On June 2, 2016 we concluded our 30th Anniversary Expo ’86 celebration with a fun night centred on Expo’s main theme of transportation. With a bike valet readily available outside the museum, we encouraged our guests to bike down to the event in spirit of Bike to Work Week and of course the theme of the night.
We had music sets from Bali styled troupe, Gamelan Bike Bike, who incredibly, play instruments that are made out of discarded bike parts. After Happy Hour and Gamelan Bike Bike’s first set, the event proceeded with three special presentations from architecture and design experts Henry Tsang, Alana Green and Jenni Pace. The evening was hosted by Westender writer/ CBC personality Grant Lawrence who - along with the panel - shared his personal experiences of Expo ’86.
Henry Tsang - who actually worked at Expo fresh out of graduating from post-secondary - shared his initial impressions and the history of how the False Creek area developed after the major event. Tsang, whose media installations have been exhibited internationally, shared his interactive mapping project, “Maraya” (meaning “mirrors” in Arabic) which drew interesting design parallels between False Creek/Seawall and Dubai’s waterfronts and walkways.
Alana Green - who was only six when Expo ’86 happened - began her presentation by pointing out the appreciation of Expo’s design from a child’s perspective, noting its vibrant colours, whimsical shapes and sheer comical scale of objects like the Swiss Swatch Watch display. To this day, Green contemplates if this early introduction to these particular design aesthetics has influenced her design approach as an adult.
Originally from Alabama, seasoned architectural historian Jenni Pace, had no direct link to Expo ’86. However, as an outsider looking in, she shared how this gave her a unique view and exploration of the design and transportation themes of Expo. Her research concluded that the massive “Highway ‘86” sculpture/art installation which stretched 217m long was the major highlight for most people who attended. She deconstructed the sculpture’s post-apocalyptic and brutalist design and presented its possible connections to other sculptures and buildings around the world.
The night couldn’t have been completed without one more dazzling set from Gamelan Bike Bike. Michael Trenzer, a composer and Gamelan music aficionado, introduced the group and spoke about the beloved Indonesian music and how Expo ’86 actually hosted the first International Gamelan Festival. As the bike bars and gears clanked and clinked away, everyone sipped their last drops of beer, now full of knowledge on all things Expo ’86.
To see more photos from the event visit: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153491358226433.1073741885.9...
May 19, 2016 the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) continued to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Expo ’86 inviting the city to recollect the days of big hair, synths, neon fanny packs and the biggest public event in BC’s history. The evening began with drinks and snacks while guests mingled and checked out the display cases of retro artifacts and archive footage.
Followed was a special presentation featuring four architects and designers who contributed to Expo ’86. The talk was hosted by landscape architect Margot Long, who first introduced Bruno Freschi, the Chief Architect and famously known for designing the Telus World of Science, or better known to locals as, Science World. Other presenters included Alan Hart, key developer of the Expo Line/SKYTRAIN, Clive Grout, designer behind the corporate pavilions such as General Motors and Plaza of Nations, and Peter Cardew, contributor to Expo Gate and the CN Pavillion.
An ongoing mention was the scale and just how many people came together to make it happen. Expo ‘86 put Vancouver on the map and pushed the city forward in terms of urban and transportation development. The event provided thousands of jobs to designers, architects and exhibitioners across the country and helped launch the careers of budding designers such as Long, who like many contributors to the Expo made the move to Vancouver from Calgary and other neighbouring cities. To this day, Expo ‘86 remains the most recent World’s Fair to be held in North America.
To see more photos from this event, please visit this gallery.
Input from Aboriginal community members is integral to the process of creating usable and culturally meaningful built spaces for people in their daily lives.
At MOV’s Built City Talk on October 8, architects Lola Sheppard, Luugigyoo Patrick Reid Stewart, and city planner and analyst William Trousdale provided insightful thoughts on their work with aboriginal communities. Most revealing were their ideas on how architecture has a lot to learn from the communities they serve. Lola and William spoke humbly of careful listening and looking that needs to take place. This involves adapting and translating the ideas discussed with aboriginal communities into built form. Central to their discussion was thinking about how people will use buildings over a season, and the best positioning for building entrances and overall structures on the land.
Lola acknowledged that the history of Nunavut is immersed in colonialism which can be visibly seen in the southern architecture of the buildings—she emphasizes that this was not nearly as dynamic as the culture it was trying to serve.
