6/22/08

Kiss's piece of SFU


Although Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey were responsible for the overall planning and design of Simon Fraser University's campus in Burnaby, it is Zoltan Kiss's Academic Quadrangle (1964-7) building that iconically represents SFU to others. Per original campus design competition, each one of the five finalists would get to design a section of the winner's overall plan. Kiss (who came in third) chose the quadrangle section.

Kiss is one of "that generation" of Vancouver architects along with Thom, Binning, etc. Originally from Hungary via Denmark, he,too, like most of that generation worked in Thompson Berwick & Pratt before striking out on his own - a break that was directly a consequence of the SFU commission. At SFU he also designed the President's house, Shell House Residence, and the pub.

The building's setting is incredible, only in part due to how it relates to the SFU plan. Mainly it is the mountains to the north - it feels as though one could look at them for ages. Adding the austere but simple and elegant modernism of Kiss's building to the picture only reinforces this sense of time standing still. Bruno Freschi, a fellow Vancouver architect remarked on Quad's classical restrained nature saying that it would "make an elegant ruin". A compliment that would make me shatter into thousand happy pieces if only it was aimed at my work.

The setting, the plan, the massing, the landscape are all incredible.

This post is picture heavy, but I could not help myself !

(Disclaimer: Yep, all these are my own. I do not attempt to photograph professionally - for that seek out Jimmy Dow or Nic Lehoux - do not judge too harshly + you will know the building looks great if it looks semi-good in my photos!)



His memoir:
Without a Blueprint: Surviving in a Changing World (Sandor Press, 2005)

Other projects that I know of:
Zoltan S. Kiss Residence
Vancouver International Airport, 1968 (?)
Buchanan building UBC
475 West Georgia

BTW, he is also a successful ceramics artist.

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