Last Saturday night a bunch of us went down to the Bottleneck Bar to see a screening of Stevie Wilson’s film Catch the West Bound Train. Afterwards we walked down Granville and Tom Carter took Lani Russwurm, Will Woods and me on an impromptu tour of the Shoppers Drug Mart at Dunsmuir.
Truly this must be one of the hidden wonders of Vancouver. If you go through the cosmetics department and up the stairs, you can actually touch this amazing mural by BC Binning.
I decided to do some research on the mural and the building, and wasn’t at all surprised to see that Jason Vanderhill had beaten me to it. With Jason’s permission I have pillaged his photos and research from his Illustrated Vancouver blog.
According to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, the building was designed for the Imperial Bank of Canada (CIBC) in 1958 by McCarter & Nairne, the same architects that designed the Marine Building, the no-longer-there Georgia Medical-Dental building and the Patricia Hotel.
The surprise in this building is BC Binning’s mural. Binning was commissioned to celebrate B.C’s booming resource-based economy. Made from Venetian glass, the mosaic is 44 feet in length and made up of 200,000 pieces of glass. Apparently Binning spent four months in Venice overseeing its preparation.
Binning was not only an important artist, he also influenced architects such as Arthur Erickson, Ron Thom and Fred Hollingsworth. You can see his murals outside the BC Hydro building on Burrard (now the Electra) and depending on what happens to the potential sale, on his own West Vancouver house.
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