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Raymond Moriyama, One Of Canada’s Great Architects, Turns 84 Today. Here’s A Birthday Slideshow
October 11, 2013
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Ontario Science Centre, Toronto (1964)
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Today's the 84th birthday of Raymond Moriyama, one of Canada's most distinguished architects, so as a happy birthday message, we thought we'd share some photos of some of his greatest works. Buildings like the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which features the serene Regeneration Hall overlooking the Peace Tower. Or the Ontario Science Centre, built into the natural landscape of Toronto's Don Valley.

Moriyama was born in Vancouver in 1929. In a speech he gave upon receiving the Sakura Award for contributions to the promotion of Japanese culture, he spoke about the surprising genesis of his architectural career: the time he spent, along with 22,000 other Japanese-Canadians, in an internment camp during World War II.

My father was a POW in faraway Ontario, and my self-esteem was destroyed. In despair, I decided to bathe in the Slocan River on the other side of a little mountain away from the camp. The water was glacial, but it was better than hot tears. To see who might be coming, I built an observation platform. Soon I found myself wanting to build my first architectural project, a tree house, without being found out by the RCMP. I used just an axe as a hammer, an old borrowed saw, six spikes, some nails, a rope, and mostly branches and scraps from the lumberyard. It was hard work building it by myself, and it was a lesson in economy of material and means.

That tree house, when finished, was beautiful. It was my university, my place of solace, a place to think and learn.

Moriyama's buildings are often praised for their sense of proportion and modesty. "Our technological society tends to lean toward flash... to technological answers based on ego," he told Maclean's in 2005 when the War Museum was in construction. Moriyama has been widely recognized for his contributions; he's a Companion of the Order of Canada, has won a Governor General's Award in Visual Arts, holds a Confederation of Canada Medal and honourary degrees from several Canadian universities. 

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