Lola reinforced this point with a powerful message voiced by Sheila Watt-Cloutier from The Right to be Cold (2006):
“We are an adaptable people. We’ve had to be. We’ve weathered this storm of modernization fairly well - going from dog teams to snowmobiles, and flying jumbo jets and going from igloo huts to permanent homes, and of course, going from our environment - which is our supermarket - to now having supermarket-like stores in communities - all within a few decades. This has not been without consequences.”
As Patrick explained, the federal government tried to impose Canadian culture and buildings on the landscape. This is evident in the southern style architecture that still dominates many parts of Nunavut.
As an architect who is proudly representing his aboriginal heritage, Patrick sees indigenous cultural practices, such as basket weaving, as inspirational concepts for architects building for and with First Nations communities as it speaks to their identity. Patrick is an architect who acts as a facilitator and designs with and for aboriginal communities.
Similarly, Lola engages in careful listening and learning about the land with communities, and views this as crucial for developing new architectural structures for people in Nunavut.
Lola views the Inuit culture as incredibly dynamic – people in Nunavut are living in a radically changing region climatically, economically, and culturally. For instance, youth learn how to hunt with their elders, as well as engage online using social media tools and technology to create and share their own hip-hop music. Lola suggests that this forms part of an emerging urbanism in Nunavut, and she continues to contemplate the future role of architecture in this.
Lola poses this intriguing question: Can architecture be used as a tool of empowerment for aboriginal communities in the Arctic? Through a project she worked on with students, Nunavut-based organizations, Inuit community members, local artists, and architects based in the north, future spaces are imagined for Nunavut cities and towns to try and address their daily needs.
MOV invites you to come explore architecture’s future role for Nunavut in Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15 until December 13th, 2015.
Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15 has been organized and curated by Lateral Office, with the support of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. It is presented and coordinated by the Winnipeg Art Gallery with assistance from the Museums Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage, and presenting sponsor Manulife.
Le cabinet Lateral Office a dirigé et organisé l’exposition intitulée Adaptations à l’Arctique : Nunavut à 15 ans, avec l’aide de l’Institut royal d’architecture du Canada, et du Conseil des arts du Canada. Le Musée des beaux-arts de Winnipeg se chargera de la tournée avec le soutien du Programme d’aide aux musées du ministère du Patrimoine canadien, et du commanditaire principal Manuvie.
On Saturday, Dec 14th, families, youth, MOV members, architecture students and the community of the curious got their chance to celebrate the creative spirit of the late Vancouver Architect, Daniel Evan White - with LEGO!
“DIY Daniel: LEGO Build Day” featured two big rooms overflowing with LEGO supplied by The Vancouver Lego Club and the Vancouver Lego Games. The family friendly build day featured an opportunity to view Lego models, connect with expert Lego geeks and opportunities to build some amazing creations.
Folks built very detailed life-sized bust of Captain Vancouver (with nautical captains hat!), a near perfect façade of the Vancouver Art Gallery, 6-foot tall mega skyscraper, as well as very precise abstract forms inspired by Daniel Evan White’s Architecture floor plans made available at each table in simple black and white shapes.
The day started with a Modern Masterpieces: Speed Building contest that was swiftly won by budding LEGO whiz, Aidan Wilson. His dexterity and spatial intelligence was impressive! Later that day, another youth, Kai Darrell placed first in: Make Yours Look like Daniels: DEW Inspired Build. For this contest, Kai built his own creation using basic white bricks in order to make a 3 dimensional interpretation of a DEW blueprint. The judges for this event were the DEW exhibit co-curators: Greg Johnson and Martin Lewis.
Other highlights included Johnathan Vaughan Strebly’s custom designed instructions (download PDF) that helped participants build Daniel Evan White’s famous Maté House out of LEGO!
Also for the kids, we had photographer Ben Cooper, take Polaroid photos of their unique creations in order to give them a keepsake to remember the day. As a child of the 80’s Ben enjoyed the astonished reactions of the kids of today who have been raised in a digital age as they watched the picture of their creation slowly appear in-front of their eyes.
If you want to come check out the exhibit that inspired this event, you have only a few weeks! Playhouse: The architecture of Daniel Evan White closes March 23rd, 2014.
- Adrian Sinclair
In this final installment of "Who was Daniel Evan White" MOV curator Viviane Gosselin explores how the 2 guest curators got to know Dan and what what working with him was like. Play House: the architecture of Daniel Evan White is on now until March 23, 2013.
