Sunday, March 15, 2009

West Coast Blogging

Two new blogs have been added to the blogroll:
Coast Modern and Architecture Wanted. Both focus on architecture of the West Coast.

Coast Modern is based around an upcoming film that Gavin Froome and Michael Bernard have been quietly putting together over the last year or so. They've amassed what promises to be a treasure trove of footage chronicling the modern movement along the West Coast– from California to British Columbia. 

The film, currently being edited, is based around interviews with a broad range of subjects (this writer included), from local luminaries like Barry Downs and Fred Hollingsworth to California sons Dion Neutra and photographer Julius Shulman. Froome and Bernard have also filmed an inspired range of the architecture itself, mostly houses related to the interviewees, to round out the film.

Architecture Wanted is a blog focusing on matters a little closer at hand, chronicling architecture and civic issues in Vancouver. With a solid appreciation for our urban environment, it's an excellent source of happenings in the city.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gordon Smith and West Vancouver

West Vancouver artist Gordon Smith has created a limited-edition print for the District of West Vancouver. The print will be available for purchase after March 28 and is inspired by the large mural - called Beach Tangle - that the artist created for the new W.V. Community Centre. The mural is crafted of painted beach wood and conveys the connection between the community and the oceanfront that defines it.

The print, inversely named Tangle Beach, is printed using the intaglio method and enhanced by Smith's hand-colouring on each one. It is the latest in a long line of prints the prolific Smith has created in his 50+ year career.

It's refreshing to see an emphasis given to public art, one aspect of construction that often gets laid by the wayside as budgets tighten and emphasis turns to utilitarian concerns. Smith's generosity to his community is also heartening; these projects being an extension of the work Smith has fostered with Artists For Kids, a trust he helped establish in 1989.

It also harkens back to Vancouver's past and its illustrious relationship between art and architecture, including Smith's work for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. There are numerous other examples in Vancouver of buildings (some now demolished) featuring the work of B.C. Binning, Jack Shadbolt, Lionel Thomas and Elza Mayhew among many others.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Peter Oberlander (1922-2008)

Sad news for Vancouver's architectural community and the city itself– on December 27, 2008 Peter Oberlander passed away. Read the text of an appreciation
 by the Oberlander family that recently appeared in Canadian Architect.

There is also an interesting interview by Jim Donaldson of McGill University with Peter and Cornelia Oberlander, completed in February, 1998.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Oberlander speak last fall at the Vancouver Heritage Foundation's Modern House tour. Standing in an early Duncan McNabb-designed home, he discussed his old friend (McNabb) and the urban development and advent of modernism in Vancouver. The talk was informal but personal and very enlightening, shining a light on the city he had so much influence on and commitment to. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Museum of Anthropology

After a 6 month closure for renovations, the Museum of Anthropology is set to reopen tomorrow (Sunday March 7). Though from the
sounds of it they are cutting it close to the wire as far as completion goes. Such is the way with any substantial renovation however.

The museum's website details many of the changes and alterations to the facility – one that has not been substantially altered since it was built 30 years ago. The good news is Erickson consulted on the redesign by Noel Best of Stantec Architecture.

The reopening will be a welcome return to Vancouver's cultural scene.