Saturday, August 28, 2010

Filberg House Tour

Continuing their excellent series on Vancouver architects and architecture, the West Vancouver Museum and Archives is offering a unique experience coming up in September: a tour of Arthur Erickson's 1958 Filberg Residence.

This much-published house is one of Erickson's earliest commissions and exhibits the arabesque tendencies that occasionally cropped up in his designs. It is a rarified pavilion that has a compelling, if heartbreaking story attached to it. Filberg commissioned the house but did not live to see its completion. His intention was that it become a meeting place for intellectuals and leaders, an ambitious vision that sadly never came to fruition. It was sold, eventually altered rather grotesquely and slipped into disrepair before a later owner fastidiously restored the house to its former glory.

Leaders and intellectuals presumably still don't congregate there, but the house remains a sublime work that sits on a high, south-facing bluff near Comox, looking out over the Straight of Georgia.

The West Vancouver Museum and Archives is offering a day trip to the house or an extended overnight package which allows visitors to experience it at dusk. The trip is being guided by photographer Simon Scott who worked closely with Erickson and photographed his buildings for the essential 1975 Tundra book "The Architecture of Arthur Erickson."

See the Museum and Archives website for details of the tour as well as other upcoming Erickson-related events.

Image: Christopher Erickson

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Twenty + Change: Images

Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Gastown Drive In: Urban Republic Arts Society/pH5 Architecture. Excellent re-imagining of existing urban space. Seeing Hard Core Logo here on a beautiful starlit summer night proved a remarkable way to experience the city.

Anderson House (model): D'Arcy Jones Design. Deft and subtle touch on Saltspring Island, BC.

Anderson House (rendering): D'Arcy Jones Design.

Molly's Cabin: Agathom Co. Northern Ontario lake-side stunner from RJ Thom's son's firm.

Cascade House: Paul Raff Studio. Lush, textural Toronto residence with strong environmental mandate.

Zacatitos-01 (model): Campos Leckie. Understated desert modern prototype, working with the climate and off the grid; from Vancouver design firm.

Main gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twenty + Change

Twenty + Change is now showing at the main gallery at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

The exhibition focuses on emerging Canadian architectural talent and includes drawing, photos and models.

Among the 20+ firms profiled are AGATHOM Co., from Toronto and D'Arcy Jones Design and MGB Architecture + Design from Vancouver.

The show runs until September 3, 2010 and is an excellent chance to check out new developments in Canadian architecture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Heritage Canada: Endangered Buildings

Heritage Canada has released its list of endangered buildings for 2010. At the top are Vancouver's schools, particularly Kitsilano Secondary.

The Vancouver School Board has provincial funding for seismic upgrading and seems to favour using it to build new schools while placing a low priority on upgrading existing heritage structures.

Facadism seems to be the order of the day in the case of Kitsilano Secondary: most of the building will likely be demolished, including the 1958 Modernist addition, with the exception of the historic facade and a few details.

Demolition was approved by the VSB in July but still has to be approved by the Provincial Government and the City of Vancouver.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Barry Downs at UVic

In the already lush and leafy environs of the University of Victoria campus, the Sedgewick building stands out through its sheer sensitivity and integration with the landscape.

Designed by Barry Downs in 1968-69, it houses humanities and administration departments and sits at the western edge of the circular campus, surrounded now by newer buildings and increasingly dense foliage.

Quintessentially west coast, Sedgewick was designed with a deep connection to the site, strengthened by a compact massing and a material continuity through the stained cedar cladding. Comprised of three one-story structures, with windows set back under eaves looking out onto salal and cedars, the layout has a dynamism due to shifting planar forms and walls that shoot past normal termination points.

Sedgewick embodies qualities which Downs has explored his whole career: human scale, deep connection to the west coast and a sense of understatement and restraint. Echoes of these buildings can be seen in his residential work and in the later Pearson College (1974) which he worked on with Ron Thom in nearby Pedder Bay.