Saturday, November 21, 2009

Safdie in Vancouver

Moshe Safdie will be speaking tonight in Vancouver as part of The Vancouver Institute's lecture series.

The seminar takes place at U.B.C. and is titled "Megascale, Order and Complexity".

It's the latest in a series that dates back to 1916 when The Vancouver Institute was first founded. There is a remarkable list of past speakers that can be found here, including B.C. Binning, Peter Oberlander and (!) Richard Neutra in 1953.

Things get underway at 8:15 pm at the Wooward Instructional Resource Centre. Admission is free.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Party For Architects

The second Party For Architects will take place this Thursday November 19 at Vancouver Special on Main Street.

If the previous event- which featured a talk by D'Arcy Jones on the essence of stairs- is any indication it should be a excellent night. The upcoming evening will include a talk by Clinton Cuddington of Measure Architecture, a dj, drinks and of course archispeak.

The evening runs from 6-9pm and is hosted by Julian Carnrite, Mitra Mansour, Anne Pearson and Anant Topiwala.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Binning In West Vancouver

West Vancouver Museum and Archives is currently showing two exhibits based around B.C. Binning and his work.

The first is a collection of greeting cards created by Don Jarvis, Arthur Erickson, Gordon Smith and Binning among others that explores the social relationships between local artists and architects.

The second exhibit draws on Binning works from the WVMA collection, and focuses largely on his line drawing period from the 1940's.

Both exhibitions run until December 23rd, 2009.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Canadian Wallpaper

Wallpaper magazine's recent Fab 40 issue spotlights ten destinations across the globe and forty favourite things from each place.

Vancouver has a number of entries under the Canadian banner, including Douglas Coupland's art, the Winter Olympics and (!) the PNE's wooden rollercoaster.

Architecturally the city is represented by Form + Forest and D'Arcy Jones Design as well as Level Design. Form + Forest's line of cabins extends Jones' design sensibility to prefab structures that would be perfectly at home on that beautiful Gulf Islands property...

Vancouver In the Evening

A shot taken of Granville Street during the recent Vancouver International Film Festival. The absence of traffic allows a vibrant mall atmosphere.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shannon Mews

Shannon Mews, the 10 acre site at the corner of Granville and 57th looks set for eventual redevelopment.

The Wall Financial Corporation has applied to rezone the property from RS-6 to CD-1 and has begun public consultations on the process. In an August 25, 2009 Policy Report, the city gives tacit approval of the project as long as certain criteria are met. The site is a prime candidate for the city's Eco-Density program, with Busby, Perkins & Will on board to create a development that has more rental housing, achieves LEED Gold status, and uses solar energy and efficient water strategies.

The site has an interesting development history, dating back to the early 20th century when the Rogers family built the original and still existing Beax-Arts mansion, gardens and perimeter wall. The mansion and wall are now designated "A" status heritage structures and will be incorporated into any future master plan.

In the early 1970's the site was rezoned to allow 162 rental units to be built. Curiously, there is no mention in the Policy Report of the historic value of these units or of their designer, Arthur Erickson. The report offers a recommendation that "a rezoning application for the entire site provides a good opportunity for the City to ensure that rental units are replaced or increased."

Much like another project Busby, Perkins & Will are involved in, this seems like an opportunity for an architectural dialogue that traces Vancouver's modern development history. Perhaps there is a plan that would retain the mansion as well as a portion of the Erickson-designed rental units and incorporate them into one cohesive vision that would align with the city's Eco-Density plans and the changing nature of residential housing.

Vancouver Convention Centre

A few photos from a recent visit to the new
Vancouver Convention Centre, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects in collaboration with Vancouver's Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership and D/A Architects + Planners:

Exterior breezeway, looking towards the North Shore.

Second floor showing copious hemlock used for interior cladding.

Detail of hemlock 'ends' attached to East and West sides of interior walls, giving the effect of a solid massing of stacked wood timbers.

Smaller meeting rooms to the right fade into the distance.

Gathering area showing part of green roof. At the top of this particular section is an apiary.

