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Marine Building


Marine Building


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
applied masonry
art deco




  • One of the most prominent legacies of Vancouver's growing prosperity. During the 1930's it was the first "modern" skyscraper in the city and tallest until 1939.
  • The main entranceway pays tribute to Captain George Vancouver with his ship on the horizon framed by a rising sun.
  • Opened in October, 1930 $1.1 million over budget at $2.3 million, but due to the Depression was sold to the Guinness family of Ireland for only $900,000.
  • City mayor W.H. Malkin blew a gold whistle to start excavation in mid-March 1929.
  • The Grand Concourse lobby is 27 meters long.
  • Inside the massive brass-doored elevators the walls are inlaid with 12 varities of local hardwoods.
  • The exterior is studded with flora and fauna, tinted in sea-green and touched with gold.
  • In the 1930s above the 19th floor offices was a two-storey, three-level penthouse with a wraparound terrace, which was supposed to be used as an observation deck but nobody could afford the 25-cent admission price in the Depression.
  • The high-speed elevators installed in 1930 operated at 700 feet per minute when the average for the day was only around 150 feet per minute, a real thrill-ride for the 1930's.
  • BOMA 2003 TOBY- Building of the Year Award.
  • Inspired by New York's Chrysler Building.
  • Opening during the Depression, yet the building initially housed 98 tenants despite the economic ills of the day, and grew to 144 tenants by 1937.
  • "The height of art deco, the absolute height of it" - Don Luxton, president of the Canadian Art Deco Society.
  • On completion, the Marine Building was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth; a title it held for over a decade.
  • BOMA 1989 International TOBY Award - Historical.
  • In 2004 the Marine Building was 100% occupied with about 800 people working in 40 businesses, including one tenant, Marine Printers, who has been in the basement since the building opened October 8, 1930.
  • BOMA TOBY Award winner 2003 in the Historical Building category.
  • All over the walls and polished brass doors are depictions of sea snails, skate, crabs, turtles, carp, scallops, seaweed and sea horses.
  • The five high-speed elevators travel only to the 18th floor, but there is a four-person elevator to take you from the 18th floor to the penthouse.
  • The Marine Building was the first skyscraper for McCarter (the engineer) and Nairne (the architect).
  • Commander Hobbs, the father of the Marine Building, was a vice-president of the Toronto bond trading company, G.A. Stimson.
  • Brainchild of Lt. Commander J.W. Hobbs of Toronto.
  • The building sits on a bluff and used to be located right on the water's edge until everything north was filled in for railroad tracks, and then condo/hotel development and a $525 million convention centre.
  • Contrary to popular belief the Marine Building was not the city's "first skyscraper", it was the Dominion Building followed by the Sun Tower.
  • One of city's first public buildings to exploit art deco.
  • Used in the construction of the Marine Building were 2,000 tons of steel, one million cubic yards of brick, 72,000 sacks of cement, 1,046,000 feet of lumber, 172,000 sq. ft. of hollow tile, 75 miles of wiring in the elevators and 54 miles of wiring in the rest of the building, plus 950 windows and 2,100 panes of glass.
  • The Marine Building was designed by its architects to emulate a rocky promontory rising from the sea.
  • In 1928, Captain F.C. Johnson, president of G.A. Stimson & Co., paid $300,000 for the building site.
  • In the 2005 hit sci-fi movie Fantastic Four, the Marine Building served as headquarters for the super heroes.
  • BOMA Go Green Certified May 2004.
  • Headquarters of the Daily Planet in the television show Smallville, aka the Superman series.

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More Information


355 Burrard Street
355 Burrard Street
British Columbia

Technical Data

320.87 ft
Mar 1929
Oct 1930

Involved Companies

construction company, owner, property management, steel supplier

Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • City landmark
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