Ron Thom Works: Bennett / Hawes house

Bennett house is one of the first of the large and expensive houses that Thom has designed. Organized around a courtyard, it is low and expansive with roof reaching far with its overhangs. It was immaculately restored in 1990s. Here are a couple of other images:

Unfortunately this is all I (or Doug Shadbolt) have got on this residence. Contact me if you have some thing else to add: info, images, etc.

Changing Downtown

Although not immediately related to any one piece of architecture, these news forecast changes to the way downtown will be shaping up.

Vancouver is changing various zoning restrictions in an attempt to densify the downtown further. Per Province:

This week, council agreed to let buildings in Downtown South, a strip along Granville between Burrard and False Creek North, be built higher than 100 metres, which was the prior restriction.

Council also decided to review view corridors and all downtown height limits -- and to "recommend changes, if appropriate, to achieve additional development."

I , for one, could never understand the view corridors - there is such obscure reasoning behind these, divination rather than planning somehow. Another snag is also forcing the city to review its options; the heritage density transfer bonus, responsible for so many +1, +2 FSRs, is no longer an option:
[] the city has now run out of downtown sites where the bonuses can be used -- and taller buildings would be the answer to this problem.
Typically, I am concerned that fairly low-density neighbourhoods across the water from downtown stay low at its expense. As such I am glad to read that some of these are well on their way. Darrell Mussatto, mayor of North Vancouver has been crusading for lane-way housing in his city. Bereft of EcoDensity, North Van might just become the first to get the necessary zoning and regulations set up before Vancouver proper does.

At roughly the same time that I wrote this post, Vancouver city council approved a pilot laneway housing project consisting of 100 garages being converted to secondary units. Owners would need to apply for rezoning to be able to do so. Although some are concerned with imminent slum-lording, I would like to see this pushed further - land severance, anyone?


Ron Thom works: Copp House

Built in 1951, Copp House is one of Ron Thom's earliest, designed for Dr. Harold Copp. The house won Thom a Massey Medal - an award now known as Governor General's - in 1952.

From Arcade magazine:

Working with shoestring budgets, these emerging architects were eager to be thrifty and innovative and to take advantage of the challenges offered by difficult sites.

The Copp House is a good example. Fifty years of growth has blurred the line between house and site, but perhaps that is how architect Ron Thom would have liked it. The low horizontal rooflines [shelter] two linear forms that are perpendicular to each other and anchored at their intersection by a buff brick chimney. The lower element, containing the living areas, hugs the sloping terrain and is spread out across the width of the site with broad views. The upper section houses the bedrooms. The massive chimney represents the heart of the design while slender wood posts and sheets of glass infill take full advantage of the northern view over English Bay. Since Dr. Copp’s death, Winnifred Copp has continued to live in this remarkable house that contains some of the original furniture design by Thom, who would become one of Canada’s most respected architects.

And the house is one of the icons of what became known as West Coast Modern. Copp house is on Belmont Ave and I've located on the map to the right (or click here).

Two more images and plans:

Entry. All photos in this post are by James Flanders.

The living room.
Lower level. 1=entry 2=living/dining 3=carport 4=patio 6=workshop

Upper level. 5=bedrooms 7=living room below

So far my best source for Copp house is Douglas Shadbolt's Ron Thom: The Shaping of an Architect. It is great for many things Ron Thom, but I cannot help but want a more image-oriented monograph style publication to complement Shadbolt's biography which has comparatively few B&W photographs.

Copp House is soon to become more famous thanks to Greg Bellerby who is researching it along with Binning House, Barry Downs House, and Smith House II, with the purpose of writing and publishing a book about modern residential architecture in Vancouver. Bellerby - a co-author of West Coast Residential and Living Spaces: The Architecture of Fred Thornton Hollingsworth among others - has the support from Canada Council of the Arts in form of a grant for this research work. Wouldn't it be great to have some gorgeous photos of Copp in that book ? Nudge-Nudge


Condo trouble roll


It seems that some of the condo projects in Vancouver are either in real or purported trouble. Well, this certainly affects the architectural community as condos in Vancouver are the bread of the bread and butter. Taking stock of recent news and rumours here is the "trouble list":
- Infinity (bankruptcy protection)
- Olympic Village (cost overruns)
- Cosmo (stalled)
- Ritz-Carlton (stalled - redesign?)
- Sophia (receivership)
- H & H Yaletown (receivership)
- Garden City (receivership)
- V6A (on hold)
- Evelyn (on hold - stabilization issues?)
- Sky Towers in Surrey (bankruptcy protection)
- odd one out: Quatro in Surrey (fell to fire not to the economic downturn on October 1st) ...
- further afield: Capella in Langford (on hold)
- further afield: Town and Country Towers in Victoria (on hold)
- further afield: Lucaya in Kelowna (on hold)
I welcome any additions or disputes to the roll - let me know!

Ritz-Carlton is stalled indeed. If one is to believe that the project is on hold due to design changes, then why are the hoarding and the signage are gone?
Update 2:
More projects are added to the roll.


GGs are awarded today!

Somewhat old news, but anyway...

Today, in Toronto, our governor general Michaelle Jean is presenting 2008 Governor General's Medal in architecture at Rideau Hall. The awards were announced back in May, but then this blog did not exist yet.

Honoured are the following * home-grown * talents:
  • Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden for Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos
  • Lang Willson with Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden for ROAR_one in Vancouver
  • Patkau Architects for Gleneagles Community Centre in West Vancouver
  • Patkau Architects with LM Architectural Group for Winnipeg Centenial Library Addition in Winnipeg
Congratulations - and what a great showing for Vancouver architects this year!