A little history on the development of the Richard Blanshard Building aka The MInistry of Health building.
Long before the Richard Blanshard Building existed, this site was home to the First Presbyterian Congregation church, established in 1862. Pictured below is a view of Blanshard Street with the church circled in red.
The original Pandora building was built in 1955 to house the BC Electric Company and was the first large-scale Modernist building in Victoria. It was designed by Thompson, Berwick, Pratt & Partners. At the time, it was considered an impressive example of avant-garde design. The tall, narrow, and linear building is built of concrete with curtain wall cladding. The curtain wall construction creates an open and ethereal impression, with its narrow columns and large window fronts on both sides. It is the reinforced concrete frame which supports the full weight of the structure. The building retains its unique aluminum sunshade louvres to screen and diffuse direct sunlight.
In 1974, a 200,000-square-foot addition was designed by Siddall Dennis Warner Architects and built behind the original Pandora Street building. After that, both buildings became home to the Ministry of Health. The Neo-Brutalist design of the new wing is markedly different to the original building (although this style was generally influenced by Modernism), and is remarkable for the contrast between the stepped, vertical sections immediately behind the Pandora wing, and the strong horizontal "layer-cake" lines of the main sections facing Blanshard and Amelia Streets. Instead of the airy, wide expanse of windows found on the Pandora wing, the addition features flat concrete pillars which extend outwards in front of the windows on the Blanshard, Cormorant, and Amelia Street sides.
It is clear that the architecture firm tasked with building the addition to the old BC Electric Company building decided to put their own stamp on the building and had no interest in creating a structure that would harmonize with the original building. But, although the Neo-Brutalist addition appears to be at odds with the airy lines of the Modernist building, there are a few small harmonies to be found in the sometimes unforgiving, and unadorned, neo-Brutalist exterior. The set backs and generous planting areas at the corner of Pandora and Blanshard are echoed by equally generous setbacks at the corner of Cormorant and Blanshard, and on the Amelia Street side, the stepped sections of the concrete structure are inset with large window fronts in an echo of the light, airy interiors of the original Modernist building.
Siddall Dennis Warner Architects designed several buildings in Victoria including nine University of Victoria buildings, Centennial Square and the City Hall addition.