May 2017 18

Vancouver Film Locations: Vancouver Marine Building

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Marine Building is an art-deco styled skyscraper located at 355 Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver. Designed by architects of McCarter Nairne, it opened its gates in October 1930 as a dominant of our city. At 321 ft with 22 floors, Marine Building remained the tallest building in Vancouver for nine years, until it was bested by Hotel Vancouver in 1939.


Marine Building has its name for the extensive decor depicting marine flora and fauna. The architects themselves tried to design the building as a giant crag rising from the sea. Think iceberg from Titanic, but fewer people and more sea-snails, turtles, scallops and sea horses. For its majestic beauty and extensive decor, it's a popular spot to use as a background in movies and TV shows. Marine Building was almost everything in it's time, from banks and office buildings, to police bureaus and superhero headquarters. Let's take a look how and which movie crews changed this memorable building in the recent years:


Backstrom is a detective comedy-drama set in Portland, Oregon, so of course their main filming location would be Vancouver, because why not. Main character Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom, played by Rainn Wilson, who you probably know better as Dwight from the US version of The Office, is an anti-hero on the right side of the law. A bit politically incorrect, rude, and struggling with alcoholism, he is a mix of everything that makes a prototype of a bad cop. Yet, he takes on cases with special interest, that nobody else can solve. And yes, he solves them. Think of him as the very modern, more unpleasant form of Sherlock Holmes.

Marine Building in this TV series represents Portland Police Bureau. Backstrom is seen walking out of the building and lighting a cigar on his way, while rain is pouring down. As spectators say, it was one of the sunniest Easter weekends when Backstrom was filming one of it's most melancholic scenes and the film crew set up a giant rain tower to create the right atmosphere, despite the fact that if they would film any other day, Vancouver would provide the right conditions on its own.


Caprica is a victim of yet another 'try to cash on a spin-off that never could work' scheme. Written as a prequel for the geek-beloved Battlestar Galactica (the reboot, not the original, mind you), Caprica is taking place 58 years before the destruction of twelve colonies.

This series maps how humans created the robots Cylons that later turned against their masters in the original Galactica reboot. Do you also have the feeling that this is getting too confusing with the original, reboot original and the prequel? Please, no more sequels, we beg you Syfy.

As is tradition with prequels, the show had low ratings and was pulled from the air on Syfy even before they finished airing the first season and these episodes were later included on DVD. Before that, they aired the episode 5, where the Marine Building is shown as the New Cap City Bank where a heist is in the process. Vancouver substituted nuked Caprica City before in rebooted Battlestar Galactica, heavily altered with CGI to fit the story. However, in Caprica itself, only small additions were made to fit the futuristic look the series was going for.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

There's not much to tell about Dirk Gently and its plot without leaving you even more confused with what exactly is going on in this series. Dirk Gently is a holistic detective. Yes, you read that right. Holistic as in he does everything, from your run-of-the-mill lost corgi to supernatural cases of great importance. Because, naturally, everything in the universe is connected.

Confused yet?

It seems as no surprise that this BBC America and Netflix collaboration series is based on the books of Douglas Adams, who you might know as the author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The show takes place after the first two books and should be an homage to the non-existent third book that Adams planned to write before he died. The first season was filmed almost entirely in Vancouver. Marine Building was used here as a lobby of Perryman Grand Hotel, where Dirk's sidekick-against-his-will Todd works. Or you know, worked, before he got fired in this very scene.


Where else would you put a famous news agency, if not the Marine Building? In Smallville, a teen-inspired prequel to Superman movies, The Daily Planet, news agency where Superman - excuse me I mean Clark Kent - ends up working, is pictured as the Vancouver Marine Building.

The most entertaining thing about all of this is that the original building, as it appeared in the comics, was based on the Old Toronto Star Building where the co-creator of Superman Joe Shuster was a newsboy.

He even claimed that fictional city Metropolis, where Superman does most of his saving and hero-related stuff, was based on Toronto. However, this view shifted since then and Metropolis, as we know it now, reminds people New York City more than Toronto.

Fairly Legal

Nothing says I despise the law more than becoming a mediator. Kate Reed (played by Sarah Shahi, who you might remember as Sam from Person of Interest), was a great lawyer at her father's firm. But then she realised she wanted something more, she wanted to help people. And that's where the series starts, with Kate determined to do good by occasional acting a bit against the law.

As it goes in the series about lawyers, nothing says successful as a fancy office building. This USA Network comedy is no exception. In the 7th episode of the first season, the Marine Building served as an entrance to one of the buildings where one of the lawyer's Kate is confronting, has an office.

Fantastic Four

In Fantastic Four, and we mean the more classical 2005 and 2007 movies, not the train-wreck that was 2015 version, the Marine Building is the centre of the attention of fictional New York City. This building represents the Baxter Building, a fictional residence in Manhattan that houses the Fantastic Four headquarters.

In contrast with the comics, where Baxter Building is shown as strictly military and industrial looking, for the movie creators choose the art-deco inspired Marine Building as a bit more indulgent original living quarters of Reed Richards. In the latest comics, the creators even shifted their view and draw the Baxter Building with a bit of flourish, reminding more Vancouver Marine Building, than the original military structure.

Life or Something Like It

Angelina Jolie stars as Lanie Kerrigan in this romantic comedy-drama about a reporter living the perfect life. Or so she thinks until a homeless psychic tells her she is gonna die next Tuesday. From there, things start spinning out of control, as Lanie tries to change the course of her destiny and finding some meaning in her life.

And what movie set in New York City would it be without filming the prettiest buildings in Vancouver. The Marine Building was used as a set for A.M. USA offices, where Lanie longs to work as a big-star reporter. Because every news agency needs its old, art-deco building, right?


If you always wanted to see a supernatural police comedy with an unusual main character, who is good despite being bad, you are in luck because Fox recently introduced Lucifer to its viewers and changed the way you will look at procedural police series. The story is about the proverbial Satan struggling with his "work" (read damning souls for eternity) and going for a holiday to Los Angeles. Do you see the irony in this? Of course, he runs into a very attractive detective, who is somehow immune to his charm and sets to help her solve crimes.

In eight episode of the first season, Detective Chloe Decker and Lucifer come across potential murder suspect Richard Kester, who is standing at the edge of the building, ready to jump. Naturally, this building is the Marine Building in Vancouver, because no other building has such a beautiful rim you can stand on. In this scene, Lucifer manages to talk Richard out of jumping by accident, so it ends well for both Richard and the steps of the building that don't have to be drenched in fake blood. Talk about a step off of the devil path, oops.

The Flash

If you had the power to travel trough mirrors, why not rob a bank in an art-deco building? The same train of thoughts was probably what the Mirror Master from CW's The Flash had. In the third season, he decides to rob Central's City First National Bank, set in the Vancouver Marine Building. He almost succeeded, which is not that surprising, since that building has a very suspicious amount of mirrors for a bank. He is stopped by The Flash and Jesse Quick. Nobody is surprised.


Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.


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