Architects Geoffrey Massey, left, and Arthur Erickson at Simon Fraser University's Burnaby campus. The duo designed the campus in 1963 in an open competition, beating 70 other submissions. Photo courtesy Eliza Massey.

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Remembering SFU architect Geoffrey Massey (1924-2020)

December 02, 2020
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It is with sadness that SFU shares news of the passing of architect Geoffrey Massey, whose vision helped give life to our iconic Burnaby campus. He was 96.

Massey, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from SFU in 2016, was born in England in 1924 and moved to British Columbia in 1952 after serving in the Canadian army and completing his masters of architecture from Harvard University.

In 1963, with friend and business partner Arthur Erickson, Massey submitted the winning design for a new university atop Burnaby Mountain. Their strikingly futuristic design was chosen from 71 submissions in the juried competition.

“I’m greatly saddened by news of Geoffrey Massey’s passing,” said SFU President Joy Johnson. “Among the giants of West Coast modernism, Massey and Arthur Erickson’s visionary design for Burnaby campus shaped SFU’s educational philosophy by tearing down walls between faculties, removing silos and creating common areas where disciplines merge and ideas flourish.”

The Massey-Erickson design attracted international acclaim. A video of the two architects discussing the design process and their vision for the university can be found here.

“The jury recognized that our plan was superior to anything else that was being submitted,” Massey told the SFU Retirees Association in 2006. “(They felt) we should be the master planners for the university. We’d be the architects for part of it and supervise the design of the other four markets and make sure everything was related.”

An accomplished architect, Massey’s contributions can be found across the Lower Mainland, including the MacMillan Bloedel building. In the early 1970s, he was a Vancouver city councilor and served as an advisor to the city planning commission. He is survived by his four children.