The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is saddened to learn of the sudden passing of RAIC Gold Medalist Bing Thom, FRAIC.
“Bing Thom was an internationally recognized leader in our profession,” said RAIC President Allan Teramura, FRAIC. “He was a mentor to many and a humane designer who believed in the importance of delight in architecture. His buildings are generous in their gift of public spaces, indoors and out. Bing leaves a legacy of buildings which bring grace to cities and campuses in Canada, the United States, and Hong Kong.”
Mr. Thom, of Vancouver, BC, was in Hong Kong, his birthplace, when he died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm, his wife Bonnie by his side. He was 75. He was in Hong Kong to work on what he considered to be the high point of his career – the Xiqu Centre for performing arts which is under construction.
Mr. Thom had a distinguished career as an architect and urban designer. In his buildings, swooping forms, the warmth of wood and play of light are brought together with deft skill and a touch of drama.
Barry Johns, FRAIC, Chancellor of the RAIC College of Fellows, called Mr. Thom “a beloved paragon of our profession, whose work brilliantly and consistently crosses borders and transforms sites, cities and people’s lives.”
In 2010, Mr. Thom and his firm were awarded the RAIC’s Architectural Firm of the Year award, and in 2011, he was awarded the RAIC's highest honour – the RAIC Gold Medal.
"The work of few practitioners fulfills the spirit and intent of the RAIC Gold Medal as Bing Thom's does,” the Gold Medal jury wrote. “It is generally understood that the Gold Medal should recognize and honour a life's work: Work that is noteworthy, instructive, influential, and at its best extraordinary. Mr. Thom’s work addresses all of these interests.”
In 1994, Mr. Thom was named a Fellow of the RAIC’s College of Fellows, an honour bestowed upon RAIC members in recognition of outstanding achievement. His citation noted that “Bing’s exemplary design skills are well-known and he has won the profession’s most prestigious awards. His work is always inventive, beautifully detailed and has a timeless quality.”
Mr. Thom received a Bachelor of Architecture in 1966 from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Architecture in 1970 from the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1971, he moved to Tokyo to work for Japanese architect-urbanist Fumihiko Maki. Returning to Canada in 1972, he joined Arthur Erickson Architects as project director and oversaw projects such as Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto (1977) and the Robson Square Courthouse Complex in Vancouver (1973–79).
In 1982, Mr. Thom launched his own practice. Today, the firm has offices in Vancouver, Washington and Hong Kong. Bing Thom Architects quickly developed a portfolio of projects noted both for design quality and innovative approaches to bringing projects – from single family houses to large urban complexes – to reality.
The Central City/Simon Fraser University Surrey project in Surrey, BC is looked to as a model both for its energetic architecture and mix of academic and commercial activities. The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia was the first of several of his arts facilities to gain recognition.
Successful projects include master plans for the Cities of Dalian and Yuxi in China; the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, BC; the Trinity Uptown Plan for Fort Worth, Texas; the Sunset Community Centre in Vancouver, and Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
In 1990, Bing Thom Architects received the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture (Excellence) for Point Grey Road Condominiums and a Governor General’s Award of Merit for the False Creek Yacht Club, both in Vancouver.
In 1995, Thom was made a Member of the Order of Canada, and he was a recipient of the Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to his country.