hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To the North, But Not For Awhile

We drove up to Simon Fraser University in the Greater Vancouver District (specifically, Burnaby) this weekend to see what it looked like.  It's another Arthur Erickson (architect) project and a very interesting place.  It's a city on a hill (literally), as every university should be but seldom is.  You drive up a long hill through a lovely wooded park and there it is, right at the top.

The first view of it is particularly beautiful as it spreads before you.  It is not, like a cathedral, high so much as it is a spreading edifice.  Great horizontal planes of building open before you, layering with air spaces between that seem quite magical.  But then, when you drive through that section and look at it from the back, it seems more like a massive institution, almost prison-like, with the layers places where people at the top can give orders to the people on the next level down.  Very surprising.

Concrete is the building material, dark grey concrete.  There are many vistas with broad, very broad ranges of stairways that look like something out of a Alfred Hitchcock movie: stairs that people are running across, looking back over their shoulder because someone is chasing them, coming out of the dark that is behind them and just around the corner, bad things, bad events.  The layering of the building, the great widths of steps, the darkness of the concrete all leads to a feeling of being enclosed in a vast and potentially dangerous structure.  It didn't help that the clouds rolled in shortly after we got there making the sky about as grey as the concrete.

Because it was a holiday weekend and summer, it was virtually deserted.  I imagine it might look very different with a big student body roaming around, but it still might have the look of someplace where Mussolini might have gathered his minions to speak down to them.  Not at all what I expected, and I suppose that Mr. Erickson might have had a different image in mind, although the Bennett Library is described as 'Brutalist Architecture' and similar to the FBI building.  The University certainly got its moneys worth for impact, anyway.

So that's what happens when you leave Point Roberts.  But we are not going to be leaving Point Roberts if we can possibly help it for the next month as the County has chosen the highest traffic month of the year to repave the main road into the Point.  Combine closing one lane--leaving us with only one in, one out, and thus no special access out for the Nexus lane--with the ordinary border situation and we are mighty fearful of what lies before us.  But going North is not a choice to be lightly made.