The Arthur Erickson award celebrates the work of an emerging architect or designer. This year's winner, D€™Arcy Jones, offers a vision not unlike that of the late Erickson himself.

From a one-room studio on Vancouver’s East Side, 38-year-old D’Arcy Jones has been quietly delivering a set of boldly innovative new home designs. His critical process, his ingenuity and the daring evolution of his ideas about a dwelling’s relationship with the landscape made him a natural choice for the inaugural Arthur Erickson Memorial Award.

When Erickson passed away last spring, shortly before our celebration for the 2009 Designers of the Year, we realized that commemorating his genius—and his legacy—needed to become an integral part of these awards. This new recognition celebrates an emerging designer, in honour of the man who mentored and inspired so many young designers and architects in his long history as a practising architect.

Architect D'Arcy Jones

Our judges, along with members of Erickson’s family, were unanimous in their selection of D’Arcy Jones’s four-person firm. “He injects fresh life into western house design, overcoming clichés with a strong vision,” says judge Bruce Haden. “He has a brilliant approach that recalls a pioneer attitude,” says fellow judge Jeremy Sturgess. “The projects are singularly appropriate to their sites without becoming nostalgic or pretentious.”

His portfolio isn’t expanding into high-rises and shopping malls, though. For now, he’s more than content with residential projects (few of which have had budgets surpassing $1 million). “In parallel to other projects, the little jobs coming through my office are getting smaller, or are renovations,” he notes. “I don’t consider either to be filler jobs. I enjoy renovating modern, mid-century houses, learning from the design of the masters.” Small is working for him: Jones was recently commissioned to design prefab cabins—and his Cowboy model promptly won him a Canadian Architect Award last year.

Still, within those compact mandates, this young designer (whose projects are only beginning to be realized) has lofty goals. “You know,” he says, “I think real sustainability would be to build something so beautiful people will want to hold onto it.”

D'Arcy Jones Cowboy cabin