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Architect Barry Downs to attend West Vancouver Museum homes tour


July 8, 2016
by Hadani Ditmars

Barry Downs in front of one his houses in West Vancouver. Photo by Eve Lazarus

Barry Downs in front of one his houses in West Vancouver. Photo by Eve Lazarus

Octogenarian architect Barry Downs, a pioneer of West Coast modernism, will be a special guest on tomorrow’s 11th annual West Vancouver Museum homes tour.

The museum’s annual fundraiser is also an important showcase for the municipality’s treasure trove of mid century residences – many of which are endangered – or like Erickson’s Graham House – already demolished and replaced by much larger edifices, often at odds with the site specific, small footprint style of the era.

Dick/Smith Residence. Photo courtesy of Tom Hassan

Dick/Smith Residence. Photo courtesy of Tom Hassan

But a new civic bylaw that encourages buyers to renovate rather than replace West Vancouver’s ample stock of midcentury modernist homes is inspiring more preservationist projects.

To that end Daniel White’s three level 1961 recently renovated Ray Residence, influenced by a Japanese aesthetic, will be part of the tour.

The 1956 Switzer/Hermanville Residence by Henry A Switzer which still boasts original curved wood panelled walls and open living spaces that bring the outside in, is also on the itinerary.

A 1958 Ron Thom house on a hexagonal grid, renovated by Russell Hollingsworth with a Barry Downs designed entry garden and gateway, is another highlight.

And of course Downs himself will be giving personal tours of his 1966 Dick/Smith residence, nestled behind mature Douglas firs, that exemplifies the best of West Coast modernism.



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