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MacMillan Bloedel Building

1075 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1993/12/15

Exterior view of the MacMillan Bloedel Building; City of Vancouver, 2006
Exterior view of the MacMillan Bloedel Building; City of Vancouver, 2006
North elevation
Exterior view of the MacMillan Bloedel Building; City of Vancouver,2006
West elevation

Other Name(s)

MacMillan Bloedel Building
MacBlo Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1968/01/01 to 1969/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/02/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The MacMillan Bloedel Building is a twenty-seven storey cast-in-place concrete tower with offset halves, tapered walls, and deeply recessed windows. Located in downtown Vancouver, it is set on a plaza constructed several feet below street level, and is contained by planters and reflecting pools.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the MacMillan Bloedel Building lies primarily in its construction techniques, its striking aesthetics employing reinforced concrete as the dominant finish material inside and out, and its cultural associations, particularly with architect Arthur Erickson as well as the forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel.

Constructed in 1968-69, this landmark building is evidence of the continued expansion of Vancouver's central business district westward along Georgia Street during the corporate building boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s, fueled by the transfer of corporate headquarters to Vancouver.

Winner of the Massey Medal for Architecture in 1970, the building was designed by Vancouver's pre-eminent architect Arthur Erickson, along with Geoff Massey and in collaboration with Francis Donaldson of the development firm Grosvenor Laing. The building is also significant for its association with Otto Safir, a European post-World War II émigré, who collaborated in the conception of the innovative structure (a vertical cantilever, like a tree). The design commission for this large commercial piece was culturally significant as a breakthrough for forward-thinking Modernist designers working outside large commercial architectural firms.

Characteristic of Modernist design, the building is a display of masterful and conscious artistic control of constituent elements, in particular its unique integration of structure, mechanics, and innovative indirect lighting, which lend a sense of stability to the coffer-ceilinged interiors. The building is also significant for its revelation of the physical and visual properties of the principal building material, reinforced concrete. The building houses works of important Canadian art and is notable for its clutter-free organization and furnishings by the architect. The plaza is an important idiosyncratic response to the typical corporate tower plaza found elsewhere.

The MacMillan Bloedel Building suggests the tapering verticality of the west coast rain forest, as reflected by the paintings of Emily Carr, which were a source of inspiration to Erickson. Erickson was also influenced by the Japanese love for surfaces that express the nature of material. The building and its plaza were conceived as a continuous whole, with concrete floor and wall finishes on both exterior and interior. The MacMillan Bloedel Building is a prime example of the unique blending of Modernist and Far-eastern aesthetics.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the MacMillan Bloedel Building include:

Siting, Context and Landscape
- Plaza and lobby below and removed from Georgia Street, with reflecting pools and a corner planter

Architectural Qualities
- Iconic simplicity of the unadorned facades

Architectural Elements
- Tower with offset halves joined at the core
- North and south facades constructed of tapering concrete grid with glazed void, to form vertical cantilevers
- Cast-in-place concrete construction in a variety of finishes: exposed aggregate paving, sandblasted concrete walls, and bush-hammered concrete relief panels both inside and outside the building
- Windows consisting of seven-foot square panes of glass
- Indirectly-lit coffered ceilings and concrete walls in the interiors
- Innovative storage in the interior
- Solid bush-hammered concrete parking garage walls
- Lobby wall facing Georgia Street fitted with major art piece, now Jack Shadbolt's 'Primavera'

Landscape elements
- Parking garage walls overgrown with rich mix of vines
- Pinus nigra in the southwest planter
- Pools at base of building and beneath southwest planter



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.582

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

Arthur Erickson



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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