Westbank has built a practice around long-term commitments to artistry, sustainability and city-building. These commitments underlie an orientation towards projects like Woodwards, Vancouver House, Mirvish Village, Telus Garden and Oakridge – catalysts for larger change that go beyond the borders of the projects themselves. We are here to create. To provoke. To ignite. We are the vehicle for a new movement of cultural expression.

As the practice matures, we have become more ambitious. With every new project reflecting our commitment to the philosophy behind Gesamkunstwerk, or in our recent work the Japanese philosophy behind layering, the net effect is that our work becomes much more complex and far-reaching.

The core of Westbank’s mission is to create a body of work with a high degree of artistry that helps foster more equitable and beautiful cities. Westbank is active across Canada and in the United States, with projects including luxury residential, Five Star hotels, retail, office, rental, district energy systems, affordable housing initiatives and public art. Established in 1992, we are one of North America’s leading developers, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Seattle, Shanghai, Beijing, Taiwan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and over 25 billion dollars of projects completed or under development.

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April 09, 2014

Birth of Vancouverism: Arthur Erickson

“It is time that Vancouver started thinking about its inevitable fate: a great city of ten million people.” – Arthur Erickson, 1992 (Greater Vancouver population then, 1.5 million)

A visionary 1955 sketch, then two boldly inventive buildings by Arthur Erickson set our downtown city-building agenda for the next half century — signs of things to come.

Arthur Erickson’s Project 56 pencil sketch imagining of a future Vancouver, showing the West End re-made with soaring and twisting residential towers on the right, and vastly increased housing density on Kitsilano Point on the left, with an unrealized proposition of a new bridge to be built further west connecting UBC with the North Shore, its mountain backdrop can be seen faintly behind. Erickson’s drawing was inspired in part by Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Mile High City” and a similar unbuilt visionary scheme by Lous Kahn, but predates the more famous futurist urban propositions of the Japanese Metabolist or British Archigram groups. Amazingly, when Erickson pencilled this sketch, he only had completed two tiny wooden houses on his own.

View of the MacMillan-Bloedel Tower on West Georgia Street, by Arthur Erickson Architects (in association with Adamson Associates) showing the cast concrete ‘waffle’ elevation which slightly diminishes with each floor as it rises, increasing its perceived elegance. Not just the ‘Brutalist’ treatment of concrete, but also this building’s height and strong definition of Georgia Street challenged timid local design conventions, and it was controversial when it opened.

A sectional drawing from Arthur Erickson Architects of Robson Square, showing a “Media Centre” conference facility below (now UBC Robson Square), the roof gardens, waterfalls and elevation of the Law Courts. Erickson’s radical move was to bring nature into the heart of the city in a non-suburban manner, and to layer building uses into a complex but balanced hybrid of functions, a public building unlike any other in the world.



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