Forrest-Baker House, 1962
Forrest–Baker House, 1962-63
West Vancouver, BC
Designed by Ron Thom with Dick Mann
Thompson, Berwick, Pratt & Partners
General Contracting by Fred Hagell
Massey Medal for Architecture, 1964
Primary Building in the West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture (1945-75)
Of Heritage Value on the West Vancouver Community Heritage Register
Featured in the 2013-15 travelling exhibition Ron Thom and the Allied Arts and accompanying publication
Featured in the West Coast Modern Home Tour
Threatened with Demolition
Last update April 12, 2020
The Forrest–Baker House was designed by Ron Thom with Dick Mann, while at Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners, and completed in 1962 originally for Mr. and Mrs. Terry S. Forrest. The house is also commonly referred to as the Baker Residence, after its longest occupants and caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Archie Baker. Exhibiting his geometric prowess, as does all of Thom’s works, the Forrest–Baker House was designed to carry the undulating lines of its surrounding topography, to step down the mountain with expansive overhangs and open up towards exquisite views to the city beyond. The Forrest-Baker Residence is a stunning example of West Coast Modern architecture, exuberating the creativity and elegance of mid-century design in West Vancouver. To this end, it has been identified as a Primary Building in the West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture and was the recipient of a 1964 Massey Medal for Architecture.
The Forrest-Baker Residence is a magnum opus of West Coast Modernism, a work whose form, detail and character provide for a rich and palpable reflection of its place and of the height of mid-century architecture on the west coast. While it is recognized as a primary heritage resource in West Vancouver, it does not benefit for any legal protection. We are hopeful that a path forward can be found to retain and protect this spectacular architectural icon.
Application for Demolition
This campaign began with an application for demolition on the Forrest–Baker House received by the District of West Vancouver in November 2019. Over the course if its consideration thus far, the District has employed two 60 day temporary protection orders and given first, second, and third reading to a Heritage Designation Bylaw that would give the house official heritage status and protection from alteration. Current reports are that are local developer has agreed to purchase the property and enter into negotiations with the District of West Vancouver for a Heritage Revitalization Agreement.
Proposal Details: https://westvancouver.ca/home-building-property/planning/major-applications/forrest-residence-1143-eyremount-drive
League’s Statement on Impending Demolition
December 17, 2019
VANCOUVER: The West Coast Modern League is deeply concerned about the imminent loss of the 1962 Forrest–Baker House, designed by architects Ron Thom and Dick Mann while at Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners. Its presence and architectural legacy is of great importance to West Vancouver’s current character, and testifies to the District’s historic role as the heart of this region’s mid-century modern architecture and design.
While the residence has changed hands numerous times and undergone updates, great care has been taken to retain its unique architectural character. It exemplifies the geometric and spatial ingenuity of its architect Ron Thom, one of Canada’s most influential architects of the 20th century, and his work to define a symbiotic bond with the surrounding landscape. Among its distinguishing features are its hovering, rhythmically pitched roofline that traces the slope of the land; dramatically sweeping overhangs; and magnificent floor-to-ceiling window walls that capture the drama of the surrounding forested environment. The Forrest–Baker House is an icon of west coast design excellence. In 1964, the house was awarded a Massey Medal for Architecture, the most prestigious architectural accolade in Canada of its time. Since then, the house has highlighted a national travelling exhibition on the storied architect, and has been featured in numerous other exhibitions and publications. The house is a reflection of Canada’s mid-century, west coast cultural life, and of design principles that have permeated city-building efforts across the region ever since.
We appreciate West Vancouver Staff and Council’s employment of a Temporary Protection Order and ongoing efforts to engage with the current owner to retain this architecturally significant house. While the League is not in support of expropriation, we urge the District to continue with all reasonable steps to protect this and other masterworks of West Coast Modernism.
Steve Gairns (Chair), Adele Weder, Chelsea Louise Grant, Geoffrey Massey, Jeanette Langmann, John Patkau, Kiriko Watanabe, Wendi Campbell
Board of Directors, West Coast Modern League
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April 12, 2020: We have received reports that a local north shore developer has agreed to purchase the Forrest–Baker House and pledges to negotiate a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the District of West Vancouver for its future protection. This comes as an interesting development, that will be observed closely, and could potentially spell a very important precedent for this and other midcentury modern preservations.
