Originally constructed in 1925–26, the Spencer Building is an iconic art deco structure located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, BC. Its first use was as Spencer’s Department Store, but the building has been repurposed and has evolved through the years. Today, it is the site of Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus as well as a collection of government, business, retail, and restaurant businesses that make up the greater complex known as the Harbour Centre.

Comprised primarily of masonry cladding and cast stone, the historic structure required major repairs to its enclosure. In particular, the original single-pane glass windows with heavily corroded metal frames required careful consideration within the context of heritage.

In 2014, our team was retained to complete a condition assessment of the windows and walls using bosun’s chair visual reviews. Based on this assessment, we were able to identify the areas that required restoration and conservation. Because of the delicate nature of the building, we assisted the owners with a trial repair phase in 2015. During this process, components were removed and replaced or restored, and a new silicate-based coating was applied on the cast stone. This trial repair provided us with valuable information to base the larger Conservation Plan upon and to develop a conceptual repair strategy, complete with budgets and schedules.

Our team was then retained to complete the rehabilitation of the west elevation and heritage conservation of the balance of the building. Due to the Spencer Building’s heritage designation, we prepared a Conservation Plan in consultation with the City of Vancouver Heritage Commission. We finalized the repair concept with a goal to retain as much of the existing building fabric as possible. The Conservation Plan consisted of a Statement of Significance, a conservation strategy with emphasis on the future long-term performance of the building enclosure, and maintenance planning.

We led the rehabilitation and conservation phase as construction managers, overseeing the direction of the design and construction process, optimizing the budget, managing risk, and working directly with trade contractors to ensure the success of the project.

In March 2018, the Spencer Building project was presented with a Recognition Award for Heritage Conservation from Heritage BC.


February 25, 2020


Harbour Centre Complex Ltd.

Construction Project Manager

RDH Building Science

Key Services

Construction Project Management (CPM)
Building Enclosure Condition Assessments and Investigations

On any rehabilitation project, our Construction Project Management (CPM) team undertakes the basic contract administration (CA) functions required by the contract. In addition to CA, our team can provide project management (PM) services, an elevated level of service and oversight where our experienced project managers work with general contractors on your behalf. We also routinely provide construction management (CM) services, working as your agent to handle all aspects of construction and acting as the prime contractor. With CM services, we arrange contracts directly between you and subcontractors, and we manage the work on your behalf. Our team of experienced project managers, project coordinators, and superintendents work closely with our technical team to ensure a smooth transition between the design and construction phases.

With our CM services, your site will be supervised full time by a professional RDH superintendent, who acts as your advocate to ensure that the project is running smoothly. With our CPM team taking care of all the administrative matters and foreseeing problems before they arise, you will have peace of mind that your project will be successful.

Marcus Dell | M.A.Sc., P.Eng., BEP

Founder & Principal Emeritus
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Paul Kernan | Architect AIBC

Principal, Senior Building Science Specialist
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Michael Roche | B.Sc. (HONS), MCPM

Principal, Manager Construction Services
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Michael Grummett | P.Eng.

Associate, Building Science Engineer
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Rick Hughes Associate

Rick Hughes

Associate, Project Superintendent
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