Renamed: Vancouver's MacMillan Bloedel Building Becomes Arthur Erickson Place

23 Sep 2021 8:00 PM | William McLean (Administrator)

Designed by Arthur Erickson with Geoffrey Massey, the 27-storey MacMillan Bloedel headquarters opened at 1075 West Georgia St. in downtown Vancouver in December, 1968.

Colloquially known as The MacBlo even after its namesake tenants had long departed, the iconic cast concrete tower has been renamed Arthur Erickson Place by its current owners, in a ceremony which took place on September 23, 2021. AEF's President was among those invited to address the gathering:

Phil Boname: It is indeed a pleasure and an honour to be asked to speak this evening on behalf of the Arthur Erickson Foundation.

Vancouver, at least by its size, is the youngest city in North America. Its immaturity is notable in its difficulty, unlike more mature cities, to recognize, honour, and celebrate individuals who by virtue of their “genius-ness”, have seen their homes, offices, and the like converted to museums, shrines, gardens, all of great public importance. Tonight, we are witnesses to a monumental exception—the honouring of not only Canada’s most renowned architect but also one of his most iconic works.

We are indebted to the new owners of 1075 West Georgia, Crestpoint Real Estate Investments, KingSett Capital, and Reliance Properties, for recognizing the indisputable “genius-ness” of Arthur Erickson and one of his most valued accomplishments.

Speaking of 1075 West Georgia, in the early 1980s, my offices were on the 14th floor of the building directly across Georgia Street—directly facing this extraordinary edifice. I was virtually in the “royal box” with my exterior views being dominated by this extraordinary concrete tower with constantly changing theatrical sets—a play of light and shadows—a truly “moveable feast”. The view of this outstanding tower with each of its square stages (precipitated by deeply recessed windows) resulted in a constantly changing “geometric symphony”. 

When we are asked—will we see the likes of this again—we are reminded of the words of the medieval French poet, François Villon—
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?” Well, I am an optimist—and I believe that Vancouver will continue, thanks to Arthur’s important legacies, to yield artistic “snowflakes” of outstanding building design in an ever improving urban design context. Arthur’s aesthetic influences resonate to this day, and as a consequence, we are a richer society.

It is quite natural that in thinking of Arthur Erickson, we are immersed in his extensive portfolio of over 700 commissions. We often do this at the expense of forgetting who Arthur was and what an outstanding individual he represented. For those of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with Arthur, it is also appropriate to remember him for who he was—a man of great intellect; possessed with an enormous range of talents; imbued with transformational influences; a great mentor but most importantly a man who was truly inspirational. His mentorship knew no boundaries and in doing so, he exhibited interminable patience. He had a marvelous sense of humour and lived life to its fullest and with a unique passion and grace. In his time, Arthur was by far, the most transcendentalist architect existent … He more than anyone else celebrated humanism and the influence of nature in his extensive canon of work. His inspirations continue to be exercised by many of his disciples many of whom are present with us this evening.

On behalf of the Arthur Erickson Foundation, its Directors, Patrons, and members, and in particular, its Stewardship Council, led by its Chair, Phyllis Lambert, we commend the new owners of 1075 West Georgia in renaming this truly outstanding edifice as Arthur Erickson Place. We also thank them for their undertaking to initiate a comprehensive restoration of this complex, a truly valued contribution to this part of Vancouver’s downtown. Our thanks to the owners and the Erickson Family for organizing this very special celebration of a great building and its outstanding composer.