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Groundstar Conspiracy film image; men stand in SFU atrium

Erickson on Film: The Smell of Wet Concrete

Talk + Screening | The Groundstar Conspiracy

Image: The Groundstar Conspiracy

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Arthur Erickson frequently declared that concrete was “the marble of the 20th century,” so this evening will be devoted to his major public buildings, including Lethbridge University, the Bank of Canada, Robson Square, Waterfall Building, and most important of all, the entire original campus of Simon Fraser University, both in series curator Trevor Boddy’s talk and in conversation with Geoffrey Erickson, Arthur’s nephew.

Erickson’s 1963 competition-winning SFU design (with partner Geoffrey Massey) should have got star billing in this hard-boiled Cold War thriller. The Groundstar Conspiracy was directed by action flick maestro Lamont Johnson, with a majority of the 1972 film shot in the university’s plazas, hallways, classrooms and Burnaby Mountain hillside, making it essential viewing for any SFU alumnus—whether they love the smell of wet concrete, or hate it. The campus successfully portrays an evil hub for a “space-computer,” with tough guys George Peppard and Michael Sarrazin using guns, fists and savvy to get to the bottom of things, but there are side trips to Tofino and the North Vancouver waterfront (including the first cinematic glimpse of that big sulfur pile!) SFU students and faculty get an on-screen thank-you at the end of the film, and its world premiere was held on-campus, with the architect attending.

Geoffrey Erickson is the nephew of the architect and one of the principals of the “AE 100” city-wide celebrations underway in this centenary year.


Presented with



Lamont Johnson


George Peppard, Michael Sarrazin, Christine Belford, James Olson, Cliff Potts

Country of Origin






96 min

Book Tickets

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Trevor Boddy headshot

Trevor Boddy

Trevor Boddy FRAIC is an architectural critic and historian who started a dialogue with Arthur Erickson when he moved from Alberta to Vancouver to teach at UBC in 1983. Boddy’s writings on cities and buildings have been awarded the “Alberta Book of the Year” prize, the Western Magazine Award for arts writing, and the CICA/UIA prize for best architectural criticism worldwide. His most recent book is “CITY-BUILDER: The Architecture of James K.M. Cheng” (an Erickson alumnus), and he is executive producer of “The Dyde House and Garden” by Sticks and Stones Productions, about a long-forgotten Erickson house west of Edmonton, winner of AMPIA’s 2023 “Best Documentary Prize.” Boddy did some film studies as an undergraduate, working in an editing studio and co-winning an AMPIA award for work on an industrial film.

Geoffrey Erickson headshot

Geoffrey Erickson

Geoffrey Erickson is one of Arthur Erickson’s nephews and a partner in Studio Erickson with Christopher Erickson. He is a director on the board of the Arthur Erickson Foundation, and looks after the Erickson Family Collection archives. Since graduating from the Ontario College of Art & Design in 1984 Geoffrey has worked primarily in interior design. Prior to that he studied design at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, and the Vancouver School of Art. In 1982 he started working for Arthur Erickson Architects in Toronto on many design projects, and has documented AEA projects around the world. Geoffrey also worked for many other design firms in Toronto and Vancouver, and on private design commissions. He helped pioneer early 3D modelling and design on computers which lead to the formation of EG Productions in 1992, producing videos with Emmy Award animator Cliff Garbutt. He has curated and edited three books on Arthur Erickson’s work, and co-created the website.

Bruno Freschi headshot

Bruno Freschi

Bruno Freschi OC, FRAIC AIA RCA was a member of the Erickson/Massey SFU Design Team, who went on to a prominent career as an urban designer (original Expo 86 Master Plan, Exhibition Modules, Science World), academic at UBC and Dean at SUNY Buffalo, and as an architect in practice in London, Milan, Lugano and Washington D.C. (Cannon Design.) Freschi was designer for the award-winning Ismaili Jamatkhana in Burnaby.



Douglas Heyes


Michael Reed

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