Seating area adjoining meeting rooms to the left. Windows facing the North Shore vault outwards to help deflect noise from seaplanes and allow a precipitous view down to the water.

Scattered throughout the building are commissioned works by artists such as Germaine Koh, Roy Arden and Derek Root. Root's installation, pictured above, is a large mosaic tile work inlaid into the floor on the lower level. The piece carries on the tradition of public mosaics by earlier artists such as Lionel Thomas and B.C. Binning and has a distinct West Coast quality.

On the Road

The Roadshow: Architectural Landscapes of Canada has wrapped up its cross country tour.

Intended as a public discourse on the state of contemporary Canadian architecture, the tour took nine designers by bus from Vancouver to Halifax, stopping at various architecture schools for presentations and discussions. The Roadshow website is now streaming video interviews with each designer and includes an essay on the conceptual framework of the event.

Included on the trip was Vancouver's David Battersby of Battersby Howat, who have designed a string of highly refined West Coast Modern residences. Battersby discusses a residence the firm designed on Gambier Island as well as their design process and how it's affected by the landscape, clients and working relationships within the office.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Check out
V.I.A./Vancouver Is Awesome.

It's a non-profit organization and website dedicated to all things cultural and artistic in the city, including architecture and the urban landscape.

It's an angle we here at Vancouver Lights can appreciate.

Erickson and Japan

The Arthur Erickson Conservancy is presenting a lecture exploring Erickson's formative travel to Japan in 1961.

In 2009, Texas-based Architecture Professor Michelangelo Sabatino retraced Erickson's visit to the country to explore its influence on the Canadian architect. Sabatino will present his findings in an illustrated talk and Q & A session at 7pm on November 25, 2009 at the Vancity Theatre + Atrium.

Considering the deep impression left on Erickson by his early travels, and Japan in particular, it should be an engaging talk.

For further information, contact Cheryl Cooper at

Friday, September 11, 2009

Moveable City

Check out
Moveable City, opening tonight in Vancouver.

The exhibition is organized by Cineworks and is an exploration of the potential of the city's built environment. Featured artists include Sean Arden, Ross Birdwise, Katarina Elven, Holly Schmidt and Jamie Ward.

The works focus on the subjective experience we have as we move through the city, and the less tangible qualities such as "the histories, the lost, the imagined, the remembered, the desired, the retold, the destroyed and the phantasmagoric."

Things get started at 7pm at the Cineworks annex space in the Ironworks Building at 235 Alexander Street. The exhibition runs until September 18th.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Abraham Rogatnick, 1923-2009

Abraham Rogatnick passed away on August 29, 2009.

The man's contributions to this city were enormous, from the New Design Gallery through teaching at UBC to his recent thoughts on the proposed Vancouver Art Gallery relocation.

I last saw him speak at the June service for Arthur Erickson at SFU where he delivered a ruminative and impassioned eulogy for his old friend, encapsulating the spirit of the man and the city which both called home.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shim-Sutcliffe's Toronto

An interesting article in the Weekend Post by Vanessa Farquharson that explores Toronto through the prism of city architects Shim-Sutcliffe. It's part lifestyle piece, part urban treatise and has considerable insight into the city's built environment.

Brigitte Shim talks about the neighborhood they live and work in- Leslieville- noting that they chose it largely based on an empty lot on which they could build a modern laneway house.

She further discusses the broader fabric of Toronto, comments which can easily apply to Vancouver:

"Much like Leslieville, Toronto is still in transition - it has a ways to go. So you have to think about how its buildings contribute to the landscape and community as a whole. If we're less obsessed with trophy buildings and more interested in how to build a great city, it gives people tons of reasons to want to be here."

Given the calibre of their work, more designs from Shim-Sutcliffe in Toronto (and Vancouver, for that matter) would be a good thing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Laneway Housing Takes Root

After much debate, Vancouver city council is set to vote today and approve the
Laneway Housing plan.

Geared toward residential neighborhoods on the West Side, it will allow homeowners to create secondary housing at the back of city lots. The plan promises to densify the city as part of the larger Eco-Density initiative.

