Gregory Henriquez

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Gregory Henriquez
Born 1963 (1963)
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Carleton University
Occupation Architect
Awards Governor General's Medal
Practice Henriquez Partners Architects
Buildings Lore Krill Housing Co-op
Projects Woodward's Redevelopment

Gregory Henriquez is a Canadian architect, best known for the design of complex community-based mixed-use, office, condominium, retail, institutional and social housing projects in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. He is the managing partner of Henriquez Partners Architects and has designed multiple award-winning projects throughout the region.


Gregory Henriquez was born in 1963 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Carleton University in 1987. In 1988 he attended the Master of Architecture Program in History and Theory at McGill University, studying under Alberto Pérez-Gómez, whose ethical approach to architecture had a creative influence on Henriquez.[1] In 1989, he joined his father Richard Henriquez' practice, Henriquez and Partners Architects, as an associate and became a partner of the firm in 1995. He taught at the University of British Columbia's School of Architecture in 1990 and 1993 and has served as a guest critic in various university architecture schools. His projects have won numerous design awards, including BC Lieutenant Governor's Medals in Architecture for Bruce Eriksen Place in 2000[2] and Coal Harbour Community Centre in 2001,[3] and a Governor General's Medal in Architecture for the Lore Krill Housing Co-operative in 2004.[4] In 2007, Henriquez was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 2011, he was awarded the Design Exchange Gold Medal and the AIBC Special Jury Award for the Woodward's Building redevelopment.[5]


Henriquez’ book Towards an Ethical Architecture (2006) discusses the lead role that architects can have in society and the place of ethics, activism and critical commentary within contemporary practice.[6] In the book, Henriquez states that he grapples with its significant themes in his practice: overcoming the collective amnesia of architecture’s ethical dimension, trusting one’s own experiences and exploring a sense of authentic expression beyond conventional style to ultimately nurture the growth of an inclusive city.[6]

Poetic expression of social justice

Called a “pragmatic utopian,” Henriquez understands both the aesthetic-practical and deeply moral-social dimensions of architecture and strives to integrate them in built space.[1] Through his practice, Henriquez has modeled a leadership role for the architect in the “profane” world of developers, non-profits, municipal governments and politics[7] while resisting societal pressures for the profession to serve as an instrument of private interest.

Henriquez has designed several social housing projects including Bruce Eriksen Place and Lore Krill Co-op prior to the mixed-use, mixed-income Woodward’s redevelopment, the centerpiece of a major urban renewal scheme.[8][9] Downtown Eastside’s collective fear of gentrification[9] had become concentrated on the Woodward’s site, so the project team emphasised public involvement in the design process, community needs, large-scale diversification of tenants and residents and economic revitalization.[10]

Trusting embodied experience

Woodwards development W43 tower.

Henriquez draws inspiration from residents' personal stories. He applies Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of "corporeity" to create architecture that considers the human body in connection to the physical environment.[11]

This is evidenced in his recent proposal for the rapid erection of temporary modular housing communities called Stop Gap Housing. While modular and social housing projects are often large-scale and impersonal, Henriquez designed Stop Gap based on the human scale of the individual. Each Stop Gap unit includes its own bathroom and opens directly to the outdoors under a wood overhang. Eight to 14 units form a dormitory, with dormitories stacked two storeys high. A covered central patio, second storey meeting room, site manager’s office and an entrance that accommodates a meal-delivery van anchor a cluster of dormitories to create a small community.[12]

Symbolic references to the body pervade Henriquez’ work. The central stair in the Woodward’s atrium is a symbol of the site’s rebirth, emerging from a shallow pool like a giant umbilical cord.[13] Henriquez took inspiration for the inverted outdoor amphitheatre at Coal Harbour Community Centre from the rounded belly of his pregnant wife.[14]

Authentic expression above conventional style

In society’s absence of awareness and belief in a cosmological order, Henriquez glimpses residues of the former order still lingering, accompanied by a longing for the orientation that would allow people to feel at home in the world.[7]

