Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thank you, Arthur Erickson: 1924-2009

Arthur Erickson in front of the BC Law Courts building he designed.
Photograph: Bill Keay
Vancouver Sun  Photo Gallery

Museum of Anthropology, UBC. Image source here.

Mary Frances Hill, Vancouver Sun: Arthur Erickson's colleagues and disciples paid tribute Thursday to the man who was known around the world, but left a big legacy in his home town of Vancouver. Bing Thom, who began his own career under Erickson in the 1960s, said... 'He could be graceful in the most difficult situations, but he had a very abrasive tongue when he saw injustice and ignorance.'...

Erickson embraced Zen Buddhism in his personal life, a love that translated to his architectural work, which blended concrete with softer garden features, flat water features and waterfalls...

Portland Hotel Community Services Society executive director Mark Townsend said he approached Erickson's office nearly a decade ago about constructing a building for people struggling with addictions and mental illness. Designed by a great like Erickson, the new Portland Hotel would honour those people who are least likely to get respect, he said. Erickson created a simple, light-filled concrete structure with a courtyard waterfall. It's in this courtyard where residents hold memorial services...

Erickson will be remembered for his talent infusing a sense of tranquillity into an otherwise harsh environment, said Architectural Institute of BC Pierre Gallant. No other architect, no matter how great and experienced, has been able to use concrete, or craft such an infusion of light in a harder space as Erickson, he said.

Many people who walk in or around an Erickson piece remark that it meshes so well with the natural West Coast environment, it feels as if the building grew there. 'He understood architecture, he understood the elements, he understood space, he understood materials,' said Gallant. 'It's extraordinary. How the hell did he do what he did? I'm an architect, I studied him, and I can't do it. He's the master.'

Robson Square, Vancouver. Image source here.