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Arthur Erickson fonds

Arthur Erickson fonds

Part of

People

  • Arthur Erickson (creator)
  • Arthur Erickson (archive creator)

Title

Arthur Erickson fonds

Dates of creation

1947-2002 (predominant 1963-2000)

Form

  • archives

Level of archival description

Fonds 22

Extent and Medium

  • Approximately 80,250 drawings
  • Approximately 68 985 photographic materials
  • 142.67 linear metres of textual records
  • 164 panels
  • 164 artefacts
  • 105 sound recordings
  • 53 models
  • 7 boxes of building materials
  • 6 moving images

Scope and Content

The fonds documents the work and activities of architect Arthur Erickson from 1947-2002 (predominate 1963 - ca. 2000). The records are concerned primarily with the buildings and projects of Erickson / Massey Architects (1963-1972), Arthur Erickson Architects (1972-1991), and to the work of Arthur Erickson as a design consultant from 1991 and after.

The fonds consists of architectural project records and projects administration that document over 400 projects by Arthur Erickson, Erickson / Massey, Arthur Erickson Architects and Arthur Erickson as a design consultant. The project series include feasibility studies, proposals, competition submissions, renovations and additions, and constructed buildings. Most of Erickson's major projects after 1963 are represented, often with drawings, photographs, textual documents and other material. Many of the large constructed buildings and proposed projects are well documented, usually with concept drawings, design development drawings, presentation drawings, working drawings, shop drawings, models, photographic material, panels and textual records, and include, for example, the Bank of Canada Building, Queen's University Student Centre, the Museum of Anthropology, British Columbia Medical Centre, Robson Square, Eglinton West and Yorkdale subway stations, Roy Thomson Hall, Red Deer Arts Centre, Napp Laboratories, King's Landing condominiums, the Canadian Chancery in Washington, Saskatoon City Hospital, British Columbia Place, Saudi Arabian Embassy in Ottawa, California Plaza, and Thunder Bay Government Building. Erickson's late work for other architects is represented by his customary ink on tracing paper sketches, notably for the Walter Koerner Library, Liu Centre for International Relations, Vancouver Dance Centre, Museum of Glass, and the Dunbar House in Hawaii.

The fonds also includes office administration records primarily related to the operations of the Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Toronto offices of Erickson / Massey and Arthur Erickson Architects, as well as materials related to public relations, marketing and collaboration of Erickson's office, such as correspondence, promotional photographs, contact and collaborators informations, press clippings, and office reference and documentation. Records are concerned with the professional activities of Arthur Erickson, consisting mostly of textual document files of correspondence and travels, writings, and design sketches by the architect. These files also contain some photographs and objects such as award plaques. The fonds also contains records pertainins to two exhibitions about Arthur Erickson's work in 1985 and in 2006.

The archive also includes personnal records such as correspondence, photographs, including Arthur Erickson's travel slides, and also some of his student projects and drawings, which includes early sketches and a painting.

Reference Number

AP022

Arrangement

The fonds is arranged in seven series:

AP022.S1 Architecture projects

AP022.S2 Projects administration

AP022.S3 Office administration

AP022.S4 Professional activities

AP022.S5 Correspondence, photographs, and personal papers

AP022.S6 Student projects and drawings

AP022.S7 Exhibitions

Biographical notes

Biographical Sketch

Arthur Charles Erickson (b. Vancouver, June 14, 1924; d. Vancouver, May 20, 2009) attended the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1942-1943) before serving in the Canadian military in India and Malaysia (1943-1945). Erickson entered the 2nd year of McGill University's School of Architecture program in 1946, and during his studies found summer employment with architect B.K. Van Norman in Vancouver (1947-1949). While at McGill, he won the Lieutenant-Governor's Bronze Medal, and the Pilkington Glass Award Second Prize before graduating with a B.Arch. (Honours) in 1950. Erickson also received a McLennan Travel Scholarship for architectural research, which allowed him to travel in the Middle East and Europe for 2 ½ years (1950-1953).

