Sun Tower

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Sun Tower
Vancouver Sun Tower.jpg
Former names World Building
General information
Type Commercial offices
Location 128 West Pender Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Coordinates 49°16′52″N 123°06′30″W / 49.2810°N 123.1084°W / 49.2810; -123.1084Coordinates: 49°16′52″N 123°06′30″W / 49.2810°N 123.1084°W / 49.2810; -123.1084
Construction started 1911
Completed 1912
Roof 82.34 m (270.1 ft)
Technical details
Floor area 6,357 m2 (68,430 sq ft)
Lifts/elevators 3
Design and construction
Architect William Tuff Whiteway

The Sun Tower is a 17 storey 82 m (269 ft) Beaux-Arts building at 128 West Pender Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is known for its faux-patina steel dome painted to imitate copper cladding. Nine nude muses, the "nine maidens" supporting the cornice line can be seen. The terracotta for this building, including the ladies, was made in Tamworth, Staffordshire, England by Gibbs and Canning Limited.


The Sun Tower was commissioned by L. D. Taylor to house his newspaper, The Vancouver World. The intention was that the building would be visible throughout the World's circulation area as the tallest building in the city. John Coughland and Sons of Vancouver had 1,250 tons of steel fabricated for construction.

When it was completed in 1912, it was called the World Building and was the tallest building in the British Empire at 82 m (269 ft), surpassing the previous record-holder, the Dominion Building located just around the corner. For two years, it was the tallest building in Canada until Toronto's 20-story Optima Business Centre opened in 1914. In 1918, droves of Vancouverites turned out to watch as Harry Gardiner, the "Human Fly", scaled the outside of the building.[4] When The Vancouver Sun bought the building in 1937, it was renamed. Although The Sun newspaper has long since relocated, first to South Granville then to Granville Square, the building has retained the name.

The exterior of the Sun Tower is used as the Watchtower in Smallville. The tower has been digitally enhanced to look taller. In certain shots, the tower is the highest building in Metropolis.

Formerly 100 West Pender St, the City of Vancouver renumbered the street address of the Sun Tower to 128 West Pender in 2011 in accordance with its strict street numbering bylaw when a new building was constructed on the vacant lot at the south west corner of West Pender and Abbott Streets.

Architecture and materials[edit]

The Sun Tower was designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway, who also designed the original Woodward's building nearby. The building takes the form of an eight storey, L-shaped block, surmounted by a nine storey hexagonal-section tower. The tower is capped by a Beaux-Arts dome and cupola. The structure of the tower is steel, which is dominantly clad in a combination of terracotta tiles and rusticated brickwork. The dome itself, although painted to resemble patinated copper, is steel.

The exterior is adorned with nine terracotta caryatids supporting the cornice, sculpted by Charles Marega.[5] These apparently caused a minor scandal among some of Vancouver's citizenry at the building's opening, as the female figures are depicted partially clothed, with naked breasts, and were considered to be adopting "sensuous" poses.[6] Further decorative detailing is provided by carved stone sills under all windows, manufactured from local volcanic andesite from Haddington Island.[7] Haddington Island andesite is also used for some of the decorative carvings near the top of the tower, that feature animal skulls surrounded by garlands of fruit and flowers.

Anchor tenants[edit]


It was announced on March 19, 2008 that the Sun Tower had been sold to new owners on March 17. The purchase price was not announced, but the building had a 2008 assessed value of CA$6.16 million. The new owners promised to restore the heritage building.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sun Tower at Emporis
  2. ^ Sun Tower at Glass Steel and Stone
  3. ^ Sun Tower at SkyscraperPage
  4. ^ "Immense throng witnesses "Human Fly" scale Tower building in front of Sun offices: From the pages of the Vancouver Sun, November 1, 1918". Vancouver Sun (Vancouver). February 10, 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sun Tower". Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Francis, Daniel (2004). LD: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver. Arsenal Pulp Press. ISBN 978-1551521565. 
  7. ^ Mustard, Peter S.; Hora, Z.D. (Danny); Hansen, Cindy D. (2003). Geology Tours of Vancouver's Buildings and Monuments. Geological Association of Canada. ISBN 0-919216-85-4. 
  8. ^ Derrick Penner (March 19, 2008). "New owners promise Sun Tower restoration". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 

External links[edit]