Bing Thom never lost his sense of humour

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      Canada is mourning the loss of an architectural giant.

      As the Straight's Carlito Pablo previously reported, Vancouver's Bing Thom died at the age of 75 on a trip to Hong Kong.

      There are so many things that Thom accomplished in his career, including designing the SFU Surrey campus, which will remain a legacy for decades to come.

      But we should also never forget his sense of humour and his basic humility.

      My most amusing memory of Thom resulted from a trip to his office three-and-a-half years ago.

      I noticed a photo on his wall of the famous architect shaking hands with Hu Jintao, the former president of China.

      It took me by surprise. Then I asked Thom what the two men discussed.

      He replied that Hu wanted to know how Canada dealt with its immigration problem.

      I was somewhat perplexed by this because at that time, Canada didn't have a major immigration problem. Thom said that he, too, was confused by Hu's question.

      It was only after the Chinese president explained what he meant that Thom understood.

      You see, in China, they talk about immigration as the movement of people from rural areas to cities within the country.

      Bing Thom will be missed by his many friends around the world.

      Metropolises like Shanghai and Shenzhen have seen their populations increase astronomically as a result of this type of migration.

      Thom and I shared a laugh as he relayed to me that he told Hu this wasn't really a problem in Canada.

      We don't have people in Vancouver complaining about new arrivals from Prince George or Smithers.

      From other countries, though? That's a different story altogether.

      We're going to hear a lot in the coming days about Thom's spectacular buildings. But I'm going to miss the one that was never constructed.

      Many years ago, he designed an elegant crystal tower that would have gone up behind the Hotel Georgia.

      Unfortunately, it never got built—and as a result, Vancouver missed an opportunity for another Thom landmark that would have been a surefire favourite of tourists with cameras.

      Bing Thom's elegant crystal tower would have added something memorable to Vancouver's skyline.