Sam Kee Building
The Sam Kee Building, located at 8 West Pender Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is noteworthy for being the shallowest commercial building in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
The Sam Kee Company—one of the wealthiest firms in Chinatown—purchased a standard-sized lot in 1903. In 1912, however, Vancouver widened Pender Street and expropriated 24 feet (7.3 m) of the above-ground portion of the property—effectively (or so it was first believed) making conventional commercial use of the remaining frontage impractical, if not impossible. Refusing the neighbors offer to buy the remaining land, Sam Kee decided to build anyway. In 1913, the architects Brown and Gillam designed this narrow, steel-framed building's ground-floor depth (from storefront to rear of building) to measure 4'11" (1.50 m), with a second-floor depth (from overhanging bay window to rear) of 6' (1.83 m). The basement extends beneath the sidewalk and originally housed public baths, while the ground floor was used for offices and shops and the top story for living quarters.
Historical renovation of the building was designed by Soren Rasmussen, and was completed in 1986. It is a tourist attraction and an insurance office.
The building is considered the shallowest commercial building in the world by the Guinness Book of Records and Ripley's Believe it or Not!, but in recent years this status has been challenged by the "Skinny Building" in Pittsburgh. The dispute centres around the fact that while the Sam Kee Building's width varies from floor to floor, Pittsburgh's "Skinny Building" is 5'2" (1.57 m) wide on all floors.
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- Mellon, Steve. (May 30, 2004) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Here in Downtown. Section: Lifestyle; Page F9.
- City of Vancouver website - Heritage Walks
- Article on the Skinny Building in the Post-Gazette website, 30 May 2004.
- O'Driscoll, Bill (August 29, 2007) Pittsburgh City Paper A unique Downtown art project holds its final show. Volume 17; Issue 35; Page 40.