Arthur Erickson's home threatened by high property values

While the Museum of Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, and Vancouver law courts are in no danger of being demolished to make way for new residential developments, the same cannot be said of the former home of the celebrated architect who designed these local landmarks.

According to an article published by Wallpaper magazine, Arthur Erickson's former home and garden at 4195 West 14th Avenue in Vancouver could fall victim to real-estate developers "unless sufficient funds are raised to ensure its restoration". Apparently, the Arthur Erickson Foundation is seeking national heritage status for the property, for which it is still paying off the mortgage.

Hadani Ditmars's article notes that Erickson, who died in 2009, was "Canada's answer to Frank Lloyd Wright". The article says:

And while Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West has become a teaching facility/office/museum, Erickson's old abode remains vulnerable.

Still, its value as an historical cultural landscape remains undeniable. Entering the place, hidden by towering cedar hedges, laurel and fir, through an unassuming wooden side gate - is like walking into Erickson's mind.

As you come inside, you notice the little house to the North, its back to the laneway, but the big reveal is the garden. It unfolds with a Japanese sense of amplified space, often unfurling itself in a shape and scale-shifting manner. To make the space feel larger than it was, Erickson used the trick of layered horizontal lines - a common one in Asia where the architect spent much of WWII working for British intelligence and preferring long conversations with Japanese POW's about Zen to actual interrogations.

Without some kind of intervention, Ditmars's article suggests, the next crop of architecture students may have to learn about Erickson's home in a textbook.

Comments (2) Add New Comment
stuartm
Oh, please... stop the Erickson propaganda... is the Canadian architectural industry that hard up for a hero? They must be considering the worldwide condemnation of Vancouver architecture in general.
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WernerM
In '92 I was working as an estimator for a glass company that did a couple of Erickson-designed buildings. One day I got a call that a house window (broken by a burglar) needed replacing.

I told them we don't do broken windows and they should call...

"Who's house?!" I asked incredulously.

I dropped my work and went to replace it myself, I wouldn't let anyone else go. I ended up chatting with Arthur Erickson for about an hour. It was cool.

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