Sun Tower Dome Envelope Seismic Stabilization

Vancouver, British Columbia


Sheet Metal Contractor

Heather and Little Ltd.
Markham, Ontario


McGinn Engineering and Preservation ltd.
Vancouver, British Columbia


Sotirios Corp
Winnipeg , Manitoba

General Contractor

Alpha Masonry
Winnipeg , Manitoba

The Sun Tower is a notable landmark of 17 stories (82 m / 269 ft) capped by a Beaux-Arts dome and cupola built-in 1912. It was designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway. The building takes the form of an eight-story, L-shaped block, surmounted by a nine-story hexagonal-section tower. The tower's structure is steel, which is dominantly clad in a combination of terracotta tiles and rusticated brickwork. The tower is topped with a dome and cupola that were originally roofed with terracotta tiles that were painted at a later date to resemble patinated copper. The terracotta tiles had exceeded their practical service life, and it was time to replace the roof.

Back in 2018, the project carried its first steps in the restoration journey. The owners and design team desired a true copper roof that replicated the profile of the existing tile. Since this product didn't exist, it was necessary to start from scratch. The fabrication contractor took samples of the original tile and custom-stamped large copper tiles that exactly replicated the terracotta profile. The same contractor was hired to install the tiles. In addition to replicating the existing appearance, the roof had to be protected from earthquakes with a unique seismic design. The new stamped shingles are 1’-1 ½" x 33" and are supported by custom stainless steel girts and seismic neoprene pads.

This design was a combined effort between the talented team of architects and coppersmiths to put that spirit of ingenuity into restoring Vancouver's Sun Tower. The restoration journey included replacing the existing terracotta main dome gutter with an exact replica in copper, a standing seam copper roof at the main dome cupola, and a custom copper flashing at the various levels of the tower. Using approx. 20,000.00lbs. of copper material, this project turned into a masterwork that will grant Vancouver's Sun Tower a natural Patina look that will last for many decades.

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