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Firm: Rule Wynn and Rule

Address: 736 8 Avenue SW

Date of final plans:

Status: standing as built

The Fina Building's story begins in Antwerp, Belgium, where on 25 February 1920 Auguste Diagre, Hector Carlier, Fernand Carlier, and Aloys Van de Vyvere founded the Compagnie Financière Belge des Pétroles.

In late May 1950 Petrofina, which it was by this time calling itself, founded a Canadian subsidiary called Canadian Fina Oil Limited. The President of the new company was Trajan Nitescu (1902–1984). Nitescu was born in Romania and after graduating in 1924 from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, began his career with Petrofina's Romanian division. After World War II he and his wife fled to Yugoslavia before he was transferred in 1950 to head the new Canadian company. Along with Nitescu, Camille Bonnami and George Brognon, both of Brussels, helped set up the company in Calgary. Petrofina was the first oil company from Continental Europe to open offices in Alberta. It initially operated from the second floor of the Bamlett Building.

On 3 August 1959 Nitescu turned the sod for Canadian Fina's new office building on 8 Avenue. The $4.5 million building was eleven floors including an executive penthouse set back from the building line on both sides. An astute observer will notice that Rule Wynn and Rule's design looks more like it's from the late 1940s than 1950s. The building is in most respects an example of Art Moderne. Rather than the severe curtain walls that were popular at the time, each bay of windows is separated from the others. The building also employs stone ornament that was extremely rare at this time. In the vertical space between windows there are stone chevron panels, and above the penthouse gallery one sees stone relief panels. The most obvious example of the Moderne styling is the elevator house. On the penthouse (11th) floor there is a deck on the left side of the building that was accessible by two doors. The front of the penthouse includes an observation gallery that is four bays wide. On the ground floor the cladding includes verde issorie marble and red sienna granite. The marble is gone, but the pink granite is still visible on the columns.

In July 1953 Petrofina set up a second Canadian subsidiary to handle its financing and marketing operations in Eastern Canada. This company was called Canadian Petrofina Limited. In October 1961 Canadian Petrofina purchased all outstanding shares of Canadian Fina from its Belgian parent. In 1968 the new single company changed its name to Petrofina Canada Ltd., and in 1979 it became Petrofina Canada Inc. In 1981 PetroCanada acquired it and renamed it Petro-Canada Enterprises Inc.

The Fina Building remains almost entirely as it was when completed in 1960. The original folded plate porte cochère is gone, but otherwise almost nothing has been altered. At some point a tasteful new sign was added, keeping with the Moderne style of the rest of the structure.

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