In Memoriam: Bill Neish

Architect Bill Neish—the “N” in NORR—passed away peacefully on January 6, 2020, from complications of Lewy Body Disease.

Bill, as he was known, was born in 1933. He grew up in Banff, Alberta and graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1957. Bill joined the firm of Smith Carter Searle in Winnipeg, Manitoba after graduation and then moved to Toronto, Ontario when the firm briefly merged with John B. Parkin from 1969 to 1972.

Photo Courtesy of NORR

Bill Neish and others remained to continue John B. Parkin in 1973 under William Neish, John Owen, Douglas Rowland and Hedley Roy, operating as Neish Owen Rowland & Roy Architects Engineer. The firm later became NORR and remains the firm’s name to this day. Bill Neish is preceded by the passing of John Owen, Douglas Rowland and Hedley Roy.

During his time at NORR, Bill’s projects included major landmarks such as the TD Centre, IBM Head Office, Simcoe Place, Pearson International Airport Terminal 2, John Sopinka Courthouse, Georgian College Student Centre, Yonge Corporate Centre, and the one Bill was most proud of, Toronto SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre), designed by the RAN Consortium (Robbie Adjeleian NORR).

Panoramic view of Blue Jays game with open roof via Wikimedia Commons

Bill hired me at NORR to be the Architect for the retractable roof for the SkyDome in 1986 and I went on to work with Bill on many other major projects. He was a gentleman in the way he dealt with everyone. As a mentor and a leader, he had a way of bringing people together unlike anyone else.

Bill could always diffuse any situation by finding a solution, and he had a wicked sense of humour. When he retired, Bill made the conscious decision to leave the office and enjoy the rest of his life – and he did. Bill retired from NORR in 1998, selling his interest in the firm and has since been travelling the world and wintering in New Zealand.

Like John B. Parkin, Bill Neish had an ability to attract the best architects to NORR over the years. The proof is in the proud legacy of the firm and in its  talent and leadership. We continue to respect and honour those who came before us, like Bill Neish, in our firm name NORR.

Silvio Baldassarra is the Chairman of NORR.