British Columbia

Science rules: Science World tops Twitter poll as Vancouver's 'Most Iconic' Building

Science World, known formally as the Telus World of Science, has welcomed more than 18 million people through its doors since its inception.

The geodesic dome, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, won CBC's unofficial Twitter poll

An exterior shot of Science World shows a geodesic dome structure nestled between condo buildings along the waterfront in Vancouver.
Science World at TELUS World of Science is pictured in False Creek in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, May 2, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Science World, which has welcomed over 18 million British Columbians and tourists since opening as part of the Expo '86, has been crowned (unofficially) as Vancouver's most iconic building. 

The geodesic dome, known formally as the Telus World of Science, garnered tens of thousands of votes in an Twitter poll conducted by CBC Vancouver's Municipal Reporter Justin McElroy this past week. 

"It's been dominant this entire tournament  ... It's tied to a seminal event in our history — Expo — and for people outside the city, as I was as a young child coming in from Victoria, there's something about taking the SkyTrain into town, seeing that dome and knowing you're fully in the heart of B.C.'s biggest metropolis," McElroy said.


Starting with a bracket of 32 buildings, McElroy, who describes himself a "maniacal ranker of things," wanted to find a building that truly represented Vancouver.

"As Hollywood North, we have a lot of buildings that are best known for being part of other cities, or just Generic City, U.S.A., in countless cities and films and this is a chance for people to consider them on their own," McElroy said. 

"The idea of going to the public ... seemed like an enjoyable exercise in existential debate."

There were upsets and sentimental winners early on in the bracket.

Brendan Dawe created a Twitter bot (@Van_Speciality) that tweets pictures of Vancouver Specials from around the city. These mass-produced housing models were built between the 1960s and 1980s. (@Van_Speciality/Twitter)

The Vancouver Special — a type of mass-produced housing stock in the Lower Mainland during the 1960s to 1980s — made it all the way to the top eight, defeating traditional architectural darlings like the Hotel Vancouver and the Vancouver Hobbit House.

Brendan Dawe, who runs a Twitter account showcasing the Vancouver Special, says even though the Vancouver Special is a mass-produced housing type, people have affection toward it because it's our mass-produced housing type. 

From left to right: the Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch, the Marine Building on Burrard Street, and the Dominion Building in Gastown. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Brent Toderian, former City of Vancouver chief planner, says iconic buildings take time to gain their iconic status.

"Icons aren't about branding. They are chosen by the public, not the marketer and they're usually a result of time," Toderian said.

"To proclaim oneself an icon, especially in its branding, seems to be like bragging at a party."

In the end, Science World took top spot.


Marine Building took second place, and here's how the other buildings fared:

  1. Science World
  2. Marine Building
  3. Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch
  4. Dominion Building 
  5. Canada Place
  6. The Vancouver Special
  7. The Museum of Anthropology
  8. Sun Tower

With files from Justin McElroy and The Early Edition