Monday, 25 May 2009

Arthur Erickson, 1924-2008

Canadian architect Arthur Erickson has died. In fact he died last year, and I only just found out.

Preferring to work with space and how you move through it, he didn’t like “flashy” architecture. "Disney, to me, is the great Satan of our period," he told an audience in 2000 with a twinkle in his eye. "After him, we had masses of people looking for entertainment in architecture. It changed the purpose of design. Now museums are becoming the flashiest places around and museum-going has become the new entertainment." He didn't need to visit Te Papa (or Bilbao) to find that out.


My own favourite building of Erickson’s is a museum: his deceptively subtle Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. Built not so much to look at (which makes it difficult to show in photographs) as it is to move through, to experience, and to link observer, artefacts and the landscape beyond – opening up to “a reverent view of the ocean and the mountains.”


As this obituary says, “Architect Arthur Erickson wanted people to go in his buildings not look at them.”


  1. Hot building. My hackles get raised when someone is defined by what they are purportedly AGAINST rather than what they are FOR, but I'll have a look around the internet to check out his work.


  2. "Watchers" often deride "builders" - metaphorically and literally. In this instance, Erickson is a "builder" also.
    Unfortunately, my wife wanted to live in the castle at Eurodisney. Honestly.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.