In Memoriam: Ted Teshima

Ted Teshima. Photo courtesy of Moriyama & Teshima Architects.
Ted Teshima. Photo courtesy of Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

It is with a heavy heart that all current and former Moriyama & Teshima staff members say goodbye to Ted Teshima, one of the original partners of Moriyama & Teshima Architects, who passed away at home surrounded by family on September 2, 2016.

Theodore Fujio Teshima, or Ted as we all knew him, was born in Sea Island, British Columbia, on September 4, 1938. In this small village on the flatlands of what is now Richmond, B.C., the Teshima family lived in a house near the ocean, where his father worked as a successful fisherman with two fishing vessels.

As a schoolboy in Taber, Alberta, Ted excelled at many subjects, particularly mathematics and drawing, and it was in high school that he discovered architecture. A high school librarian, noticing Ted’s proficiency in drawing, showed him a book containing the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Two influential and historic designs captured his imagination: the Robie House and Fallingwater. Inspired, Ted thought, “if a person can design something incredible like that, then this is for me”.

Ted would go on to obtain his Architecture degree at the University of Toronto, where he was a student of Raymond Moriyama. After graduating, Ted briefly worked with Raymond Moriyama Architects and Planners before setting off for London, England, in order to fulfill his need to explore.

Ted’s boldness and sense of adventure led him to working at the office of Richard Sheppard Robson and Partners, then travel through Europe to encounter the great architectural landmarks. Two projects by Le Corbusier in particular – The Monastery of Sainte-Marie de La Tourette and the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut (otherwise known as Ronchamp) – made a significant impression on him.

Upon returning to Toronto in 1966, Ted was soon asked to return to work for Raymond Moriyama Architects and Planners – now a rapidly expanding firm with a new office at 32 Davenport Road. Ted served as the Project Manager and Architect on many of the firm’s key projects, including the pivotal Scarborough Civic Centre.

In 1970, Ted became a partner at Moriyama & Teshima Architects and Planners, beginning a new 36-year relationship as partner to Ray. Under this new partnership in the 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s, the variety of work the firm undertook kept expanding. Many more university clients were added and two legacy projects by Moriyama & Teshima were also completed—The Metro Toronto Reference Library on Yonge Street (now renamed the Toronto Reference Library) and Science North in Sudbury.

Ted’s reasoned, logical and community centred approach to handling projects made Ted a natural leader. Anyone who has seen Ted going over design concerns, budget or program issues with clients has experienced his magic touch; his ability to explain situations logically and clearly would inevitably bring even the most difficult doubters and rivals to his side. Ted continued to be a key player for recent projects like the Kuwait University Master Plan and all projects for Imara and the Aga Khan; it was Ted who made the key presentations to His Highness The Aga Khan for the Wynford Drive projects in Toronto and The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa.

Ted retired from Moriyama & Teshima Architects in 2006, preceded by many well deserved honours and accomplishments: he was a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and Royal Society of Arts (England) and a member of the Ontario Association of Architects and Architectural Institute of British Columbia; he was Director of the Board of the Ontario Heritage Foundation from 1983 to 1990; Ted was also a member of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto since 1987. In 2002 Ted was awarded The Order of da Vinci from the Ontario Association of Architects,“an honour that is awarded to architects who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the profession, in education, and/or in service to architecture and the community.”

Ted’s leadership and defining contribution to the architecture community in Canada will never be forgotten.