VIFF Centre celebrates the 100th anniversary of architect Arthur


Known as one of Canada’s most influential architects, Arthur Erickson has shaped the look of several cities around the world. In his hometown of Vancouver, he’s left his mark with such designs as SFU’s Burnaby campus, the Waterfall Building outside Granville Island, Robson Square downtown, and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (where he went to university). During his life, he won the American Institute of Architects AIA Gold Medal—and remains the only Canadian to have done so.

To celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth (June 14), the VIFF Centre is offering special screenings and talks with Trevor Boddy: an architecture critic and historian who is guest-curating the festivities.

“Arthur Erickson’s conceptions for Robson Square, SFU, MOA, along with the houses and office buildings he designed, are more responsible for Vancouver’s visual identity than the works of any other creator,” shares Boddy in a statement. “His works and ideas inspire not just fellow designers and writers, but also the imaginations of talented filmmakers of all stripes, as will be clear in this delightful and unprecedented trio of programs.”

Here is the complete list of events.

June 14, 7pm: Intersecting Lives talk and screening

The kick-off event on Erickson’s birthday features an introduction to his upbringing, education, and early work. The film Intersection, a compelling drama about the life of an architect, will be screened; the film stars Richard Gere, who plays an architect working on scale models of Erickson’s actual work. Christine Heabler, the film’s location scout, and Nick Milkovich, an associate on the original MOA design, will join Boddy for an onstage chat. 

June 16, 3pm: Documenting the Designer talk and screening

The second program features a screening of the documentary Concrete Poetry in its Vancouver theatrical premiere. This film is considered the most complete assessment of Erickson’s work and was filmed before his dementia worsened (he died in 2009). The panel discussion features Boddy, who is joined by Erikson’s former associate Wyn Bieleska and the director of Concrete Poetry Michele Smolkin. 

June 17, 18 and 20: Concrete Poetry and Arthur Erickson’s Dyde House screening

A double bill showing Concrete Poetry and Arthur Erickson’s Dyde House, a documentary highlighting one of Erickson’s earliest works: the Dyde House in Alberta.

June 18, 8pm: The Smell of Wet Concrete talk and screening

To close out the series, Boddy chats with Geoffrey Erickson, the architect’s nephew, about his uncle’s long-lasting legacy and love of concrete. With Erickson having declared it “the marble of the 20th century,” this evening focuses on Erickson’s most notable concrete work, including the entire campus of SFU. Following the chat, VIFF will screen The Groundstar Conspiracy, a Cold War thriller filmed within the concrete walls of SFU, Tofino, and North Vancouver.

Erickson on Film

June 14 to 18

Where: VIFF Centre’s Vancity Theatre

Tickets: $10+, available here

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