Daniel Evan White at MOV

“I had the impression of being in the presence of a private man, a man who had a Buddha-like quality and who made a house speak the way a Dylan Thomas poem makes a grown man weep or a Lawren Harris clean line painting evokes the grandeur of Canada.” – Bruce Fraser, in his 2012 eulogy to Daniel Evan White

Daniel Evan White's Lunn II Residence
[Daniel Evan White’s Lunn II Residence]

Chances are you’ve heard of Arthur Erickson, and perhaps of Geoff Massey. But did you know that their first ever full-time employee was a man named Daniel Evan White?

Daniel Evan White's Smith Residence, West Vancouver, 1983
[Daniel Evan White’s Smith Residence, West Vancouver, 1983]

Daniel Evan White knew exactly how to play with houses. The modest Vancouver architect drove innovation along the West coast from 1960 to 2012, creating homes that his clients claim were life changing.

Daniel Evan White's McIlveen Floating Home, Ladner, 1990
[Daniel Evan White’s McIlveen Floating Home, Ladner, 1990]

This morning, we were led on a curated tour of the exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver by two of White’s former employees, Greg Johnson and Martin Lewis. We learned that almost all of his former work studios were underground, whether former horse stables or old homes that were falling apart. One of his many studios included a home at the end of Alberni Street in the West End.

Daniel Evan White's Máté House
[Daniel Evan White’s Máté House]

Play House ventures through Daniel Evan White’s mind, hands, and eyes to explore the creative process that transforms the dream home from desire into reality. The exhibition includes stories from clients and contractors, a replica of the Máté House built to 1:4 scale, projections, smaller models, 3D computer models, and an area where visitors can get their hands on some of Dan’s favourite geometric shapes. The Máté is one of his iconic designs.

Daniel Evan White's Connell Cabin, Galiano Island, 1973
[Daniel Evan White’s Connell Cabin, Galiano Island, 1973]

White was very good at integrating his housing projects into the surrounding landscape, creating spaces that play on light and form. He actually built a landscape each time he designed a home.

Daniel Evan White at MOV

The exhibition refreshes our ideas of the typical house and its functions, with each featured project becoming a commentary on contemporary culture, innovation, risk, and the idea of play. Through this and other recent exhibits, the Museum of Vancouver aims to introduce Vancouverites to its local talent pool. I found the preview a fascinating look at the little-known architect.

Daniel Evan White's favourite shape
[A space to explore Daniel Evan White’s favourite shapes]

And it’s no wonder: Dan White quietly created a remarkable amount (over 100!) of residential homes over his 40-year career span with little self-promotion. He’s claimed to have once stated that the reason he became an architect was because ‘he could not paint like those he admired’; arguably his homes became his works of art.

The exhibit opens on Thursday, October 17 and continues through Sunday, March 23, 2014.

Play House: The Architecture of Daniel Evan White
Dates: October 17 through March 23, 2014
Opening Reception: Wednesday, October 16, 7 pm
Tickets: $15, available online in limited quantity; MOV members FREE

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