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The truth about the West End's tree-topped Eugenia Place.
If you’ve been to English Bay, you’ve probably noticed the tower to the west that has a tree growing on top of it. Perhaps you have wondered, like thousands of other Vancouverites who forgot to bring a book to the beach, if Spock lived there. It’s only natural to be curious!
It’s unclear how the pervasive rumour that triple-threat actor, author and singer Leonard Nimoy lived at Eugenia Place (1919 Beach Avenue if we’re going to be formal about it) got started, but when you build a tower and plant an 11-meter pin oak on top of it, you’re going to attract some attention—like when you wear a statement hat on the bus. Nimoy passed away in 2015, so he obviously could not be reached for comment. His son, Adam, however, told me that to his knowledge his father never owned or lived in an apartment in the iconic tower.
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Henriquez and Partners won a Governor General’s Award for Architecture for Eugenia, which was completed in 1987, but beyond generating celebrity scuttlebutt, it’s most notable for sparking intense discussions about tree maintenance. The giant oak was first plopped (that’s the technical architecture term) on top of the tower to represent the height of the cedars and firs that once stood on the site. Though this variety of oak can grow up to 30 meters, the size of the pot of soil (a measly 45,360 kilograms) keeps this particular plant stunted.
In the process of installing a tree in the sky, though, they really cursed the owner of the suite below it (who, just to be clear, is not the late, great Leonard Nimoy) forever. The only way to access the plant is via the penthouse, so arborists must pass through this presumably pricey suite each time they’re tending to caterpillar infestations or whatever oak trees are into these days. But when it came time to remove the tree earlier this year after it was weakened by drought in 2015 (the same year Nimoy passed away…coincidence?!), they used a crane instead; the bill came to over $500,000 for the labour and materials alone. Looks like money trees do exist after all.
First published in the October 2017 issue of Vancouver magazine.