The Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism Officially Opens the Nan Griffiths Memorial Seminar Room

The Nan Griffiths Memorial Seminar Room at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism officially opened on December 2, providing a new space within the school for study, research, seminars, and meetings.

The room commemorates Nan Griffiths, who was the first full-time female professor at the Carleton University architecture school in Ottawa. She joined the school in the mid-1970s and taught for 22 years. For many of those years, she was the only woman member of the faculty. 

“She really introduced the urban emphasis into this school,” Jill Stoner, the school’s director, said at the opening reception attended by over 25 alumni, colleagues, friends, and family. 

The room gives extra space to the school, as it was designed and built into part of the double-height reading room below. It houses books donated from the collections of Griffiths and former faculty members Gil Sutton and Barbara Humphreys.

Stoner calls it “a labour of love.” 

The school’s shop technicians, Mark McGuigan and Robert Wood, built handsome steel-and-wood bookcases, and a large seminar table. Alumnus and Montréal architect Henri Cleinge designed the cases, while another alumnus Ottawa architect Philippe Doyle donated maple wood for the shelves. Cleinge was the design architect for the room, and the local office of HOK Architects provided the construction drawings.

More than 50 donors have contributed, including the Griffiths family and many former students of Griffiths, such as Ottawa architect Robert Martin. He recalls working with her on his thesis. “There were times when I had a lot of self-doubt and even wondered if I could get through this whole endeavor. Nan was very steadfast and supportive, and I appreciated that.” 

 “It’s really satisfying to see this room come to fruition,” said Anna Griffiths, Nan’s daughter. “I know mum would have been extremely happy and proud.”