In 1986, the City of Vancouver designated both school buildings as municipal heritage sites, saving them from demolition.

Unique to Vancouver, City Square’s shopping mall and office complex is an inimitable mix of modern and heritage architecture. The heritage portions of the complex were built in 1905 and 1908 to house the Model School and Normal School, respectively. Graduates from the Teacher’s Training Program applied their skills, norms (hence the name “Normal School”) and educational theories at the Normal School to gain practical experience.

The Model School and Normal School are impressive four-storey granite and sandstone buildings designed in the Italianate style by architect E. E. Blackmore. The stained glass windows, copper cupola and slate roofs add further charm and character to the architecture.

City Square Shopping Mall and office complex, as we see it today, was inaugurated in 1989 and is a spectacular example of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings. The schools were restored to their original grandeur and then connected to two six-storey office towers by a large modern spacious glass atrium. The complex was designed by the renowned architect, Paul Merrick. It is located in the heart of the heritage district of central Vancouver and across from Vancouver City Hall.

History Continued

with its outdoor tree-lined courtyard and charming blend of shops and services, City Square Mall has the ambiance of a European village mixed with the bustle of West Coast urban life.

The shopping mall’s retail storefronts simulate a streetscape with ceiling skylights and old-fashioned lamp posts. The interior emulates a series of small open-air courtyards. City Square received an Award for Excellence in Innovative Design and Construction of a New Center by the prestigious International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) based in New York City.

Design Direction

They based their work on photographs found in the archives of the City of Vancouver heritage albums.  The interior and exterior stairwell concrete masonry have been carefully repointed and the original dentilwork and cornice detail replaced to their original appearances.  This portion of the building burnt down in the 1980s and repairs at that time did not include replacement of the detail work. All of that has been restored today.

As a point of interest, the Vancouver Heritage Board had previously awarded City Square Property Holdings Inc. Recognition Certificates in 2006 and 2013 for Heritage Conservation in City Square’s ongoing building upgrades. The most recent repairs essentially restored the building to it’s 1906 newly constructed condition.  The Owners of City Square Shopping Centre have been very diligent in their efforts to maintain the building’s historical accuracy; in all, spending approximately $720,000.00 to restore this portion of the building.

The present management is proud to upkeep the heritage tradition of the building. In 2005, the 100th year anniversary of the Model School was celebrated with the restoration and unveiling of an ensemble of original stained glass windows. As a result, in February 2006, in recognition of our efforts to maintain and preserve the heritage aspect of the building, City Square was honoured to receive a Heritage Award of Recognition by the City of Vancouver.

City Square Shopping Centre has recently completed the restoration of its heritage building’s 11th Avenue exterior façade.  In May 2015, City Square Property Holdings Inc. began the restoration project in order to restore and preserve a piece of Vancouver’s heritage for posterity.


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City Square’s continued success lies in its ability to relate to the community. On the retail level, the shopping mall offers a balanced variety of over 50 shops and professional services (for a complete list please see our online directory), including various medical and dental offices, as well as a diverse International Food Court, in a prime central location. Patrons enjoy a convenient and relaxing shopping experience with friendly retailers. Come and see what we have in store for you!

In addition to our stores and services on the retail level, City Square has two six-storey towers that house many offices, including the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Training Centre and Provincial Health Services Authority offices, a travel agency, healthcare practices and much more.

City Square is conveniently located across from the City Hall, at Cambie Street and West 12th Avenue in Vancouver.

City Square Shopping Centre organizes or hosts complimentary events throughout the year: Easter Hunt, concerts (Jazz Festival, Charlotte Diamond, Salvation Army Christmas Brass Ensemble…), Halloween Hunt, Santa photos and more!

Drop by to shop, visit a service provider, join one of our events, have coffee with a friend or use our community board for information and announcements. Whatever your needs, we are pleased to welcome you!

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