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5 things you didn’t know about the Marine Building

Each week Vancouver Is Awesome uncovers some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week it takes on Vancouver’s premier art deco skyscraper, the Marine Building.

Each week Vancouver Is Awesome uncovers some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week it takes on Vancouver’s premier art deco skyscraper, the Marine Building.

1) It was the tallest skyscraper in the city for nine years

Located at 355 Burrard St., the Marine Building is considered one of Vancouver’s most identifiable buildings. It opened on Oct. 7, 1930 and, at 22 floors high, was the tallest skyscraper in the city until 1939.

2) The construction process was extremely fast

Land for the building was purchased just two years prior to completion. It was originally intended to be two storeys, but Vancouver’s economy was booming and, as a result, plans were revised for a 10 and then 20-storey skyscraper.

Photo courtesy Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-690
Photo courtesy Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-690

3. It was massively over budget

The building cost $2.3 million to build, which was $1.1 million over budget. The Marine Building was sold at a loss to the Guinness family during the Great Depression for only $900,000.

4) There was a public observation deck in the 1930s

The 25-cent admission price wasn’t affordable for most citizens during Vancouver’s economic depression and the public viewing deck was soon closed.

Photo courtesy Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-915
Photo courtesy Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-915

5) It’s a lavish tribute to maritime history and the sea

According to the architects John McCarter and George Nairne, the building was intended to evoke “some great crag rising from the sea, clinging with sea flora and fauna, tinted in sea-green, touched with gold.” The ornamental, art deco-style building features intricately carved fish, sea horses, crabs, seaweeds and a King Neptune, while the walls are inlaid with 12 varieties of local hardwoods.

Photo courtesy Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 70-19
Photo courtesy Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 70-19
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