Former address of SFU architect and 1970s-era Vancouver councillor Geoffrey Massey lists for $18 million
A waterfront property associated with the late renowned architect Geoffrey Massey is back on the market.
Following previous unsuccessful attempts to sell the vacant West Vancouver lot, 7290 Arbutus Place has been listed for $18 million.
Together with legendary architect Arthur Erickson, Massey designed celebrated projects like the SFU campus on Burnaby Mountain.
When Massey passed away in 2020 at the age of 96, the university paid him tribute.
“Among the giants of West Coast modernism, Massey and Arthur Erickson’s visionary design for Burnaby campus shaped SFU’s educational philosophy by tearing down walls between faculties, removing silos and creating common areas where disciplines merge and ideas flourish,” university president Joy Johnson said in a community notice.
SFU recalled that Massey and Erickson in 1963 submitted the winning design for a new university, which was “strikingly futuristic”.
Eight years earlier in 1955, the two architects designed a home at a rocky outcrop for artist Ruth Killam.
This was 7290 Arbutus Place, and the residence became known as the Killam-Massey House.
The arthurerickson.com site dedicated to Massey’s former architectural partner provides a history about the North Shore home.
“The house was originally designed for a bachelor lady artist, and consisted of the kitchen, living room, master bedroom, guest bedroom, bathroom, and studio,” the site relates.
“Subsequent to the construction of the house, architect Geoffrey Massey married the artist and over the years, due to four children, considerable additional space was required. This consisted of a playroom and laundry to the east of the living room, and three bedrooms and a bathroom were added on the northeast corner.”
“In addition,” the account continues, “a greenhouse was constructed on the north end outside the kitchen.”
The Canadian Architect magazine related that Massey was elected city councillor in Vancouver in 1972.
He served in the position for two years.
“During that period, he played a part in the selection of the winning design for the rehabilitation of Granville Island, by Norm Hotson and Joost Bakker, who entered with the support of their employer, partner Richard Rabnett of Thompson, Berwick and Pratt,” the magazine recalled.
Moreover, “Massey also was a supporter of Art Phillips, who was mayor of Vancouver from 1973 to 1977.”
The magazine went on to relate that “Phillips championed livability and inclusivity, and under his leadership, Vancouver’s city planning came to address environmental and quality-of-life concerns”.
Massey retired from architecture in 1991. His wife died in 2011.
The Vancouver Sun reported that Massey sold his Whytecliff neighbourhood residence around 1988.
In the report, writer John Mackie related that the home was a “stunning modern structure with a glass pyramid above the central living room”.
It also featured “breathtaking views of Howe Sound”.
As for Massey’s legacy in Vancouver’s political life, Mackie related that with Phillips and the mayor’s TEAM party in 1972, he was “part of a political movement that put a stop to freeways and redeveloped the south side of False Creek from industrial to residential”.
Royal LePage Sussex listed 7290 Arbutus Place on April 15.
The home is already gone from the half-hectare West Vancouver lot.
The listing notes that among those that remain in the property is the “original foundation of a home”.
The seller’s agent also stated that the 63,000-square-foot “luxury estate” comes with over 700 feet of waterfront with “absolute privacy”, plus a private dock.
It’s a “time capsule” into the Massey’s “most impactful house project from the 1950’s”.
Based on tracking by real-estate site Zealty.ca, the property listed three times between 2012 and 2019, without fetching a buyer.
The previous asking prices ranged from $10.8 million to $13.8 million.
Massey’s former address at 7290 Arbutus Place has a 2022 assessment of $11,469,000, all of which is for the vacant residential lot.
Adele Weder is the founder of West Coast Modern League, a nonprofit society dedicated to West Coast architecture.
Weder wrote in the North Shore News that the former home of Massey and Killam was later transformed by a new owner into an aviary, “damaging it substantially”.
A succeeding owner eventually demolished the residence.
“But it lives on in photographs—an inspiration, I’d like to think, to future generations who will call this place home,” Weder wrote.