Skip to content

Founding partner Bruce Kuwabara delivers rousing address at the University of Toronto’s spring 2023 convocation 

Article content

June 30, 2023

On June 12, founding partner Bruce Kuwabara addressed graduates from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto (UofT), encouraging them to lead with passion and imagination. 

A UofT architecture alumnus (‘72), Kuwabara co-founded Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, now KPMB Architects, in 1987 with Shirley Blumberg, Marianne McKenna, and Thomas Payne. For more than three decades, the firm has exemplified design excellence, winning 18 Governor General’s Awards for projects of various typologies. 

“Architecture is the vehicle through which I have explored who I am, my values, and my identity,” he said during his speech. “We have a collective responsibility as architects, landscape architects, visual artists, foresters, urban designers and city planners to engage with the issues of our time.” 

A celebrated architect, Kuwabara’s portfolio is made up of vibrant and innovative buildings in arts and culture, education, healthcare, housing, hospitality, recreation and mixed-use development. His work includes the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Isttaniokaksini / Science Commons at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and the multi- award-winning Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, which, at the time, set a record as the largest office tower in Canada to receive LEED Platinum certification. 

In 2006, he was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Gold Medal — the highest honour the RAIC bestows in recognition of a significant contribution to Canadian architecture. In 2012 he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for shaping “our built landscape in lasting ways,” and in 2014, he was honoured with a Lifetime Design Achievement Award from the Ontario Association of Architects for his “career-long contribution to Architectural Design Excellence.”  

A sought-after lecturer, Kuwabara has taught at Harvard University and the University of Toronto, and lectured at several universities including Cornell University, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia. He is also Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Canadian Centre for Architecture and has served as a juror for several architectural competitions and awards. 

“The world needs all of you,” he said to the graduating class, reminding them of their power as architects, designers, and planners to “change and shape the future.” 

“You will each play major roles in shaping our society and the world toward a more equitable, diverse, accessible, and inclusive future, solving the challenges of climate change, and advancing reconciliation with all of our relations.” 

Listen to his speech here.