A series of major commissions followed, including theme buildings at EXPO 67 in Montréal; the MacMillan Bloedel office tower in Vancouver in 1969; the Canadian Pavilion, Expo 70, Osaka, Japan; U of Lethbridge, 1971; the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, 1971-77; the provincial government offices and courthouse (and Vancouver Art Gallery) complex, begun in 1973; the Bank of Canada, Ottawa, 1980, in association with Marani, Rounthwaite & Dick; and Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, 1982. (See also TORONTO FEATURE: 60 SIMCOE ST.
Erickson also received numerous commissions from Middle Eastern countries, South America and the US, where he was architect for the Canadian embassy in Washington (opened May 1989). Among many awards and honours, Erickson received the Royal Bank Award (1971) and the Chicago Architectural Award (1984, with Philip Johnson and Joan Burgee); as well, he received gold medals from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (1984) and the American Institute of Architects (1986).
Perhaps the first Canadian architect to be widely known by the international public, he gained wide popular regard for his ability to create dramatic places with apparently simple means. A consistent theme through many of his buildings is the framing portal of horizontal beam on vertical columns, a welcoming and sheltering motif found in West Coast Native buildings, but which also looks back to the architecture of ancient Greece. Such restricted means, with muted colours, are used in his best buildings to create a sense of place and occasion. They also provide the means to create buildings integral to the landscapes in which they are placed.
Some work of the 1980s demonstrates an explicit response to historic forms and precedents. The restraint and sensitivity which informed the design of the Puget Sound House (1983-86) is an example of such a response, as is the Canadian Chancery, Washington (1983-88) where the city's neo-classical traditions suggested important themes. His unsuccessful entry in the 1988 Chicago Library competition fell away from this high standard, perhaps reflecting an uncertain mood during the peak of "post-modern" attacks on the modernism of which Erickson has been such a distinguished exponent.
Erickson's international design success rested on his ability to attract and lead talented associates in widely separated offices (Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi). Management of his business affairs was not as successful. Financial problems in the late 1980s led to the closing of his offices (in 1989 and 1991). He continued to live and work in Vancouver, practising in association with established Vancouver firms.
He was named a companion of the ORDER OF CANADA in 1981.
Author MICHAEL MCMORDIE
Links to Other Sites
Arthur Erickson Architectural Corporation (AEAC)
The website for the internationally renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. Features a biography of Arthur Erickson and a multimedia showcase of major architectural projects.
This intriguing CBC photo essay focuses on the bold and innovative architectural designs created by Arthur Erickson, one of Canada's most celebrated architects.
The architect of soul
This review of the book "Arthur Erickson: Critical Works" highlights some of Arthur Erickson’s most impressive architectural projects.
Museum of Glass by Arthur Erickson
A nicely illustrated review of the elegant and spacious Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. Designed by architect Arthur Erickson. From the publication "ArchitectureWeek."
Arthur Charles Erickson
A brief bio of Arthur Erickson, who was awarded the 1986 AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor that The American Institute of Architects can bestow on an individual.
William & Ruth Baldwin House
A brief note about the history of the William & Ruth Baldwin House. From the City of Burnaby website.
Architecture for a Place and Time
About an animated film that reveals how buildings reflect the values of their times. Includes screen shots from the film. From the National Film Board.
In Praise of Modernist Civic Spaces in Canadian Cities
An illustrated article about the design and use of civic spaces associated with modern Canadian buildings such as Place Ville Marie and the Toronto-Dominion Centre. By prominent McGill architect Derek Drummond. A PDF file.
The Arthur Erickson House and Garden Foundation
The website for the Arthur Erickson House and Garden Foundation focuses on preserving the unique garden oasis created in urban Vancouver by architect Arthur Erickson. Includes an Erickson biography.
Arthur Erickson's Island legacy
An article about the renovation of the Filberg House in Comox. Originally constructed in 1959 for Robert Filberg. From the Times Colonist (Victoria.)
Companions of the Order of Canada
Scroll down the page to view Harry Palmer's photographs of distinguished individuals appointed as Companions of the Order of Canada between 1984 and 1991. Click on the lower left of each photo to enlarge the image. From "A Portrait of Canada".
Impressions of Arthur Erickson
A 1973 CBC Television interview with architect Arthur Erickson.