Official Supplier of Jewelry.
The Birks Building is primarily occupied by Birks, Canada’s premier jewelry brand and a respected designer and manufacturer of fine jewelry, timepieces, sterling silverware and gifts.