Beyond the blueprints 

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

click to flip through (7) Glenn Linsky's Origami house
  • Glenn Linsky's Origami house
 

Tourism may be the bread and butter of Whistler, but there is another industry that could perhaps be described as its backbone these past 40 years — construction.

It has been transformative, revolutionary, cutting edge, and a multi-million dollar industry that has kept hundreds of community residents busy over the years, and still to this day.

This small valley of lakes, dotted with a few rustic cabins and old lumber camps, has grown into a town of award-winning architecture.

And as the architecture has morphed from basic A-Frame cabins and Gothic Arches to contemporary avant-garde works of art in themselves, so too have the local builders.

"Construction has always been and will continue to be a key economic conduit in this community," says Chris Addario, president of the Whistler Chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

"If and when someone invests in our town and hires one of us to build, renovate or repair their home we then distribute a portion of that money throughout our community in particular by employing locals. A lot of the money they earn is spent around town, which in turn provides jobs and opportunity for others."

While many builders have come and gone over the years, a few like Glen Lynskey, Matheo Dürfeld and Andy Munster have stayed the course right from the beginning.

They came in the early days, more often than not, just to ski. And building homes became their ticket for doing just that.

But it became more than that.

They discovered they were truly talented at the job, up for the challenge, able to improve and get more refined and willing to evolve.

That typical eight-month building window from April to December began to stretch into multi-year projects as the builds became bigger, more complex.

"Nobody came here with all that expertise," says Dürfeld. "That expertise grew and developed here."

In this first of an ongoing and occasional series of articles on the Whistler building industry, Pique examines the legacy of Lynskey, the evolution of Dürfeld, and the tradition of Munster. In the coming months Pique will be looking at the Whistler construction industry in a series of features running from green building, to award winning builders to the all-time top sellers.

Perhaps the trade has been quiet in recent years as the world's recession came to the mountains too. Perhaps customers have been worried about the bottom line, more value conscious than in years past.

But you'd never guess it stepping into the latest homes of these three Whistler builders.

Their stories, in a way, mirror the story of Whistler.

It's about coming of age; about seizing unbelievable opportunities; about welcoming the world in a laid-back, laissez faire way; about becoming the best, but with a quiet, almost humble air.

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