Richard George Henriquez
Richard George Henriquez, architect and urban designer based in Vancouver (b at Annotto Bay, Jamaica 5 February 1941); graduated from the University of Manitoba (1964), with an M Arch in urban design from MIT (1967). After working as the project architect on the Sedgewick Library (1968) for Rhone and Iredale, he went into partnership with Robert Todd (Henriquez and Todd, 1969), producing the typologically innovative Gaslight Square (1973). He established his own practice in 1977 (now known as Henriquez Partners Architects, Urban Designers) producing a series of formally expressive projects through the 1970s - Firehall #22 (1977), False Creek Housing Co-op (1978) and Maple Ridge City Hall (1980) - before winning his first Governor General's Award with the Sinclair Centre (designed 1981, built 1981-85), a major renovation of a city block that included the old Vancouver post office, where the buildings connected by converting the interstitial space into a new atrium.
About this time, Henriquez became interested in ideas of history and memory which have permeated his work ever since, saying "the issue is continuity between the past, the future and the present, and making people aware of their place in time and space." Using a series of idiosyncratic, selectively connected or even fictional histories, Henriquez constructs specific formal characteristics for individual projects, producing a series of striking buildings that transcend their often questionable, even annoying, but always poetic basis. These include the Coquitlam Firehall (1985), an office building project for the University Club site (1988), the Environmental Sciences building at Trent University (1988) and the Capilano College Library (1990).
Amongst his most whimsical works are a fishboat converted into a writers' studio for the Leighton Artists' Colony at Banff (1983) and his own residence, a traditional Vancouver Arts and Crafts house raised up on giant screw columns (1987).
Perhaps even more significant are a series of striking apartment towers in Vancouver's West End, including the Sylvia (1984), the Eugenia (1987) and the Presidio (1989), in which he demonstrates the rare ability to make serious architecture within a crass commercial context, an ever more important talent in an era of shrinking public commissions. Two of these, the Sylvia and Eugenia, form a wonderful urban design ensemble visible from a distance on the waterfront at the entrance to Stanley Park.
Henriquez's work was celebrated in 1994 at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the CANADIAN CENTRE FOR ARCHITECTURE in a very personal exhibition of his own construction titled Memory Theatre, accompanied by a fine catalogue. Now at the peak of his career, Henriquez is one of Canada's most imaginative if controversial architects, having produced a provocative series of projects that will continue to stimulate discussion.