Though there has been much dialogue from both sides of the issue (Westsiders accused of NIMBYism; concerns of a detrimental impact on Vancouver's urban fabric), it must be said that good design can solve many problems and the potential for this program is exciting.

From the city's website here are the main points of the plan:

- In RS-1 and RS-5 single family areas
- On lots 33' wide and wider, with an open lane, on a double fronting street, or on a corner with a lane dedication
- Generally located in the space where a garage would be permitted
- Rental or family only/no strata-titling
- Minimum on-site parking requirement of either 1 or 2 parking spaces: TBD by Council
- Unit size based on lot size to a maximum of 750 sq. ft. (approx. 500 sq. ft. unit on a 33'x122' lot)
- 1 and 1.5 storey configurations, with guidelines to address upper storey privacy, massing and shadowing
- Enabling homeowners to add a laneway house while retaining their existing main house; with
or without a secondary suite in the main house (a laneway house could also be built with a new

Monday, July 27, 2009

Richard's Last Stand

Richard's on Richards has hosted its last show and will be torn down at the end of July to make way for more of Vancouver's ubiquitous condos.

The closure of Richards marks the final chapter in the transition of this area of downtown from low-rise commercial and light-industrial. The long-demolished Starfish room, the Sugar Refinery, Luv-a-fair and Graceland all contributed to the city's musical landscape and all are gone.

The venerable Railway Club is still thriving but the trend is either to the East Side (The Biltmore) or the Downtown Eastside (The Emergency Room), where venues can rise and fall with the seasons, mostly due to the city's overly stringent by-laws and non-compliance on the part of operators. Other rooms (Red Room, the Plaza) operate infrequently enough as live music venues (focusing on the dance/club crowd) that any kind of sustained awareness is difficult.

It's hard to bemoan a more densified and rejuvenated downtown core, but there does need to be an assessment of Vancouver's cultural landscape. The risk in losing so many of these small, seemingly marginal spaces is a cumulative sterilization of our streets and a much less interesting city, for both tourists and its citizens.

Friday, July 3, 2009

D'Arcy Jones Design

Finally some
substance in the Globe & Mail's Real Estate section.

Adele Weder contributes a profile on Vancouver's D'Arcy Jones Design. The article focuses on Jones' residential work and his desire to craft smaller, considered and finely detailed spaces rather than the standard resale-driven Vancouver monster home.

It's a well-deserved spotlight on Jones and yet another illuminating article on the West Coast modernist renaissance by Weder.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vancouver Biennale

On July 15, an abundance of public art will begin populating our city as the 2009-2011 edition of the Vancouver Biennale ramps up. Installation runs from July until September and includes 30 major sculpture pieces and 60+ new media works.

As with the inaugural 2005-2007 biennale, some pieces will be retained at the end of the show. Let's hope for a better reception for these than that of Dennis Oppenheimer's Device to Root Out Evil, which after much consternation ended up at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

The objective of the show is to engage the city in a dialogue about art and the social value of public spaces and judging by the last go round, it succeeds wildly.

Now, if they'd just been able to keep John Henry's Jaguar.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Modern House Tours

The West Vancouver Museum and Archives and the Vancouver Heritage Foundation have announced their respective annual modern house tours.

The West Vancouver tour happens next month, on July 11, and will feature both contemporary and vintage modern architecture. The cost has understandably increased this year (to $100) and includes bus transportation and a wine reception at the end of the day at one of the featured houses. Last years' reception was held at the recently refurbished Forrest Residence, designed by Ron Thom in 1963.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation's Mid-Century Modern tour takes place on October 3 and, like West Vancouver's, will feature bus transportation and a reception at the end of the day at one of the houses. Last year's reception was at a Duncan McNabb-designed residence where Peter Oberlander gave a thoughtful talk that painted a rich portrait of the history of the modern movement in Vancouver.

The line-up of houses for both tours in past years has been excellent. It's a great chance to experience some of the city's unparalleled trove of modernist architecture.

