Ronald James Thom

Ronald James Thom, architect (b at Penticton, BC 15 May 1923; d at Toronto 29 Oct 1986). He first became known nationally as the designer of MASSEY COLLEGE in Toronto (1963) while still a partner of Thompson, Berwick and Pratt, Vancouver. His own Toronto-based practice, the Thom Partnership, was established in 1963. Earlier, he had designed a distinguished series of private houses and many other BC buildings.

From Toronto he planned the campus and designed colleges and the main library for TRENT UNIVERSITY, Peterborough, Ont (1963-79), as well as thoughtful alterations and additions to existing buildings in town for the university's use. The SHAW FESTIVAL Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont (1973), was also a sensitive addition to an historic environment. A more utilitarian project was the Atria North office complex (Toronto, 1980), an energy-efficient commercial office development.

An example of the unusual and highly specialized projects undertaken is the planning of the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo (1974) and the design of its major pavilions, including the African and Indo-Malaysian pavilions (in association with Craig & Boake and Clifford & Laurie).

Thom was trained as a painter at the Vancouver School of Art, and his interest in architecture was awakened there by painter B.C. BINNING. His work has been notable for his ability to include richness of colour and detail within projects that encompass many buildings on large sites. His buildings manifest a clear sense of coherence without geometric rigidity. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1980.