Showing 18 results

Archival description
University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services Larry Wayne Richards fonds Series
Print preview View:

Buildings and projects

Professor Richards’ practice as a professional architect in the United States, Italy and Canada “has resulted in more than 50 buildings and projects, including work in urban design, architecture, interior design, furniture design, and graphics.” His use of “collage processes to represent conceptual architectural projects” [1] and his interest in the work of Japanese architects is also documented in this series.

This series begins with a number of files on design assembled by Professor Richards, including one on McDonald’s, and miscellaneous notes and sketches, mostly from the 1970s and the 1980s. The dated designs are arranged chronologically. The most completely documented projects, most with accompanying correspondence and notes, are for Arthur’s Restaurant, the two projects for Romero Romei, the Mill Cove residence, the Faenza competition, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre project, and the AIDS Memorial competition for Cawthra Park on Church Street in Toronto. Examples of his design work may also be found in Series 7 to 9.

[1] Professor Richard’s curriculum vitae (June 2004), p. 3 and 19.

Employment: University of Toronto

Professor Richards was lured to the University of Toronto in 1980 by the new Dean, Blanche van Ginkel, who had earlier recruited several new young faculty members, including Alberto Perez Gomez and Daniel Libeskind. Both had left by the time Richards arrived and he soon found out why. He “walked into a rat’s nest of warring factions. The inflexible ideologues, led by Prof. Peter Pragnell, were totally closed to student and younger faculty’s interests in post-modernism.” Richards soon became disillusioned and found reward only through the new ‘Introduction to Architecture’ course he developed and taught at University College. He also co-ordinated the 1980-1981 fourth-year core programme and (with Michael Kirkland) the fall 1981 studio in Venice [1]. After a year he left Toronto for the position of associate professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo.

Although Professor Richards maintained contact with the University of Toronto (he withdrew his candidacy for the deanship in 1985) and actually moved from Waterloo to Toronto in 1990, it was not until January 1997 that he returned to the Faculty, this time as dean, an appointment that was to last 7 ½ years. “He led a division of 22 core and 48 part-time faculty, 20 staff, and 275 graduate students, which offers three degree programs: a professional Master of Architecture, a professional Master of Landscape Architecture, and a post-professional Master of Urban Design…He gained approvals for and implemented two long-range academic plans, the 2000 PLAN and the 2004 PLAN, leading to the reinvigoration of the creative life of the school. His accomplishments included facilitating the incremental renovation of the building at 230 College Street by leading Toronto architects and establishing the Faculty’s first endowed chair, The Frank Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architectural Design, launched in 2003. He established the Faculty’s first Advancement Office and raised more than $8-million in new funding through the division’s “Design the Future” campaign. [He also]…played a key role in assisting the University with architect selection processes for major projects on its three campuses.” [2] On the St. George campus three significant buildings by international architects were erected: the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Bimolecular Research (Alliance + Behnisch Architekten), the Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building (Norman Foster) and Graduate House (Morphosis, Thom Mayne).

The earliest records in the series consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports and associated material documenting Professor Richards’ stint as assistant professor in 1980-1981; the files cover the activities mentioned above. There are also files on the 1985 search for a dean and the attempt to close the School, followed by several on Richards’ appointment as dean. Files are then arranged in descending order of hierarchy, beginning with the Governing Council, its Physical Planning and Design Advisory Committee’s campus planning initiatives (concerning, especially, Graduate House), and meetings of principals, deans, academic directors and chairs. Except for the above committees, those mentioned in Professor Richards’ curriculum vitae are largely absent from this series.

The records of the School/Faculty from 1997-2007 include correspondence; Richards’ activities and his reports; budgets, the 2000 and 2004 long-range plans, and fundraising initiatives. There are files on the restructuring of courses and the renaming and repositioning of the School (using, in part, the expertise of designer Bruce Mau) and the renovations to 230 College Street (the Shore Moffatt Library and the Eric Arthur Gallery). Richards kept extensive files on trips to Japan, Hong Kong and China relating to the Faculty’s ‘Designs for Living’ cultural exchange project. The series concludes with files on the creation of the Gehry Chair; courses taught; lecture series; exhibitions; and publicity. The files on the courses taught contain course outlines, assignments, tests, examination questions, and some lectures.

[1] Personal communication from Larry Richards, 23 July 2009
[2] Drawn from Professor Richard’s curriculum vitae (June 2004), p. 3.

