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August 6, 1939 - October 26, 2020
Peter John Alexander Cardew was born on August 6, 1939 in Guildford, England. He grew up in the rural village of West Horsley, Surrey, England. Some of his earliest childhood memories were of World War II. His father, an officer with the Royal Air Force, died in 1941 when his Spitfire was shot down. For a time, he moved into a safer refuge in the town of Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire during the war, then went on to public schools while his mother worked in Africa. From 1958 to 1964, Cardew attended the Kingston College of Art (now Kingston University). Prior to his completion of a Diploma in Architecture in 1965, he took a year off, from 1961 to 1962, to work on an exhibition pavilion with Max Bacher an architect in Stuttgart, before moving back to London. Following work for a number of small firms after his graduation, Cardew worked as a project architect with Roman Halter & Associates in London, England until 1966, when despite the offer of partnership at a young age, he decided to emigrate to Canada as a result of meeting his future wife, Carol Ringwood, who was from British Columbia. In 1966, the couple married and settled in Vancouver. They later welcomed a daughter, Savanna, before eventually separating.
His first Canadian job was a stint on the working drawings for Arthur Erickson’s MacMillan-Bloedel Building on Georgia Street. From 1967 to 1980, Cardew worked for Rhone & Iredale Architects, becoming a partner in 1974. As Rhone & Iredale was closing in 1980, Cardew established his own practice – Peter Cardew Architects. The projects undertaken by the firm were generally of a more institutional/cultural nature where the complexities of the projects demanded more innovative and creative solutions than those associated with repetitive commercial projects. He limited the number of projects taken on by the firm at any one time in order to ensure meaningful involvement by him as principal through all phases of design and construction. Over his career, Cardew designed schools, exhibition buildings for Expo ‘86 held in Vancouver, B.C., condominiums, private homes, office buildings, libraries, art galleries, retail establishments and furniture. Some of his employees who went on to establish their own successful careers include Russell Acton, Michael Kothke, Rob Grant, David Scott, and Elizabeth Shotton.
In 1967, Cardew became a member of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. He was also active in the development of the city having twice, in 1978 and 1989, been Chairman of the City of Vancouver Urban Design panel, made up of members of related professions together with city planning officials to review all major projects in the downtown area. From 1980 – 1983, he served as a member of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia Urban Issues Committee. In 1983, he was elected Academician in the Art of Architecture to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. From 1988 – 1989, Cardew served on the Board of Directors of the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. He also served on various juries and advisory councils and served on the board of directors of the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.
Cardew taught as an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, Dalhousie University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Washington State University and lectured extensively in North and South America and Europe.
Cardew’s work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions, with perhaps one of the most well- known ones Peter Cardew, Ordinary Buildings an exhibition of his drawings first held in the Charles H. Scott Gallery at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C. and then in galleries across North America from 1996 to 2001.
Some of Cardew’s most well-known projects include the Crown Life Building (now known by its address at 1500 West Georgia), the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia, the Calgary Folk Music Festival Hall, the CN Pavilion at Expo ’86, the False Creek Townhouses, the Lignum Sawmill Offices, the Odlum Drive Live/Work Studios, Reigning Champ Stores, and the Yunesit’in First Nation (also known as Stone Band) School.
Cardew won numerous awards for his work, among them were the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal for distinguished service to Architecture in 2012 (the profession’s highest honour); the Architectural Institute of British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Medal Award of Excellence in 2005; the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for the David Wardle and Martha Sturdy House in 1999; the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in 1999; the Architectural Institute of British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s medal for the Odlum Drive Live-Work Studios in 1999; the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Governor General’s medal for the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery in 1999; and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Governor General’s medal for the False Creek Townhouses in 1982.
Cardew died on October 26, 2020 at the age of 81 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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