Architect Raymond Moriyama makes return visit to Scarborough Civic Centre

News Dec 15, 2015 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Raymond Moriyama, the visionary architect commissioned to build the Scarborough Civic Centre in 1969, recently returned to the building.

He found its rotunda, the grand central interior space he said “was designed for happiness,” dark and lonely. The cafeteria was gone, and it was hard to know where to park.

Moriyama, who had hoped the Scarborough Civic Centre would remain a gathering point for Scarborough residents, said Tuesday, Dec. 15, it could be that way again.

“In the end, I think it’s the human activity that will make the place work,” he told a group of city staff and a pair of Scarborough councillors asking for his advice.

He said what happens to the building still matters to people in Scarborough, and there’s no reason why a public function couldn’t happen there virtually every day.

Before he turned 40, Moriyama said, he made his pitch to a committee of the old City of Scarborough and its former board of education.

“I had a certain idea of what Scarborough could be. I talked about democracy at the municipal level in Canada, what I thought was required,” he recalled.

“I felt that education and municipal politics should be coming together. The focus was on equality, inclusion of all people, because Scarborough, even at that time, had about 190 groups of people from different parts of the world.”

Moriyama, a companion of the Order of Canada, said he designed the iconic white building, down to its furnishings, so it would foster “a sense of unity.”

He said the Scarborough Civic Centre public library, which opened to acclaim this year as the 100th branch in the system, is in an “abominable” spot on Borough Drive, the product of “very selfish, small thinking.”

Putting the library along the southern end of the Scarborough Civic Centre means that building is no longer “iconic” from that side, said Moriyama, who was accompanied by his son Ajon Moriyama, also an architect.

“It immediately says to the community we don’t think too much about this place, so we’re going to put this library in front.”

Parking spaces close to the building are for staff only, Moriyama added.

“That says a huge amount to the public,” he said. “You did your best to make it difficult for the public to get in.”

Moriyama - responsible for such Toronto landmarks as the Ontario Science Centre, the Toronto Reference Library, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and Albert Campbell and L’Amoreaux collegiates in Scarborough - was shocked to see the building and the adjcent square so dark.

He remembered the former city showing movies, including Gone With The Wind, on the civic centre’s outer wall.

“Atlanta burning on the building (in that film) was an incredible sight.”

Moriyama said he agreed to do a “legacy document” for the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which he also designed, not to prevent changes, but to record what’s important about the building and require more thought before change occurs.

All notable Canadian buildings should have one. Otherwise, he argued, the “janitorial minds” who look after them won’t care.

Russell Crooks, the city’s senior community planner for Scarborough, saw Moriyama’s point, noting 10 years ago the city replaced a civic centre front door handle Moriyama designed with a piece of wood painted black.

It’s remained that way for a decade, said Crooks. “I think that’s appalling in a building of this kind.”

Staff told the architect they struggle with the planning of new condominiums near the civic centre, not wanting to crowd or clash with his building.

They offered to share plans for redeveloping the Civic Centre Precinct, including the square, which will be under study in 2016.

A civic green taking shape next to library should be open next spring, with walking paths, benches, and granite boulders, said Glenn De Baeremaeker, Scarborough’s deputy mayor.

Chin Lee, chairperson of Scarborough Community Council, told Moriyama he wants to revamp the building and its square so they can draw more people, and become the cultural hub he envisioned.

Lee asked Moriyama, a jazz lover, if the under-used council chamber they sat in could be a performance stage, with desks that could slide away until needed.

Moriyama agreed, mildly: “It should not be all that difficult.”

A model (which once lit up) by the foot of the main stairs shows how enormous Moriyama’s original Scarborough Civic Centre vision was.

Among other things, he and his partner Ted Teshima planned expansions for an art gallery, a performing arts centre, more low-rise offices, and a pedestrian bridge over Borough Drive to a day care.

But today, the era of building big civic spaces is gone, Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said, and Scarborough taxpayers demand frugality above all else.

He said that’s why space left by the vanished cafeteria (which lost money for decades and is controlled, in any case, by Toronto’s school board) cannot become a small art gallery or museum, though it’s near the civic centre’s front entrance, beside its koi pond.

“We’re in an era now where most of my residents wouuld say, ‘Take out the koi pond,’” said De Baeremaeker. “They want Rob Ford bare-bones government.”

