- Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg Architects (archive creator)
- Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg Architects (architectural firm)
- Bruce Kuwabara (architect)
- Shirley Blumberg (architect)
- Thomas Payne (architect)
- Marianne McKenna (architect)
Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg fonds
Level of archival description:
Extent and medium:
Approximately 49,200 drawings
131 photographic materials
0.047 l.m. of textual records
Scope and content:
The Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg fonds, 1984-2003, documents the firm’s work in Canada and internationally from before the firm’s official establishment to the mid-2000s. The fonds contains materials for approximately 125 projects that consist of architecture, urban planning, interior design and urban design. Most of the firm’s work before 2000 is documented in the fonds to a varying degree. The materials for many major projects show the early design work by the architect(s), the development of the design and the finished working drawings and presentation drawings. However, many unbuilt projects include only sketches. While the majority of the materials in this fonds are original drawings, presentation panels, paintings, models, photographs and some textual materials are also included.
The first four donations to the CCA, in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996, were arranged by project and materials within each project were arranged by perceived design phase. The subsequent donations were arranged by design phase by the in-house archivist at the firm before arriving at the CCA. The design phases, in order, consist of surveys, sketches, preliminary design drawings, design development drawings, presentation materials, preliminary working drawings, final working drawings, and final presentation materials. After the 1997 accession, project materials from each new accession were arranged separately. The materials from all accessions have now been compiled by project and follow the arrangement scheme intended by the firm’s in-house archivist where possible.
All materials are arranged into 1 series:
AP056.S1: Architectural projects
The firm of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, today called KPMB Architects, was formed in 1987 as an equal partnership between Bruce Kuwabara, Thomas Payne, Marianne McKenna and Shirley Blumberg. The four Toronto-based architects had previously been working together as associates at the firm of Barton Myers. Around 1987, Myers closed his firm in Toronto to move to California, opening an opportunity for the four architects to start their own firm. Over the last three decades, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects has gained an international reputation for design excellence in architecture, planning, urban design and interior design. The firm has received numerous awards and won several design competitions in Canada and USA. From the time of its founding, the firm was unusual in its work structure, favouring a heterogeneous approach rather than the classic hierarchy present in most practices at the time. The gender and ethnic diversity of the team was also uncommon in 1987. As equal partners, the four leaders usually worked on individual projects, partnering up when more than one architect’s expertise was necessary.
Bruce Kuwabara was born to Japanese-Canadian parents in Hamilton, Ontario in 1949. He studied architecture at the University of Toronto, where he graduated in 1972. Today, Kuwabara is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the RAIC Gold Medal, has an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from McMaster University and serves as the Chair on the Board of Trustees at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Kuwabara has also taught at the University of Toronto and Harvard University.
Thomas Payne, raised in Chatham, Ontario, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Princeton and a Master’s degree from Yale. He is a specialist in theatre design, and has contributed this expertise toward many cultural projects for KPMB.
Marianne McKenna was raised in Montreal, Quebec and studied architecture at Yale University. She is marked by multiple publications as one of Canada’s most powerful women and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Her work for the firm has focused on higher education spaces, interiors, hospitality, master planning and her specialty, concert halls. McKenna has worked as a visiting professor at Yale and has an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Laurentian University.
Shirley Blumberg was born in South Africa, where she studied architecture at the University of Capetown. After immigrating to Canada via England, she completed her education at the University of Toronto where she graduated in 1976. Blumberg is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
The firm’s first major successes were their win for the Kitchener City Hall Competition, built in 1993, and their renovations to Woodsworth College at the University of Toronto in 1991. Much of KPMB’s work in these early years was characterized by additions and renovations to existing structures. The firm often drew influence from late modernist architecture, but with a contemporary vision that abandoned the idea of the universal form. Their work has been extensively focused on the idea of community building through public spaces. This pursuit has resulted in major projects for retail and civic spaces, cultural buildings, academic institutions, office buildings, corporate interiors, a winery, and residences.
The contemporary architecture of KPMB has evolved over the years alongside an increasingly diverse society with new and complex needs. Their work attempts to stand the test of time while adapting to contemporary cultural requirements and the shape of the natural environment. As their website states, “Every project is conceived to support an essential belief in the power of architecture to influence civil and moral conditions.” This goal has resulted in a focus on creating public spaces and dynamic urban environments that fit into the existing fabric of the city. In Toronto, KPMB was a crucial force in the city’s cultural renaissance with projects such as the National Ballet School (2005), the Gardiner Museum (2006) and the Royal Conservatory of Music (2009). A shifting focus on environmentalism has influenced the firm’s recent designs. The firm is still active today, albeit without Thomas Payne who left the firm in 2013 to pursue solo endeavors.
