The Globe and Mail reports on the scheduled demise of a truly iconic house located in Vancouver’s university neighbourhood, the University Endowment Lands east of the University of British Columbia. The Friedman house was designed and built by Frederic Lasserre who was originally from Switzerland and a University of Toronto graduate. Lasserre worked in London for the famous TECTON architecture group and taught at McGill before becoming the first head of the new Department of Architecture at the University of British Columbia in 1946.
The photo above is of Fred Lasserre in front of the Lasserre Building at the University of British Columbia. This is where the Architecture, Planning and Fine Arts Schools are located at the University. The UBC Architecture school was definitely modernist, and influenced by other emerging architects such as Ned Pratt and Bob Berwick, forerunners of the “West Coast Style”.
The house was built in 1953 for Dr. Sydney Friedman and his wife Constance, two of the early members of the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. The garden of the house was planted by landscape architecture icon Cornelia Oberlander, in classic west coast style. Dr. Friedman recently spent nearly $300,0000 on restorations to a house that he dearly loved, which still has its original furnishings from the 1950’s as can be seen in the photos. I have visited it and it is truly a unique and extraordinary house and setting.
Dr. Friedman passed away last year at the age of 94. He and his wife created a trust to provide for students attending the University of British Columbia. Because of the house’s location in the University Endowment Lands, Dr. Friedman could not get a heritage designation for the house because it is not located in the City of Vancouver. The members of the trust have deemed that the house needs to be for sale and it is on the market in the four million dollar range. Bids close very soon, and we will be losing an important classic modernist house, garden and furnishings that anywhere else would be cherished as a very important architectural gem. It is hoped that someone that understands the significance of the house steps forward to purchase it. Years from now we will mourn that this modernist gem was not kept and instead becomes another residence destined for the landfill in the relentless quest for new, larger single family homes. This residence has a remarkable tie to to our own architectural and planning history.