It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Peter John Smith on July 7th, 2021.
Peter was born in Birmingham, England in 1936. He graduated from the Birmingham School of Architecture in 1957, and emigrated to Canada in 1961 to marry his wife of 60 years, Heather (Hume).
After arriving in Canada, Peter worked in the firm of architect Ron Thom from 1963 to 1973, becoming a senior partner. He was project architect for the Expo ’67 master plan and activity areas, the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo, the Shaw Festival Theatre and Trent University’s Bata Library.
In 1973, he entered a partnership with William P. Lett to form Lett/Smith Architects, the predecessor firm to Lett Architects.
As Toronto principal for the firm, Peter was responsible for all of its performing and visual arts projects including: the Isabel Bader multi-purpose theatre for Victoria University at University of Toronto (2002 OAA Award of Excellence and City of Toronto Architecture and Urban Design Award); the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto; Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton; the Harbourfront Arts Centre, Toronto, which includes the Power Plant Art Gallery and the du Maurier Theatre Centre; renovation and reconstruction of the Grand Theatre, London, Ont. (Governor General’s medal for design); the North Bay Arts Centre renovation of the Capitol Theatre; the Kleck Theatre at Occidental College, Los Angeles; and the National Library and Archives building Auditorium reconstruction, Ottawa.
Bill Lett, current Managing Principal and Chris Lyons, current Director, Contract Administration at Lett Architects worked with Peter for five years on the Shaw Festival Theatre Production Centre from 1999 to 2004 – the last project completed by Lett/Smith Architects. Peter’s passion for architecture and theatre lead that project to ultimately be published internationally and win an Ontario Association of Architects Design Excellence award. He was also an incredible mentor to both Bill and Chris as they were starting their careers with this project. His patience, passion for design and leadership helped shaped the approach Bill and Chris take to all their projects.
After the Lett/Smith partnership was dissolved in 2004, Peter continued to practice initially as the Principal of Peter Smith Architect Inc., and then In 2007, Peter Smith Associates Inc.
Peter was passionate about theatre and was involved in the theatre community beyond architecture. He was the 1993 recipient of the prestigious Drama Bench Award presented by Canadian Theatre Critics for “Distinguished Contribution to Canadian Theatre,” the first architect to ever receive this award. That same year, he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. He was a member of the Canadian and US Institutes of Theatre Technology, and served on the Ryerson University Theatre School Advisory Committee and the University of Toronto Design Review Committee. He was also an avid traveller, and passionate about Formula 1 motorcar racing.
Peter is survived by his wife Heather, and his three sons Stephen (Glenn), Robin (Jane) and Chris (Kristen). Although no immediate funeral service will held, the family has plans for a celebration of his life at some point later in the year when larger groups may be permitted to gather indoors. In lieu of flowers the family has suggested that donations might be made to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.