Vancouver’s Sun Tower is one of those buildings I’ve walked by countless times over the years but have never really taken the time to appreciate it; in fact, it’s only been in the last year or so I’ve stopped to admire its façade in any detail – first covered in scaffolding and, now, refreshed anew. Classic structures like these – Sun Tower, Dominion Building, Marine Building, Dick Building, etc – really do offer a unique glimpse into Vancouver’s rich and ever unfolding history. It is indeed a beautiful thing if we have but the eyes to see and the ears to listen . . .
Called one of “Vancouver’s most recognizable landmarks” by Scout Magazine, The Sun Tower was commissioned by Louis Taylor, mayor of the city at various points between 1910 and 1932, and built between 1911 and 1912. By the time construction had finished, the World Building – as it was then known – held the distinction of being the tallest building in Vancouver for a time. It was also recognized as the tallest building in Canada until 1913, which is when the Canadian Pacific Building opened in Toronto.
Originally playing host to the “Vancouver World” newspaper owned by Louis Taylor, the building was eventually sold to Bekins Moving Company in 1924. In 1937 (a good year!), the Vancouver Sun procured the building and changed the name to what we all know and love today: The Sun Tower. When “the Sun” moved out in 1965, the building retained the name (thankfully!). Admittedly, though, learning this information took some of the manufactured aura I’d developed about this building away. When I’d first learned about the “Sun Tower” a number of years ago, I always thought the name had something to do with its height and faux bronze dome . . . nope! It’s a vestige of the Vancouver Sun newspaper! Less exciting, but still noteworthy from a historical perspective!
An earlier review by Cindy L suggests you can “see all of Vancouver” from the tower, but I suspect she’s likely talking about the Vancouver Lookout (see my earlier review on this site), because no such public viewing tower exists here – something confirmed by Chris D in the most recent TripAdvisor report. All one can admire about the Sun Tower is the building’s exterior unless you’re a tenant or get special permission from the manager, which isn’t too likely. Still, the façade is definitely worthwhile.
Designed in an eclectic mix of architectural styles, the Sun Tower certainly sticks out amongst the overwhelming number of glass towers today. It has character. Everything from the terra cotta arches, brick, “nine maidens” by noted sculptor Charles Marega, and copper dome highlights the overall value of this historical building. Of note: In 2018, the building underwent a long renovation process, which finally concluded in 2022 after some delay. As part of this work, the faux copper dome for which the building was particularly known was replaced with REAL copper tiles. Apparently, in about 20 years, the brown of the copper will have oxidized to the green colour most people are familiar with. How cool is that?
Anyway, the building is definitely worth a look, be it up close or from afar, because it offers a clear glimpse into Vancouver’s rich history: Economic expansion, human geography, culture, politics and classic architecture. It’s all here, so enjoy!