6/19/08

The other Thom

Looking through Vancouver magazine on the way to work yesterday I found an article on Bing Thom, one of the elders of Vancouver architecture "scene", founder and principal of Bing Thom Architects(BTA) since 1980. Although looking weathered in the sailing portrait(image: Gregory Crow) of him (he sails on custom built Sonja's Spirit) in the magazine, Thom is quite energetic in person.

He is all over the news recently as a recipient of an honorary PhD degree from University of British Columbia and one - Doctor of Laws - from Simon Fraser University. Thom has also been awarded the Order of Canada, and the Golden Jubilee medal.This Canadian Architect article notes:
While international in outlook, his design approach is always closely rooted in a deep understanding of the culture and history of each project's local community.
Although some of chunks seem to be from straight-up promo material, Vancouver magazine article " The Bing Picture" by Michael Harris is quite interesting for the anecdotal biography and the quotes from the man himself:

on global vs. local living:
I can see that it was the start of the global age. People found they could make their life anywhere. But as I get older, I see that everyone still wants to know where their home is. Everyone wants a sense of where they belong. You want to know where you will make your contribution.
on Vancouver's downtown:
The tragedy here is that people in Vancouver have not figured out where we’re going. We’re drifting toward becoming a resort town—one giant Whistler. Up to 30 percent of the people with homes in the downtown core don’t actually live here. And 30,000 young people in the downtown every day are foreign students. This is the global-city problem: foreigners and visitors outnumber residents; you become a stranger in your own home.
on city's lack of vision:
You can’t just sit back and say, ‘Whatever comes, comes.’ The smart guys, even in a free market, know where they’re going. [] We don’t have any handle on what’s happening. Right now, we’re just putting our fingers in the dam. We need more than a feel-good discussion. And, for the East Side, we’ve got five years to do it.
on what his Central City project is to Surrey:
You give people hope through architecture.
on Arthur Erickson's influence:
It was a defining time, being in Erickson’s class I learned how far I could push myself.
on his power animal:
I wish I were a seagull!
Although a lot of his work is international(with works in China and Washington and - huh? - Fort Worth, TX - how did that happen?), here are some of his recent projects in Vancouver:
  1. Sunset Community Centre - completed December 2007- 3000 sqf $12.3 million project - 6810 Main St
  2. Central City - 10153 King George Hwy, Surrey
  3. Aberdeen Centre -2007 Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Certificates of Merit for Excellence in Architecture -4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
  4. Pacific Canada Pavilion at the Vancouver Aquarium - 845 Avison Way, Vancouver
here is a map (click on it to see a larger version):

Projects on the watch:
  • in Whistler - the medals plaza for the 2010 Winter Games
  • in Kelowna - Tantalus Winery, a 50,000-square-foot winery on a 48-acre property set to begin construction in the summer of 2009
  • further afield - Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's (SAIT) Trades and Technology Complex
This is definitely not the last, but is indeed the first of posts on Thom and his firm here. Watch for more.

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