The Incredible Oculi Atop The Old Sun Tower

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The next cool thing can be found inside the Sun Tower’s green dome. A year ago we had the pleasure of touring inside it to shoot photos for Stevie Wilson story on the building’s history. What’s particularly cool about the dome itself is its functionality. Instead of fresco-ed or otherwise heavily ornamented interior, its innards are bare save for a big machine that controls the building’s elevators. The real magic, however, is its oculi, or the dome’s series of circular windows. The building itself looms beautifully over the corner of Beatty & Pender near Chinatown’s western gate, so each oculus frames a unique perspective on the city. A ladder leads up to an exposed cupola with 360 degree views that are slightly obscured by chicken wire, but these little windows – gems, really – steal the show. Access is restricted, so as far as hidden treasures go, they’re buried pretty deep.

  • Framing of the World Tower, circa 1911
    Framing of the World Tower, circa 1911
  • How the Sun Tower fits in Vancouver's skyline (from Chinatown)
    How the Sun Tower fits in Vancouver's skyline (from Chinatown)
  • Inside the cupola looking east
    Inside the cupola looking east
  • Looking through the eastern oculus
    Looking through the eastern oculus
  • The ceiling of the cupola
    The ceiling of the cupola
  • The newly renovated ground floor event space
    The newly renovated ground floor event space
  • The view from the western end of the Dunsmuir Viaduct
    The view from the western end of the Dunsmuir Viaduct
  • In the midst of renovation one the 15th floor (lucky tenants, whoever they might be)
    In the midst of renovation one the 15th floor (lucky tenants, whoever they might be)
  • Heading up into the cupola from the dome
    Heading up into the cupola from the dome
  • Looking up from West Pender and Beatty St.
    Looking up from West Pender and Beatty St.
  • The winding staircase to the dome from the 17th floor
    The winding staircase to the dome from the 17th floor
  • Andrew framing up an oculus inside the dome
    Andrew framing up an oculus inside the dome
  • Inside the dome (with imaginary treasure and frescos)
    Inside the dome (with imaginary treasure and frescos)
  • The Sun Tower
    The Sun Tower
  • The newly renovated ground floor event space
    The newly renovated ground floor event space
  • Inside the 15th floor renovation
    Inside the 15th floor renovation
  • Sun Tower with Neon Sign, 1961 (note the dome is brick in colour)
    Sun Tower with Neon Sign, 1961 (note the dome is brick in colour)
  • Inside the 15th floor renovation
    Inside the 15th floor renovation
  • The newly renovated ground floor event space
    The newly renovated ground floor event space
  • View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street
    View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street
  • View southwest from the 15th floor
    View southwest from the 15th floor
  • Inside the cupola atop the dome
    Inside the cupola atop the dome
  • Peekaboo from the Dunsmuir Viaduct
    Peekaboo from the Dunsmuir Viaduct
  • The Sun Tower
    The Sun Tower
  • Looking west from the cupola atop the dome
    Looking west from the cupola atop the dome
  • Moody view
    Moody view
  • Looking north from the dome's cupola
    Looking north from the dome's cupola
  • Inside the 15th floor renovation
    Inside the 15th floor renovation
  • Looking east to Gastown and Railtown
    Looking east to Gastown and Railtown
  • Exterior detailing
    Exterior detailing
  • Steel framed platform that affords views through oculi and a ladder up to the cupola
    Steel framed platform that affords views through oculi and a ladder up to the cupola
  • Oculus looking west
    Oculus looking west
  • Oculus looking west
    Oculus looking west
  • Elevator tech's chair (presumably)
    Elevator tech's chair (presumably)
  • Radiators on the 15th floor
    Radiators on the 15th floor
  • 15th floor view
    15th floor view
  • Save On Meats etc, from the cupola
    Save On Meats etc, from the cupola
  • 15th floor renovation
    15th floor renovation
  • 15th floor renovation
    15th floor renovation
  • The new event space on the ground floor
    The new event space on the ground floor
  • The Human Fly scaling the World Tower in 1918
    The Human Fly scaling the World Tower in 1918

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