Early Career

Erickson was briefly employed on his return to Vancouver by the firm McCarter & Nairne, and then by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick, Pratt. In 1953 he designed the Gordon Smith House, built in West Vancouver, with architect Geoffrey Massey. This was followed by two more West Vancouver residences; the Charles Stegeman House (1954), and the Killam-Massey House in collaboration again with Massey (1955). In 1955, Erickson became an assistant professor for one year at the University of Oregon's School of Architecture, Eugene, Oregon. Back in Vancouver, he began teaching at the University of British Columbia (1956-1964), becoming an Associate Professor in 1961. Until the early 1960s Erickson primarily designed small commercial projects and houses, including his own residence and garden on a lot purchased in Vancouver in 1957. Other notable residences he designed in the period are the Filberg House near Comox, Vancouver Island (1958), the Dyde House, near Edmonton, Alberta (1960), and the Danto Residence, Vancouver (1961).

Erickson / Massey Architects

In 1963 Erickson again teamed with Geoffrey Massey to win a competition to plan and build Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia (master plan and initial buildings executed 1963-1965, with other buildings added later). Subsequently, the office of Erickson / Massey Architects was established in Vancouver, and major commissions soon followed: the MacMillan Bloedel Building, Vancouver (built 1965-1966), Biological Sciences Building for the University of Victoria (built 1967-1968), Canadian Pavilion, Expo 70, Osaka, Japan (designed 1967 and built), Sikh Temple, Vancouver (built 1968-1969), University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta (designed and built 1968-1970), and Champlain Heights Elementary School, Vancouver (1970-1973). In 1965, Erickson / Massey opened a second office in Montreal, Quebec, to work on several projects for the Expo '67 World Exposition, including the Man and the Community / Man and his Health Pavilions (built). The Montreal office moved afterwards to Toronto, Ontario in 1970.

Typical of Erickson throughout his long and prolific career, he continued to design residences that attracted notice and acclaim. Examples from the 1960s are the Graham House, West Vancouver (1963), Baldwin House, Burnaby (1963-1964), Smith House 2, West Vancouver (1964), Catton House, West Vancouver (1967), and the Craig House, Kelowna, British Columbia (1967-1970).

At the turn of the decade, two major projects were underway - the Bank of Canada building in Ottawa (began 1969, completed 1980), and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (began 1971, completed 1976) - when the partnership of Erickson / Massey dissolved in 1972.

Arthur Erickson Architects

In 1972, Erickson founded Arthur Erickson Architects (AEA) in Vancouver, with himself as head and chief design architect. The firm began with a small staff, but grew rapidly. By 1973 the Vancouver office building inherited from Erickson / Massey at 2412 Laurel Street had to be enlarged to accommodate work on two important commissions - the British Columbia Medical Centre, planned for the site of the Shaughnessey Hospital in Vancouver (designed 1973-1976, but not built), and Three-Block Project, known as Robson Square, which included public spaces and buildings for the Provincial Law Courts, a Government Services Complex, and the renovation of the former Vancouver Courthouse into the Vancouver Art Gallery (all designed and constructed 1973-1981). In the Toronto office of Arthur Erickson Architects, located at 80 Bloor St. West, initial projects included the Queen's University Student Centre, Kingston, Ontario (constructed in two phases, 1972-1977), and two subway stations for the Toronto Transit Commission, at Eglintion West and Yorkdale (constructed 197 4-1976). Other important buildings produced by the Toronto office in the 1970s were Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (begun in 1976 as part of an unrealized urban renewal project called Downtown West, the concert hall was completed in 1982), and the Napp Laboratories building, a 1978 competition-winning design built in Cambridge, England (constructed 1980-1982).

Erickson-designed residences of the 1970s included the Hilborn House, Cambridge, Ontario (constructed 1972-1973), Helmet Eppich House, West Vancouver (1972-1973), the architect's own house on Fire Island, New York (1977-1978), Bagley Wright House, built near Seattle, Washington (1977-1981), and the Hollenberg House, Bad Hamburg, West Germany (1978-1980).

By the latter 1970s, AEA began seeking more international work, proposing projects in Europe, South-East Asia, Japan, and especially the Middle East. In 1977 Arthur Erickson Associates was formed, with new offices established in Kuwait City and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The expanded firm's numerous projects in the region involved everything from single buildings to the large-scale planning of universities, military complexes, and town centres. Few were built, however, as for example, in Kuwait the Sawaber Housing Development, (1976), Fintas town centre (1978-1980), and a Military Academy at Mishrif (1985); in Saudi Arabia the King Faisal Air Force Academy, Al Khar, (1980-1984), SANCST Science Halls, Riyadh, (1982-1984), and King Saud University, Al Qassim, (1983); and in Baghdad, Iraq, the ambitious Abu Nuwas Conservation Development Project (1981-1982) which was cancelled due to the Gulf War. In total, only three projects were realized: an interim building for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, (1976-1978), and two office buildings for the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, (1986-1988).

