Architect who designed some of Alberta's most striking buildings dies of asbestos exposure

An architect who designed some of Calgary and southern Alberta's most iconic buildings has died at 74 from asbestos poisoning incurred during the early years of his career.

Ken Hutchinson, 74, had a hand in some of Western Canada's iconic buildings

Ken Hutchinson designed some of Alberta's most iconic buildings, including the Calgary Real Estate Board building in Calgary, left, and the Hobbema Healing Lodge (Pê Sâkâstêw Centre) in Maskwacis. (Supplied)

An architect who designed some of the most iconic buildings in Calgary and southern Alberta has died at 74 from asbestos exposure he incurred during the early years of his career.

Ken Hutchinson designed hundreds of buildings in Western Canada, including the Saamis Teepee in Medicine Hat and the Hobbema Healing Lodge (PêSâkâstêw Centre) in Mâskwâcîs, which is built in the shape of a medicine wheel, as well as numerous other recreation centres, libraries, fire halls, theatres and schools in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Ken Hutchinson designed the Saamis Teepee in Medicine Hat, Alta. (Google Maps)

Other notable buildings he designed include the Engineered Air Theatre at Arts Commons in Calgary, the Calgary Real Estate Board, the Museum of the Regiments, and Fort Saskatchewan's DOW Centennial Centre.

He was also involved in renovating Calgary's Old City Hall, the McDougall Centre and Memorial Park Library.

Hutchinson was born in Red Deer and raised in Edmonton. His family said he chose to become an architect after helping his grandfather build a house as a child.

A large building seen from the exterior.
Ken Hutchinson was the principal architect in charge of the McDougall Centre restoration. The building was originally built in 1908, and had to be renovated not only to bring it up to code, but to follow Alberta Culture guidelines. (Supplied)

He was inducted into the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 2010, and there's an architectural scholarship in the name of Hutchinson and his wife at Athabasca University.

Hutchinson won dozens of awards over his long career, heading up his own architecture firm for more than 35 years.

In his spare time, Hutchinson loved volunteering with the the Calgary and Cochrane Rotary clubs, painting, sailing and vintage cars, his family said in a release.

The Calgary Real Estate Board building, was another unique piece of local architecture designed by Ken Hutchinson. (Supplied)

"Ken will be remembered not only for his exceptional professional contributions that have impacted so many lives, but also his unending sense of humour and 'glass-half-full' outlook on life," the release read.

He is survived by his wife, Janny, two children, Keesa and Kodi, and three grandchildren. The couple was married for more than 40 years.


  • In an earlier version of this story, it was incorrectly reported that Ken Hutchinson designed the Fish Creek Library in south Calgary. He had a role in the project, but the signature pyramidal roof was designed by Ian McDougall.
    Apr 23, 2018 3:17 PM MT