Gordon Lee Atkins

Gordon Lee Atkins, architect (b at Calgary, Alberta 5 March 1937), was raised in Cardston, Alberta. He attended the University of Washington in Seattle (1955-60), graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1960, and won the Faculty Medal for Excellence in Design.

Gordon Lee Atkins

Gordon Lee Atkins, architect (b at Calgary, Alberta 5 March 1937), was raised in Cardston, Alberta. He attended the University of Washington in Seattle (1955-60), graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1960, and won the Faculty Medal for Excellence in Design. After brief stints in architectural offices in Seattle, Winnipeg and Calgary Atkins started his own Calgary- based firm in 1962. He quickly established himself as one of the brightest young architects in Canada with a number of award-winning and well-publicized projects. At the same time, he taught at the University of Calgary (1973) and participated in several professional and community organizations. A lifelong Mormon, Atkins has also served as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1969-72, 1992-95).

In 1967 Atkins won a Massey Medal - the first one awarded to an Alberta architect - for the Melchin Summer homes (1966) on Lake Windemere, BC. By the end of the 1960s his reputation was consolidated with a series of highly developed buildings in Calgary and the surrounding vicinity, including the Derochie Residence (1965), the Drahanchuk Studio (1967), the Mayland Heights Elementary School (1969), the redesign of Eighth Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary (1969) and the Leavitt Residence (1970). These projects demonstrated an attentiveness to site influences and an inventive use of materials. They were expressive in both plan and form, often employing dramatically sloping roofs. Atkins's work has responded particularly well to the foothills landscape in and around Calgary.

Toward the end of the 1970s a second series of projects reinforced earlier themes while introducing a new rectangularity. Notable projects from this period include the Falconridge Condominiums (1978); the Stoney Tribal Administration Building (1980), the Grande Prairie Regional College Student Housing project (1981), and the Shouldice Athletic Change Pavilion (1982). Atkins, whose approach to architecture has always been rigorous and uncompromising, belongs to a generation of prairie- born architects such as Douglas CARDINAL, Clifford WIENS and Étienne GABOURY, who established themselves at the forefront of Canadian architecture during the 1960s and 1970s.

Atkins's work has been widely published in Canada and has won numerous awards, including a 1967 Massey Medal for the Melchin Summer Houses and a 1982 Governor General's Award for the Stoney Tribal Administration Building. He received Canadian Architect awards for the Eighth Avenue Mall Design, the Stoney Tribal Administration Building and the Shouldice Athletic Change Pavilion. The Alberta Association of Architects awarded him a Practice Profile Award in 1981. In 1970 he was the first Alberta architect elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.