In May 2010, Mawlana Hazar Imam was at Wynford Drive in Toronto where he presided over the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park in the presence of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.
Today, just over 12 months later, construction of the projects continues as planned. The slanting walls of the Aga Khan Museum are clearly visible, and the frame of the Ismaili Centre's glass dome is being erected over what will be a circular prayer hall.
“It's truly exciting to see the forms that we've been seeing on plans for so long come out of the ground,” said Drew Wensley, Executive Vice President of Moriyama and Teshima Planners. “It's an amazing scene on site.”
Toronto's internationally renowned and award-winning architectural firm Moriyama and Teshima is the architect of record for the project. The firm works closely with the design architects, including Charles Correa Associates, who designed the Ismaili Centre, Maki and Associates, responsible for the Aga Khan Museum, and Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture, who planned the Park in which the two buildings are situated.
Moriyama and Teshima is involved in all stages of the process, ensuring that quality control measures are in place and that construction progresses on schedule. As part of the process, the many sub-contractors are required to provide mock-ups or samples of materials to ensure the architects' aesthetic vision for the project is being met.
“When dealing with a number of players and a client group that is scattered around the world, communication is fundamental,” Wensley observed. “I have to say that on this project, there is a feeling among the entire team that we are doing something very special. That's not always the case on construction projects.”
Moriyama and Teshima has a history of working with Mawlana Hazar Imam. Notably, together with Maki and Associates, they completed the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat building in Ottawa, which opened in December 2008.
“Our relationship with His Highness the Aga Khan has been one of the most important relationships in the history of our firm,” Wensley noted. “The scale and significance of these projects is not lost on us, and we're truly honoured to be working on this great project.”
BC Premier visits Wynford Drive exhibition at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby
Beyond aesthetics, form and function, the projects serve to create a greater understanding of the plurality of the Muslim world, and widen public awareness of the many cultures and peoples who follow diverse interpretations of Islam. With this in mind, an exhibition of the images and renderings of the Wynford Drive projects has been touring across Canada since December.
The Wynford Drive exhibition's most recent stop was at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, where it featured as part of the commemoration of the Centre's 25th anniversary. Tour Ambassadors led visitors through the exhibition, which was hosted in the social hall of the Centre.
Among the guests was the Honourable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia, who was visiting the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby to view the exhibition and meet with Jamati leaders. During her visit, she addressed some 100 invited guests, including leaders of BC civil society.
“His Highness the Aga Khan has called Canada's dedication to diversity our nation's gift to the world” said Premier Clark, “and I believe that we are made stronger by the Ismaili community who have contributed to the spirit and diversity of British Columbia.” The Premier also expressed her desire to see more non-governmental organisations partner with the government to address issues faced by citizens together.
Tour ambassador Aliya Somji said that visitors to the exhibition were “thoroughly intrigued and impressed,” and typically left with a “sense of esteem and admiration for the endless efforts of the Imam and the Institutions.” The exhibition will continue to tour across Canada in the coming months, and is next scheduled to be in Edmonton for the Canadian Ismaili Games.