Simon Fraser University

Mid-century/brutalist buildings

A series of low lying, linear, Brutalist structures so well integrated into their surroundings atop Burnaby Mountain that one might think they were placed there centuries ago by an alien race (or by a Hollywood set designer), Simon Fraser University is quite a sight…and quite a site!

At once ancient and futuristic, the campus plan was designed by noted architects Arthur Erickson (who envisioned it as a modern day Acropolis) and Geoffrey Massey, the unanimous winners of an architectural competition held by the provincial government, and awarded the Massey Medal for architectural excellence shortly after its completion in 1965.

Precast and poured concrete unify the structures and grounds as a whole, while each campus building has its own unique design concept… and its own architect; the iconic Academic Quadrangle by Zoltan S. Kiss; the WAC Bennett Library by Robert F. Harrison; the SFU Theatre by Duncan McNab; and the glass-covered Convocation Mall by Erickson & Massey, among others.

SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus has expanded since the 1960s adding several new buildings and renovating old ones, but the original Erickson/Massey plan is timeless and definitely a must-see for any discerning modernist, especially if you’re into brutalism.

SFU is about a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, depending on traffic. For an interactive campus map and directions when visiting, click here. 

Fun Fact: This campus has been featured in many locally-lensed films and TV shows, especially those of the science fiction variety, including Stargate SG-1, Battlestar Galactica and The X-Files.

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