Sam Kee Building

Sam Kee Building

When you talk about notable buildings, it is not usually just its architecture and design that can be their main attractive points. Although this might be true to most buildings, there are also such things as uniqueness and its history that makes some buildings to be considered as landmarks. Take the Sam Kee Building for example.

If ever you find yourself in Vancouver, British Columbia and you head along 8 West Pender Street, you might just miss out the Sam Kee Building. On the outside, it looks just like any other building in its surroundings.

Going by the street can easily make some people ignore the establishment. It does not boast of breathtaking architecture or design. But mind you, the Sam Kee Building holds a unique distinction. It is considered as the world’s narrowest commercial building.

The Sam Kee Building is considered by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s narrowest commercial building. Standing only a narrow 1.5 meters at the ground floor, the building then extends to 1.8 meters at the second floor with its extended bay windows.

The basement of the building also extends to under the street sidewalk that originally housed a public bath. The ground floor is used for shops and offices while the second floor reserved as living quarters.

The steel-framed Sam Kee Building was designed by Brown and Gillam in 1913. There is an interesting background to this building. The property was originally owned by Chang Toy. But the City of Vancouver planned for the expansion of Pender Street that led to the property being taken all but a two-meter stretch of land left.

The owner was not given any compensation and was believed to have been left with a useless piece of property. Not to be outdone, the owner then had a building designed that would fit on the remaining stretch of the property. And so the Sam Kee Building was born.

The Sam Kee building has been recently challenged for being the world’s thinnest building by the Skinny Building in Pittsburgh which measures 1.57 meters. The dispute arose because the Sam Kee Building only measures 1.5 meters at the base or ground floor with the top floor extending to about 1.8 meters. The Skinny Building maintains the 1.57 meter measurement from the base to its second and third floors.



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