James Aaron Volpé Bligh
Where were you born?
Where did you go to school? Why?
Like many architects, I wanted to design buildings from a young age. In typical high school fashion, I did zero research on my dream career and applied for structural engineering at the University of Waterloo. Five years later I had the degree but I was not designing buildings in the capacity that I had imagined. I spent a year at Emily Carr working on my design skills in a bid to get into a Masters of Architecture program, and the next year I started at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.
As a B.C. native, it was always my desire to go to school and live on the West Coast. I went to Waterloo as it was the best institution in the country for engineering, and I went to the Daniels faculty as they were the only architecture school willing to take a chance on a very left-brained engineering student. It took me ten years out of the province before I got to go home. Now I cherish the city more than ever.
What class in school has proven to be the least useful?
Differential Equations V.
What’s your most prized article of black clothing?
My black-on-black Chuck Taylors.
What is the best building of all time?
I have a soft spot for the Museum of Anthropology by Arthur Erickson, however I would have to say perhaps the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí, the Church of the Light by Tadao Ando, the Barcelona Pavilion by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, or the Säynätsalo Town Hall by Alvar Aalto.
What are some of your favourite micro-breweries/food-trucks in Vancouver?
The Alibi Room can be found in a 100-year-old heavy timber heritage building by Port Metro Vancouver; when the trains go by you can sense the bottles behind the bar shaking at the proximity of the massive locomotive engines. Further, they have an unparalleled number of taps.
What do you never leave home without?
My wood glasses.
Your Great Escape would be to?
Finland or Japan; I have a very long list of architecture to see in both countries. After that, the lightning fields and James Turrel’s work in the New Mexico Desert.
If you could only play three albums in the studio, what would they be?
Theme to Homeworld 2 (an old computer game made by some locals), Delta Waves, and the Google Play Music soundtrack “Wobblin’ Dubstep”.
What single piece of technology makes your life easier?
It took a long time to get used to, but having a WACOM Tablet has been an irreplaceable tool when I have been doing complex graphic design.
What magazine do you look for when you are stuck in a waiting room?
Detail and Gray.
What word do you have trouble saying?
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
Wake up late, make coffee with my chemex, play one (or two) rounds of Dota 2, get some design work or writing done, and then date night with my wife J
What have you been up to lately?
I was recently on the Jury for the AIBC Architectural Awards, I am writing for Vancouver is Awesome as their local architecture & urbanism rep, and I am helping my parents renovate their condo to recapture some of that 1950’s modernist magic from the old bungalow they used to live in.