Few Canadian architects have influenced contemporary urban design more than Mr. Richard Henriquez. Over the past 50 years, his imaginative approaches have shaped the architectural character of Vancouver and drawn worldwide attention.
Born in Jamaica, Mr. Henriquez came to Canada as a young man to study architecture at the University of Manitoba. He quickly distinguished himself, winning the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada Student Medal and the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture thesis prize. After graduation in 1964, he then continued his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where, three years later, he received a master of architecture degree specializing in urban design.
After moving to Vancouver, he launched the practice that is now Henriquez Partners Architects. He soon began a prolific evolution beyond the modernist style so prevalent in the 1960s. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is his influence on the development of Vancouverism, a distinctive form of high-density urban design that combines slim towers, lowrise buildings, parks and view corridors to create intimate, livable neighbourhoods. Vancouverism is now widely regarded as one of the reasons the city is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the world.
Vancouverism originated at a time of growing opposition to tall buildings. The turning point came in 1984 with the construction of The Sylvia, the first of four residential highrises designed by Mr. Henriquez for Vancouver’s West End. With its slim proportions and thoughtful relationship to the site, The Sylvia overcame public resistance to towers, enabling these structures to become one of the defining features of Vancouver’s urban landscape. In 1999, Canadian Architect magazine named this highrise one of the most influential Canadian buildings of the twentieth century.
The Sylvia was also an artistic breakthrough for Mr. Henriquez. He became a storyteller, combining functional forms with a more complex range of expression and meaning. An accomplished visual artist in his own right, he has continued to blur the lines between art and architecture, introducing elements of painting, sculpture, geometry and surrealism to his work. Planners and designers from all over the world now flock to Vancouver for inspiration.
Mr. Henriquez has also become one of Canada’s foremost crusaders for public architectural awareness. He has been the driving force behind the Vancouver Urbanarium Society, a platform for engaging citizens in conversations about urban development.
His achievements have been recognized with many honours, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the most prestigious award for lifetime achievement in Canadian architecture.
The University of Manitoba is proud to award a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, to Mr. Richard G. Henriquez for his outstanding contribution to the craft and culture of architecture in Canada and beyond.
Richard G. Henriquez