Architect Raymond Moriyama makes return visit to Scarborough Civic Centre

Calls new library that alters iconic view a product of ‘very selfish, small thinking”

News Dec 15, 2015 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Raymond Moriyama, the visionary architect commissioned to build the Scarborough Civic Centre in 1969, recently returned to the building.

He found its rotunda, the grand central interior space he said “was designed for happiness,” dark and lonely. The cafeteria was gone, and it was hard to know where to park.

Moriyama, who had hoped the Scarborough Civic Centre would remain a gathering point for Scarborough residents, said Tuesday, Dec. 15, it could be that way again.

“In the end, I think it’s the human activity that will make the place work,” he told a group of city staff and a pair of Scarborough councillors asking for his advice.

He said what happens to the building still matters to people in Scarborough, and there’s no reason why a public function couldn’t happen there virtually every day.

Before he turned 40, Moriyama said, he made his pitch to a committee of the old City of Scarborough and its former board of education.

“I had a certain idea of what Scarborough could be. I talked about democracy at the municipal level in Canada, what I thought was required,” he recalled.

“I felt that education and municipal politics should be coming together. The focus was on equality, inclusion of all people, because Scarborough, even at that time, had about 190 groups of people from different parts of the world.”

Moriyama, a companion of the Order of Canada, said he designed the iconic white building, down to its furnishings, so it would foster “a sense of unity.”

He said the Scarborough Civic Centre public library, which opened to acclaim this year as the 100th branch in the system, is in an “abominable” spot on Borough Drive, the product of “very selfish, small thinking.”

Putting the library along the southern end of the Scarborough Civic Centre means that building is no longer “iconic” from that side, said Moriyama, who was accompanied by his son Ajon Moriyama, also an architect.

“It immediately says to the community we don’t think too much about this place, so we’re going to put this library in front.”

Parking spaces close to the building are for staff only, Moriyama added.

“That says a huge amount to the public,” he said. “You did your best to make it difficult for the public to get in.”

Moriyama - responsible for such Toronto landmarks as the Ontario Science Centre, the Toronto Reference Library, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and Albert Campbell and L’Amoreaux collegiates in Scarborough - was shocked to see the building and the adjcent square so dark.

He remembered the former city showing movies, including Gone With The Wind, on the civic centre’s outer wall.

“Atlanta burning on the building (in that film) was an incredible sight.”

Moriyama said he agreed to do a “legacy document” for the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which he also designed, not to prevent changes, but to record what’s important about the building and require more thought before change occurs.

All notable Canadian buildings should have one. Otherwise, he argued, the “janitorial minds” who look after them won’t care.

Russell Crooks, the city’s senior community planner for Scarborough, saw Moriyama’s point, noting 10 years ago the city replaced a civic centre front door handle Moriyama designed with a piece of wood painted black.

It’s remained that way for a decade, said Crooks. “I think that’s appalling in a building of this kind.”

Staff told the architect they struggle with the planning of new condominiums near the civic centre, not wanting to crowd or clash with his building.

They offered to share plans for redeveloping the Civic Centre Precinct, including the square, which will be under study in 2016.

A civic green taking shape next to library should be open next spring, with walking paths, benches, and granite boulders, said Glenn De Baeremaeker, Scarborough’s deputy mayor.

Chin Lee, chairperson of Scarborough Community Council, told Moriyama he wants to revamp the building and its square so they can draw more people, and become the cultural hub he envisioned.

Lee asked Moriyama, a jazz lover, if the under-used council chamber they sat in could be a performance stage, with desks that could slide away until needed.

Moriyama agreed, mildly: “It should not be all that difficult.”

A model (which once lit up) by the foot of the main stairs shows how enormous Moriyama’s original Scarborough Civic Centre vision was.

Among other things, he and his partner Ted Teshima planned expansions for an art gallery, a performing arts centre, more low-rise offices, and a pedestrian bridge over Borough Drive to a day care.

But today, the era of building big civic spaces is gone, Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said, and Scarborough taxpayers demand frugality above all else.

He said that’s why space left by the vanished cafeteria (which lost money for decades and is controlled, in any case, by Toronto’s school board) cannot become a small art gallery or museum, though it’s near the civic centre’s front entrance, beside its koi pond.

“We’re in an era now where most of my residents wouuld say, ‘Take out the koi pond,’” said De Baeremaeker. “They want Rob Ford bare-bones government.”

