Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life

Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 1771000112

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An intimate portrait of the brilliant and controversial architect who put Canada on the world stage.

Arthur Erickson, Canada's preeminent philosopher-architect, was renowned for his innovative approach to landscape, his genius for spatial composition and his epic vision of architecture for people. Erickson worked chiefly in concrete, which he called "the marble of our times," and wherever they appear, his buildings move the spirit with their poetic freshness and their mission to inspire. Erickson was also a controversial figure, more than once attracting the ire of his fellow architects, and leading a complicated personal life that resulted in a series of bankruptcies. In a fall from grace that recalls a Greek tragedy, Canada's great architect -- a handsome, elegant man who lived like a millionaire and counted among his close friends Pierre Trudeau and Elizabeth Taylor -- eventually became penniless. Arthur Erickson is both an intimate portrait of the man and a stirring account of how he made his buildings work.

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a building could be a community activity, not just the work of an individual architect. He compared the HABITAT project to the work of the early cathedral builders, the effort of many artisans, none of whom knew exactly what the outcome of their individual contributions would be. Unfortunately, heavy rains at the time of the conference made the whole idea seem doubtful at best. Some of the negative feelings about Arthur were generated by the large amounts of time he spent away from the city.

likened to Emanuel Leutze’s memorable painting of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing the Delaware.35 Reid’s work was also suggestive of revolution, for he was indicating in his sculpture the idea of a distinct nation within Canada with its own mythology and proposing that “Haida Gwaii” should replace the colonial “Queen Charlotte Islands” as the name for the Haida homeland. His work on the sculpture had become entangled in Haida land claims and a protest to stop logging on Lyell Island.

commercial bank, Arthur again directed large sums to be sent to the Los Angeles office. The members of the syndicate began to lose faith when they learned that Arthur’s creditors were still banging down the doors to the Toronto office and especially when they learned about Arthur’s expensive properties in Bel Air, Malibu, and Fire Island and his Maserati. In her article, Rochon described a teleconference meeting with the investors in which Arthur’s detachment from the “real” world became clear to

banners with Simon Scott’s images of Arthur’s Vancouver buildings, the decorating of the museum and grounds with candles, the presence of people from all walks of life, and the many fine speeches of praise were all heartwarming to Arthur, but nothing thrilled him more than to see water in front of the museum. The permanent filling of the pond was a project that Cheryl would pursue on Arthur’s behalf—in this case with the matching determination and enthusiastic assistance of Cornelia

pilasters that taper as they rise to heighten the drama of ascent up the staircase. While these decorative features have no structural function, their dramatic impact is powerful, testifying in Arthur’s eyes to the fact that greatness in architecture went beyond high modernism’s strict rule that form follow function. Michelangelo likely held Arthur’s fascination for another reason as well. The great Renaissance artist, who had never married, was long said to have been attracted to men. His

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