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One of the city’s most-photographed and famous murals is no more.
For the past 30 years, the Randall Building on West Georgia has been adorned by a giant rendering of medieval goldsmiths, the work created by the team of Stephen Hinton and Nicola Kozakiewicz of Streetworks Design and artist Kitty Mykka. The mural was based on a 1698 copper engraving by German artist and art dealer Christopher Weigel.
Today, the side of the Randall Building is just a blank greyish wall.
On January 22, John Steil took to Twitter with the following:
The blog Changing Vancouver provides some backdrop on the Randall Building, which was built in 1929 by the brokerage firm of S W Randall Co, highlights including the following: “The design is attributed to R T Perry; it had elements of gothic and some art deco, and a somewhat unusual arrangement of two double bays of windows to the west and a single, slightly offset bay to the east. It bears some resemblance to Townley and Matheson’s Stock Exchange Building, completed a year later, but there are several other buildings by other architects, all taking the same gothic theme, and built around this time.”
In 1991, jeweller Toni Cavelti oversaw a renovation of the building.
Changing Vancouver wrote: “The project, designed by Blewett Dodd Ching Lee, gave the building an almost identical appearance to our 1929 image. Only the recently restored mural of medieval goldsmiths on the east side of the building in 1993 (often credited to Kitty Mykka, but actually by created by Stephen Hinton and Nicola Kozakiewicz, of Streetworks Design, with Kitty helping paint the mural), made the building look any different. In 1999, Cavelti sold his company to Henry Birks who still sell Cavelti designed jewellery, and now Time and Gold operate in the store location.”
In endeavouring to get more details, the Straight reached out to numerous places. The company that leases the building’s office spaces didn’t reply, that being the same for the City and what may or may not have been the company (Bay Building Streetworks Development) under which Streetworks Design seems to operate.
Vancouver historian John Atkin had this to say when contacted: “Building improvements and repair, apparently, so it was removed.”
Mykka was finally able to offer more details in an email, writing, "Yes, a drag that our mural is no longer ... There was water seeping under the wall, which created damage ... I was one of the painters originally with Nicola Kozakeiwicz in the early 1990s, then I repainted it 15 year later to refresh it with Lance Belanger ... I was recently notified by Andre Lessard a retired architect and heritage consultant living on Gabriola Island who was currently working on a conservation plan for the Randall Building. The owner of the Cavelti building had retained the services of a building envelope consultant who recommended the removal of the existing stucco and therefore the mural, which didn’t surprise Andre."
And, so a pioneering work that helped blaze the way for the Vancouver Mural Festival a couple decades later is now lost to time. At least the building is still standing—something of a monumental achievement is a city that often has zero use for its own history.