A new First United Church is in the works for the corner of East Hastings Street and Gore Avenue in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
NSDA Architects is working with the church on a plan to redevelop the property, currently home to the existing church building, which opened in 1965.
The history of a church on the corner of East Hastings and Gore stretches all the way back to 1892, when the area was the heart of the city’s first “downtown” core. The church has been called First United since 1925.
The new church building at 320 East Hastings will be 11 storeys and consist of First United’s program space, including a drop-in space, a large dining room, a commercial kitchen, multipurpose spaces, a day sleeping area, a Sanctuary, and administrative spaces, as well as 105 social housing units, consisting of studio and one-bedroom units.
Renderings: Future First United Church Vancouver
There will be just 12 underground parking stalls, which First United and housing operator Lu’ma Housing says will meet the needs of the residents, “as no residents will have cars due to the homeless and homeless-at-risk population.”
First United Church says it plans to “reopen their doors to the neighbourhood as the same First United working towards a neighbourhood where every person’s worth is celebrated and all people thrive, with the community they serve continuing to find sanctuary and connection.”
The existing church building with its unique roof expressions is an iconic building in the Downtown Eastside and First United says it wants to ensure that its uniqueness is not lost in the new building. A sloping, copper-coloured wall on the Gore Street frontage pays tribute to the traditional plank houses of Indigenous communities on the west coast.
There will be concrete-and-steel panels featuring pictographs and petroglyphs wrapped around the base of the building, and two welcome figures will be placed at the main entrance.
Vertical sunscreens on the west elevation will consist of custom-fabricated panels with Indigenous-themed, laser-cut imagery, and the overall colour scheme of the project was developed in consultation with local Indigenous communities.
To learn more about the First United redevelopment project, visit: https://firstunited.ca/redevelopment/