626 West 51st Ave, Vancouver | Chess House
The “Chess House” was completed in 1965, a landmark year for Erickson – the same year his designed Simon Fraser University campus in Burnaby, BC opened to the public. As such, Erickson gained international acclaim in 1965, opening the gateway to a long and distinguished career.
No ordinary West Coast Modern home. The “Chess House” exemplifies spacial qualities world-renowned architect, Arthur Erickson was inspired to create after studies in Japan. Located near Langara SkyTrain Station, this 11,000 square foot pieshaped lot rests in a quiet South Cambie cul-de-sac. The low-profile, private frontyard disguises the dramatic space beyond the entrance posts. Walls of glass expand indoor living into the natural, outdoor world illuminated by lights gleaming beneath the custom-built pool. Large, open space perfect for family and entertaining. Vaulted ceilings with skylights, sunken rooms with fireplaces, and a unique atrium to welcome you. This floor plan offers the intuitive “flow” we all look for. A home with a story worth hearing. Call to learn more.
“As Vancouver boomed through the 1950s, housing developments expanded through the Oakridge area of the city. Vacant scrubland and small farms were replaced by mid-sized bungalows on suburban lots and the sprawling Oakridge Centre. A few forward-looking residents commissioned architect designed houses, and an interesting cluster of houses by some of Vancouver’s key architects of the period surrounds the cul-de-sac ending the 600 block of West 51st Avenue. Sites at the end of cul-de-sacs were often favoured for Modernist houses in suburban developments. The wedgeshaped lots had minimal front exposure, enhancing privacy to the street, and were wider at the more-private rear. Street traffic was also minimized. But even with these advantages, careful design and sensitive landscaping were needed to create suitable space, light and privacy within the often rather small sites. At 626 West 51st is Arthur Erickson’s Chess house, completed in 1965. An oddly banal two-story elevation finished in white stucco faces the street; only the Japanese-style front entrance with posts of peeled tree trunks hints at anything unusual. At the rear, though, the house opens up with huge skylights illuminating the interior and multi-level decks extending outwards across the site. High cedar fencing, bamboo and natural West Coast plantings provide screening.”
Excerpt from Heritage Vancouver Newsletter June 2001 Volume 10, Number 6
Written by: Robert Moffatt
Original Photos | Courtesy of the Erickson Family
Vancouver Life Magazine | Nov. 1967
Erickson’s Doris Day Look in Oakridge
“Here’s a home that looks like a spotless movie set – but in fact, it’s a functional framework for fun-loving family living. And throughout there’s that unmistakable Erickson touch.”
Ashley Smith & Eugen Klein | Klein Group, Royal LePage City Centre