VG: When did you first learn about Dan White?
ML: Through a University of Toronto acquaintance, who became Dan’s longest associate, of more than 25 years – Russell Cammarasana. I had noticed the Ma Residence on Spanish Banks when I first came to Vancouver in 1986, because of its sheer audacity and obvious dexterity. But years later, when visiting Russell at the studio, I think Dan mentioned that they were getting very busy and needed some help. It was completely circumstantial. I worked and consulted with Dan’s firm intermittently over a period of 20 years and had the opportunity to work with Dan on his very last project (unbuilt) in 2010.
GJ: I remember the first time I saw one of Dan White’s houses, soon after returning from my architectural studies in Montréal. The house was located on one of those rugged West Coast sites so impossible to build on that it had likely been labelled as unsuitable for development: steep, rocky slopes descending to the ocean, very difficult vehicle access and covered with impenetrable vegetation.
Although still incomplete, the house already exhibited those characteristics so typical of all of Dan’s work – bold, simple and dramatic, with strong, repetitive, geometric forms, fitted to the site in a manner that made it look like it had always been there.
I was fortunate at that time to be sharing office space with Steve Zibin, a long-time colleague of Dan. Steve always spoke so highly of Dan, crediting him with instilling in Steve a strong sense of design. He sent me off in search of the many buildings they had worked on together, most of them hidden away on difficult-to-access sites around the Great Vancouver area. I became familiar with the large body of exceptional work Dan’s office had produced, and at the same time more puzzled as to why these outstanding projects were not better known within the architectural community.
Through an amazing twist of fate shortly thereafter, I found myself working with Dan and a number of his colleagues. The office was a wonderfully creative atmosphere, and I remember it with fondness, as much for the people involved as for the fascinating way in which Dan’s projects came to fruition.
VG: And what was it like to work with him?
ML: Exhilarating. Inspiring. Frustrating. Humbling. Dan was a very quiet, gentle man. I think that those who worked for him, and with him, realized that they were operating in a completely different world of design, mostly anachronistic, completely unsustainable when you come to think of it. It’s remarkable that Dan was able to maintain a practice such as his for so long. For any project, he would generate hundreds of ideas. Some of the ideas were so unconventional at the residential scale (houses spanning deep gorges, suspended spherical rooms, hyperbolic paraboloid skylit roofs) that when first proposed, they seemed like conceits, sheer follies. But then, slowly, as the client’s program evolved and the siting, spatial and technical requirements became more known and considered, those poetic ideas transformed into practical, productive ones. Dan was immensely talented. And in a way not borne out by his daily studio behaviour (he actually did not draw so much as sketch relentlessly). He was extremely hard working. He was always dreaming. He never took a day off.
VG: What lessons do you think can be learned from his work?
ML: Anyone who has striven for simplicity and clarity in any discipline knows how difficult those are to achieve. Dan worked relentlessly, attempting to achieve a measure of perfection. He was rarely successful, but he persisted. He wasn’t afraid to make mistakes. He constructed space, spatial sequence, form. Complex space that rewarded full engagement.
GJ: Dan’s best work was executed when he engaged a broad range of participants with multidisciplinary backgrounds, each substantially contributing to the final artefact. This model, distinct from the antiquated myth of the sole creative genius, is the one most likely to produce outstanding architecture.
ML: What drove the formal language of Dan’s work was his insistence that everything was simple, geometrically consistent and carried through all levels of the architectural program. No other architect in this region successfully carried out that idea at such a scale, with such thoroughness and over such a long period of time. We find that compelling. There are certainly high and low points in the opus: the work is neither ‘perfect’ nor always resolved. But it is shown here, for the first time, for consideration. No one could say that they ‘know’ Dan’s work, because it just wasn’t ‘out there’ before now. In fact, the curatorial team is discovering something new every day.
GJ: Ideas from his 1963 thesis – such as a clear formal vocabulary or the mix of the monumental with the everyday – resonate in his final project 50 years later; that’s instructive.
ML: Our expectations of our buildings and environments are different now, implicated by a new awareness of energy conservation and vague notions of heritage and sustainability. You cannot, nor would you necessarily want to, replicate the buildings of the past 50 years. But you might be interested in what makes some of that architecture and landscape liveable, revered, cared for and loved. This is partly why we think Dan’s work will continue to resonate with the public of today and tomorrow.