Image: Stager Residence by Barry Downs, courtesy Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Erickson Memorial

A memorial service for Arthur Erickson will be held Sunday, June 14 at SFU's Convocation Mall. See Erickson's
website for full details. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

State of Vancouver

For a more in depth discussion of the VAG's potential move to False Creek see Frances Bula's blog
State of Vancouver

I've also added it to the blog roll to the right. The site is a great resource on Vancouver's civic fabric and expands upon her work in Vancouver Magazine and The Globe & Mail.

The Vancouver vs. Seattle Debate

Via Architecture is presenting "The Great Urban Debate", pitting the urban vision of cross-border neighbors Vancouver and Seattle. 

Moderated by local writer/historian Lance Berelowitz, the case for Vancouver will be made by Peter Steinbrueck and the case for Seattle will be made by Gordon Price. It's a reversal that should yield some worthwhile insights into the differing character of each city- a long gestating comparison most often associated with the presence of the I-5 freeway through downtown Seattle and Vancouver's rejection of a similar proposal in the 1960's.

Peter Steinbrueck has been involved in Seattle's civic politics and urban issues for many years and is the son of late Seattle architect and University of Washington faculty member Victor Steinbrueck. The elder Steinbrueck studied under Lionel Pries at U of W in the 1930's and later taught alongside him. Pries was also a seminal influence on Vancouver's own Barry Downs.

Gordon Price is currently heading up the City Program at SFU after serving on city council for many years. See his blog for more information and a post about the debate.

The event takes place in Vancouver on Tuesday, June 16th at 7pm at SFU Harbour Centre (515 West Hastings Street). The Seattle evening takes place two days later at the Seattle Public Library, recently designed by Rem Koolhaas.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


The proposed site for the new VAG looks to have some serious issues, beyond the current fundraising climate. 

The concerns centre largely on costs associated with stablizing the waterfront land in addition to the high water table that would prevent below ground storage.

See Frances Bula's article in the Globe & Mail today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Arthur Erickson, 1924-2009

Following a remarkable career spanning Vancouver's modern history, one of the great Canadian and west coast architects has died. 

Arthur Erickson passed away today in Vancouver at the age of 84. The Globe & Mail has a brief article, with a full obituary forthcoming.

Born in Vancouver, Erickson travelled widely and, similarly to Louis Kahn, had a deep respect for classical forms and architectural history that was transformed into a singular modernist vision. His work later spanned the globe but he maintained a home base in Vancouver, occupying a modest home in Point Grey for over fifty years. 

Sean Rossiter called Erickson "the supreme cultural personality ever to emerge in this city" and though that is arguably less true now than in the mid-nineties when Rossiter's article appeared- having less to do with any diminishing influence of Erickson's and more to do with the inevitable rise of other prominent cultural figures- it is still a persuasive assessment. Rossiter goes on to say that "such a figure is usually the culmination of a slow, time-consuming process of gradual development". 

That certainly fits with Erickson's working life and his intimate relationship with this city, which remained active up until very recently. One of his last projects- the Ritz-Carlton in Vancouver- was a casualty of the recent economic malaise but remains 'on hold'.

We'll raise a cup tonight in celebration of a full life and linger a moment longer in the days ahead over the familiar Erickson-designed structures that populate our city.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Urban Sketchers

Very cool
blog by a group of artists dedicated to recording the urban environment through sketching. There's a great vibrancy and a flaneur-esque appeal to the work, which is consolidated from members around the world.

See also this Flickr site by Matthew Cencich (a member of Urban Sketchers) for some wonderful Vancouver and Victoria based content. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

West Coast Residential

The latest issue of Canadian Architect shines a light on the recent residential work of two Vancouver architects.

Matthew Woodruff's Mayne Island House and Clinton Cuddington's Wolfe Avenue Residence are a study in contrasts within the Modernist framework. While both feature a considered, clean-lined approach to design, emphasizing spatial relationships and attention to light, the differences lie in the detailing, scale and materials used.

Adele Weder contributes an article on Woodruff's house, casting it as a return to the largely forgotten principles of the West Coast Modernist movement. There's an economy of materials and size (1100 sq. ft.) that runs counter to much of the ethos of recent residential design, and a relationship to the site that is elemental. 

