Son of an architect father, Peter sculpted artificial rock for nearly 30 years. He gained an early appreciation of aesthetics and the dynamics of form at an early age, and began working at the craft of artificial rock sculpting in his late teens, while concurrently embarking on diving and undersea explorations along the West Coast and throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
Peter’s career began as a one of a group of artists hired to sculpt the Vancouver Aquarium’s first major theme exhibit, the Amazon Gallery. Peter’s talents were soon recognized and he was retained by the Vancouver Aquarium to head the design and construction of the rockwork surrounding the Killer Whale Habitat. A major undertaking, the pool was one of the first in the world to reflect an actual natural habitat, as Peter’s design called for a backdrop of rockwork based on Gulf Island sandstone formations.
Once traveling as far north as Arctic Bay, Baffin Island for the design and creation of his Beluga Whale Pool at Vancouver Aquarium, Peter continues to regularly explore the West Coast and other locations to take molds of rock formations for his work.
Peter Heiss designed and built outdoor rockwork pools, hot tubs, and water features for dozens of homeowners, and also for high profile resorts including Kingfisher Lodge, The Pacific Inn and Pacific Shores.
Peter was well renowned for his commercial and public spaces work with The Vancouver International Airport, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, CFOX Kids Park, and many other public and commercial projects. Peter also led projects for clients in China, the Caribbean, and across Canada.
In addition to all his own projects, Peter was contracted extensively over the past twenty years as the lead designer and builder for other rockwork firms such as Arcon Rock and Waterscapes and Raincity Rock and Waterscapes.
A graduate of The Emily Carr School of Art, Peter was an accomplished painter as well as a sculptor, with a strong affinity for realism and a love of natural subjects. His work is marked by a personal commitment to excellence and meticulous attention to detail.
In his spare time, Peter carved Totems, re-builds outboard motors, casts jewelry, and cared for his own aquarium of exotic animals. To relax, Peter spent time in his two-storey 8-seater hot tub, complete with rock climbs, waterfalls, grottos, warm shallows and a bird’s nest lookout.
Peter was a remarkable man who cared for people and loved to spend time with his family.
The last time I had a chance to speak with Peter was while he was having a family gathering with his grandchildren playing in the background. I had promised to meet with him one more time before the kidney cancer had taken his life. A kind man, Peter will be missed.
Peter Heiss, Vancouver – Obituary