1056 Groveland Rd., West Vancouver, B.C.
Asking price: $12.8-million
Taxes: $20,374 (2022)
Lot Size: 1.18 acres
Agent: Geoff Taylor, Rennie & Associates Realty
Architect Arthur Erickson garnered global acclaim in the 1970s and 80s for the design of such landmark buildings as the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Law Courts at Vancouver’s Robson Square and Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.
The Vancouver native, who died in 2009, also created notable residential projects during his career, including houses for identical twin brothers who founded a West Coast business empire.
European immigrants Hugo and Helmut Eppich opened a tool and die shop in Vancouver in 1956 and built it into a metals-based powerhouse in the manufacturing sector.
Ebco Industries became one of B.C.’s largest steel fabricating plants, and the diversified Ebco Group expanded into more than a dozen industries, including aerospace and computerized data collection.
Helmut was the first to hire Mr. Erickson in the early 1970s. Eppich House I was built of concrete and glass on a terraced hillside in West Vancouver.
In 1979, Hugo and his wife, Brigitte, sought out Mr. Erickson to design a new West Vancouver house for the couple and their three children.
Daughter Monica Feldman says her father purchased a piece of land in the British Properties, along with a large plot next door, which included an old ranch house and a creek tumbling down the hill.
Mr. Eppich had the property boundaries changed in order to claim the creek and ended up with one of the largest parcels in the enclave as a result. He later sold off the ranch house and its diminished lot.
“That was Dad,” Ms. Feldman says. “He changed the property line to have that creek on his side.”
With the land secured, Mr. Eppich handed Mr. Erickson full control.
“Arthur was an artist to him and he supported Arthur in really pouring his heart into this project. He didn’t want to inhibit that flow.”
For Eppich House II, the architect envisioned a curving steel structure that would appear to roll into the landscape.
Plans were under way when, in 1981, Canada’s economy slumped into a severe recession.
“There was no way Dad was going to build,” Ms. Feldman says.
The project was put on hold until the economy improved and construction could begin.
The steel magnate provided access to the company’s resources and expertise to bend the steel into forms that pushed the boundaries of engineering at the time.
The beams were produced at one Ebco plant and the exterior panels at the metal finishing shop. Other subsidiaries handled furniture manufacturing and electroplating.
“He may have wanted to have a fully stainless-steel house and mom said, ‘forget it,’” Ms. Feldman says with a laugh.
As the 6,486-square-foot house neared completion in 1988, Ms. Feldman remembers camping out on the lower level for a time.
“When we moved in the whole family was living on the concrete floor as construction was going on above us.”
The house today
The finished house was featured in many magazines and drew plenty of visitors, Ms. Feldman says.
“People are really fascinated. It’s a work of art,” she says. “It was all sensational.”
The primary bedroom and den sit on the top floor under a glass arch that allows light to flood into each space.
Below that, the main level includes a living and dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows, a curved glass block wall and a wood ceiling atop metal columns.
The kitchen was designed so that her mother could take in the view while preparing the family’s meals, Ms. Feldman says.
A lounge on that level opens to the long, rectangular outdoor swimming pool.
The lowest level provided bedrooms and bathrooms for the kids.
Throughout the house, furniture tailored to the architecture was designed by Mr. Erickson’s partner, Francisco Kripacz.
The tiered gardens, terraces and pools were the work of Mr. Erickson and the esteemed landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.
Today the creek flows into a tranquil reflecting pond at the bottom of the steep incline. Last winter an otter made its way into the pond, Ms. Feldman says, and she has watched deer and the occasional black bear follow the flow of the water through the property.
Later Mr. Eppich had a one-bedroom guest house built next to the pond.
Ms. Feldman says the house has been the setting for many special occasions, including her sister’s wedding and some sparkling Christmas gatherings and New Year’s Eve parties.
“To be in the living room when there’s snow outside – there’s nothing like it. And the reflection of the Christmas lights in the glass – it’s a very tranquil place to be.”
The house has remained in the family through tumultuous times over the years. Boardroom feuds led to the breakup of the Ebco empire in 1994.
About four years ago, the Eppichs decided to downsize, Ms. Feldman says, and the house was listed for sale.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the family decided to take the property off the market.
Ms. Feldman and her siblings, Sonia McLeod and Gord Eppich, used the hiatus to refurbish the house and update some of the elements that had become tired over the years.
They brought in an interior designer and a contractor to improve the building’s condition.
Mr. Erickson’s buildings have a reputation for developing leaks in the wet B.C. climate, for example, and this house was no exception. They remedied that problem and installed new plumbing. They also upgraded the wood ceilings, burnished the chrome furniture and replaced the carpets, tiles and appliances.
“We brought it right back,” Ms. Feldman says of the rejuvenation. “We were considerate of what the house deserved.”
The Eppichs will hand the house on to new custodians with mixed feelings.
“It’s sort of like an era that’s going to come to an end,” says Ms. Feldman. “It’s going to leave the family. That’s very difficult for all of us.”
The best feature
The primary suite on the home’s top floor includes a home office and a bathroom with a dressing table and bench designed by Mr. Kripacz.
The original built-in bed has been replaced but the accent wall behind it still stands.
One element that couldn’t be saved was a television that rose from a padded turquoise leather box in the middle of the room. The mechanics had long ago stopped working, Ms. Feldman says, so the artifact was taken away to make way for modern electronics.