The Empire Landmark Hotel is the latest brutalist icon set to be demolished in a frenzy of property speculation. Is it wrong to destroy an entire decade?
For nearly 40 years from his vantage point at the top of the Empire Landmark Hotel, Yunus Khan has watched Vancouver grow up. “You would barely recognise it,” he says of the city as it looked when he took his first job at the hotel, doing maintenance. Beyond the 42nd-storey window, the jagged silhouette of the North Shore mountains, the lush surprise of Stanley Park, and the cobalt passage of Burrard Inlet are just about the only landmarks that remain unchanged.
“These are all new,” Khan says, indicating a cluster of condo towers and the ultra-modern Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre further south. Construction cranes rise around them. “Any older building you see now, it’s going. They break it down, make a high rise.”