Barry Downs, perhaps the quintessential West Coast architect, has been named to the Order of Canada. It's a fitting and well-deserved distinction for an architect whose work over six decades embodies the Governor General's criteria of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation.
The Odlum residence was designed by RJ Thom in 1963 while at Thompson, Berwick + Pratt, replacing an earlier TB+P residence from 1954 that was destroyed by fire.
It sits on a large property on a main road in West Vancouver - a site which was recently sold and is slated for imminent demolition, to be replaced by a Senior Living Residence.
The house is listed as a Secondary Building in the West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture and possesses many features typical of Thom's other residential work.
The design is clear and unfussy but is now hampered by neglect and aesthetic choices (eg.exterior paint) that distract from the overall design. Nonetheless, the house still embodies the ethos of the era through modest, human scale, deference to the site and the importance of natural light.
The roof forms in the carport dominate the entrance area and echo the sweeping intersecting planar shapes of the grander Forrest Residence. It's a theme that runs throughout the house: wall planes project past usual corner points into the landscape, creating a dynamic structure and intimate garden corners.
Currently, the property is overgrown and in the process of reverting back to its natural state; a state that will soon be razed and completely transformed.
This past year saw the passing of important West Coast architects Catherine Chard Wisnicki (above) and Vladimir Plavsic. Wisnicki was a pioneering Modernist designer who had a hand in many important early Vancouver buildings, including the Saba, Brooks and Nemetz residences. She worked as a Senior Designer at Sharp, Thompson Berwick + Pratt, starting in 1946 alongside Ned Pratt and also formed a partnership with John Porter. Wisnicki was the second female member of the AIBC and later taught at UBC before retiring in 1986. Vladimir Plavsic was born in Belgrade, but defected after World War II, finding his way to Canada and the architecture school at the University of Toronto. Eventually ending up on the West Coast, Plavsic designed many buildings in the city, including the superb Medical Dental Centre, which has aged well. See ouno's post on the building here.