Architect Raymond Moriyama makes return visit to Scarborough Civic Centre

Calls new library that alters iconic view a product of ‘very selfish, small thinking”

News Dec 15, 2015 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Raymond Moriyama, the visionary architect commissioned to build the Scarborough Civic Centre in 1969, recently returned to the building.

He found its rotunda, the grand central interior space he said “was designed for happiness,” dark and lonely. The cafeteria was gone, and it was hard to know where to park.

Moriyama, who had hoped the Scarborough Civic Centre would remain a gathering point for Scarborough residents, said Tuesday, Dec. 15, it could be that way again.

“In the end, I think it’s the human activity that will make the place work,” he told a group of city staff and a pair of Scarborough councillors asking for his advice.

He said what happens to the building still matters to people in Scarborough, and there’s no reason why a public function couldn’t happen there virtually every day.

Before he turned 40, Moriyama said, he made his pitch to a committee of the old City of Scarborough and its former board of education.

“I had a certain idea of what Scarborough could be. I talked about democracy at the municipal level in Canada, what I thought was required,” he recalled.

“I felt that education and municipal politics should be coming together. The focus was on equality, inclusion of all people, because Scarborough, even at that time, had about 190 groups of people from different parts of the world.”

Moriyama, a companion of the Order of Canada, said he designed the iconic white building, down to its furnishings, so it would foster “a sense of unity.”

He said the Scarborough Civic Centre public library, which opened to acclaim this year as the 100th branch in the system, is in an “abominable” spot on Borough Drive, the product of “very selfish, small thinking.”

Putting the library along the southern end of the Scarborough Civic Centre means that building is no longer “iconic” from that side, said Moriyama, who was accompanied by his son Ajon Moriyama, also an architect.

“It immediately says to the community we don’t think too much about this place, so we’re going to put this library in front.”

Parking spaces close to the building are for staff only, Moriyama added.

“That says a huge amount to the public,” he said. “You did your best to make it difficult for the public to get in.”

Moriyama - responsible for such Toronto landmarks as the Ontario Science Centre, the Toronto Reference Library, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and Albert Campbell and L’Amoreaux collegiates in Scarborough - was shocked to see the building and the adjcent square so dark.

He remembered the former city showing movies, including Gone With The Wind, on the civic centre’s outer wall.

“Atlanta burning on the building (in that film) was an incredible sight.”

Moriyama said he agreed to do a “legacy document” for the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which he also designed, not to prevent changes, but to record what’s important about the building and require more thought before change occurs.

All notable Canadian buildings should have one. Otherwise, he argued, the “janitorial minds” who look after them won’t care.

Russell Crooks, the city’s senior community planner for Scarborough, saw Moriyama’s point, noting 10 years ago the city replaced a civic centre front door handle Moriyama designed with a piece of wood painted black.

It’s remained that way for a decade, said Crooks. “I think that’s appalling in a building of this kind.”

Staff told the architect they struggle with the planning of new condominiums near the civic centre, not wanting to crowd or clash with his building.

They offered to share plans for redeveloping the Civic Centre Precinct, including the square, which will be under study in 2016.

A civic green taking shape next to library should be open next spring, with walking paths, benches, and granite boulders, said Glenn De Baeremaeker, Scarborough’s deputy mayor.

Chin Lee, chairperson of Scarborough Community Council, told Moriyama he wants to revamp the building and its square so they can draw more people, and become the cultural hub he envisioned.

Lee asked Moriyama, a jazz lover, if the under-used council chamber they sat in could be a performance stage, with desks that could slide away until needed.

Moriyama agreed, mildly: “It should not be all that difficult.”

A model (which once lit up) by the foot of the main stairs shows how enormous Moriyama’s original Scarborough Civic Centre vision was.

Among other things, he and his partner Ted Teshima planned expansions for an art gallery, a performing arts centre, more low-rise offices, and a pedestrian bridge over Borough Drive to a day care.

But today, the era of building big civic spaces is gone, Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said, and Scarborough taxpayers demand frugality above all else.

He said that’s why space left by the vanished cafeteria (which lost money for decades and is controlled, in any case, by Toronto’s school board) cannot become a small art gallery or museum, though it’s near the civic centre’s front entrance, beside its koi pond.

“We’re in an era now where most of my residents wouuld say, ‘Take out the koi pond,’” said De Baeremaeker. “They want Rob Ford bare-bones government.”