Phyllis Lambert, “Introduction,” The Architecture of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, 7-12 (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2004), 7.
Karen Hanley, “Reworking Modernism,” The Graduate in University of Toronto Magazine volume 2, no. 1, Spring 1994.
Hanley, “Reworking Modernism.”
Joseph Giovannini, “Marianne McKenna Named an Officer of the Order of Canada,” Architect December 20, 2012, https://www.architectmagazine.com/design/marianne-mckenna-named-an-officer-of-the-order-of-canada_o.
Hanley, “Reworking Modernism.”
Lambert, “Introduction,” 7-8.
 Detlef Mertins, “Toronto Style,” The Architecture of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, 13-21 (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2004), 18.
Hanley, “Reworking Modernism.”
Alex Bozikovik, “How KPMB became Canada’s big-city visionaires of architecture (who sweat the small stuff, too),” The Globe and Mail, April 25, 2014, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/architecture/how-kpmb-became-canadas-big-city-visionaires-of-architecture-who-sweat-the-small-stuff-too/article18213357/?page=all.
Conditions governing access:
- Access by appointment only.
Conditions governing reproduction:
- The firm of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects owns the copyright to the majority of the materials, with the exception of some photographs. The firm must be consulted before any reproductions can be made, outside of the scope of collection management.
For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer:
- Gift of Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects on 6 December 1993, 12 December 1994, 4 December 1995, 16 December 1996, 19 December 1997, 21 December 1998, 23 December 1999, 20 November 2000, 15 December 2000, 12 December 2001, 20 December 2002, 19 December 2003, 22 December 2004 and 15 December 2005.
Gift of Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects and Dunlop Farrow Architects on 31 December 1996.
Gift of Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects and Patrick T.Y. Chan Architect on 23 December 1999 and 12 December 2001.
Gift of Hotson Bakker Architects and Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects on 15 December 2000, 27 December 2002, 19 December 2003 and 29 December 2004.
Gift of Montgomery Sisam Associates Inc. and Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects on 15 December 2000 and 19 December 2003.
Gift of Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects and Fichten Soiferman et Associées Architectes on 19 December 2003.
Gift of Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna, Blumberg Architects, Gagnon Letellier Cyr Architects, and Smith Carter Architects and Engineers on 22 December 2004.
- These materials arrived at the CCA from the offices of KPMB Architects in 13 annual donations from 1993 to 2005. Some materials, from projects done in joint venture with other firms, were donated separately from the bulk of the main material, in order to properly credit the other firms.
Materials for the Ministry of Tourism in Niagara project were donated by KPMB Architects and Dunlop Farrow Architects in 1996. Materials for the Chinese Cultural Center project were donated by KPMB Architects and Patrick T.Y. Chan Architect in 1999 and 2001. Materials for the Richmond City Hall project were donated by KPMB Architects and Hotson Bakker Architects in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Materials for the Providence Centre project were donated by KPMB Architects and Montgomery Sisam Associates Inc. in 2000 and 2003. Materials for the McGill Genome Centre project were donated by KPMB Architects and Fichten Soiferman et Associées Architectes in 2003. Materials for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin project were donated by KPMB Architects, Gagnon Letellier Cyr Architects, and Smith Carter Architects and Engineers in 2004.
- Materials received in the 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 donations were inventoried upon arrival at the CCA. All materials were rehoused and arranged by project. Materials received after the 1996 donation were accompanied by an inventory from the firm’s in-house archivist, who had also arranged the materials by project. These materials were rehoused upon arrival at the CCA.
In 2019, Anna Haywood processed and described this fonds. Materials were compiled from all accessions and arranged following the classification scheme established by the creating office. Materials were described down to the file-level.
This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au gouvernement du Canada.
Pour citer la collection en entier | Use this credit line when citing the entire collection :
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg fonds, Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal.
Pour citer des objets spécifiques, veuillez vérifier la ligne de crédit de l’objet avec Référence à la collection.
When citing specific collection objects, please verify the object’s credit line with CCA Reference.