Cuddington's residence is a different beast at 5695 sq. ft., with richer materials and more involved detailing. Leslie Jen's article notes there has been some dissention at the scale and grandeur of the place, though it could be argued that it responds appropriately to its site in Shaughnessy. Cuddington encountered opposition to his design early on and it's significant that he was able to push through what is a relatively radical design for the neighborhood. 

The Wolfe residence is a far cry from the modest post and beam houses that were so prominent in Vancouver 50 years ago, but it provides an example of large scale residential that goes beyond McMansions and neo-traditional.

Curiously, Woodruff and Cuddington were partners in Measured Architecture (after serving stints in Bing Thom's office), prior to Woodruff leaving to set up his own practice. Both houses have been profiled in local publications recently, but The Canadian Architect features set them up in a satisfying architectural dialogue. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ought at the VAG

Reece Terris' sprawling and long-gestating installation, Ought Apartment, is set to launch at the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 6.

Rising up the full height of the main atrium in the gallery, the project reassembles six different apartment sections dating from the 1950's to the present. Terris is seeking to reassess our relationship to architecture as well as the spaces and things that surround us everyday. The various decades represented also give contrast and insight into how these relationships change over time. 

Canadian Architect recently featured a preview of the work.

Part of the gallery's ongoing regionally-focused NEXT series, it's an ambitious and compelling project by a rising local artist.

Photo: Henri Robideau and Vancouver Art Gallery.

Thornton Residence

One of Vancouver's earliest modernist houses is on the market. Peter Thornton designed the Thornton residence for his mother on a bucolic lane in West Vancouver in 1939 and it still retains much of its original form and character. See realtor Lionel Lorence's
website for photos. 

Along with the later Binning residence (1941), this early example of Thornton's work represents the local vanguard of design that was influenced by the broader currents of modernism unfolding in Europe at the time. Thornton's knowledge of European Modernism was first-hand, having studied architecture in London from 1933-38 prior to moving to Vancouver.

Simple post and beam construction, generous use of glass and a flat roof- all soon to become standard features of West Coast Modernism- here make one of their first appearances in Vancouver.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

West Coast Blogging

Two new blogs have been added to the blogroll:
Coast Modern and Architecture Wanted. Both focus on architecture of the West Coast.

Coast Modern is based around an upcoming film that Gavin Froome and Michael Bernard have been quietly putting together over the last year or so. They've amassed what promises to be a treasure trove of footage chronicling the modern movement along the West Coast– from California to British Columbia. 

The film, currently being edited, is based around interviews with a broad range of subjects (this writer included), from local luminaries like Barry Downs and Fred Hollingsworth to California sons Dion Neutra and photographer Julius Shulman. Froome and Bernard have also filmed an inspired range of the architecture itself, mostly houses related to the interviewees, to round out the film.

Architecture Wanted is a blog focusing on matters a little closer at hand, chronicling architecture and civic issues in Vancouver. With a solid appreciation for our urban environment, it's an excellent source of happenings in the city.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gordon Smith and West Vancouver

West Vancouver artist Gordon Smith has created a limited-edition print for the District of West Vancouver. The print will be available for purchase after March 28 and is inspired by the large mural - called Beach Tangle - that the artist created for the new W.V. Community Centre. The mural is crafted of painted beach wood and conveys the connection between the community and the oceanfront that defines it.

The print, inversely named Tangle Beach, is printed using the intaglio method and enhanced by Smith's hand-colouring on each one. It is the latest in a long line of prints the prolific Smith has created in his 50+ year career.

It's refreshing to see an emphasis given to public art, one aspect of construction that often gets laid by the wayside as budgets tighten and emphasis turns to utilitarian concerns. Smith's generosity to his community is also heartening; these projects being an extension of the work Smith has fostered with Artists For Kids, a trust he helped establish in 1989.

