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Beyond the blueprints

Whistler's rich history of home building grows beam by beam



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The Legacy of Glen Lynskey

The "Origami House", as it's come to be known, will be called many things in its lifetime — a geometrical conundrum, a theatrical statement of architecture.

It could also be called Glen Lynskey's swan song — for it is a home he will never see finished. In a tragic turn of events Lynskey died suddenly last fall after complications from a fall on his bike.

He was 60 years old and arguably at the top of his professional game.

The "Origami House" in many ways is his ode to taking chances, to bucking convention, to living, quite literally, on the edge.

It is a symbol of what building in Whistler has become to some extent — state of the art, limitless, fearless — and the possibilities of where it may go in the future.

Like Lynskey, the house is undoubtedly unique, seemingly defying gravity, certainly defying convention, hanging off the side of a cliff in Sunridge.

It was designed by the award-winning Canadian firm, Patkau Architects, who were charged with using their imagination.

Owner Martin Hadaway, who lives in Hong Kong, knew Lynskey was the man for his job as soon as he met him.

"We warmed to him immediately as he was a calm experienced guy with an excellent track record whose honesty and integrity shone through," he says. "Our house became a labour of love for all of us."

Since Lynskey's death his crew, one of the biggest and most loyal in the local industry, has been carrying on, finishing up the four, multi-million dollar builds Glen left behind.

His legacy, however, lives on not just in the "Origami House" but also in the more than 40 houses he built throughout Whistler.

And while most don't have the immediate reaction of the "Origami House," many of them have qualities that speak to the uniqueness of the unconventional builder himself.

When other builders talk of him it's in a somewhat reverential way; he was a master craftsman with an old school approach.

Take a house in Alpine, one of Glen's first homes that he designed in the early 80s. It looks like any other old ski chalet — peaked roofs to shed the snow, wood siding, a silver pipe for the wood burning stove rising up toward the sky.

But take a closer look and there's something a little different about this house — the roof seems to bend and curve. It's almost as though your mind is playing a trick on you. It's a hyperbolic parabola, like a saddle, or a Pringles chip. Not your typical roof. And not what you expect to find in an old ski cabin.