Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marine Building, Vancouver

Last month my husband and I went to Vancouver with our daughter. We were only there for a few short days, but we had a wonderful time taking in the sights. Fortunately, the weather was fabulous, and we enjoyed walking around Stanley Park and the downtown area. We even made it for the final weekend of the  Olympic Winter Games, as you can see in the photo above (we actually didn't know that the Paralympic Games were still in progress when we arrived - it's sad they get so little press).

Although I'd spent lots of time in Vancouver back in my undergraduate days, it was quite a change to visit as a 'grown-up'! As a student, I spent most of my time in Vancouver shopping for bargains and eating crepes and pizza on the street (it felt sort of weird to go to sit-down restaurants). While we were planning our trip to the city, Javier asked me which places we should go to, and I couldn't really tell him anything! That's when I realized that even though I lived in Greater Vancouver for 5 years, I'd never really seen the city.

During a long walk through the downtown area, we passed by Vancouver's historic Marine Building. My husband and I kept commenting on how much the Art Deco style of the building reminded us of The Daily Planet from CW's Smallville. Of course, we later discovered that that's because it is The Daily Planet (on the TV show they make the building look taller via CGI and superimpose the Planet globe on top).

The Marine Building was completed in 1930 and is a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. The building was designed by the Vancouver-based architecture firm of McCarter Nairne. John Y. McCarter (an engineer) and George C. Nairne (an architect) built two Art Deco skyscrapers for the city of Vancouver: the first was the Medical Dental Building, which was demolished in 1988, and the second was the Marine Building.

Interestingly, when the building opened, the city was in the throes of the Great Depression. Although the structure had cost over $2.3 million to build, it was sold to the Guinness family (yes, that Guinness family), for a mere $900,000. Such a deal!

My favourite feature of the building is the elaborate entrance, with its fabulous Art Deco details.

Below you can see the rest of the entrance (unfortunately I couldn't get the whole thing with my iPhone, so I had to take two separate shots!). Take a close look at those angelic winged creatures: they're Canadian Geese! I don't think I've ever seen Canadian Geese looking so regal.

 It is certainly one of the prettiest buildings in downtown Vancouver, and I'm amazed I'd never visited it before. Now I really want to take a peek inside. I guess I'll have to wait till next time!


Thorsprincess said...

It is amazing to me how little we often have seen of the places that are closest to us. Whenever I travel, I am reminded that I've never really looked closely at buildings and sites where I actually live. Thank you for the view of one of Vancouver's great buildings, and the reminder to take a closer look around me.

Fete et Fleur said...

Gorgeous building! You would make a great Lois Lane. I love the photos of you.


Margaret said...

Haha! Thanks, Nancy!

acornmoon said...

I have enjoyed this virtual visit to Vancouver, a city which I have always wanted to see.

Nice to see your smiling face too!

Margaret said...

I'm sure you'd love the city, Valerie. It is truly beautiful. I just wish I could spend more time there. I miss living near the water! (I guess that's not fair to say, since I have the river outside my window - but I miss the ocean!).

willow said...

I think I enjoyed seeing the cute you even more than the architecture!

Amanda said...

I remember the first time I went to Vancouver and was just blown away by the beauty of the city. I loved Stanley Park. I think it's great that you got the chance to go back and see the city with new eyes. It's sometimes hard to play tourist when you live in a place. I enjoyed your photos of the Marine building. I love the art deco style of it. I think it's why in NYC I preferred the Chrysler building to the Empire State building.

Vivian said...

The Marine Building was once considered for the Vancouver City Hall. Instead they built a classic building 'way out of the busy downtown' at 12th & Cambie.
My husband used to tour his Gr.11 Socials students through the Marine Building, Cathedral and many more. They loved it and appreciate their city more!