Opinion: I asked people to name Burnaby’s most iconic buildings. It was a short list

Chris Campbell

I’ve never been fortunate enough to meet CBC reporter Justin McElroy in person, but he’s a gem on Twitter.

Check out @j_mcelroy and you can see the results of his latest bracket on the most iconic buildings in Vancouver (I’m on Team Marine Building).

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Inspired by this contest, I jokingly asked people this on Twitter: “Does Burnaby actually have one single building you could call iconic?”

As someone who grew up in Burnaby, I understand that our city has a few buildings it is known for, but wasn’t sure how passionate people felt about them or if they really qualified as iconic.

My Twitter followers responded quickly, but the list of buildings that qualify as iconic seems to be pretty short.

The two that topped the most lists were the Telus Boot and the campus of Simon Fraser University. In third place was the Ismaili Centre (just a lovely place to enter).

Other suggestions were the Hart House restaurant, Swangard Stadium, the Tommy Douglas Library, Burnaby Village Museum and Crystal Mall.

And that’s about it. It’s a long way off from the many iconic buildings in Vancouver.

SFU's Burnaby campus - Contributed

I have some quick thoughts about this list.

I actually know the Telus Boot as the BC Tel Boot, a title that ages me more than I’d like it to. When I started classes on the second floor of Parkcrest Elementary in the late-1970s, I had an unobstructed view of the boot building. I stared at it many times when I should have been listening to my teachers (sorry Mr. Shanks).

As for the Arthur Erickson-designed SFU campus, there are a couple of parts that I don’t find hideous, like the inside of the academic quadrangle. People seemed pretty split on Twitter about if the SFU buildings were depressing or inspiring.

And then there’s the use of the word iconic. It doesn’t necessarily mean the building is pleasant to look at. Crystal Mall doesn’t look like much, but it is an iconic place in our community for so many reasons.

Isamaili Centre
A winter view of the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby from the south-west. - Gary Otte

Swangard is special for me because I scored the winning goal when I was 14 to claim a championship for my Cliff Avenue soccer team (GO ORANGE AND BLACK!!!). It is definitely iconic in my own life.

My thanks to all of the people who tweeted back at me, as well as to Mr. McElroy, who finds fun ways to get people thinking about the world around us.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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