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Things to Know About the Marine Building in Vancouver

Ultimate Guide to Marine Building Vancouver
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Fun fact: Some folks claim the Marine Building in Vancouver is something of a haunted house! They claim British Columbia’s first chief justice, Judge Matthew Begbie, known as “the hanging judge,” roams its stairs. 

Strange noises like groans and chains have been reported. But beyond the spooky tales, this iconic skyscraper has a lot of history! Before you visit, it’s best to learn more about it below.

What is the Marine Building in Vancouver known for?

The Marine Building in Vancouver is famous for its gorgeous Art Deco design with all sorts of nautical-inspired details outside. On the inside, it’s a whole world of fun with decorative walls and doors, a scenic deck, cafes, and more.

What is the history of the Marine Building?

Built between 1929 and 1930 by Toronto’s Stimson Developers, the Marine Building in downtown Vancouver was a bustling hub for commercial shipping—it really put Vancouver’s maritime roots on the map.

Construction kicked off on March 13, 1929, replacing an old mansion in what was known as “Blueblood Alley.” Talk about a transformation! By the time October 8, 1930 rolled around, the building was ready to show off its grandeur to the world.

Here’s where things get interesting: the project was initially budgeted at $1.5 million but ended up costing a whopping $2.3 million! Yikes, talk about going over budget. And guess what? The Great Depression didn’t help matters either.

So, get this: when the developer hit a rough patch, they pitched the idea of turning the Marine Building into the city hall for a cool $1 million! But the Guinness family swooped in and snagged it for a steal of $900,000 in 1933. Talk about a bargain!

What does the Marine Building look like?

The Marine Building looks stunning with its Art Deco vibes and all these intricate details telling stories of the past. And it’s not just any building—it soars up 21 stories, making quite the statement against Vancouver’s skyline.

Once you’re up close, you’ll probably notice all these cool little touches. We’re talking seahorses, lobsters, and sleek steamships. For us, it’s like they wanted to pack as much historic charm as humanly possible.

Inside, the lobby is also a total jaw-dropper, with stained-glass panels and beautiful flooring with zodiac signs everywhere. And those elevators? Brass doors, fancy woodwork—it’s like you’re in a historic movie!

They spruced it up in the ‘80s, but it’s still got that classic charm. Green and blue tiles, a mesmerizing ceiling, and those quirky abstract floor tiles—all very elegant!

Even after all these years, the Marine Building still stands tall, a testament to the genius of its architects. Nowadays, it’s buzzing with all sorts of office spaces and businesses.

Was the Marine Building famous?

You bet the Marine Building was famous! Back then, it was the talk of the town, setting new standards for sophistication with its luxurious interior design and uniformed doormen.

And you know what’s cool? Even now, the Marine Building still holds onto its fame. The city even tagged it as a historic resource, making sure its gorgeous exterior stays put for future generations to enjoy.

Can you go inside the Marine Building?

You can totally go inside the Marine Building! The first and second floors are open to the public, giving you a sneak peek at its amazing architectural wonders. 

And don’t even get us started on the elevators—they’re something else! Before you step in, take a moment to admire the exquisite craftsmanship by talented woodworkers. They sourced the wood locally to add a touch of nature to your ride.

What activities can you do in the Marine Building?

The Marine Building in Vancouver offers several fun activities for architecture enthusiasts. You can take guided tours, take lots of pictures, and dine and shop around the area to make the most of the experience.

For one, the lobby is a haven for both amateur and pro photographers, with stunning interiors begging to be captured. Snap as many pics as you want because this place is totally Insta-worthy!

Afterwards, fuel up at one of the two cafes conveniently located at the main entrance. We feel these dining spots add a modern touch to the historic site, attracting more visitors here and there.

We also think it’s great to explore further into the heart of the city, where must-see attractions like Canada Place and Gastown await just moments away!

To make things more immersive, we suggest joining a guided walking or biking tour that includes a stop at the Marine Building. It’s the perfect blend of history and activity to maximize your day.

Tips When Visiting the Marine Building in Vancouver

Now that you’re familiar with the historical skyscraper, here are some tips to make your exploration as smooth as possible:

Stay comfy.Be practical with your OOTD (outfit of the day)! Wear clothes and shoes that let you move freely as you explore the building’s interiors, as well as shops and services nearby.
Arrive early.Beat the crowds so you can take your time soaking in all the sights and experiences without feeling rushed.
Bring binoculars.Get up close and personal with all the intricate details and hidden gems scattered throughout the building.
Explore the observation deck.Don’t miss out on the breathtaking views from the balcony! Take the lift and snap envy-inducing photos of Vancouver’s skyline and iconic landmarks.
Capture the sunset.Time your visit to coincide with the golden sky at the deck for a truly magical experience!

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