The Architect as Artist

The Vancouver Sun
March 7, 2014

David Stouck is an award-winning biographer. His latest book, Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life has been nominated for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize, which will be announced March 20. Here, he describes the process of researching and writing about one of Canada’s finest and most famous architects.

Q: As a biographer of Canadian novelists, how did you come to write about an architect?

A: The idea was suggested by one of Erickson’s longtime friends, Mary Buckerfield White. I had written a biography about her aunt, Ethel Wilson. At first I was skeptical, because I did not know the technical language of architecture, but I was approaching retirement from Simon Fraser University and being told I should have a project, so I let the idea simmer for a time. A year later I wrote to Erickson. He invited me over for a talk, and shortly afterwards he let me know that he would co-operate.

Q: That must have been a steep learning curve for you. How did you become conversant in a field that in addition to the history of architecture involves so many other aspects such as design, engineering, business?

A: That is an important question. Certainly one critic of the biography feels I was over my head, but my answer is to say that this is a biography, not a book about design blueprints, business contracts and engineering. Instead this is the story of an architect also regarded as an artist and philosopher, and in that respect a subject similar to what I had been writing about in my previous books.

Q: Erickson was born in Vancouver, a city smaller than Winnipeg in 1924. What were the influences on him growing up here at that time? Read More…

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