Vancouver History Blog

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Georgia Medical and Detnal Building, ca. 1950 - City of Vancouver Archives: AM1517-S1-: 2008-022.040

Vancouver’s First Art Deco Skyscraper Crumbles Down

[by Glenn Tkach]

Does Vancouver’s first Art Deco skyscraper look familiar? You might mistake this building for the iconic Marine Building on the corner of Hastings and Burrard Streets. But this one was here first.

The Georgia Medical and Dental Building got its design from the same architects, McCarter and Nairne. They opened it in 1929, just prior to the completion of the Marine Building and it was Vancouver’s first Art Deco skyscraper.

Featuring similar ornamentation to the Marine Building, the Georgia Medical and Dental building was something to behold. But it did not focus on marine life. Instead, the decorative elements on this structure paid homage to birds, lions, horses, and the like. Medical and mythological imagery were also on display.

So what happened to this Art Deco monument?

It was dramatically demolished in 1989. A crowd of onlookers gathered to watch its historic destruction – the first skyscraper implosion in Vancouver. Many protested the demolition of this historic building. Nonetheless, it was sacrificed to make way for Cathedral Place, which now stands in its spot.

The public outcry did lead to stricter preservation laws in Vancouver. In fact, it led to the founding of the Heritage Vancouver Society, which continues to advocate for stricter preservation policies today. So the sacrifice of this Art Deco masterpiece safeguarded the future of its sister, the Marine Building, as well as many other other heritage buildings in Vancouver.

On the Monumental Scandals Tours guests explore Vancouver’s most iconic buildings, while discovering the scandals that surround them.