In 1980, Erickson won a competition to design California Plaza, a major redevelopment project in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles (the master plan, a dance studio and two office towers were completed, 1981-1989). In 1981, an AEA office was opened in Los Angeles which executed numerous other large projects through the 1980s - the San Diego Convention Centre (1981-1985), Biological Sciences Building Unit 2, University of California, Irvine, (1987-1990), McClelland Hall Business School, University of Arizona, Tucson (1988-1989), Kaiser-Permanente Hospital, Baldwin Park, California (1988-1991), and Fresno City Hall, Fresno, California (completed 1991).

Other important projects of the decade were carried out in the Toronto office, including King's Landing Condominiums at Harbourfront, Toronto (Phase One constructed 1983-1984),

the Canadian Chancery in Washington, D.C. (1981-1988), Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario (1984-1986), Markham Municipal Centre, Markham, Ontario (a competition-winning design completed 1988), and the Government Office Building at Thunder Bay, Ontario (1987-1989).

Amongst the residences designed and built in the 1980s wee the Hugo Eppich House, West Vancouver (completed 1985), Russell House, Lake Bay, Washington (built 1983-1984), a chalet for Pierre-Eliot Trudeau, Morin Heights, Quebec (designed and built 1981-1985), Khosla House, Portola Valley, California (built 1988-1991), and the Karatz Beach House, Newport Beach, California (1989).

By the end of the decade, Arthur Erickson Architects was experiencing serious financial difficulties. In 1989 the AEA Toronto office closed, followed by the Los Angeles and Vancouver offices in 1991. Subsequently, the Arthur Erickson Architectural Corporation was established.

Arthur Erickson Consultant

In 1991, Erickson began working as a design consultant for a number of Vancouver firms, primarily Aitken Wreglesworth Associates (becoming Architectura in 1995), Atelier Architects, and Nick Milkovich Architects. Some of the completed buildings designed by Erickson in this late period of his career include the Walter Koerner Library, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (completed and opened 1997), Vancouver Dance Centre, Vancouver (built 2000-2001), Dalian Cultural Centre, Dalian, China (designed 2001), International Glass Museum, Seattle, Washington (completed and opened in 2002), and the RCMP Heritage Centre, Regina, Saskatchewan (opened 2007). Among Erickson's last residences are the Castanier House, Kelowna, BC (1995-1996), and a house for Bruce Dunbar, Maui, Hawaii (1999).

Awards and Honours

Arthur Erickson received numerous awards for his buildings, including eight Massey Medals for Architecture between 1955 -1970. Some of his other merits and honours are:

1967 - Molson Prize, Canada Council of the Arts

1971 - Royal Bank of Canada Award

1974 - Auguste Perret Award, International Union of Architects

1978 -honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects

1979 - President's Award for Excellence , American Society of Landscape Architects

1981 - Companion of the Order of Canada

1982 - Governor General's Award for Architecture

1984 - Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal

1984 - French Academy of Architecture Gold Medal

1986 - American Institute of Architects Gold Medal

2001 - Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects

Conditions governing access

  • Access by appointment only. Some 650 computer disks delivered with the fonds will remain unavailable for consultation until selection and archival processing have been completed.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • Contact the CCA for copyright information and permission to reproduce (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Arthur Erickson

Custodial history

The Arthur Erickson fonds was acquired by the CCA in 1987 from Arthur Erickson himself. Twelve additions were made to the archives by Erickson from 1989 to 2004. Two last additions were made in 2010 and 2013 from Emily McCallum, Christopher Erickson and Geoffrey Erickson.

Archivist's note

  • Most of the Arthur Erickson fonds was initially processed around 2012 by David Rose. Further processing was undertaken in Summer 2015 by Archival Assistant Madeleine Paré. The finding aid and the records were updated in 2020-2021 by Archivists Alexandra Jokinen and Catherine Jacob for a data base migration project. This reprocessing included modifying the arrangement, updating records according to new descriptive standards and rearranging some records.

Language of material

English, with some documents in Japanese.

Related units of description

  • Arthur Erickson often worked with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander for the landscaping of his architectural projects. See the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds (AP075) in the CCA's collection for more records related to these projects.
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