Our curatorial team at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) visited Daniel Evan White's studio after a tip-off from the City of Vancouver Archives, which was then acquiring the architectural drawings of the practice. We were quite taken by what we saw, and eventually acquired some of his models for our permanent collection. While doing research about his career, I came across an exhibition proposal produced several years earlier by Greg Johnson and Martin Lewis, two architects teaching at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), who had worked with Dan’s firm. The affinities between their curatorial aspirations and the mandate of MOV were obvious. Producing a collaborative exhibition with Greg and Martin would become an opportunity to investigate the city through the eyes and work of innovators like Dan White. The end product is Play House: The architecture of Daniel Evan White which will open at the MOV on October 17, 2013.
As we embarked on the planning and design phases of this exhibition project, the countless conversations I had with Greg and Martin often felt like intense question-and-answer sessions. I would query them, trying to grasp the essential traits of the man, his work and his contribution to the field of architecture. Some of my questions may have been surprising and even unsettling at the time, but their responses were always thoughtful and enlightening. The gist of our conversations is captured here.
Viviane Gosselin (MOV Curator): Why do you think Daniel Evan White remained relatively unknown until recently – well after his career was over?
Martin Lewis (Guest Curator): Many of Dan’s mentors or contemporaries – Arthur Erickson, Ron Thom, Barry Downs – managed to complement their early private residential work with larger institutional commissions that afforded them greater public profiles. Others, such as Fred Hollingsworth and Bud Wood, were far more vocal and articulate about their own work. Dan had the respect of his professional peers but was never skilled at self-promotion.
VG: Last year, there was a West Coast Modern film screening and public symposium in Vancouver but, curiously, not a mention of Dan White. Should he be considered part of that movement or not?
Greg Johnson (Guest Curator): We acknowledge that Dan never identified with a style or group per se, nor can his work be easily categorized. It’s often mistakenly characterized as simply architecture for the privileged. That is incorrect. He also designed modest houses, pre-fabricated cabins – everything from furniture and fixtures to new housing prototypes, public buildings and small communities.
VG: Given his formal education at the Vancouver School of Art, would you say Dan White considered himself an artist, an architect, or both?
ML: He said he became an architect because he ‘could not paint like those he admired’. He understood his limitations. Yet he certainly approached architecture with the sensibility of an artist. He was not pleased until he achieved ‘something that was truly beautiful’. So, he was quite willing to take everyone on a quest for the zenith. He was very interested in Greek mythology and pursued the ideals of intense dedication, passion and zeal (naming his business after the god Zelus, who represented those ideals). He was an idealist, a dreamer. Those are not necessarily the typical traits of a successful architect.
VG: Big question: Could you situate his work in local, regional, national and international contexts?
GJ: We view him as one of the most accomplished architects of his generation. His unique contribution to Canadian architecture will become more significant and revered as his work is publicized and understood as a genuinely original, West Coast response to site, climate and culture. Although the buildings reveal an iconic, almost sculptural presence from the exterior, their clear interior planning and the precise relationships of rooms to the immediate and distant landscape set them apart.
ML: He had an interest in the modernist tenets (Le Corbusier’s ‘5 Points of Architecture’; Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Less is More’) but never as dogma or formula. His work, although strongly geometric in plan and section, is much more subtly nuanced and human-scaled than would at first appear. He was quite sympathetic to the fusion of inside and outside, to the extent that those territorial boundaries are constantly blurred in his houses – air, water, light, landscape seem to flow effortlessly from one space to another...
VG: You both already had an intimate knowledge of his work, having been associates in his firm for several years. What new insights did you gain while researching and documenting his work?
ML: Architecture, like all disciplines, seems to have its own set of very strict rules and tendencies. Some would call them styles, others theoretical positions. We’re interested in the idea of critical practice, which attempts to posit larger issues through the true substance of architecture – which, some might argue, is building. Dan was clearly a practitioner. He was not a theorist. He communicated ideas through the act of building.
GJ: The truly humbling thing about looking at his 50 years of practice, as a coherent body of work, is just how difficult it must have been to execute. Dan quietly had a formal agenda in mind, perhaps not articulated initially, but certainly as he gained more experience and earned the confidence and trust of clients; he was able to assemble a coherent set of ideas, each project more subtly resolved than the previous one. It was as if he was working towards completing that set and saw in each commission an opportunity to add an additional piece to the suite.
