Marine Building, Vancouver (part 2)


The Marine Building, at Hastings and Burrard, is one of Canada’s great art deco masterpieces. Construction began in 1929 and almost immediately upon completion in 1930, became a victim of the Great Depression. Its owners had trouble attracting tenants and by 1933, sold the building which had cost $2.3 million (more than $1 million over budget) for a paltry $900,000.

The Marine Building has an interesting history, but I’m keen to get back to the decoration. The Burrard Street entrance (above), features a ship’s prow sailing out of the sunset, with Canada geese flying across the rays.

Along the inside of the archway at the entrance are terra cotta reliefs of ships that are significant in Vancouver history — including, of course, Captain George Vancouver’s ship, HMS Discovery, with which he explored the coasts of British Columbia in 1792.

As for faces on the Marine building (apart from the faces of the sealife that appear everywhere), there are two images of Neptune. You can glimpse one of them in the picture of the top six or seven storeys in the previous post. Here’s a close-up, in which you can clearly see the Roman god of the sea clutching his trident.

Neptune also appears as the figurehead on a ship on a two-storey-long sculptural work on another corner of the building. The detail here also gives a nice close-up (if I do say so myself) of a seahorse:

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