Posts Tagged 'Raymond Moriyama'

Ontario Science Centre: Raymond Moriyama’s temple of technology

Opened in 1969 as a belated Canadian centennial project, the Ontario Science Centre at 770 Don Mills Road is one of the world’s first interactive museums of science and technology. It exemplifies the museological shift during the 1960s away from static displays and toward engaging visitors in hands-on learning experiences.

To house the Science Centre’s innovative program, architect Raymond Moriyama set three interconnected structures of raw Brutalist concrete into the heavily-wooded ravine site. A long, low entrance pavilion sits at the ravine edge, originally welcoming visitors with a massive oval reflecting pool and a somewhat cave-like entry atop broad front steps. Directly behind the entrance pavilion is the tower building, its triangular shape inspired by the trillium, Ontario’s official flower. The tower building’s three cylindrical drums, enclosing theatres and administrative offices, open into the central Great Hall, a vast atrium space filled with natural light. Connecting the entrance pavilion and the tower building is an enclosed pedestrian bridge over the ravine; floor-to-ceiling glass creates a sensation of being suspended within the surrounding trees. At the lowest level, linked by escalators to the ravine floor, are the Science Centre’s principal exhibition spaces. Inspired by theatre design, Moriyama created neutral and flexible “black box” modules of 20,000 square feet to accommodate a wide range of exhibits and allow their rapid changeover. Despite the Centre’s focus on science and technology, the constant visual connections to the sky and landscape remind visitors of the ultimate supremacy of the natural world.

In 1996 Zeidler Roberts Partnership opened up the Science Centre’s entrance with a glass-walled, two-level lobby and Ontario’s only OMNIMAX theatre. A major revitalization during the mid-2000s produced the Weston Family Innovation Centre, KidSpark and TELUSCAPE, which replaced the forecourt fountain with an environmentally-themed greenspace.

Edwards Gardens’ exquisite pavilion

Postcard c.1965 by Williams, Toronto

Located at the southwest corner of Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue East, Edwards Gardens was once the private sanctuary of businessman Rupert Edwards. After purchasing the rural 27-acre site in 1944, Edwards created a glorious ravine garden with one of the largest rockeries in Canada, an elaborate series of pools and waterfalls and a nine-hole golf course. In 1955, with development encroaching upon his pastoral idyll, he sold the property to Metro Toronto as a public park. The original Civic Garden Centre, the former Edwards manse, burned down a few years later and architect Raymond Moriyama was commissioned to design the replacement Garden Centre and the new Garden Pavilion.

The Pavilion is the more distinguished of the two structures. Set on the crest of the ravine and overlooking the garden below, it’s defined by a massive Wrightian hipped roof clad in cedar shingles and inset with translucent skylight panels. Diffused natural light washes down over the beautifully detailed Douglas fir roof trusses, the precise joinery and pattern recalling Japanese building traditions. Soffits, decorative screens and benches are of cedar and redwood. The roof is supported by tapered limestone columns organically emerging from the pavilion’s terraced stone base, itself a remnant of the vanished house. The stonework is a tribute to the mason’s art; pieces fit tightly in intricate patterns and the mortar is nearly invisible. Completed in 1964, the pavilion was recognized for its enduring quality and timelessness by a 25-Year Award from the Ontario Association of Architects.

IMG_2436 Moriyama Edwards Garden V2 MR

Born in Vancouver in 1929, Raymond Moriyama received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Architecture in Civic and Town Planning from McGill University. He began a one-man practice in the spring of 1958 and immediately gained notice for his exquisitely-designed small buildings. His steel-and-brick gatehouse for the Crothers Used Equipment Centre in Leaside (1960, demolished) and the delicate Halfway House for George Crothers’s private golf course (1958) were a finalist and a Silver Medal winner respectively in the 1961 Massey Medals for Architecture competition. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (now the Noor Cultural Centre), completed in 1963, was his breakthrough project and earned him national acclaim as one of Canada’s most promising young architects.

As Moriyama’s reputation grew, the firm was awarded a series of major civic projects: the Ontario Science Centre (1969), the Scarborough Civic Centre (1973) and the Toronto Reference Library (1977). In 1970 the firm became Moriyama & Teshima with the appointment of Ted Teshima as partner. Key works from the 1980s onward are Science North in Sudbury (1984), the North York City Centre and Central Library (1984-91), the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan (1991), York University’s Vari Hall (1992), the Bata Shoe Museum (1995) and, most recently, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa (2005). Moriyama and Teshima have since retired; the firm is now led by sons Ajon and Jason Moriyama and two other partners.

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