I have fielded a couple of questions about Statements of Significance. Guidelines for Writing Effective Statements of Significance is a good introduction on what goes into an SOS and how to write one.
Category Archives: statement of significance
Statement of Significance
Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Campus sits atop Burnaby Mountain with views of much of the Lower Mainland. It is a complex of stark modern design and exposed concrete construction amid acres of parkland.
The historic value lies largely in the number of significant persons associated with SFU. Architect Arthur Erickson is arguably Canada’s most famous architect, and this was one of his first major commissions. The design was characteristic of the period, and became signature of Erickson’s work. As well, a number of other significant figures in British Columbia’s history have been involved in the school, including founders WAC Bennett and Gordon Shrum, and alumni Terry Fox, Margaret Trudeau, Lui Passaglia, David Usher, and a several prominent political figures.
The establishment of the university played a pivotal role in the development of post-secondary education in British Columbia, and events that took place during its formative years have had influence on other province’s education programs and operations. Further, it was a significant step in the evolution of Burnaby from a suburb of Vancouver to a city on its own right.
SFU’s educational/academic value is in its maintained building style which has been continued from its inception, the association of historical significant people who pass through its doors—as students, faculty, leaders and honorary persons— and its growing collection of art and artefacts from BC’s history.
The ongoing growth of the school is testament to its economic value. The growing student population is a contributing factor. Enrolment generates income directly from students and also ensures funding from provincial and federal governments. Employees and secondary businesses add to the local economy. The land value with the new UniverCity development adds value to the university and the city as well.
- Example of modern brutalist architecture, having the characteristic harsh angular geometries and exposed rough concrete, structural members, and utilities.
- Use was made of the existing contours, and enhanced by utilizing terraces that placed an emphasis on horizontal expansion rather than vertical.
- Omission of tall, multi-story buildings.
- Covered walk-ways connecting all the buildings.
- Lecture theatres grouped together.
- Building looks complete while readily permits future expansion.
This is a house that I worked on last summer which is listed on New Westminster Heritage Register. Built in 1890, it numbers amongst the city’s oldest existing buildings. It is a three bedroom 1 ½ story home with a steep sloped cross-gabled roof. It is a balloon framed with combination cedar shingle and lapped siding. The original owner, Mr. Alexander M. Hennessey, was a shoemaker on Columbia St. in New Westminster.
The significance of this building stems from it being an example of early New Westminster vernacular architecture. It is old, relative to other buildings in the Lower Mainland. It is representative of a period of development in this neighbourhood and a boom period in local history. There have been limited alterations and much of its original fabric is still intact, including nearly all of its original windows (my specialty). Having records available documenting the history of the building—including photos, ownership and events—personalizes it.
Further, the house is situated on a large 60” x 120” lot, giving it current economic value. This was able to trigger a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the city, permitting a developer to subdivide (increasing density of the lot) and build an addition on the existing house in exchange for restoring the exterior of the home to its nineteenth century condition.
Historic information courtesy of “Hennessy Residence Conservation Plan” by Donald Luxton& Associates Inc.