Larry Wayne Richards

Title:  Larry Wayne Richards fonds

Date(s) of creation: 1905-2007

Physical description: 31 metres of multimedia records

Admin. history/Biographical Sketch: 
Professor Richards was born on 24 November 1944 and grew up on a farm near Muncie, Indiana.  He attended school locally before entering Miami University in Oxford, Indiana, from which he received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1967.  He took his masters degree at Yale University from 1973 to 1975, where he was a teaching assistant and was awarded the Everett Meeks Graduate Fellowship (1974) and was a finalist for the American Rome Prize in Architecture (1975). 

In 1967, Professor Richards began his professional career in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a designer for The Architects Collaborative, Inc. (TAC), which was headed by Walter Gropius; he stayed until 1972.  From 1968 to 1971 he was also a part-time instructor in Architecture at Garland Junior College in Boston and in 1972-1973 he was assistant professor at the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  From 1971 to 1975 he also had a private practice in Boston, Florence (Italy) and New Haven.  In 1972 he was certified as an architect in Massachusetts.

Professor Richards left the United States for Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1975, where he was hired as assistant professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the Nova Scotia Technical College.  In addition to design studio teaching, he was responsible for ‘Introduction to Architecture’, an elective course in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dalhousie University (1975 through 1978).  He coordinated a 1977 study abroad programme in China and Japan, and developed the guest lecture series.  In 1978 he was appointed Campus Design Coordinator for the university.   The same year Professor Richards formed a design group called NETWORKS with two former students, Brian Lyons and Eric Fiss.  A year later, Frederic Urban joined them.  Numerous projects by NETWORKS were published in the monograph, Larry Richard Works, 1977-1980 (1980).

In 1980 Professor Richards left for the University of Toronto.  As an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, he co-coordinated the 1980-81 fourth-year programme and the fall 1981 studio in Venice.  He developed and taught a new course, “Introduction to Architecture,” at University College. After one year; he left, as had others such as Alberto Perez Gomez and Daniel Libeskind, due to “the non-hospitable environment and resistance to change…that prevailed”  there.

Professor Richards’ next appointment was Director of the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture. He “commenced his work there in the fall of 1981, officially leaving U of T in January 1982. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to go to the vibrant Waterloo School”,   and his tenure as director was a fruitful one. In addition to his administrative and teaching duties, he was very active on University committees, especially those relating to design, on a number of professional bodies, as a guest critic at Carleton University and the University of Toronto, and (in 1987) guest editor and curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

During his time at Waterloo, Professor Richards maintained close contact with Toronto and the U of T. This was to have a significant impact on his future.  He wrote that, in 1985,‘when the U of T school of architecture reached a point of self-isolation, total turmoil, and near-closure, I was invited to highly confidential meetings with v.p. Joan Foley and other top administrators to see if I might consider being telescoped in as dean to help save and turn around the school. The university could not meet my basic conditions for taking the position, and I stayed at Waterloo. In 1996 I was
again courted by the University of Toronto, primarily by v.p. and provost, Adel Sedra, and commenced as dean in January 1997, serving for seven-and-one-half years, through June 2004. Transforming and revitalizing the school during that period was an entirely rewarding, fulfilling experience for me.’

Professor Richards brought some fundamental changes to the Faculty.  He devised and implemented two long-range academic plans, the renovation (over several years and including the renovation and expansion of library and the creation of the Eric Arthur Gallery) of 230 College Street, and the establishment of the Faculty’s first endowed chair, the Frank Gehry International Chair in Architectural Design (2003).  Other accomplishments included “rebranding” the Faculty, the creation of its first Advancement Office, and a successful fundraising drive.  Professor Richards was also deeply involved in the architect selection processes for major projects on the University’s St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough campuses, and sat on a number of other University committees and boards that were primarily associated with planning and design.

Professor Richards is dedicated to “nurturing a broad understanding of and appreciation for the art of architecture” and, in particular, his own field of interest, post-modernism.  Each year he teaches an “Introduction to Architecture” course at the University of Toronto; it now enrols more than 400 students annually.  His own creative work engages collage processes to represent conceptual architectural projects.  Professor Richards’ work has been shown internationally, and several of his drawings are in the collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

Professor Richards membership in professional affiliations ranges from Canadian associations such as the Ontario Association of Architects, the Royal Architectural Institute to Canada, and the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, to American bodies such as the American Institute of Architects and the Institute for Urban Design in New York City. He has been an advisor and consultant to a wide number of projects, has sat on numerous juries, and held appointments on a variety of boards, committees and councils, including (in addition to most of the bodies previously mentioned) the Ontario Heritage Foundation, the Canadian Architectural Certification Board, the Design Exchange (Toronto), the Canada Council’s Canadian Prix de Rome Committee, and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

He has received grants for a number of research projects, especially ones relating to Japan, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, for the study of cylindrical space, and (in 1982) for a series of television programmes.  He has given many talks to student and professional groups and to the wider public.  Honours bestowed on him include being elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (1998) and receiving the RAIC Award of Excellence (Advocate for Architecture) in 2007.

Professor Richards and Frederic Urban, his partner since 1967, live in Toronto and maintain a house in Nachitoches, Louisiana.

Scope and content: 
Personal records of Larry Wayne Richards, architect and educator, documenting his personal life, education and professional life, especially his teaching and administrative work at the Nova Scotia Technical College and as dean of Architecture at the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto.  Also documented is his involvement with many innovative design projects, both as a working architect and as an advisor.  Included is his work as a member of the Physical Planning and Design Committee at the University of Toronto (especially for Graduate House) and the restoration of 230 College Street.  There are extensive files on his work for the Canadian Centre for Architecture, including the Venice Biennales of 1991 and 1996 and as an advisor to the Royal Ontario Museum’s ‘Renaissance ROM’ project (architect, Daniel Libeskind).  There are also files of correspondence and related material on many architects, especially Frank Gehry. 

There are two parallel numbering systems for the containers in B2007-0011; one for material arranged and described, and another, in square brackets, e.g. [#66] for boxes of material that is still to be arranged and described.  The second numbering system is that used by Professor Richards.

Access/Use: Restricted; Letters of reference (Series 3, B2007-0011 box 016, files 04 – 15) are restricted for 30 years from last date of file activity.  All other records are open.

Finding aids: Larry Wayne Richards fonds

Related records in a different fonds: Frederic Urban fonds

Accruals: Further accruals are expected.

Corresponding accessions: B2007-0011, B2009-0005