Barry Vance Downs | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Barry Vance Downs

Barry Vance Downs, CM, architect (born 19 June 1930 in Vancouver, BC; died 19 July 2022). Downs has been recognized for his contributions to the West Coast Modernist architectural style (see Architecture). In 2014, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Exterior of the Vancouver Library Square, c. 2004. Designed by Moshe Safdie & Associates and Downs/Archambault.

Education and Early Career

After graduating in architecture from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1954, Downs worked for Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners in Vancouver before joining architect Fred Thornton Hollingsworth in partnership from 1963 to 1967. After two years of independent practice, he formed Downs/Archambault Architects with Richard B. Archambault in 1969.

Downs/Archambault Architects

The work of Downs/Archambault Architects include the North Vancouver Civic Centre (1974) and Britannia Community Services Centre (1975) in Vancouver. Other projects include the Lester Pearson College of the Pacific in Pedder Bay, Vancouver Island (in collaboration with Ronald James Thom, 1977); high-density neighbourhoods on or adjacent to the Expo lands in Vancouver; the Langley campus of Kwantlen College in Langley; and the Campbell River Museum in Campbell River. Downs/Archambault were also associated with Moshe Safdie in carrying out Vancouver's Library Square (1995). One continuing concern of the firm has been the creation of richness of place in small scale neighbourhoods, gardens and parks. (See also Architecture).

Downs was a leading advocate of the low-key, mostly undecorated, but carefully detailed work, highly sensitive to site and context, that has been characteristic of the Pacific Northwest. The materials and colours were simple and unadorned, and the buildings informally organized with an easy and natural flow of space. After a passing flirtation with post-modern historicism, the firm's institutional work revisited these principles, continuing and building on a strong regional tradition.

Honours and Awards

Further Reading