Canadian Architect

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An Influential Voice

Colleagues and collaborators describe Peter Busby's unique contributions to the profession.

June 2, 2014
by Canadian Architect

An image shows the Perkins+Will San Francisco team planning the renovation of 2 Bryant Street, where they are scheduled to relocate later this year. Intended to serve as a showcase for Bay Area clients, the new office incorporates rooftop photovoltaics, abundant daylighting, and locally sourced toxin-free materials.

An image shows the Perkins+Will San Francisco team planning the renovation of 2 Bryant Street, where they are scheduled to relocate later this year. Intended to serve as a showcase for Bay Area clients, the new office incorporates rooftop photovoltaics, abundant daylighting, and locally sourced toxin-free materials.

Colleagues and collaborators describe Peter Busby’s unique contributions to the profession.

PHOTOS Perkins+Will

Larry Beasley, C.M. 

Peter Busby’s work is amazingly sophisticated–at the creative edge. His buildings and community design schemes uniquely combine an expressive beauty, a truly responsible sustainability, an elegantly respectful urbanism, and a solid business practicality. Having watched his inventiveness for many years, I have observed his struggle for what is right over what is easy; his persuasive dialogue with clients and government for better solutions; his inspiration of colleagues and how he has been inspired by them. With every commission I have seen his architecture become more and more special to its time and place and people.

Larry Beasley is former Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver.

Ray Cole, Ph. D., FRAIC, Hon. AIBC

Peter Busby–what can I say? In 1977, as one of my students at UBC: bright, brash, big hair, deeply committed to social and environmental responsibility. Today, now as my teacher: savvy, highly inuential, still well-coiffed, an international and respected leader in green building design. Watching Peter’s career unfold over the past 35-plus years since he graduated from the School of Architecture could not be more gratifying. It is not solely the success of Peter’s professional practice and extensive portfolio of distinguished, innovative and elegant work that makes him a very special person and architect. He has consistently committed time and energy in championing the case for signicantly improving the environmental performance of buildings, in a wide range of Canadian and international forums. This contribution and inuence has had an enormous impact on professional practice and architectural education. Peter has also had signicant inuence on me personally, as over the years he has remained a trusted friend, offered wise counsel and provided generous support to our School. No other Canadian architect has devoted so much time and given such professional leadership to bring environmental issues to the forefront of our profession. Peter’s entire portfolio of work and accomplishments make him Canada’s most notable leader and ambassador for the architectural profession in the area of sustainable building design practices. For me, and I am sure for many others teaching building-related environmental issues, Peter has reinforced their importance as critical design considerations and provided continuing inspiration for our students to engage and embrace sustainability imperatives in their studies.

Ray Cole is the Academic Director of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability and Professor in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia.

An image shows the Perkins+Will San Francisco team planning the renovation of 2 Bryant Street, where they are scheduled to relocate later this year. Intended to serve as a showcase for Bay Area clients, the new office incorporates rooftop photovoltaics, abundant daylighting, and locally sourced toxin-free materials.

An image shows the Perkins+Will San Francisco team planning the renovation of 2 Bryant Street, where they are scheduled to relocate later this year. Intended to serve as a showcase for Bay Area clients, the new office incorporates rooftop photovoltaics, abundant daylighting, and locally sourced toxin-free materials.

Paul Fast, P. Eng., Struct. Eng.

Whenever Peter calls about a new project, my heart skips a beat…we know we are in for more adventure and another interesting and exciting design challenge. Projects with Peter are never boring. He sets the bar high for the entire design team, is always encouraging fresh out-of-the-box thinking, never averse to accepting risk, and has the “nectar”…a sharp discerning eye for good architecture. His pioneering work on the sustainability front is equalled by few, if any, and his love for sensibly designed exposed structure has bonded us on many a design trail. Great choice for the RAIC Gold Medallist!

Paul Fast is the Founder and Managing Partner of Fast + Epp.

