Raymond Moriyama, designer of human public spaces, dies at 93 | ET REALITY


One of the firm’s outstanding works was the Toronto Reference Library, a generous glass and brick structure, completed in 1977. But his projects were not limited to Canada. They designed a transit mall in Buffalo to revitalize the city’s main street; the National Museum of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh; and the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, a glass and aluminum trapezoid that looms over an open garden and plaza built on the fourth floor of a commercial building.

And then there is the Bata Footwear Museum, a whimsical limestone-clad “shoebox” (or Moriyama’s interpretation of one) in downtown Toronto. It was the passion project of Sonja Bata, whose husband, Thomas Bata, was the heir to the Bata Shoe Company. Bata, who died in 2018, wanted a home to display his 13,000 pairs of shoes, a historically significant collection representing 4,500 years of footwear art, from sealskin Inuit boots to 18th-century heels and Italian Renaissance chopines.

Mr. Moriyama is survived by his wife; three daughters, Michi, Midori, Murina; two sons, Jason and Ajon, and 10 grandchildren.

In 1985, Mr. Moriyama was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1997, he received the Gold Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the highest honor in Canadian architecture. He retired in 2003.

Mr. Moriyama was noted for his ability to listen to his clients. He often described himself as “a professional fool,” a stubborn interlocutor whose questions led to some extraordinary structures and, at least once, no structure at all.

When a prominent lawyer and his wife asked Mr. Moriyama to design a house for them, he recalled to The National Post in 1975: “I listened for 40 minutes and discovered that they had nice houses and many, many cars, a cabin and boats. And everything else. So I told them, “Okay, you don’t need an architect, you need family counseling, because an architect can’t merge the two.”

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