Employment: University of Waterloo

Upon leaving Halifax, Professor Richards taught for a year at the University of Toronto (see Series 8) before being hired as an associate professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. In 1982 he was appointed dean for a six-year term. In addition to his broad administrative duties, including the hiring of five new faculty members, he coordinated a number of design courses, including the 1982 Thesis Programme and was instrumental in developing the School’s new first year programme, upper level option studios, revised technology stream, its fund raising campaign, computer laboratory, slide library, Rome facilities, exchange agreement with the Nanjing Institute of Technology (Southeast China University) and the guest lecture series [1]. Professor Richards also served on the University of Waterloo’s Board of Governors Buildings and Properties Committee as it dealt with three projects – the William G. Davis Computer Centre, the Student Centre, and an addition to Burt Matthews Hall. He sat (1983-1987) on the Senate and four of its sub-committees and on the Faculty of Environmental Studies Executive Committee (1982-87).

He also served on a number of professional bodies (see Series 13), was guest critic at Carleton University and the University of Toronto and in 1987 was appointed guest editor and curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

This series documents most of the activities described in the first paragraph above. The
files are arranged in descending order of hierarchy, beginning with the Board of Governors. The work of Board and School committees is covered in considerable detail, as are the courses offered in so far as their facilitation and structure is concerned (there are few extant lectures). Some of the courses, such as 493 (Options Studio), include study tours to cities such as Montreal and Los Angeles. The courses are arranged by course number and chronologically, and photographs accompany some of the files. The series ends with files on lecture series, exhibitions, and university publicity.

[1] Drawn from Professor Richard’s curriculum vitae (June 2004), p. 3.

Employment: Nova Scotia Technical College

From 1975 to 1980 Professor Richards was an assistant professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the Nova Scotia Technical College (later the Technical University of Nova Scotia). From 1975 to 1978 he was responsible for “Introduction to Architecture”, an elective course at Dalhousie University. In 1977 he co-ordinated a study abroad programme in China and Japan and developed the guest lecture series. In 1978 he was appointed Campus Design Co-ordinator.

All of these activities are documented in this series. The correspondence files address his employment, his administrative duties and related professional activities. Except for his work as Campus Design Co-ordinator and his teaching, few other activities are covered in detail. Most of the files are devoted to his teaching duties (though there are few lecture notes per se), including the study abroad program, and to the lecture series offered in the Faculty. There is a large collection of drawings and projects relating to his activities in Halifax. There are also several publications documenting the activities of faculty and staff and a few items about the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. The arrangement of the files follows the above description.

Early employment

This series documents Professor Richards early years in the architecture profession, beginning with began his work as a designer for The Architects Collaborative, Inc. (TAC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1967-1972), as a part-time instructor in Architecture at Garland Junior College in Boston (1968-1971), as assistant professor at the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana (1972-1973), and his private practice in Boston, Florence (Italy) and New Haven (1971-1975). The files are grouped by employment activity in chronological order.

The series begins with files on two competitions. The first, in 1968, was an annual architectural competition sponsored by Pittsburgh Plate Glass. Richards’ unsuccessful entry was influenced by the work and style of Paul Rudolph, whose Art and Architecture building at Yale University was one of the reasons he went there for his masters degree [1]. In 1971 Richards’ competed, again unsuccessfully, for the Rosch Travelling Scholarship with a design for a subway station.

Most of the files document his design work with TAC, including background material for the addition to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts (the original correspondence and drawing are with the Institute), the new headquarters of the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC, and the IBM building at East Fishkill, New York. Included is correspondence, memoranda, sketches, architectural drawings and photographs.

Richards’ work in private practice is represented primarily in Series 9: Buildings and project. The series ends with files on the teaching of a course in architecture at Garland Junior College, his employment at Ball State University, and a course he gave at Ipswich High School in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1974 with his partner, Frederic Urban, who taught there. Included is correspondence, course outlines, lecture notes, press coverage and photographs.

This series also contains several files on Fred Uban’s employment, especially at Chemsford Senior High School and Ipswich High School, and inquiries about employment. These files may be compared to others on Fred’s employment in accession B2007-0012. The series ends with several files on Frederic Urban’s employment, and enquiring about same.

