The world mourns the passing of Raymond Moriyama, an esteemed architect responsible for shaping the visual identity of Canada through his iconic structures, at the age of 93. No additional comments were released by Moriyama Teshima Architects, the firm Moriyama founded, beyond confirming his passing last Friday, expressing their deep sorrow and requesting respect for the family’s privacy at this grieving time.
Moriyama’s portfolio boasted not only nationally but internationally recognized landmarks. His signature designs grace the National War Museum, Ottawa’s City Hall, the Bata Shoe Museum, the Toronto Reference Library, and the Ontario Science Centre within Canada. Abroad, his work includes the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo and the Saudi Arabian National Museum.
Earlier this year, the firm appealed to the authorities to preserve the Ontario Science Centre project from 1969, imploring them to repurpose the structure as it faces demolition due to the centre’s upcoming relocation to the redeveloped Ontario Place in Toronto.
Moriyama’s exceptional career was punctuated by numerous accolades that attest to his prowess, including the Confederation of Canada Medal, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal, and honorary degrees from 10 Canadian universities. He was also awarded the highest level of the Order of Canada in 2008. His architectural influence extended to Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., where he served as chancellor from 2001 to 2007 and designed numerous campus buildings.
Born in Vancouver in 1929, young Moriyama was among those subjected to the forced internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. After the conflict, his family relocated to Hamilton, Ontario. Moriyama’s academic journey began at the University of Toronto, where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree, followed by a Masters of Architecture in Civic and Town Planning from McGill University in Montreal.
Moriyama shared that the spark igniting his architectural ambitions occurred at the age of four when, bedridden with a burn, he witnessed an architect at a Vancouver construction site. In 1958, he founded his architectural firm, later joining forces with Ted Teshima in 1970 to establish Moriyama Teshima Architects, shaping Canada’s architectural landscape for decades before passing the torch to a new generation in 2003.
In response to Moriyama’s death, the firm has committed to releasing a comprehensive statement on his enduring legacy at a later date. Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow also paid homage, acknowledging Moriyama as a “pioneering city builder and architect”, her sentiments reflecting the gratitude of countless individuals who have been touched by the tranquillity imbued in his designs.