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Raymond Moriyama, Designer of Humane Public Spaces, Dies at 93


One of the firm’s standout works was the Toronto Reference Library, a generous glass and brick structure, completed in 1977. But their projects were not confined 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 hovers above an open garden and plaza built on the fourth story of a commercial building.

And then there’s the Bata Shoe Museum, a whimsical limestone-clad “shoebox” — or Mr. 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. Ms. Bata, who died in 2018, wanted a home to exhibit her 13,000 pairs of shoes — a historically important collection representing 4,500 years of shoe artistry, from sealskin Inuit boots to 18th-century heels and chopines from the Italian Renaissance.

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 made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1997, he received the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Gold Medal, Canadian architecture’s highest honor. He retired in 2003.

Mr. Moriyama was noted for his ability to listen to his clients. He often described himself as “a professional dumdum” — a dogged interlocutor whose questions led to some extraordinary structures and, at least once, to 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 found out they had nice homes and many, many cars and a cottage and boats and all the rest. So I told them, OK, you don’t need an architect, you need family counseling, because an architect can’t fuse you together.”


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