Blair McCarry, P.Eng., FASHRAE, Hon. AIBC

I have worked with Peter as an engineer for over 20 years. During that time, we developed parallel skills in green sustainable buildings and communities. I both love and love to hate working with Peter. I love it because we work on fascinating and challenging projects that are truly making a positive impact on the built environment. I love to hate it because Peter will always push for higher levels of project performance. I might say, “We can probably get a 50% reduction in energy.” Peter would say, “Come on, you can do better than that–let’s get to 70%.” So off I go, to gure out how we can get there–or better. Now he uses terms like net-zero energy, carbon-neutral, net-zero waste, and net- zero water. We are working on projects that incorporate these terms. It is a blast!

Blair McCarry is former Vice President and Director at Keen Engineering, former Principal at Stantec, and former Principal at Perkins+Will.

Susan Gushe, Architect AIBC, AAA, SAA, MRAIC 

In the atrium of our office hangs an elderly canoe. When viewed from above, you can appreciate the complex elegant shape formed by the bent wood planking. The brightly coloured canvas cladding can only be imagined, as it is no longer there to protect the exterior. When viewed from below, the interior is revealed. Its structure–ribs, gunwales and thwart–is a lesson in the absolute harmony of material, form, function and beauty. It is difcult to imagine another object that more aptly describes the principles that lie at the heart of Peter’s determined pursuit of design excellence. In hindsight, it was not just “another day at the ofce” when 15 years ago, on a beautiful summer afternoon, Peter negotiated the canoe off the roof of a car outside our ofce. His infectious delight in acquiring such a beautiful expression of design, encapsulating his values, is a strong memory. It comes to mind often, when I meditate on the canoe that occupies our atrium and serves as muse to our ongoing journey of excellence.

Susan Gushe is Managing Director at Perkins+Will Vancouver.

Brian MacKay-Lyons, Architect, NSAA, RCA, FRAIC, Hon. FAIA

Peter Busby is an excellent choice for the 2014 RAIC Gold Medal. He has been a respected colleague and friend for more than 20 years. We served on the National Capital Commission’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty together for many years. Quite simply, in Canada and in the US, Peter has brought the environmental sustainability movement out of the “horseless carriage” phase. In contrast with the current corporate “greenwashing” bandwagon, he gives a voice to the possibility of green design along with strong formal design skill in the modern rational tradition of his mentor Norman Foster. He sees environment as a form generator.

Brian MacKay-Lyons is Founder of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects.

Busby works on a competition charrette with collaborators.

Busby works on a competition charrette with collaborators.

Vivian Manasc, Architect, MBA, FRAIC

What’s great about working with Peter is that he’s not afraid to be challenged–and not afraid to be challenging. His clear, rigorous and authoritative manner has framed the discourse of what sustainable architecture is in Canada. Starting with the Sustainable Buildings Canada Committee and later the CaGBC, I recall Peter being willing to take unpopular positions. He chaired an acrimonious (and long- forgotten) meeting in Victoria on September 14, 2002, where a large group of passionate advocates for sustainable design gathered to decide that Canada would adopt LEED and the GBC model. The motion was carried by a single vote in majority. The following spring, we celebrated the launch of the CaGBC in Vancouver. Apart from Kevin Hydes’ signature sing-along pub gathering, the single memory that stands out from that night is of a bunch of us sitting in the Yale Hotel, drinking too much scotch, talking about philosophy…and sustainable design. Peter has the courage, chutzpah and vision that many architects aspire to–the courage to push the agenda, the chutzpah to say things that need to be said, and the vision to realize that architectural work leaves a mark beyond just the building. Congratulations, Peter–a well-deserved honour.

Vivian Manasc is Senior Principal of Manasc Isaac Architects and a Past President of the RAIC.

Douglas MacLeod, Ph.D., Architect, MRAIC 

I had the pleasure of travelling with Peter in South Korea and China in 2010. As I watched his presentations, I was struck by the thoughtfulness of his approach to architecture. As his career shows, he is carefully building a strategy and a platform for transforming the profession and the environment. Peter is a true visionary in suggesting that our buildings can actually enhance the environment, and his ideas about regenerative design are revolutionary. More than that, he has demonstrated again and again that it is possible to transform those ideas into reality, through groundbreaking buildings such as the Visitor Centre at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens and the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

Douglas MacLeod is Chair of the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

 



Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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