ML: Absolutely. And in retrospect, it is the research process required for the exhibition that made us see the work in this light. It allowed us to type and categorize projects and document their formal similarities. Interestingly, there is a lineage that ties everything together, so to speak – private worlds that suddenly become public and more interesting because of their shared genealogy. We are certainly not historians, but as architects we now see the merit in constructing a career based on a few selective and focused interests.
GJ: The most rewarding part of this project has been meeting an extraordinarily wide range of people who, after having been in the residences for a significant amount of time, in some cases several decades, are now reflecting on how good architecture has changed their lives.
Stay tuned for more questions and answers from Viviane, Greg, and Martin!
We popped in to help crit the very inventive modular unit designs the students in Bill Pechet's Studio have been creating for Upcycled Urbanism. We were really inspired by all the fabulous designs the students created and very excited to sit on a panel with Marlon Blackwell!
Work by UBC School of Landscape Architecture and Architecture Material Cultures Studio Students - Mahmoud Bakayoko, Minnie Chan, Lindsay Duthie, Jessika Kliewer, Margarita Krivolutskaya, Eric Lajoie, Mallory Stuckel, Shiloh Sukkau, Avery Titchkosky, Lorinc Vass
Photo Credit: Shiloh Sukkau, UBC SALA Student
#occupyvancouver dominates the news this week. Thousands of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Occupy Vancouver's first General Assembly on Saturday. Many people are prepared to camp out for some time, though the ban on staking tents to the ground and cooking with propane makes this more difficult.
The Tyee asks people why they have chosen to take to the streets.
We Day. Meanwhile, another gathering for change: as 18,000 youth participate in We Day, where Mikhail Gorbachev and other speakers presented on the value of community service and youth engagement.
The Missing Women Inquiry is off to a rocky start with protests as several groups have chosen to not participate. Many groups are concerned that the lack of funding provided to advocacy groups for legal assistance for is a serious impediment to having their voices heard, and without their support for the process, it is uncertain whether the Inquiry will acheive its purpose.
Powwow. A huge powwow took place in the Downtown Eastside to honour First Nations elders.
Re:CONNECT challenges Vancouverites to reinvision the city's eastern core and viaducts as a vibrant space.
No more pictures. Jeff Wall laments the loss of photogenic buildings in Vancouver.
Local food. A few months after being featured in MOV's Home Grown exhibit, the Home Grow-In Grocery closed suddenly, taking customers' deposits with it. Now the store has reopened with new owners, who are trying to regain the trust of their customers while building our local food infrastructure.
Ethnic enclaves. Is it time for Vancouver to have a Pinoytown?
Image: Ariane Colenbrander
#OccupyVancouver. While protests on Wall Street continue, actions are spreading around North America and a demonstration is planned for Vancouver on October 15. While there's little indication that it has the potential of becoming violent, it seems to have the Vancouver Business Improvement Association worried.
The movement has Vancouver roots, though some at the General Assembly at W2 on the 8th felt that given the colonial history of Canada, "occupy" is an inapproriate term for the event.
Digitization. The Vancouver Archives describes some of the work and new challenges they're facing in storing digital content.
Building Vancouver has been posting some really fascinating material lately about the people who were involved with building many of Vancouver's historical buildings. It's worth a look.
Green roofs. In a new video landscape architect Bruce Hemstock discusses the green roof on top of the Vancouver Convention Centre and how it came to be.
There's also a garden on the roof of the main branch of the VPL. It's lesser-known because it's hard to get to and not normally open to the public. The Dependent shows us what's up there.
BC Place. With BC Place set to reopen with its new roof, the Sun looks at the history of the building and the impact it has had on the city.
Light show. A decorative light display on the side of a building is proving controversial in Coal Harbour with neighbours who find it distracting and claim that it damages their view. The controversy calls into question whether the city should be consulting with residents before installing public art.
Yes in my backyard. How to deal with neighbours that are against everything? Pivot Legal Society has created a YIMBY manual for people who want to support developments and social projects in their neighbourhoods.
Walking the city. Daphne Bramham at the Vancouver Sun reflects on a summer spent touring different neighbourhoods around the city with local residents. History, housing, walkability and sense of belonging were continually highlighted as issues for people, regardless of neighbourhood, as well as a sense of pride in the places they lived.
Image: dooq, via flickr