Photograph by: John McKay, Times Colonist
Long before green architecture meant anything other than putting in plants, Arthur Erickson was integrating water and nature into his architecture. He was lucky that he was located in Vancouver, which has so much of both.
His work in the sixties was an inspiration to Canadian architects, who were looking for an independent identity. He gave us much of it, the integration of natural materials into the rocky Canadian landscape.
His design for Simon Fraser University changed the way Universities were designed; instead of a separate building for each department, he linked everything together. He is quoted in the Vancouver Sun:
"What Simon Fraser says is that the body of knowledge is one, and that to artificially segregate different disciplines and incarcerate them in different buildings completely disallows the kind of cross-fertilization, the chance associations, that have always occurred in our great institutions of knowledge," Erickson wrote.
His Robson Square Courthouse was unlike any other, open bright, full of water and green with a glass and steel roof, all designed to be "inviting public awareness and involvement in matters of justice."
His later work was less interesting and sometimes clunky, like the Canadian Embassy in Washington. Like many architects, he was a lousy businessman, and went bankrupt in 1992. He said:
"You know, there's a phrase, idiot savant," he told the Vancouver Sun. "I think I fall into that category. You're very good at one thing, but an absolute moron in others."
Arthur Erickson, dead at 84.