[WCML/The League] The West Coast Modern League is an independent, Vancouver-based, non-profit society dedicated to celebrating, and advancing the understanding and appreciation of, architecture, urbanism, and design of the North American west coast, with a special focus on the southern coastal regions of British Columbia. We are a volunteer-based organization, lead by a Board of Directors composed of architects, curators, critics, and professionals, with a passion for west coast architecture and the allied arts.

Founded in 2013, the West Coast Modern League bears the name of West Coast Modernism (also known as West Coast Vernacular or West Coast Style), the regional adaptation of modernism that emerged in the Greater Vancouver area in the 1940s. For the better part of the past century, West Coast Modernism has played a formative role primarily in west coast domiciliary architecture, proliferating across not only the south coast, but into the interior regions of the province and further afield.

The south coast of British Columbia has been home to some of Canada’s most influential designers, pioneers in their respective disciplines and in the conception of this regional language of modernism. Among the most prominent of this vanguard is renowned artist Bertram Charles Binning, with architects Arthur Erickson, Fred Hollingsworth, Ned Pratt, and Ron Thom, loosely known as “The Vancouver School,” as well as Geoffrey Massey and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, among others. They believed in the principles of the international modern movement but yearned for an architectural expression of it that was more appropriately responsive to the domestic lifestyles, culture, rugged natural terrain, resources, and rainforest climate of Canada’s west coast. First marked by the completion of the B.C. Binning House in 1941, the principles of West Coast Modernism continue to play a prominent role in contemporary practice, with city building efforts carrying forward the traditions of the movement while adapting to modern lifestyles and the increasing pressures of development and climate change.

 

Cultural & Heritage Activities

 

The West Coast Modern League is at once both a cultural and a heritage advocacy organization, celebrating the past while looking to the future. We engage in cultural programming that advances critical discussion, exploration, and celebration of the modern architecture and design culture of Canada’s west coast, the legacy of its pioneering mid-century vanguard, the championing of its distinctive design principles, and its sustained influence on contemporary practice. We explore linkages of the design culture to locales further afield. We advocate for the select physical preservation of the West Coast Modern built environment and for projects that will help to protect the legacy of this work for the collective good of the community and its future generations. Our focus emanates from the mid-century modernist period of the Greater Vancouver region, beginning with the B.C. Binning House in 1941, with a broadened exploration of the contemporary endeavours of a diverse design community in architecture and the allied arts.

The League carries on its activities through a broad range of public programming, including salons, lectures, book launches, debates, celebrations, digital media, and the support of projects that encourage a stronger architectural culture. We engage with organizations further afield and invite visiting lecturers to the city. We also lead and support public advocacy campaigns, lend our voice to Public Hearings and Council proceedings, and engage in projects that help to educate the public on the depth of design excellence in our region, and on the significance of its endangered architecture. In doing so, we engage and partner with other organizations, like-minded societies, disciplines, governmental organizations, and homeowners, among others.

 

Purpose & Objectives

 

The West Coast Modern League works to:

  • Advance awareness and appreciation of architecture, design, and the built environment;
  • Celebrate and recognize the enduring regional legacy of architects, artists, and designers on our built environment, shared culture, and collective memory;
  • To inspire future generations to explore and carry forward the distinctive design tenets of this place;
  • Foster camaraderie and discourse among a diverse design community by providing a platform to celebrate shared history, culture, influences and to stimulate the cross-pollination of ideas

 

Established in 2013, the West Coast Modern League is a registered non-profit society in the Province of British Columbia, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. We are a volunteer-based society lead by a Board of Directors.

 

We are based on the traditional, unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

 

Board of Directors

 

Steve Gairns
Architect (Chair)

Adele Weder
Writer + Curator (Founder)

Wendi Campbell   
Chartered Professional Accountant (Treasurer)

Chelsea Louise Grant   
Architect (Secretary)

Jeanette Langmann   
Art Dealer (Vice-President)

John Patkau   
Architect

Kiriko Watanabe   
Curator

Past Directors

 

Mike Bernard (2013–2016)
Film maker

Gavin Froome (2013–2016)
Art Director + Film maker

Geoffrey Massey (2013–2020)
Architect

Cameron McLellan (2013–2015)
Artist + Heritage Advocate

Kim Smith (2013–2019)
Architect

@