Legendary Hamilton-schooled architect awarded posthumous spot on association Honour Roll


Published April 24, 2024 at 8:19 am

Raymond Moriyama

An architect who went from an internment camp in B.C. to graduating top of his class at Hamilton’s Westdale High School, to creating some of the most iconic Canadian-designed buildings in the world has been posthumously recognized on the Ontario Association of Architects’ Honour Roll.

Raymond Moriyama’s momentous life journey – from his childhood in a Japanese internment camp in his own country during World War II, to becoming one of the country’s most respected, talented, and humanistic architects – earned him the association’s highest honour a little over seven months after his death last year at the age of 93.

The experience of being one of 22,000 people of Japanese descent – most were Canadian citizens – yanked from their Vancouver homes and sent to internment camps, helped shape Moriyama, whose childhood project was a tree fort, which he told McLeans magazine in 2016 was built behind the backs of the watchful RCMP in the camp with an axe as a hammer and “an old borrowed saw, six spikes, some nails, a rope, and mostly branches and scraps from the lumberyard.”

Moriyama applied his vision and understanding of design to such noted buildings as the Ontario Science Centre, the Toronto Reference Library and the Bata Shoe Museum; all in Toronto; the Canadian War Museum and Ottawa City Hall in the nation’s capital; Science North in Sudbury; and the striking Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.

His work has earned him scores of honours and accolades in the architectural world, including the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal, International Fellowship with the Royal Institute of British Architects, Honorary Fellowship with the American Institute of Architects, the Order of Ontario, the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan), Sakura Award, the Companion of the Order of Canada, as well as honorary degrees from ten worldwide universities.

Moriyama’s projects also consistently earn praise for their intimate relationship to land, nature, and community – exemplifying his commitment to a sustainable world.

“His wide-spanning, diverse achievements are impressive,” noted the association in a news release, “but perhaps most importantly, his impact on those passionate about designing a better world is truly immeasurable.”

The firm he co-founded – Moriyama Toshima – still carries on his legacy and has been tapped to design the Post Lofts development in Oshawa.

Moriyama will be officially will honoured at the association’s annual conference next month.

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