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.
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.
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.
The brass doors are surrounded by sea creatures.
And several panels, like this one, pay homage to the sea exploration that shaped the region.
A Watery Wonderland
In the lobby, the marriage of art deco style and nautical whimsy continues.
Wall lighting comes from the prows of small terracotta ships, complete with nautical figureheads and waves.
The brass elevator doors sport what appear to be underwater gardens.
Between the elevators, whales playfully chase ships.
While an elaborately framed panel tells office workers where their elevators are, as it has for 85 years.
The floor features the signs of the zodiac.
And the phone booths are protected by a little ship at sea.
The ceiling is beautifully detailed.
And the elevators are set off by sturdy alcoves.
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.
Panels across the front of the building focus on modes of transportation. To me, this zeppelin panel epitomizes the art deco ideal.
Marine life frolics above the windows.
Past and present meet as the Marine Building is reflected in a modern glass skyscraper.
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.
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:
- Trapped in Time: How a Couple Rescued Their Dining Room
- Ghosts of Kitchens Past
- An Old Country Cistern Wakes Up in the City
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