The Iona Building, new home of the Vancouver School of Economics

by Kevin Milligan

New Home of VSE

The Iona Building, 2015 home of the VSE

As announced today, the Vancouver School of Economics will move in 2015 a few hundred metres to the Iona Building. A map is here (look for the red arrow near the top), and Google streetview is here. The Vancouver Sun story about this transaction is here.

This is a very exciting development! Below is some information about the Iona Building.

The Iona Building is currently home to the Vancouver School of Theology. The VST and its predecessor institutions have inhabited the Iona Building since its construction in 1927. The VST is affiliated with UBC, but is independent. UBC has agreed to buy out the remaining 912 years on the 999 year lease and purchase the building.  The Vancouver School of Economics will move in August 2015, after some renovations. Here is a flickr stream with more pictures.

Iona Building, UBC

Iona Building, looking north to English Bay

The Iona Building has several unique features, including a Maltese Labyrinth and a fine gallery of stained glass.

Maltese Labyrinth

Maltese Labyrinth

There is a Maltese Labyrinth inlaid in the garden behind the building. According to the Outdoor Art Tour from the Belkin Art Gallery, this was installed in 2006. Here is the full description from that same source:

The octagonal labyrinth at the Vancouver School of Theology was
installed in 2006 and designed by Landscape Architects Perry and
Associates. This permanent version replaces the original, which was
set into the grass in 1997, and was the work of Rev. April Stanley,
JoAnne Tharalson, Rev. Lynne McNaughton and Ginger Shaw. This
modified design resembles in its pattern the stone labyrinth in the floor
of Chartres Cathedral in France.

Pavement or stone labyrinths are found in many twelfth century European cathedrals and churches. Labyrinths are frequently confused with mazes but serve a different purpose. A maze is a puzzle or game one attempts to solve. The labyrinth, on the other hand, is meant to mirror the spiral patterns of creation and to draw one into reflection, contemplation, or prayer. It is a singular path that leads the participant to the centre and then back out again. Walking a labyrinth can be a meditative act, a metaphor for life’s journey. Several religious traditions — Christian, Aboriginal, Eastern — have some form of walking meditation. The Maltese Labyrinth is open to all; please enjoy walking it at your own pace.

There is also some very impressive stained glass, seen here at the Institute for Stained Glass in Canada.

Light of the World

Stained Glass at Iona Building

With 100,000 square feet of usable space, the VSE will have the space to live up to its potential, with better possibilities for visitor offices, seminar rooms, and study space.

From 1972 until now, the Department of Economics / Vancouver School of Economics has been housed in Buchanan Tower.

Buchanan Tower

Buchanan Tower

The tower is a typical example of brutalist architecture, which architect Christopher Erickson describes in the Ubyssey as:

“a purist architectural philosophy, seeking to express boldly the material of construction, usually concrete, with no adornment. The beauty was sought in the raw material.”

Another view on Buchanan Tower comes from this scene from ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, in which BuTo fills in for a druglord’s lair in Lagos, Nigeria. The strange elevator ride in that scene does remind me very much of the BuTo elevators. I also recall seeing BuTo in ‘The Butterfly Effect’ with Ashton Kurcher.

View from Buchanan Tower, looking North

I think we will all miss the great views from Buchanan Tower, but myself I am looking forward to taking up residence in the Iona Building in August 2015. Congratulations to all who helped to make this deal. I also offer thanks to the Vancouver School of Theology for passing on such a fine legacy building.  I wish the VST well in the next stage in its evolution.