Early Years and Education
Moriyama’s early years involved a complex set of circumstances through which he developed both a sense of drive and intuition. Due to their Japanese heritage, he and his mother and sisters were sent to an internment camp in western Canada during the Second World War. Despite these challenges, his family’s influence nurtured a sense of forgiveness and openness, lending Moriyama a clear sense of purpose from an early age. During these years, his love of nature grew and has remained with him ever since.
Moriyama was educated at the University of Toronto and McGill, and began to practice architecture in Toronto in 1958. His early work was tied to the Crothers family, for whom he produced a variety of projects such as the Used Equipment Centre, built of scrap iron. His work in this period is perhaps best exemplified by the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. His largest commission as an independent architect before entering into partnership with Ted Teshima is the Ontario Science Centre (1964) in Toronto.
Moriyama & Teshima
In 1970, Moriyama went into partnership with Ted Teshima to form the firm Moriyama & Teshima. Recognition for their projects quickly accumulated, as they received the Governor General's Medals for Architecture for the Scarborough Civic Centre (1973), The Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library (1977) and Sudbury's Science North (1984).
Moriyama’s work has ranged in scale from the design of an award-winning Japanese ceremonial bell, the Goh Ohn Bell at Ontario Place, to long-term, environmentally sensitive planning projects such as the vast master plan for Saskatchewan's Meewasin Valley (1979) and the 100-Year Vision for Niagara Falls (1988).
One of Moriyama’s most publicized projects is the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, located on a prestigious site adjacent to the Akasaka Imperial Grounds and the Takahashi Memorial Park in Tokyo. The design restrictions of the sun shade regulations of Tokyo inspired its shape, which recalls an image of a temple. The embassy features great spaces within that allow for transparency and accessibility; it has also become a meeting place for Canadians and Japanese.
In 1995, Moriyama completed the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. The project is celebrated for its sculptural qualities and the beautiful interplay between its outward tilting limestone façade and its two-storey, pyramid-shaped glass entry. In 1996, construction was completed on another innovative project, Casino Rama, Ontario's first Aboriginal-owned casino, built on the Rama Reserve north of Toronto.
After winning an international competition, Moriyama & Teshima designed the National Museum of Saudi Arabia, which opened in the capital city, Riyadh, in 1999. Working with several international partners, the firm designed a remarkable building that incorporates welcoming courtyards, water, and a sweeping wall faced in local limestone.
The Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which opened in May 2005 (designed as a joint venture with Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects, now GRC Architects), serves as a fitting culmination to Moriyama’s career. This landmark project is devoted to exploring the themes of memory, regeneration and the human condition. The building features bold and visually striking geometries and artistically layered materials. The horizontal expression of the building on the site is further explored in the interior, which features soaring, dramatic spaces filled with natural light. Moriyama describes the genesis of the building as well as its underlying meaning in his book In Search of a Soul (2006).
With Raymond Moriyama and long-time partner Ted Teshima stepping aside in 2003 (they now serve as partners emeriti and consultants in the firm), a new generation has assumed direction. Partners include Raymond Moriyama's sons Ajon and Jason Moriyama, and Diarmuid Nash and Daniel Teramura.
Moriyama has stated that for him, "architecture is a relentless, investigative process that must be concerned with human, ecological, technical, economic, and aesthetic issues," and his work embodies that principle.
Raymond Moriyama is the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including the 2010 Sakura Award from the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, for the building that his firm designed in 1958 and for his life-long contributions to Japanese culture in Canada and abroad. He is a member of the Order Of Ontario, the Order Of Canada and the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan). Other awards include the Gold Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Confederation of Canada Medal and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts Foundation of Greater Toronto. He has won Governor General's Awards for Architecture and has been granted honorary degrees from numerous universities. Adding to this rich repertoire are several awards for material innovation, urban design, as well as lighting design.