The Decline of West Coast Modernism

Many significant West Coast Modern homes are at risk due to rapidly increasing land values, lack of recognition, lack of maintenance and inappropriate alterations. Below are five before and after examples from West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The last selections show the deterioration of a significant modernist home due to lack of maintenance.


1. Before
W.G. Marr, Designer, 1950


Description of the home before demolition: Horizontality is the dominant design element in this single family home. A flat roof with exposed twinned roof beams adds a decorative feature to an otherwise modest facade. A small deck is cantilevered off the second floor living room. Horizontal board siding is used as the primary cladding material, broken into modular sections marked by vertical beams.
(from: 1994 West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945 - 1975)

1. After
2. Before 2060 Gisby St
Duncan McNab and Associates, Architects, 1961


Description of the home before demolition: Two storey house incorporates vertical board cladding and a low pitch side gable roof. Ribbon windows are used on the first and second floors. A distinctive breezeway and entry court is created by extending the roof beams over the carport. The site is enhanced by a rock retaining wall, and mature cedars and rhododendrons.
(from: 1994 West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945 - 1975)

2. After 2060 Gisby St.

3. Before
F.M. Polson, Architect, 1950

Description of the home before demolition: Two storey horizontal board clad structure capped with a dramatic monocline roof, and fronted by a two storey cantilevered deck. The residence is situated at the base of a hill, and retains its original landscaping, including shrubs and bushes which has now matured to provide lush surroundings. This house was published in the RAIC (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) Journal 1951. (from: 1994 West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945 - 1975)

3. After
4. Before
Arnulf H. Petzold, Architect, 1955


Description of the home before demolition: One storey vertical board clad structure, with a low pitch front gable roof, features a rectangular form with a central chimney, clerestory windows and an angled entry. The site is landscaped with a rockery feature at the entry, decorative fruit tree, spruce vine maple and many pines. (from: 1994 West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945 -1975)

4. After

5. Before
Lewis Construction Company, Designer, 1955

Description of the home before demolition: Two storey vertical board clad structure displays a rectangular form, exposed roof beams, a projecting second storey deck and ribbon windows. The site is extensively landscaped with a rock retaining wall, rockery garden with sculpted shrubs, river rock staircase, two mature cedar trees and decorative fruit trees.
(from: 1994 West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945 -1975)

5. After

Furniture can be reproduced and so can photographs, but architecture is unique and once it is lost it is gone for good.
Giovanni Brino

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Arthur Erickson & Geoffery Massey, Architects, 1966

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Heavy timbers are used to frame the form of the house, which steps down a very steep slope in a series of overlapping narrow triangles. Posts and beams are cut to the same dimensions to balance the distinction between horizontal and vertical forces. Infill panels of horizontal siding, latice and plate glass are used within the heavy grided frame, while the entrance is marked by a sloping shed roof over the carport and entry court.

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The ends of the beams are carried past the ends of the house in flying extensions that contrast the vertical lines of the natural forces.
(1994 West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945 -1975)


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Every work of art reveals its creator, an exact image and likeness of the person who made it. Carlo Mollino

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