It also harkens back to Vancouver's past and its illustrious relationship between art and architecture, including Smith's work for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. There are numerous other examples in Vancouver of buildings (some now demolished) featuring the work of B.C. Binning, Jack Shadbolt, Lionel Thomas and Elza Mayhew among many others.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Peter Oberlander (1922-2008)

Sad news for Vancouver's architectural community and the city itself– on December 27, 2008 Peter Oberlander passed away. Read the text of an appreciation
 by the Oberlander family that recently appeared in Canadian Architect.

There is also an interesting interview by Jim Donaldson of McGill University with Peter and Cornelia Oberlander, completed in February, 1998.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Oberlander speak last fall at the Vancouver Heritage Foundation's Modern House tour. Standing in an early Duncan McNabb-designed home, he discussed his old friend (McNabb) and the urban development and advent of modernism in Vancouver. The talk was informal but personal and very enlightening, shining a light on the city he had so much influence on and commitment to. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Museum of Anthropology

After a 6 month closure for renovations, the Museum of Anthropology is set to reopen tomorrow (Sunday March 7). Though from the
sounds of it they are cutting it close to the wire as far as completion goes. Such is the way with any substantial renovation however.

The museum's website details many of the changes and alterations to the facility – one that has not been substantially altered since it was built 30 years ago. The good news is Erickson consulted on the redesign by Noel Best of Stantec Architecture.

The reopening will be a welcome return to Vancouver's cultural scene.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Binning + The Port Mann

One overlooked aspect of the Port Mann Bridge is the original colour scheme designed by B.C. Binning in 1963. 

Binning's recommendation of orange for the deck and yellow for the overarching span was meant to contrast with the prominent natural river setting and showcase the structural beauty of the bridge. 

His rationale for the scheme (explored further in Abraham Rogatnick's essay in the monograph B.C. Binning) shows an optimism and consideration for infrastructure that was reflective of prevailing thought at the time.

The bridge has since been painted entirely orange and the recent proposal to twin it has been ditched in favour of a plan that would see it demolished to make way for a 10 lane bridge to service the crossing. 

See The Globe & Mail for the most recent article.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Architecture of Religion: Unitarian Church

Sitting at the corner of Oak Street and 49th Avenue, the Unitarian Church dates from the early 1960's, Vancouver's Modernist heyday. Designed by Wolfgang Gerson– a UBC School of Architecture instructor and himself a Unitarian– the church is part of a group of religious structures around the city that display a progressive attitude to the relationship between design and worship.

Other churches from the era include St. Anselm's Anglican (Semmens Simpson, 1953), St. David's United Chuch (Thompson, Berwick & Pratt, 1958), Baptist Church (Arthur Mudry, 1967) and an addition to the Shaughnessy Heights United by McCarter & Nairne (1954).

According to Phillip Hewitt, church minister at the time, cited in Rhodri Windsor Liscombe's Modern Architecture in Vancouver, 1938-1963, the church was designed after a limited competition that emphasized "inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness...and a forward-looking spirit rather than one tied to the ideas and practices of the past"(109). It was meant to function as religious space as well as a community focal point, placing emphasis on musical performances and general dialogue.

The European-born Gerson moved to Canada in 1940 and had previously designed St. Cuthbert's Anglican in Montreal before moving on to Winnipeg and, in 1956, eventually the West Coast. For the Vancouver design, he stressed that "man must be seen as an integral part of nature rather than a special creating dominating native" (Gerson, in Liscombe, 109). The details of the main building bear out this philosophy. The space is imbued with light from full height vertical windows that alternate with seating alcoves down each side. Mature landscaping gives privacy at street level while also strengthening the connection between nature and the indoors.

Materially, things were kept on the organic side and the colour scheme is suitably rich, enlivened with warm earthen and orange tones and extensive use of grey brick on the exterior. Great care has also been taken with the inclusion of large tapestries which are modern in spirit and yet timeless in the vein of the textile arts.

Much like the tapestries, the main congregation room is unabashedly modern yet tempered with an organic sensibility that accrues through the details - a great open and yet embracing space that feels both timeless and appropriate for its use.

It must be emphasized that the place has been well cared for and that the Unitarian Church clearly values and is a custodian of Gerson's vision for the building. No small feat in an era that quickly dispenses with the 'old' in favour of more current and fashionable designs.

