Vancouver’s St. Andrews Wesley United Church to be restored

St. Andrews Wesley United Church in Vancouver. Photo by Torecles – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

One of Vancouver’s most prominent landmark churches and music venues is set to undergo a major seismic upgrade and heritage restoration. Design practice Ryder Architecture has been retained with RJC Engineers. The latter will provide seismic engineering, building envelope engineering and act as prime consultant on this significant two-year project. Heatherbrae Construction is providing Construction Management services.

St Andrews Wesley United Church stands as a stunning example of the height of Gothic Revival architecture. Known for its glorious interior including vaulted timber roof, impressive French and Italian stained glass windows and angel reliefs, St Andrews functions as a major religious, heritage and cultural focal point for the City of Vancouver.

A diagram showing the planned upgrades.

Located at the corner of Burrard and Nelson Streets, the church was designed and constructed between 1930 and 1933 by architects Twizell and Twizell. Brothers George and Robert Twizell were born in Newcastle upon Tyne, in the northern English county of Northumberland before establishing themselves in Montreal in 1901. Ryder, following a similar heritage line, was established in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1953, with the practice adding a team in Vancouver in 2016, led by principals Adam James and Warren Schmidt.

Originally from Newcastle before moving to Canada in 2006, principal Adam James said, “St Andrews is a special and historic place not only for the church congregation but also the City of Vancouver. The congregation is to be commended for pursuing this project to bring the church up to current seismic safety standards. In doing so the original architecture of Twizell and Twizell will be reinvigorated to provide a home to the congregation for the next 100 years.”

The project will provide a seismic upgrade to the original concrete structure and at the same time reinstate the original plaster interiors, along with a new stone floor, pews and upgraded building services. The heritage designated building exterior will receive a new copper roof and granite façades will be repointed and restrained.

The building is set to reopen in the fall of 2020.