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.

1 comment:

matthew_c said...

At his peak he was a truly great architect.