The Carscadden Thrift

Thanks to Brian Wakelin, Bill Pechet, and Dean Goodman for their kind words about our work - and an extra special thank-you to Jim Nichols for penning the essay that begins the book.

Thrift Detail.JPG
Thrift Detail 3.JPG
Thift detail 4.JPG


The firm successfully works to encourage and nurture the potential opportunities for human engagement inherent in the pragmatic programs of public buildings. Meaningful social terrains are deftly and economically inserted within the original mandate of client requirements, while value is added to the defined scope by considered details that allow required building elements to perform double duty. In a clear illustration of this generosity of form, places for the public to sit and gather are often created not just with the requisite bench, but by the thoughtful shaping of the concrete groundwork associated with column bases, retaining walls, and stairs. In the Grandview Outdoor Classroom, Vancouver BC, 1999-2000, robust columns supporting the floating roof meet the earth with a swelling and stepping of their concrete base, articulating both grounded stability and sheltered seating. At the Robert Burnaby Park Washrooms, Burnaby BC, 2008, a facility embedded in the slope of a hill, an adjacent retaining wall is carved to create an informal amphitheater, a durable and encouraging location for local youth to meet. The stairs to the entry of the Winfield Arena, Lake Country BC, 2010, which face the morning sun, parking, and a drive-by drop off, slide past the handrail and double up to provide a cascading plinth of available seating for those waiting for their ride, or pausing in the sun.          
  Excerpt from Carscadden Thrift by Jim Nicholls, University of
  Washington, College of Built Environments, Department of Architecture.

Thrift Detail 5.JPG


The primary patrons of the firm’s work are not only informed architectural observers, but also an inclusive and broad survey of the general public. The idea embedded in the projects are accessible and legible, while a playful or humanizing touch is often deployed as a sophisticated strategy aimed at creating an empathetic connection between architect, artifact, and audience. As a literal case in point, the gender identification of changing room and washroom doors are imbued with wit, and informed by the authentic materiality of the project. Rather than an after‐the fact applied graphic, this essential signage is turned into inviting content and expressive, physical poetry. The board‐formed concrete wall of the Robert Burnaby Park Washrooms is articulated with inset, fossilized figures, male and female, calling out the washroom doors. At the Swalwell Park Washrooms, Lake Country BC, 2008, the door identification signs became perforated and galvanized steel screens, allowing the passage of filtered light and air, illustrating and enlivening the entry. Holes of varying sizes create the pixilated image of a man and woman, friendly sentries standing by their respective doors. The changing room entries of the Renfrew Park Community Centre, Burnaby BC, 2010, are illuminated by round, head‐sized, glowing white lights, acting as both fixture and the face of the life‐sized identifying figure painted on the concrete block wall.
   Excerpt from Carscadden Thrift by Jim Nicholls, University of Washington,
   College of Built Environments, Department of Architecture.