Architecture tour looks at Vancouver’s famous filming spots

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Photo of "The Flash" set via James Murray.

Time and time again, you’ll be watching a movie or TV show and all of a sudden you see a familiar sight, a Vancouver landmark.

From the revolving restaurants to the main library branch, the city has plenty of locations that have been immortalized in film, and on Sunday a group of architects are leading a tour to some of the most famous spots.

Photo from the set of “Once Upon a Time” via Jonathon Brown.

Elena Chernyshov with the Vancouver Urbanarium Society says the tour starts on Robson Square at the Art Gallery and will explore the city’s architecture as seen in film.

She says the Art Gallery is one of the most popular locations.

“It has played museums, court houses, government buildings, people have been sworn into Vice Presidency on the steps, they exit trials, it comes alive at night, teeming with various characters,” she says. “X-Files, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, they’ve all been there.”

Why is it that Vancouver can double from the Bronx to Berlin on the same street? Chernyshov explains that the city’s spurts of growth have seen a number of different styles through history in a concentrated area.

Image via Jonathon Brown.

“It’s logistically very convenient for filming crews to come here and to go quickly from a historic setting to a modern setting,” she explains. “If they want a natural landscape they can go outside of the city very quickly and find that. If they’d like to film in familiar suburban setting, they can very quickly get there as well. It’s just very densely compacted and it’s development and time frame is very representative of many other American cities.”

However, the one place Vancouver rarely plays is Vancouver itself and Chernyshov says everyone on her team made sure to watch the video Vancouver Never Plays Itself when they were planning the tour.

“There have been a few filmmakers that very intently set their productions in Vancouver and Vancouver becomes almost like a character in and of itself, but it’s not a typical practice,” she says.

The city’s commercial business district (Burrard / Seymour / Robson) may surprise you for how versatile it is for filmmakers.

“It has a really interchangeable, anonymous quality to it, it can stand in for any type of place,” she explains. “There are no distinguishing features that the filmmakers focus on, intentionally, to allow that to happen.”

Vancouver Public Library image via Jonathon Brown.

The tour covers the Fairmont Hotel, goes through Gastown, Chinatown, and then the hour and a half tour wraps up at the library.

It starts at 10am Sunday with a couple more tours throughout the day.

You can find out more at Urbanarium.org.