Architect co-designed Canadian War Museum and led initiative to build Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence
Ottawa Construction News staff writer
Alex Rankin, founding partner of GRC Architects and a leader in the local and national architectural community, has died on July 31 at age 74.
Rankin brought a trades-focused perspective to the architectural profession, combining his interest in art with his father’s engineering background. He was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated in Ireland and England.
After moving to Canada in 1965, he joined the Ottawa firm of brothers Tim and Pat Murray, becoming a partner in 1972, says an obituary published by the Canadian War Museum, which Rankin’s GRC Architects designed with Moriyama and Teshima Architects of Toronto. “In 1985, he co-founded with Tony Griffith sand John Cook the firm Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects, shortened to GRC Architects in 2009,” the museum’s obituary notice says. “Although GRC specializes in public projects in Canada, the firm has completed projects in many other countries, including Malawi, England, Ireland and Jamaica.”
Rankin believed that the skilled trades and architectural/design professions needed to be brought closer together, and this belief is one reason he was one of the leaders behind the initiative to plan and fund-raise for the new Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE).
He achieved success within his profession, as well. He became a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) in 1994, and acted as a chancellor of the Royal College of Fellows from 2009 to 2011. “In the 90s, he acted as regional director and vice-president of the RAIC Board of Directors and also participated locally as chairman of the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects and the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA),” the RAIC notice said. “In addition to being a very accomplished architect, his commitment to the next generation through teaching and mentoring leaves all those who knew him with the knowledge their future can be assured through the type of commitment he emulated. He was a constant in the profession and his sage advice and vision will be missed.”
Meanwhile, James Witham, director general of the Canadian War Museum, said that Rankin’s passing is a loss to all Canadians. “He and Raymond Moriayama created a structure that in its design and materials embodies war’s sequence of devastation, survival and rebirth,” Witham said. “Alex’s deep commitment to expressing through architecture the courage and sacrifices of Canada’s veterans and their families was inspiring to all who worked with him.”
Raymond Moriyama, co-founder of Moriyama and Teshima Architects, wrote that he and Alex had been friends for more than 30 years. “Alex was a great man – full of honour, passion, integrity, Irish humour, love of the profession and good architect, and a complete devotion to ‘his Liz’ and son Peter,” he wrote. “He will be greatly missed.”