Ottawa-based architect Allan Teramura was recently inducted as the 77th president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, often referred to as RAIC. Around 120 guests attended the formal ceremony at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa last Friday, which included the RAIC board of directors, RAIC members, Parliament Hill reps, First Nations communities, and government departments. Canadian author Joseph Boyden gave the keynote address.
An advocate for healthy and sustainable Aboriginal communities, Teramura emphasized that architects must help better address social injustices within Canadian Indigenous communities as well as cooperate with and promote their existing knowledge in seeking architectural solutions — ideals that can also apply to the architecture profession at a global scale.
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"'As architects, I think we would all agree that losing traditional building crafts and knowledge of ways of organizing physical space can be as corrosive to a society as the loss of a spoken language,' Teramura said in his investiture speech. 'The built environment in Indigenous communities tends to be discussed in terms of housing issues, but in my view the problem is compounded by the absence of cultural identity, and this is seldom discussed'...'At a time when talk of reconciliation is growing, our profession is in a position to – and, therefore, is obligated to – look at ways to help address injustices, not by imposing our ideas, but by listening and promoting the professional competencies that already exist in Indigenous communities.'”
"Teramura sees similarities between the living conditions on reserves to the internment camps where Japanese-Canadians, including his grandparents and parents, were forcibly placed during the Second World War. 'They are a technological solution for housing, not intended to be permanent. You realize you’re dealing with something that is not a normal community, but a camp. A camp is a settlement with no future by definition,' he said."
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Teramura wonders if he ever considered an alternative profession to architecture; his father was in construction, and his older brother is also an architect. He studied at the University of Manitoba where he earned a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and received the University Gold Medal. Subsequently, he attended the Carleton University School of Architecture, graduating in 1990. In 2001, Allan joined Watson MacEwen Architects as an associate and joined the RAIC the next year. In 2009, he became a partner and Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects was established.
His recent projects include the restoration of the Tropical Greenhouse at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, conservation work at the Amherst and Halifax, armouries, ongoing work on Centre Block on Parliament Hill, as well as various strategic planning studies in the Parliamentary Precinct. From 2011 to 2015, Allan served as the RAIC Regional Director for Ontario East, North, and Nunavut. He has volunteered as a member of the City of Ottawa’s Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee and sat on the board of the Ottawa Region Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council. He is a member of UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites. In 2015, Teramura was the RAIC’s lead representative on an application for a legal injunction to halt the construction of the proposed Memorial to Victims of Communism in the Judicial Precinct of Ottawa."
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