[1] Personal communication from Larry Richards, 21 July 2009

Professional correspondence

This series consist of professional correspondence that Professor Richards maintained apart from that in his files in Series 4. Included are files of general correspondence (1969-2005), a
file (with photos) on the proposed destruction of the Dominion Bank building in Windsor, Ontario, applications for employment (1974-1994), letters of reference (1976-2005), and correspondence with (along with related material on) architects, writers on architecture, and
designers such as Stirling Cook (including setting up the Stirling Cook Scholarship Fund at
Miami University), Frank Gehry, Kazuhiro Ishii, Daniel Libeskind, Brian MacKay-Lyons, and Bruce Mau.

The files contain correspondence, photographs, programmes, press coverage, and associated design items. The arrangement of the general correspondence and the applications for employment is chronological, while the letters of reference and the architects and associates are arranged alphabetically.

Personal correspondence

The private correspondence in this fonds is largely confined to this series, within accession B2009-0005, although some may be found in Series 1, 2, with a few letters scattered here and there throughout some of the remaining series.

The personal correspondence in this series covers the years 1959 to 2007, though there are no letters for the years 1992, 1993, and from 1997 to 2006. No e-mail is included in this series. From 1959 to 1963, the correspondence consists of letters, postcards, and the occasional Christmas or birthday card sent to Professor Urban. There after, and especially after Professors Richards and Urban met in 1967 and moved in together, the correspondence is more or less evenly divided between the two. In addition to their parents, siblings, grandparents, and various aunts and uncles, many of whom were prolific letter writers, the two men had a wide circle of friends, both gay and straight, with whom they maintained contact over the years. Some wrote only occasionally either by letter, postcard, or Christmas card, but their close friends wrote often and at length. Photographs accompanying the letters have been selectively retained and are appended to the letters themselves, except in the few cases where they are numerous.

There is a noticeable decline in the number of letters after 1979 – the number of letters fell slowly through the 1980s and by two-thirds in 1988 and 1989, with none for March to July 1990 – followed by a dramatic fall after 1990. There are only about 20 for the years 1991 and 1994-1996 and two for 2007. The initial decline has been attributed to both professors being very busy and having less time for personal correspondence, and fewer letters from their parents and other family members, partly due to aging and deaths. Some of Professor Richards’ and Urban’s most prolific gay correspondents had succumbed to AIDS or other illnesses by 1990, while letters from some of their most prolific correspondence declined in number. There are, for example, few letters after 1981 from Stirling Cook, perhaps the most consistent correspondent of their gay friends, but also fewer from their faithful letter writing straight friends, especially David and Christine Drake (after1982).

The principal family correspondents on Professor Richard’s side were his parents, Byron and Virginia, his paternal grandmother Irene Richards, his brother Roger, and his sister Pam, with the occasional letter from his material grandmother, Iva Wright. Professor Urban’s core family correspondents were his mother, his brother John, his sisters Jean Brosseau and Mary Balducci, and his aunts Ella Urban and Betty Murray. Other aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces wrote sporadically and/or dutifully sent Christmas and birthday cards.

Professor Richard’s parents and his grandmother Irene Richards enclosed press clippings on a regular basis. These covered local events and some of state and national politics, the weather (mostly notable winter storms), Byron Richards’ interest in the Cumberland County covered bridge and anything about architecture or design, especially relating to Ball State University where Professor Richards was briefly employed. The clipping relating to family and friends (especially those annotated), and to design and architecture have, for the most part, been retained and are appended to the letters (some in oversized folders, B2009-0005/002); the other clippings have not been kept. This also applies to the clippings sent to Professor Richards by his friends, especially David Drake.

Both Larry and Fred made long lasting friends at school and at college who proved to be their most prolific correspondents. Straight friends included David and Christine Drake, Vikky Alexander, Fred Clough, Robbie Dreicer, Eric Fiss and Nan Legate, Jim French, Richard Kibbey, Alain Langlois, Dan Leclerc , Don Matheson, Mike Opleger, Vladimeer Oustimovitch, Arlene Pitlick, Thalia Poons, Rob Price, Edward G. Roddy, Jr., Tim Rose, Jim Sink, Ross Smith, and Harriet Wright. Gay ones included David Anderson, George Ashley, Martin Brook, Paul Chaisson, Sterling Cook, Jim Dumont, Don Fritz, Welyn ‘Lynn’ Harris and Ruth Parsons, Frank Hebb, Donnie Josephson, Larry Klekota, Claude Lalonde, , Walter Lichenstein and Jack Vanek, Scott MacNeill, Philip McAleer, Charles ‘Chic’ Maloney (a Boston lawyer), Don Matheson, Ed McQuarrie, Claudio Santon, Michael Stewart, Theobold Volker, and Manuel Yanez.

