Awards Order of Canada
Name Shirley Blumberg
|Practice KPMB Architects|
|Born February 4, 1952 (age 63) (1952-02-04) Cape Town, South Africa|
Alma mater University of Toronto (1976)
Shirley Blumberg (born February 4, 1952) is a Canadian architect. She is a founding partner of KPMB Architects in Toronto, a Canadian practice. KPMB Architects is recognized for its commitment to city building and architectural excellence. In 2013, Blumberg was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada "for her contributions to architecture and for her commitment to creating spaces that foster a sense of community." Notable projects include the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Campus, 2011 which is the recipient of the Royal Institute of British Architects International Award (2012), the Architectural Record “Good Design is Good Business Award” (2013) and the Governor General’s Medal for Excellence (2014).
Blumberg was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1972. She immigrated to Canada in opposition to Apartheid in her home country in 1974, after spending a year in London, England. She completed her education in Canada graduating with Honours from the University of Toronto School of Architecture in 1976.
In 1977, she joined Barton Myers Associates, Inc. in Toronto and worked 10 years as an associate until Myers decided to move his office to Los Angeles. This catalyzed Blumberg to join forces with three other associates of Barton Myers – Bruce Kuwabara, Thomas Payne and Marianne McKenna – to form Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB), in 1987.
Blumberg has focused on projects of architecture that benefit society and has directed a range of projects that speak to issues of pluralism, housing, and community building. This work includes the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Don Mills, Ontario and the Toronto Community Housing, Block 32 and adjacent Fort York Branch Library. Current projects include the Global Centre for Pluralism for the Aga Khan in Ottawa and the Lawrence Heights Redevelopment in Toronto. She is also the partner-in-charge of the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan (Mendel Art Gallery), the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and 20 Washington Road for Princeton University. Blumberg is also part of the campus framework planning effort for Princeton University with Urban Strategies and Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates.
Blumberg is a member of the Toronto Community Housing Design Review Panel, and has served on the City of Toronto Design Review Panel. In 2014 Blumberg served on the design review panel for the memorial to the Victims of Communism. Proposed to be located on one of the last pieces of open land in the parliamentary district of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Blumberg voted against the design and catalyzed a protest against the initiative and the location.
Shirley led the gelling of the Design Exchange, an architectural clash including the 1990s Ernst & Young Tower, 1930s Moderne machismo and a 1960s Mies van der Rohe’s Toronto-Dominion Centre next door. She was partner-in-charge of this $8 million project at Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, the architecture firm that won the job in January 1988, after beating 40 other design firms in an interview process. Her attention to detail and thought process for every part of the Design Exchange allowed her to unify these clashing architectural styles into one distinguished building. Beyond using a variety of materials, Shirley used them in virtuosic ways, saying, “we wanted to demonstrate their limits, to see how far we could push them.” During this project she says, "design isn’t just people sitting around and sketching on a drawing board. It’s a huge industry with many collaborators, from designers to fabricators to suppliers.”
Some of Blumberg's public service included being a part of the seven-member jury that evaluated finalists for new Ottawa memorial to victims of communism. Her main criticism to the project was why a memorial to victoms of communism was so prominent and so “centrally placed that it would seem to quite overshadow Canada’s true history,” as well as the memorial not being able to be built for the estimated price of $5.5 million.