Erickson, Arthur Charles

ERICKSON, Arthur Charles, architect (b 14 June 1924, Vancouver; d 20 May 2009, Vancouver). After studying at UBC and McGill Univ, he began practising in VANCOUVER in 1953. No other architect did as much to shape the face of the city, and he was internationally renowned for his work in Vancouver and elsewhere. His notable Lower Mainland projects include SFU, the Robson Square Complex (comprising Robson Square, Law Courts and the VANCOUVER ART GALLERY), the MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY and Central Library at UBC, and the MacMILLAN BLOEDEL office tower, as well as award-winning private homes, experiments in work-live housing structures, and the Portland Hotel development for homeless and indigent people. Notable projects beyond BC include Roy Thomson Concert Hall in Toronto; the Univ of Lethbridge; the Canadian embassy in Washington, DC; the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan; the Univ of Arizona business school; the convention centre in San Diego, CA; and the International Glass Museum in Tacoma, WA. Erickson received many prestigious civic and architectural honours, including a Molson Prize for outstanding contributions to Canadian culture (1967); the Royal Bank of Canada gold medal and award for contributions "to human welfare and the common good" (1971); the gold medal of the French Academy of Architecture and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. He was a companion in the Order of Canada (1981) and the only Canadian to receive the American Institute of Architecture's gold medal (1986). During the economic recession of 1987–92 he closed offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, and in 1992 he filed for personal bankruptcy. When a real estate developer planned to purchase his home and remove his remarkable garden, which gives an illusion of endless country landscape on 2 city lots, a grassroots movement sprang up and succeeded in saving the property. The Arthur Erickson Garden Foundation was established to preserve the residence as a heritage site, which permitted him to live there for his lifetime. Erickson continued to design buildings for clients around the world, and to be an outspoken commentator on the future of his native city.
by Edith Iglauer
Readings: Arthur Erickson, The Architecture of Arthur Erickson, 1975; Edith Iglauer,Seven Stones: A Portrait of Arthur Erickson, Architect, 1981.