Photos from Yesterday's Private Tour of an Erickson Steel House: The Eppich Residence

I am currently working on a landscape architecture video series, and one of the episode's of this series will interview Cornelia Oberlander - member of the Order of Canada, and a design legend in her own right.

At nearly 90 years old, Cornelia continues to practice as a landscape architect - Which is why when I was arranging a recording session with her over the phone yesterday, she explained to me that she was too busy this week: For example, she had to be in West Vancouver in a couple hours to visit a site her and Arthur Erickson designed in 1981, whose renovation of the landscaping she is advising.  As we checked our diaries to schedule the recording session, she asked me where I lived.  I replied "West Vancouver".  I had to contain myself from yelling "YES" into the phone when she proceeded to ask me if I wanted to join her on the site visit to the Erickson home.

What an honour it was to receive a private tour of this gem of modern architecture from the two people remaining who have the most intimate knowledge of the site: Its landscape architect (Cornelia, who collaborated with Erickson on multiple projects) and its owner, Mr. Eppich.  Also present was Chris O’Donohue, owner of the Great Canadian Landscaping Company, who has been contracted to install the renovation.

Before presenting the photos, I must thank Mr. Eppich for his hospitality.  Die-hard Erickson fans should be happy to know that Mr. Eppich is well-aware of the cultural and historical significance of what he owns.  He has opened his doors to many home tours in the past, and he even invited me to return anytime I wished to take more photos.

View from the western edge of the property

Cantilevered room over Cornelia's "lake"

View of infinity edge pool from the patio

Infinity edge pool in foreground, with false infinity edge water feature in background

View from the secondary entry

View from foyer

Visitor's entry

From left to right: Mr. Eppich, myself, and Cornelia Oberlander

A day in New West

I recently spent a day in New Westminister - one of the 21 municipalities in the Metro Vancouver region.  I have driven through New West a few times, but never had the chance to explore it on foot until a few weeks ago.   "New West" piques one's curiosity with its industrial character, its positioning along the Fraser River, its abundant Victorian, Edwardian, and Craftsman style heritage buildings, and Queen's Park - which built in 1885 can be considered "heritage" by Vancouver standards.

Furthering my urge to visit New Westminister was an article I read in the Tyee, where the author suggests that New Westminister could become Vancouver's Brooklyn (New York). New West's relatively cheap prices, its convenient connection to downtown Vancouver via skytrain, and its abundance of studio space make up the reasons for the author's arguments.

Below are photos from an early fall day spent exploring New Westminister.  We began our day stumbling upon Metro Vancouver's Port Day Festival, where we enjoyed community group information booths and displays.  Next, we visited the newly re-opened New Westminister River Market (formerly the New Westminister Quay) which was recently in the local news for being named a finalist in  the Real Estate Foundation of B.C.'s 2012 Land Awards. From there we walked East along the Fraser river to the newly unveiled New Westminister Park by PWL Paternership
We then walked along Front St, then headed North along 4th St. where we saw many picturesque heritage homes.

A model of Vancouver's watersheds and stream systems at a local environmental education group's tent at the Port Day Festival

Salty, Port Metro Vancouver's mascot, and myself posing at Port Day

View of the the Sky Train Bridge, Patullo Bridge, and the Fraser River from New Westminister Pier Park

Corten steel with laser-cut lettering functions as an attractive border between the active and passive zones of the boardwalk

This tiered seating area, with what I infer as historical images from the City's archives, attracts on lookers at Pier Park

Close-up of the historical images

While walking along Pier Park, you have the Fraser River on one side, and the old buildings along Front St. to the other side

Front St.

A number of antique stores can be found along Front St., apparently there were many stores in previous years

Craftsmen style Heritage home

I'm going to call this heritage home Victorian, but I'm not entirely sure if I can rule it out as an Edwardian home

A farewell dance, upon returning to our parked car at the River Market

Photos from a trip to Powell River

The largest floating breakwater in the world!

Shoji Residence by Openspace Architecture

Indian pipe, ghost plant, or carcass plant (monotropa uniflora). 

Cooking dinner at Stillwater Bluffs

Waterfalls at Eagle River.  One of the best waterfall experiences I've had.  There is something so powerfully restorative about completely submersing oneself in a waterfall.  I have had the opportunity to do this three times in the past three summers - a mana ritual for myself, if you will.

Photos from my last weeks at UBC

I only graduated from UBC's MLA program 2 months is it strange that I have already begun looking back fondly on some of my memorable moments there?

Making the transition from being in school full time for the last 20 years to immediately beginning a full-time job in my field is perhaps a contributing factor to these episodic reminiscences. On that note, here are some of my favourite photos taken around UBC during my last few weeks there before finishing my thesis.

