Marine Building

355 Burrard Street
Vancouver BC V6C 2G8


History and Architecture
Lt. Commander J.W. Hobbs got the idea to construct a building on Vancouver 's waterfront, once the Panama Canal became operational in 1914. He realised that this new port would need infrastructure support, including a location for immigration, customs, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National marine-related business.

Hobbs wanted a skysc***er that would put Vancouver on the international shipping map. It was conceived by as a great crag of a building, "rising from the sea, clinging with sea flora and fauna, in sea-green flashed with gold." The team of McCarter and Nairne built the Marine building at the foot of Burrard Street , giving the tower spectacular views of the harbor and the North Shore mountains. The result is a historic masterpiece of Art Deco architecture.

Construction of the 25-storey masterpiece was done by E.J. Ryan Contracting and survived the stock market crash of 1929. When the Marine Building opened in October 1930 (at a cost of $2.3 million, $1.1 million over budget), it was the first modern skysc***er and the talk of the town. It was, for more than a decade, the tallest building in the British Empire .

Inside Design
Inside, the details of the design cannot be missed. The walls, floors, and ceiling are covered in an array of sea creatures of gold and marble mostly. Full of snails, skate, crabs, turtles, carp, scallops and sea horses swam and frolicked over the walls and polished brass doors. Even the numbers on the large lobby clock are represented by sea creatures. As cross country and trans-national transportation were central at the time, this too, is a main theme in the design. There are trains, ships, automobiles and aircrafts including zeppelins. Vancouver 's position as a sea and rail connection is represented by ships and speeding trains. Famous ships like the Golden Hind the Resolution , the Beaver and the Empress of Japan are shown in murals, and the stained glass over the entranceway pays tribute to Captain Vancouver with his ship, the Discovery , on the horizon.

Ancient mythology also plays a key role in the design. The 12 signs of the zodiac are worked into the floor, which was originally made of corkoid, or "battleship linoleum," but was replaced in 1989 with marble. The beauty continues into the elevators, where i nside the massive brass-doored lift the walls are inlaid with 12 varities of local hardwoods, and the railings are gold.

The Marine Building remains a unique feature in Vancouver . Over the last 15-20 years, approximately $30 million has been spent to restore the building to its original beauty and glory. It was once the only office tower in the area, but it now stands at the centre of Vancouver 's business district. It is still a prominent business location filled with law offices and bank firms among others.

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