For Henriquez, the architecture of the Woodward’s redevelopment is not about what it looks like; instead, the social ideas and urban issues were of primary concern in the design process.[9] The building includes a 30’ x 60’ mural depicting the 1971 Gastown Riots by artist Stan Douglas, and display cases for sharing stories of both the neighbourhood and the Woodward's department store.[15] The shift in focus of Henriquez' practice towards the social occurred in the design of Bruce Eriksen Place, in which the provision of housing was accompanied by a societal and community-based approach to issues.[16] Bruce Eriksen Place provides 35 self-contained units for low-income residents of the Downtown Eastside.[17]

Inclusive city

Representing a combined effort by the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia, residents, activists and developers to heal a neighbourhood, the regeneration of the Woodward’s site was achieved through new economic partnerships between these groups in a mixed inclusive building model.[18] Developers were permitted more height and density which allowed them to deliver more amenities which then subsidized social housing, community benefits and cultural facilities. A political process embraced by a planning process and supported by the real estate community sustained the necessary political leadership.[15] Henriquez believes the key to affordable housing and ending homelessness is in hybrid projects where market, rental and affordable housing are merged into the normal fabric of the city.

Woodward’s has gained global attention as a symbol of diversity and inclusion in urban renewal, giving rise to three books, a doctoral thesis and numerous newspaper and periodic articles.[19] Through Woodward’s, Henriquez presents a new model of connected urbanity where everyone shares a common ground, co-existing on all social and economic planes while at the same time having their own defined spaces to inhabit.[15][20] Building on a common human desire not for money but for a feeling of connection and community,[18] Henriquez expressed a dream that

all neighbourhoods in Vancouver include a broad section of socio-economic groups housed in beautiful buildings that suit their needs. The Woodward’s redevelopment is a step toward this dream. This vision is of a truly ‘inclusive city.’ In this future city, the most disadvantaged are taken care of and housed beside the rest of us.[21]

Notable projects

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Robert Enright, "The Practical Utopian: The Architecture of Gregory Henriquez". Border Crossings magazine, issue 100, November 2006. p.56 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "enright56" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Architectural Institute of British Columbia news release
  3. Canadian Architect article
  4. Royal Architectural Institute of Canada 2007 Fellows
  5. Royal Architectural Institute of Canada 2007 Annual Report
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ian Chodikoff, "An Ethical Plan", Canadian Architect, February 2007. p.38 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "chod38" defined multiple times with different content
  7. 7.0 7.1 Enright, "The Practical Utopian", p.57
  8. Brian Martin, "Vancouver’s Changing Face", Journal of Commerce, May 2, 2007.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Helena Grdadolnik, "Woodward’s Takes Shape", The Tyee, March 30, 2006
  10. Kelly Deck, "Woodward's Tests an Architect's Passion: Gregory Henriquez Juggles Diversity, Density and Drama as Major Project Nears Completion." Globe and Mail, Vancouver, 20 Mar, 2009: S6.
  11. Enright, "The Practical Utopian", p.58
  12. Monte Paulsen, 'Stop Gap Housing’ Idea Could Make a Big Dent in Homelessness, The Tyee, December 19, 2008
  13. Enright, "The Practical Utopian", p.62
  14. Enright, "The Practical Utopian", p.61
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Chodikoff, "An Ethical Plan", p.40
  16. Chodikoff, "An Ethical Plan", p.39
  17. Matuk, "Urban Housing Street Poetry: Housing for Low-Income Residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Adopts a Poetic Approach to Public Art", Canadian Architect, August 1999, p22-3.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Charles Montgomery, "Sad City", Vancouver Magazine, September 2008, p.96
  19. City of Vancouver, Vancouver Green Capital: Woodward’s
  20. Enright, "The Practical Utopian", pp.60-61
  21. Stueck, "BC Architect Building Toward a Solution for Everyone", n.p.

External links