Allan Teramura, an Ottawa architect advocating for healthy and sustainable aboriginal communities, is the 77th president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) following a formal ceremony on Jan. 15.
The national organization has about 5,000 members.
About 120 guests attended the investiture ceremony at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa. Award-winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden delivered the keynote address.
Guests included RAIC members, the RAIC board of directors, representatives from Parliament Hill, government departments and First Nations communities, as well as allied professionals with an interest in the built environment.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Teramura received the President’s Medal from the 2015 president Samuel Oghale Oboh, FRAIC, of Edmonton. During his tenure, Oboh was instrumental in the signing of agreements between the RAIC and several international architectural associations, as well as many of the Canadian architectural regulatory bodies. He also represented Canada at the COP21 Conference in Paris where he brought the RAIC’s voice to the global discussion of climate change.
“Architects are well positioned to assist Canada to achieve its targets in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” says Teramura of continuing Oboh’s work on this key issue. “The building sector is ready and able to do its part.”
About Allan Teramura
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 with a Degree with High Distinction. He was also the recipient of the Research Thesis Prize and the RAIC Student Medal for highest overall academic standing.
He went on to work as an intern architect with the award-winning Vancouver firms of Patkau Architects and Henriquez Partners, and later in Ottawa with Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects and GRC Architects.
In 2001, Teramura 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, he 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.