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30 Years

By Harland C. Lindsay, Director, Parkin Architects Limited

Our firm’s history started circa 1938, when John B. Parkin hung out his John B. Parkin Architect shingle in Toronto. In 1947, he was joined by fellow architect, (but no family relation), John C. Parkin, and by his brother, landscape architect Ted Parkin. The firm was stable and grew until 1968, John B. moved to Los Angeles; his firm there was eventually consumed by Cannon.

John C. continued to practice in Toronto; his firm morphed through several names until I, with two partners, acquired certain assets and established the present firm on December 17, 1986. At the time, I had been with Parkin for 8 years, and I had grown to like the business of architecture! From three shareholders in 1986, we are now close to thirty.

I must admit that keeping the Parkin name was a difficult decision—there were those at the time who did not regard the firm or its leader with the highest regard, but I believe we overcame that by demonstrating that, despite the “old” name, we were a new, dynamic and trustworthy group of people. Our total staff numbered seven, and work was scarce. Upon reflection, I believe we grew and prospered, because we attracted the “right” people, bright people, skilled people, sleeves-rolled-up people, and people who were passionate about architecture. People are what we are!

Today our three offices total over 100 people. We are heavily committed to institutional architecture, designing facilities to house services that are kind to humanity, providing care and support to people, not demeaning or catering to harmful obsessions. Healthcare, laboratories, justice, educational, cultural and recreational are high on the list.

Of course, as in other endeavours, the business of architecture—and the construction it drives—has been heavily influenced by technology. Processes such as Lean and LEED were unheard of 30 years ago. And, of course, all those lovely drawing boards and high, swivel stools are long gone to make way for computers which, in turn, provided more floor space to accommodate more staff.

I am incredibly lucky to be working with such a wonderful coterie of diverse and interesting people at Parkin, and to have dealt with so many supportive outside consultants and clients. Frankly, I would never have thought that the firm we started 30 years ago would have still been here now.

Forgive me if it seems indulgent, but I raise my glass to wish our firm a Happy 30th Anniversary with an old Scottish toast, (and with tongue in cheek):

“Here’s tae us; wha’s like us?
Gey few, and they’r a’ deid!”

English translation:

“Here’s to us; who’s as good as us?
Damn few, and they’re all dead!”


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