The Legacy of Rod Robbie
Interesting article about finding a lasting home for the architectural archives of Rod Robbie. It reveals something about Canadians general lack of awareness and appreciation of good architectural design.
I joined Robbie's firm, Robbie Sane Architects Inc., as the SkyDome project was nearing completion and the firm was returning to it's usual size and projects. The many iterations of design models, sketches, drawings and files were piled up all over the building (a once grand old Victorian mansion on St. George St.,) even in my accounting office.
Rod Robbie and his wife were remarkable, fascinating people; both were charming, slightly eccentric and occasionally infuriating Brits. Their children inherited many of those traits. Enid championed Rod's long career: at the time when most people would be anticipating retirement she insisted that they risk everything and re-mortgaged their home so that he could develop a submission for SkyDome's architectural competition. (My final best estimate was well over $250,000 in employee labour, consultants and other costs to enter the competition.)
Rod is best known now for SkyDome but Enid always seem aware of the historical importance of Robbie's long career in architecture. He started off working as a staff architect for British Rail, designing new standards for ticket offices and related functional furniture. A few years after immigrating to Canada, Rod and his architectural partner Colin Vaughan designed the Canadian Pavilion for Montreal's Expo '67 (the iconic inverted pyramid.) He later developed a new, widely adopted schematic design for Canadian elementary schools (which explains why so many schools built in the 1970s seem similar) and the firm became known for it's expertise in school projects. Rod once angrily insisted to me that it was a general architectural practice, I responded that our current client revenues and projects list said otherwise. After Rod was awarded the SkyDome project and well into her 60s, Enid went back to school and earned a PhD in English literature from UofT.
It would be a shame if Robbie's architectural archives were not accessible to future architectural students and historians. Even back when I worked for the firm (nearly 20 years ago?) Enid had me involved in preliminary research into finding a home for them. #SkyDome #RodRobbie #architects