Most these photos are taken around Pacific Spirit Regional Park.  It was difficult to stay inside the Studio and not get out and explore this Park when the Spring weather came around.  As further incentive, I knew there wouldn't be as many future opportunities to explore this beautiful park as conveniently as I could during this time.

Salt Marsh at the Base of Trail 7

Salt Marsh at the Base of Trail 7

UBC Botanical Gardens' Magnolia trees hanging over Old Marine Dr. Way

The Studio at dusk

Community Habitat Restoration Work Party Flyer

On June 17th I will be holding a "Community Habitat Restoration Work Party" at the patch of forest behind my home.  I won't go into explaining the project in depth, but rather refer you to this video on the project, or my article related to this project, or this interview where I rant about a lot of things to do with this project.

The goal of this "community habitat restoration work party" is in large part to be an environmental education opportunity for people who live in my neighborhood. If anyone who attends learns something about the importance of urban biodiversity and ecosystem services, I will consider it a success.

Upon giving me permission to begin the restoration project a year ago, the District of West Vancouver's Park Board encouraged me to hold public events like this one.  It is in the District's best interest to have its citizens teach other citizens about the importance of maintaining ecosystem services in urban areas.  As in my case, I am clearly very excited about this rich pocket of urban biodiversity in my neighborhood, if I can share my excitement with my neighbors, perhaps they will also become excited too, and volunteer to continue looking after the patch in the future, if or when I move away from Cedardale. 

Please view the flyer below.  I will be distributing it around my neighborhood this week...if you got it in your mailbox, would you attend??

Photos from my First Trip to Hawaii

Kalama Beach

Hotel Sculpture in Waikiki

Mai Tai's in Waikiki

The Makapu‘u Point trail, within KaIwi State Scenic Shoreline

Tidal pools off of Makapu‘u Point trail

Rub it in, why don't you?

Food cart parked outside our friend's home in lovely Kailua

Shave Ice joint visited on our day spent in the North Shore

Hank's Haute Hot Dogs in Honolulu.  We ordered "The Hawaiian" and the "Fat Boy". With "Truffle Mac n Cheese" and "Awesome Duck Fat Fries" as sides. 

Boots and Kimos' famous macadamia nut pancakes

Lilikoi pancakes at Mokes Bread and Breakfeast

Jackson's Chameleon crossing the road while on the Tantalus and Round Top Scenic Drive

Visiting Innovative Multi-Family Home Designs in Victoria with LADR Landscape Architects

Earlier this year, while still in school and in the throes of my thesis,  I made a quick and easy post about a trip to Victoria. Consisting mainly of photos from this impromptu Autumn trip to the island, that post also made a promise for a future post, which would explain the reason for the trip in more detail. With school done, I am finally able to follow up on my promise.

As part of  my "Professional Practice'" class at UBC's MLA program, I had the pleasure of visiting the offices of LADR Landscape Architects. I have posted about my affinity for the city of Victoria before.  In that regard, it was a real treat being able to visit with a firm involved in some of the region's innovative multi-family home designs.

The projects we visited were innovative through their applications of LID's rather than conventional, heavily engineered storm water management systems.  In brief, the conventional way of dealing with stormwater (when it runs off hard surfaces, likes roads or roofs) involves quickly collecting the water in one place, where through underground pipes it is conveyed to the nearest waterway (a stream or a lake).  LID's (which I have blogged about before) are becoming more common in developments today, as a growing body of research is indicating they are more economically, environmentally, and even socially sustainable than conventional methods of stormwater management. 

Three of the LADR projects we visited apply LID principles in that any water that lands on the sites, is dealt with in a way that mimics the natural water cycle.  Instead of quickly being conveyed to streams or lakes via buried pipes, water flows over the landscape and is concentrated in areas that are relatively lower in elevation.  These relatively lower points where water collects are sometimes designed as rain gardens.  Rain gardens are ephemeral water features; they are filled with water during and after rain events, and when the water is gone they are planting areas or rock gardens.  The sites we visited used mainly rain gardens and swales to manage its storm water.

Rock lined swale inbetween homes at South Valley Estates to direct storm water run off into the creek.

Agricultural ditch that is now part swale, wetland, and creek at South Valley Estates

Rain gardens are a physical design based on LID principles, other LID designs* include swales, green roofs, water cisterns, or constructed wetlands.  At South Valley Estates, an existing agricultural ditch (essentially, a swale) was designed in a way to handle the increased runoff from the housing development, while also acting as a community amenity and habitat for wildlife.

For the first time, the rainy conditions were good conditions, since we could see the storm water features in action.  Above, a rain garden in Oceanwood, a single family housing development where every lot has its own rain garden.

*see chapter 6

Other Interesting Links:

ASLA Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management Case Study on South Valley Estates

LADR Project Photos for South Valley Estates

LADR Project Photos for Oceanwood

Google Map of South Valley Estates

Google Map of Oceanwood