Professor Richards wrote that “Fred and I have both been rather open on all fronts as individuals and as a couple over the past nearly 44 years, and with very few negative repercussions,” [1] though for a number of years his parents found it difficult to accept their relationship. (For Professor Richard’s statement on the latter, see Appendix 1.) This openness is reflected in their correspondence, especially with friends (both gay and straight), in which they candidly discussed their sexuality, their relationship, and a variety of issues, including political ones, affecting gays and lesbians. Their friends responded in kind. Many other ideas and issues were discussed as well, especially ones relating to their professional and aesthetic interests, but their sexuality remained a strong current throughout their correspondence.

[1]: E-mail to Harold Averill, 2010-11-11.


This series documents elements of Professor Richards’ and Frederic Urban’s education, beginning (for Larry) with elementary school in Matthews, Indiana and proceeding through his university education at Miami University (B.Arch 1967) and Yale University (M.Arch 1975) and for Frederic, education at Cathedral High School, Merrimack College, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and courses offered elsewhere. The surviving records for Larry’s early education are fragmentary and even the files for Yale University have some gaps. The files on Frederic’s education are complemented by those in his personal records, B2007-0012. The arrangement for each individual is by institution attended in chronological order.

The series begins with notebooks and memorabilia from Professor Richard’s public school studies [for his ‘Memories of my school days’, see Series 16], and correspondence and course material, primarily project and design notes and drawings (3 major projects), and a yearbook from his undergraduate studies at Miami University. The files on Yale include the portfolio Richards’ presented for admission, course notes, project drawings, memorabilia, and a file on the Yale University tuition postponement plan, and photographs. The drawings include conceptual project material for projects under Professor Moore and a variety of project drawings and figure drawings. Fred’s files include correspondence, programmes, memorabilia, and related publications.


The photographs in this fonds have been removed from files in the above series, as indicated. Most are prints but there are some accompanying negatives and a few slides.

Approx. 750 photoprints, 400 photonegatives, and 70 slides (B2007-0011)

Approx. 2 contact prints, 91 photoprints, x photonegatives, 3 slides (B2009-0005)


Professor Richards has been a popular speaker at conferences, symposia, and lecture series, and also on radio and television. Many of his addresses and presentations are listed in his curriculum vitae under ‘Invited lectures’, ‘Conferences and symposia’, and ‘Radio and television’. In this series, these categories are intermingled and the addresses are filed chronologically. Not all of the addresses are present; some are filed in other series. And others have not been located. For example, there are no addresses for 1985 and only one (1992) between 1989 and 1995.

Professor Richards’ earliest listed television appearance was on CTV’s ‘University of the Air’ series (1982), in a five-part presentation on “Understanding architecture”. It is also his only television or radio presentation documented here. The series ends with an address by Robert Fulford at University College in 1991 on the impact of The death and life of great American cities 30 years after its publication.

Manuscripts and publications

Professor Richards’ interest in nurturing a broad understanding of an appreciation for the art of architecture, especially as it applies to modern architecture and the influences on him, ranging from Japanese and Chinese architecture to the design of commercial advertisements and popular cultural events such as raves, are documented in his writings. This series covers unpublished manuscripts and many, but not all, of the articles and books listed in Professor Richards’ curriculum vitae (June 2004), along with some that have appeared since. The arrangement is by name of title, filed chronologically.

The series begins with two boxes of files of articles about Professor Richards or in which he is mentioned. These are followed by letters to the editor, book reviews, and manuscripts and publications. The principal unpublished work is ‘The latent energies of Michelangelo’s private library’ (1974). The last title in the series is Richard’s foreword to Chu Dongzhu’s Starting design on architecture (2006).


Professor Richards has received funding for a number of research projects, most of which are documented in other series. The projects covered here include ‘The re-emergence of cylindrical space in current architectural theory and practice’ (1982-1984), ‘Modern architecture in Brazil’ (1988-1994), his book Toronto Places (1988-1991), and for ongoing work in and about Japan (2000-2001).

Conferences and symposia

The files document Professor Richards’ involvement with conferences and symposia that is not covered in other series. The principal ones are ‘The Villa’ (1986), the International Conference on Housing and Design held in Nanjing, China in 1987, the Harold Innis Centenary Celebration workshop and the Anyplace conference (both 1994), the International Conference on Courthouse Design (1998), ‘Talking design’ (2000) and ‘Span 4: symposium on branding and commodification’ held at the U of T in 2004.