April 1, 2020: Following the March 10th Public Hearing, West Vancouver Council gave second and third reading to the modified Heritage Designation Bylaw and passed the following resolution: (1) that staff be directed to continue to work with the owner of 1143 Eyremount Drive; (2) that proposed “Heritage Designation Bylaw No. 5053, 2020” only be brought forward for adoption if staff are unable to conclude an arrangement with the owner to preserve the house at 1143 Eyremount Drive.
March 10, 2020: A Public Hearing was scheduled at the District of West Vancouver for 6pm on March 10th in the Council Chamber, to consider and receive submissions on the proposed Heritage Designation Bylaw No. 5053, 2020. See Public Hearing Agenda. At a Special Council Meeting immediately following the Public Hearing, the Heritage Designation Bylaw received second and third reading as modified.
January 13, 2020: The District of West Vancouver Council unanimously passed an emergency motion, at its January 13th meeting, to give the Forrest–Baker House official heritage designation and legal protection from alterations. With First Reading of the heritage designation bylaw, another 60 day stay of demolition is enacted, in which time Council must produce a report outlining the heritage significance of the home and its compatibility with the Official Community Plan. A Public Hearing must also be held, currently scheduled for March 9, 2020. More details to come.
November 18, 2019: The District of West Vancouver has received a demolition application for the Baker Residence, a 1962 Ron Thom original. West Vancouver District Staff sought and were granted a Temporary Protection Order from the West Vancouver District Council at the Nov. 18th council meeting. This temporary protection order provides for a 60 day delay on the issuance of demolition or building permits in order for District staff to attempt further contact with the owners to explore other development options in exchange for legal protection of the existing house. At the end of this 60 day period the demolition permit must be granted. The Temporary Protection Order will terminate in the middle of January 2020.
- Statement of Significance. Donald Luxton & Associates. February 2020.
- District of West Vancouver Staff Memorandum – Statement of Significance. February 20, 2020.
- District of West Vancouver Council Report – Heritage Designation Bylaw. January 10, 2020.
- District of West Vancouver Council Report. October 24, 2019.
- District of West Vancouver Council Minutes. November 18, 2019.
- New owner pledges to save threatened Ron Thom masterpiece home, Ben Richter. April 12, 2020. North Shore News.
- West Van council teeters on saving Ron Thom house, Ben Richter. March 13, 2020. North Shore News.
- West Van may protect threatened Ron Thom masterpiece, Ben Richter. January 14, 2020. North Shore News.
- Ron Thom ‘Masterpiece of Architecture’ Faces Possible Demolition, Jessica Hardy. January 6, 2020. Montecristo Magazine.
- LETTER: Forrest-Baker house a modernist icon worth saving, WCML. December 30, 2019. North Shore News.
- Editorial: To save our heritage, we need modern tools. December 19, 2019. North Shore News.
- What West Van must do to save heritage houses, Peter Miller. December 14, 2019. The Global Canadian.
- West Van Blocks Destruction of Rare Ron Thom House, For Now, Ben Richter. November 20, 2019. North Shore News.
- The Vancouver Architect Who Made Nature His Muse, Adele Weder. September 6, 2013. The Tyee.
- A West Vancouver Tear-Down Wins it’s Buyer’s Heart, Adele Weder. April 13, 2012. The Globe and Mail.
- An Inside Tour of a Ron Thom Home. April 13, 2012. Updated April 30, 2018. The Globe and Mail.
- Forrest Residence: Statement of Significance. Donald Luxton & Associates. February 2020.
- West Vancouver Survey of Significant Architecture 1945-1975. F.G. Architecture & Planning Consultants, 1994.
- Massey Medals for Architecture 1964. November 1964. RAIC Journal.
- Robins, T., Brigette Shim, Thomas Symons, Adele Weder (2013). Ron Thom and the Allied Arts. West Vancouver Museum.
- Shadbolt, Douglas (1995). Ron Thom: The Shaping of an Architect. Douglas & McIntyre.
- Design for Living: West Coast Modern Homes Revisited (2019). West Vancouver Art Museum, District of West Vancouver.
- Weder, A., Kiriko Watanabe, Donald Luxton, Barry Downs (2012). Selwyn Pullan: Photographing Mid-Century West Coast Modernism. Douglas & McIntyre.
- Bellerby, G (2014). The West Coast Modern House: Vancouver Residential Architecture. Figure 1 Publishing.