Curiously, the church appears as a backdrop to Rodney Graham's 2006 work Three Musicians (Members of the Early Music Group "Renaissance Fare" performing Matteo of Perugia's 'le Greygnour Bien' at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, Late September 1977) in which the artist appears as a revivalist musician. The piece touches on the links between different eras of musicality and artistic interpretation in which the church itself and its mission of performance and inclusiveness is a key part of that dialogue.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thom's Fraser Residence

A few shots 
of Ron Thom's and Paul Merrick's 1968 Fraser Residence in Toronto which was refurbished in 2003.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Form & Forest

D'Arcy Jones Design has created a line of cabins available through Form & Forest - a new company building the flat-pack pre-fab recreational dwellings.

The line launches February 19, 2009 and promises to carry over Jones' modernist sensibility to a satisfyingly reduced scale. In the meantime check out the blog for sneak previews of the cabins and other musings from the the Form & Forest folks. 

Below is a model for one of the designs.

High Level Review Open Houses

The City of Vancouver has been undertaking a land use review for the Northeast False Creek (NEFC) area. It is a large swath that includes the stadiums, the Plaza of Nations site, and various Concord Pacific properties. 

Part of NEFC has been proposed as a new site for the Vancouver Art Gallery. Though it is an undeniably choice location, it seems somewhat removed from the vigour and vitality of downtown. 

The city is also looking at possible street alterations to improve access from the downtown core, a move that would help mitigate this disconnect, both for the VAG and other amenities nearby. The broader plan for development in the area would also help enliven the wide, empty and stadium-dominated spaces.

On Sunday January 25th and Monday January 26th, the city will be hosting open houses to share information gathered to date and solicit feedback on the study. Follow the link for times, locations and more detailed information.

The City Going Green

The latest installment in Adele Weder's ongoing architecture series for the Tyee focuses on EcoMetropolitanism, an intruiging concept developed by Mari Fujita and Matthew Soules that explores a more wholistic integration of the natural world into our urban environment.

It's big picture dreaming, but is a compelling re-imagining of a relationship whose parts are too often compartmentalized.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

C.A.'s 2008 Awards of Excellence

Canadian Architect has published its 2008 Awards of Excellence.

West coast winners were limited to Patkau Architects (for a striking residence in Whistler and a church in Port Coquitlam) and U.B.C. M.A. student Michael Barton for his ocean-bound "synthetic land commodity" proposal.

In what might be considered an overall disappointing showing considering the number of West Coast entrants, the Patkau's two schemes stack up well with the other winners, which include projects by KPMB, Stantec and RDH Architects.

The awards continue to place "heavy emphasis on architectural discourse and process, rather than on the brute outcome of a finished building."

The judges - Bing Thom, Siamak Hariri and Christine Macy - seemed dismayed by the general lack of experimentation at a profession level, and at the same time energized by the progressive thinking of the student entries. The record number of student awards (and limited professional awards - just four) bears this out.

Follow the link to Canadian Architect - though as of this writing the December issue was not yet online.

Monday, January 12, 2009

VAG's 2009 Line-up

The Vancouver Art Gallery has announced its 2009 schedule
including a number of shows focusing on local work.

"How Soon Is Now" is a large group show that takes a look at the contemporary arts scene in British Columbia.

"Western Landscapes" showcases the work of Emily Carr, E.J. Hughes, Ann Kipling and Gordon Smith through the prism of, yes, the landscape of Western Canada. Given the VAG's holdings and the artists' deep connection to the subject, this should be a worthwhile grouping.

Reece Terris' "Ought Apartment" is a large scale installation (slated for the rotunda) that explores our relationship with architecture and our living spaces through decades worth of apartments outfitted with period materials. This show promises to be excellent.

Emily Carr also features in a show comparing and contrasting her work with Jack Shadbolt's, apropos considering her influence on his early career.

The exhibition schedule is rounded out with "Legacies of Impressionism in Canada", "Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art" and "Enacting Abstraction".

See the gallery's Upcoming Exhibtions page for details and dates.