Oct 2011 20

Vancouver’s Greatest Architects

Posted by Jay Banks
Vancouver Architecture by mutrock
Vancouver Architecture by Mark Kortum

Canada’s architecture can be traced way back to the First Nations, and it continued to develop for hundreds of years, leaving many amazing buildings behind. The Vancouver area played an important role in the development of styles typical for Canadian architecture in 19th and 20th century, the era of great railway hotels. Nowadays, the architecture in Vancouver and Greater Vancouver area is no less amazing; just take a walk through the city with your head up and enjoy the breathtaking enormity of talent that our architects have.

The spectrum of architects based in Vancouver is extremely wide. Many of architects living and working in Vancouver have moved here from other parts of the world, making their contribution to the multicultural environment Vancouver has always been proud of. In this article, we bring you the most interesting architects who were born in this beautiful city, and those who came here and became Vancouverites. We bring you some of the architects from the recent and far past, and those who still live and create the face of the city.

Arthur Charles Erickson
(June 14, 1924 – May 20, 2009)

Academic Quadrangle pond at Simon Fraser University  Burnaby BC Canada
Academic Quadrangle pond at
Simon Fraser University Burnaby
BC Canada by Arnold C.

Initially, Erickson studied Asian languages at the University of British Columbia, and later earned a degree in architecture from McGill University. Many of Erickson’s buildings were inspired by the coastal architecture of First Nations and built in accordance with weather conditions of the given area. This approach made him a specialist in designing buildings that would fit into the local climate as much as possible. His buildings are mostly modernist concrete structures, sometimes a bit futuristic, for example the Biological Sciences Building at the University of California, Irvine.

Erickson was a born Vancouverite. After serving in the Army Intelligence Corps during World War II, he graduated from McGill in 1950. His carrier was connected with his associate, Geoffrey Massey, with whom he designed an award-winning design for Simon Fraser University. Erickson also taught at the University of British Columbia and helped many currently well known architects. In 1973, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1981.

Famous Works

Bing Wing Thom
(December 8, 1940)

Central City plaza and forecourt Surrey BC
Central City plaza and forecourt
Surrey BC by Nic Lehoux

Bing Wing Thom was born in Hong Kong, but he immigrated to Vancouver with his family in 1950. In 1971, he moved to work in Tokyo for one year. In 1981, Thomson abandoned his position as a project director at Arthur Erickson Architects and started his own architectural firm, Bing Thom Architects. In 1995, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. He is also a member of the Order of Canada, and he is a recipient of the Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to his country.

His academic carrier started at the University of British Columbia, where he received a Bachelor of Architecture and later a Master of Architecture in 1970 from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, Bing and his firm were awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Architectural Firm of the Year award.

Famous Works

  • 2008: Trafalgar Square Installation, London, England, United Kingdom
  • 2007: SAIT Polytechnic Master Plan, Calgary, Alberta
  • 1997: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 1989: False Creek Yacht Club at UBC, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 1998: Pacific Canada Pavilion, Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, British Columbia

Ronald James Thom
(May 15, 1923 – October 29, 1986)

Ronald James Thom was born in Penticton, BC. Ten years after he graduated from the Vancouver School of Arts in 1947, he became a registered architect and started to work with Erickson, Pratt, and Berwick in Vancouver. His two masterpieces, Trent University’s riverside campus and Massey College, brought him fame and admiration from all Canadian designers and architects. He is still considered to be one of the best architects Vancouver’s architectural community has ever had. He was at the foundations of a Thom Partnership in Toronto in 1963 and became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1980. He was a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Famous Works

  • 1963: Master plan and buildings of Massey College at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
  • 1969-1973: Master plan for Trent University and numerous buildings, including renovations of the heritage, Catherine Parr Traill college buildings in downtown Peterborough and Champlain College, Lady Eaton College, the Bata Library and science complex on the Symons Campus
  • 1973: Shaw Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
  • 1974: Master plan and pavilions (including African and Indo-Malaysian Pavilions) of Metropolitan Toronto Zoo, Toronto, Ontario
  • 1975: Prince Hotel in Toronto, Ontario
  • 1982: College Education Centre of Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario
    Trent University by Wikimedia Commons Trent University by Wikimedia Commons

Who is your favourite Vancouver-based architect? Were you amazed by any building in Vancouver? Share your opinion and experience!

One Response to “Vancouver’s Greatest Architects”

  1. Great article. I knew about Erickson of course but I didn’t realize there were so many famous architects from Vancouver.

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