Treasure Under the Sea: The Marine Building

Watching for Architecture

Sometimes in our busy lives, it’s easy to walk the streets caught up in our thoughts, or maybe our cell phones, and miss the architectural treasures standing silently in our midst.

So whenever I’m in a city – be it my hometown or any other city – I try to look up.  I am always on the lookout for the Victorian, the Edwardian, or the art deco.

While in Vancouver B.C. for a conference recently, this old art deco skyscraper stopped me in my tracks.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding

What a classic.  My standard procedure when I see a building like this is to check out the lobby.

And when the entrance looks like this, chances are pretty good that the inside is even better.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - entrance

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - entrance closeup

Turns out I had stumbled upon the Marine Building, once the tallest building in the British Empire.  It was completed in 1930 and restored in the 1980s.  And, as its name suggests, it boasts a marine décor theme.

Directly overhead at the building entrance is this whimsical terracotta scene.  If you look carefully, you can see all kinds of sea life.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - terracotta detail

The brass doors are surrounded by sea creatures.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - front door detail

And several panels, like this one, pay homage to the sea exploration that shaped the region.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - ship panel detail

A Watery Wonderland

In the lobby, the marriage of art deco style and nautical whimsy continues.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - elevator lobby

Wall lighting comes from the prows of small terracotta ships, complete with nautical figureheads and waves.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - light fixture

The brass elevator doors sport what appear to be underwater gardens.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - elevator door

Between the elevators, whales playfully chase ships.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - elevator detail

While an elaborately framed panel tells office workers where their elevators are, as it has for 85 years.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - elevator buttons

The floor features the signs of the zodiac.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - zodiac floor

And the phone booths are protected by a little ship at sea.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - phone booths

The ceiling is beautifully detailed.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - lobby ceiling

And the elevators are set off by sturdy alcoves.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - elevator alcove

King Neptune is probably around here somewhere, but it would take hours to notice every detail in this lobby.  So let’s go back outside, because there is more to see there too.

A Man-Made Sea Cliff

Not by accident, the exterior of the Marine Building looks a bit like a shell-encrusted sea cliff.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding

Panels across the front of the building focus on modes of transportation.  To me, this zeppelin panel epitomizes the art deco ideal.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - zeppelin detail

Marine life frolics above the windows.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - exterior detail

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - seahorse

Past and present meet as the Marine Building is reflected in a modern glass skyscraper.

relectionArt deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding

The distorted reflection is only fitting for a building that was completed around the time of the stock market crash and the great depression.  A skittish public avoided renting space in the grand and expensive-looking building, and it was soon sold to the Irish Guinness family at a loss.

Not that the turtle cares.

Art deco skyscraper - The Marine Buiding - night bell

I was in Vancouver to attend Blogpodium, a Canadian conference for lifestyle bloggers.  As a visiting American blogger, I can say that I found Blogpodium relevant, helpful, and fun.  It was interesting to hear about the creative and unique things that other bloggers are doing in their own little corners of the blogosphere.  And my brain is still processing everything that I learned.

I even won a nice door prize, which I plan to write about soon.

 



You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

11 Replies to “Treasure Under the Sea: The Marine Building”

  1. Great photos! I wish more of the newer buildings had attention to detail like this one. Interesting it was built during the depression. Glad to see it hasn’t been torn down for a new modern style skyscraper.

    1. Hi, Chris. You bring up a great point: What if it had been torn down to make way for something more modern? What a loss that would have been, and how lucky we are to still have treasures like this. Glad you enjoyed my post.

    1. Stacey, I agree – they just don’t make them like this anymore. I feel lucky that I found this place and I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about it!

  2. Gorgeous! I am always in awe of the wonderful architecture in gorgeous buildings like this. One of my favorite things to do while traveling. Especially love find any old town and exploring! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *