Downtown Vancouver office tower renamed after its architect, Arthur Erickson

Sep 23 2021, 2:15 pm

Considered a rare honour in the architectural world, the prominent office tower at the northeast corner of West Georgia Street and Thurlow Street in downtown Vancouver is now named after its designer.

No longer the MacMillan Bloedel Building, the office tower at 1075 West Georgia Street is officially named and branded as Arthur Erickson Place, after the internationally recognized, Vancouver-born architect.

“It is time to give this powerful, monolithic office building its due place on Vancouver’s skyline by branding it after Arthur Erickson in honour of his excellence,” said Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties, in a statement.

“With its heritage distinction, central downtown location, and strong visual identity, Arthur Erickson Place will continue to be the address with cachet.”

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

The 27-storey office tower contains 363,000 sq ft of total floor area, and shortly after its completion in 1969, it won a number of accolades, including BOMA’s Building of the Year (1969), the Massey Medal for Architecture (1970), Design Canada’s Concrete Award Certificate of Merit (1971), and a feature on the front cover of Time magazine.

As a fine example of the brutalist architecture style, it gained the City of Vancouver’s Class A heritage classification in 1993 and was added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 2008.

It takes on a stark appearance from its construction technique of cast-in-place concrete, tapered walls, and deeply recessed windows. A sizeable public plaza with a water feature spans the building’s length along West Georgia Street.

“It is rare for an architect to be honoured in this way, and I know that Arthur would be very proud to have the building carry his name, as it encapsulates all he strove to achieve architecturally,” said Erickson’s nephew, Christopher Erickson.

“The building’s classic beauty and clarity of structure expresses the ruggedness of our land and majesty of our forests with a powerful cadence that tapers into infinity as it rises from its roots.”

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

The tower was the longtime headquarters of MacMillan Bloedel, Canada’s largest forestry company, until its 1999 acquisition by US firm Weyerhaeuser. Over the years, the tower has also been featured in numerous Hollywood television and film productions, such as The X-FilesX-Men: The Last Stand, The Man in the High CastleTron: Legacy, Deadpool, Continuum, and Arrow.

In 2019, a partnership comprised of Reliance Properties, KingSett Capital, and Crestpoint Real Estate Investments acquired the property.  They have been making plans to reinvest in it to reestablish it as a high-calibre corporate office location.

Relatively recent upgrades to the building have already elevated the 53-year-old building to a LEED Platinum green building certification and a Wired Score Platinum digital connectivity certification.

The ownership group also recently submitted a rezoning application to redevelop Arthur Erickson Place’s parkade structure on the Dunsmuir Street side of the property. They are proposing to turn the narrow parkade site into a 47-storey tower with nearly 500 rental homes.

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

1075 west georgia street arthur erickson place macmillan bloedel building

The MacMillan Bloedel Building at 1075 West Georgia Street in Vancouver is now renamed Arthur Erickson Place. (Reliance Properties)

Within Metro Vancouver, Erickson is known for designing Robson Square and Vancouver Law Courts, Vancouver Art Gallery’s use of the old courthouse building, Simon Fraser University’s campus at Burnaby Mountain, and UBC Museum of Anthropology.

Erickson also designed the nearby Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver.  The building, completed in 2016, is the last building to carry the architect’s direct influence.

In the years prior to his death in 2009, at age 84, he envisioned a tower design reaching 800-ft tall, spanning an entire city block on the eastern side of the downtown peninsula, with a titanium clamshell theatre at the base and an intricate system of steel cable at an angle from street level to tower rooftop to make it look like a harp. The concept for Metro Vancouver’s tallest building in downtown was not realized posthumously.

To celebrate the MacMillan Bloedel Building’s renaming and Erickson’s architectural legacy, the ownership group is staging a free 3D projection lighting installation on the tower’s lower floors on the West Georgia Street side. “Erickson Revealed” will be held from Thursday, September 23 to Wednesday, September 29, 2021 — a 10-minute show that will loop from 8:30 pm to 10 pm each night.

vancouver office lights

Artistic rendering of the “Erickson Revealed” 3D projecting lighting installation in September 2021 at Arthur Erickson Place. (Go2 Productions)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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