Simpson, Douglas Colborne

SIMPSON, Douglas Colborne (1916-1967), a native of Winnipeg, Man., was born on 18 May 1916 and graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in 1938. He was employed as assistant at several firms in Winnipeg in 1938-39, including Northwood & Chivers, A.E. Cubbidge, and for Green, Blankstein, Russell & Ham. He moved to Ottawa and worked for the R.C.A.F. Dept. of Works and Buildings (in 1940-41), then took a position in the office of the Chief Architects of the Dept. of Public Works (in 1941-42), and later joined the Royal Canadian Navy. He assisted the federal Dept. of Reconstruction with the development of a prefabricated panel system of building construction, and was one of the first staff members of the Division of Building Research at the National Research Council who helped plan the nuclear research facilities in Ottawa in 1946. In 1945 he was the only Canadian architect among 914 entrants to win a prize for his unique design of a private residence submitted in the American competition sponsored by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. (Progressive Architecture [New York], xxvi, May 1945, 53-4, 84, illus.)

He collaborated with J.S. Lefort on the design of new buildings on the campus of the University of Ottawa in 1946-47 and moved to Vancouver in late 1947 to take up the position of chief architect in the regional office of the Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corp. The following year he designed an innovative 'bi-nuclear' house for his own family on Queensland Road on the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver (C.H.G., xxvi, Dec. 1949, 26-8, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xxvii, Dec. 1950, 404-05, illus.; R.W. Liscombe, The New Spirit: Modern Architecture in Vancouver, 1997, 134-5, illus.). In 1949 he formed a partnership with H.N. Semmens(see list of works under Semmens & Simpson). Their practise was dissolved in 1957 when Simpson moved to Hawaii. He died in Honolulu on 4 November 1967 (death notice Vancouver Sun, 10 Nov. 1967, 43; inf. Architectural Inst. Of British Columbia; Ontario Assoc. of Architects). A brief biography of Simpson can be found in J. Thorsteinson & B. Smith, Green Blankstein Russell Associates: An Architectural Legacy, 2017, 145. A biography and photographic portrait of Simpson was published in the City of Vancouver document called A Competition for a Civic Auditorium for Vancouver: Report of the Board of Assessors, 1954, with plans and perspective drawings (3 pages, unpaginated)

(works in Vancouver)

QUEENSLAND ROAD, residence for Douglas C. Simpson, architect, 1948 (J. Bond, University Endowment Lands Architecture 1940-1969, 1993, 18, illus. & descrip.)


VANCOUVER, B.C., Civic Auditorium, 1954-55. The Vancouver firm of Semmens & Simpson were one of 67 architects who submitted a design in this national competition. Their entry, marked No. 135, received an Honorable Mention and a cash prize of $200, and was published in the City of Vancouver document called A Competition for a Civic Auditorium for Vancouver: Report of the Board of Assessors, 1954.