Included is correspondence, notes, programmes, photographs and posters. The arrangement in chronological by name of event.

Professional associations

Professor Richards has been actively involved in architecture and design as an editor, curator, and educator, and has sat on numerous committees. The activities mentioned below are documented in considerable detail. They his work on the editorial boards of Trace (1979-1983), Journal of Architectural Education (1985-1987), and Canadian Architect (1999-2005), and his service with Canadian Council of University Schools of Architecture (1983-1987) and on the Fine Arts Committee of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1985-1987). In1987 the Canadian Centre for Architecture appointed him guest editor and curator for its exhibition on the building and gardens in conjunction with its official opening in 1989, and in1995 he was appointed a member of the Venice Biennale competition, also working through the CCA. In 1999 he was appointed to the Board of the Ontario Heritage Foundation. Other activities documented include his involvement with Networks Limited, where he was vice-president (1979-1983); the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the Design Exchange.


Professor Richards has, from the beginning of his career, been actively involved in exhibitions, both those to which he contributed items and those which he either curated and/or designed. Both categories are included and intermingled here. Some of the exhibitions listed in Professor Richards’ curriculum vitae are not included in this series.

The files contain correspondence, memoranda, notes, sketches and formal drawings, programmes, photographs, and press coverage. The exhibitions are arranged in chronological order and the most thoroughly documented ones are ‘The work of John Hejduk’, ‘O Kanada’ (1982-1983), ‘Entre espacos’, ‘Waterworks, ‘Buildings and gardens’, the Venice Biennales, and ‘E-12’.

Advising, assessing and consulting

In addition to his work as a juror, Professor Richards was active as a consultant or advisor to a number of projects, most associated with architectural and design, but some with academic matters such as tenure and the external supervision of theses. Some of the activities listed in his curriculum vitae are filed with other series and others are not documented in this series. The arrangement is chronologically by the name of the organization or individual concerned. The files may contain any or all of the following: correspondence, notes, memoranda, reports, photographs, architectural drawings and site plans.

The most heavily documented of his consulting work is with the selection of an architect for the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, the Environmental Sciences Building at Trent University; as a thesis advisor (1989-1990) to Brian Christianson of Miami University whose thesis was on Canadian architecture; as a member of the 2006 program review for the School of Architecture at McGill University; and his being a consultant to and a member of the Royal Ontario Museum’s architectural advisory committee regarding ‘Renaissance ROM’ and Daniel Libeskind’s project.. Two other well documented activities are his work as a member of the curatorial advisory board of Power Plant (1987-1990) and as a member of the visiting team of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (USA) to Texas State University (1992).

Architecture, art and design juries

Professor Richards has been since the early 1980s an active participant on architecture, art and design juries. The juries adjudicated projects ranging from student competitions to architectural grants (Canada Council), urban design awards (Etobicoke, Mississauga, Scarborough, Toronto), public art competitions (City of Waterloo, ice sculptures in Toronto), building projects (Coptic community master plan and cathedral, new city hall for Markham, Ontario), redevelopment projects such as Harbourfront and Pearson Airport, to architectural awards. Professor Richards was not a member of the jury for the Kitchener City Hall competition (1989) but he assembled a lot of material and also wrote about it. He was also a member of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority’s selection committee for lead architect in its Lester B. Pearson International Airport transformation project (1997).

The files contain correspondence, notes, photographs, architectural drawings, press coverage and reports. The arrangement is chronological and by the name of the project. The full name and date of each competition is listed in Professor Richards’ curriculum vitae (B2007-0011/001(02)-(06).

Personal and biographical

The contents of this series consists ‘biographical notes’, copies of Professor Richards curriculum vitae (1966-2004), and articles about him; files on the family tree and the death of his father from ALS; an address book, certificates and honours; memorabilia belonging both to him and his partner, Frederic (Fred) Urban; personal correspondence (primarily with family members and friends but including files on other personal matters and American politicians, including Edward Kennedy and Bill Clinton); some of Frederic’s personal correspondence; files on the various residences that he and Frederic have shared since 1967, including their house in Natchitoches, Louisiana; postcards and greeting cards; a notebook on dreams; day planners; a diary for the first six months of 1959; and journals, correspondence and notes for trips to Europe, various destinations in the United States, and the Far East between 1977 and 2007. The series ends with a collection of items on James Dean, who grew up on a farm a few miles from the Richards place and about whom Professor Richards wrote several pieces. Included are a number of photographs.