Abel Joseph Diamond
Abel Joseph Diamond, "Jack," architect, educator (born at Piet Retief, South Africa, 8 Nov 1932).
Abel Joseph Diamond, "Jack," architect, educator (born at Piet Retief, South Africa, 8 Nov 1932). Jack Diamond was educated at the University of Cape Town (B Arch 1956), Oxford University (MA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 1958), and the University of Pennsylvania (M Arch 1962), where he studied with Louis Kahn. Diamond arrived in Canada in 1964 as founding director of the new Master of Architecture program at the University of Toronto. He became associated with the city's reform movement, and by the late 1960s had established what would become one of its defining practices.
Jack Diamond's interest in reform has influenced not only his architecture, but also his published writings and his involvement with a variety of public agencies. From 1986 to 1989 he served as a commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and in 1995 he was one of 5 members of a task force enlisted to prepare recommendations for directing and managing the growth of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Canada's largest conurbation.
In addition to his position at the University of Toronto, Diamond has held academic appointments at York University and at the universities of Pennsylvania and Texas and is widely sought as a guest teacher and critic. In partnership with Barton Myers (1969-75), his important projects include York Square, Toronto; the Housing Union Building (HUB) at the University of Alberta, Edmonton; and Sherbourne Lanes Housing and the Ontario Medical Association Building, Toronto.
In 1975, Diamond established A.J. Diamond Architects, which, by 1989, had evolved into the partnership of A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmitt and Company, now known as Diamond Schmitt Architects. The firm has developed a reputation as a teaching office, encouraging a highly discursive and collaborative design process that has attracted many young architects, some of whom have gone on to establish their own well-respected practices. Important commissions include Jerusalem City Hall, the Bahen Centre for Information Technology at the University of Toronto, the entire campus for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ont, and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Other major projects include the Jewish Community Centre in New York City, Corus Quay in Toronto, La Maison Symphonique (home of the Montréal Symphony), the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute in Toronto and the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In much of Jack Diamond's early work, architectural expression is enlisted in the service of a larger urban order. Although current projects by Diamond Schmitt Architects continue to evolve and explore new interests in transparency and materiality, the fundamental precept behind all of Diamond's work remains: architecture and the city constitute an inextricable, symbiotic pair. The firm maintains a decades-long advocacy of sustainable design and urban density. Among the firm's more than 200 awards are 6 Governor General's Medals in Architecture, for Village Terrace in Toronto, the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, the Metropolitan Toronto Central YMCA, the Earth Sciences Centre at University of Toronto, York University Student Centre and the Richmond Hill Central Library.
A.J. Diamond has been a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) since 1980, and in 1994 was made an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He received the 1989 Toronto Arts Award for Architecture and Design, and was granted a Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa) from Dalhousie University in Halifax in 1995. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995, was named to the Order of Ontario in 1997, and was awarded the 2001 RAIC Gold Medal. Insight and On Site is a monograph of the firm's work and design philosophy, written by A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmitt and Don Gillmor in 2008, and in 2010 A.J. Diamond published a collection of his architectural paintings in the book Sketches from Here and There.
Brian Carter, ed, The Architecture of A.J. Diamond (1996); A. Jack Diamond, Spirited Place: Exhibition of Drawings and Water Colour Paintings (1996).