Eberhard H. Zeidler 1926-2022

We were saddened to learn of the death of Eberhard (Eb) Zeidler, who passed away on January 7, 2022. Eb was a longtime member of Lambda Alpha International, having joined the Simcoe Chapter in 1996. He was the recipient of the President’s Award in 2004, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the advancement of land economics.

The obituary below was published by the Toronto Star on January 15, 2022:

EBERHARD HEINRICH ZEIDLER January 11, 1926 – January 7, 2022 (Dipl. Ing., Partner Emeritus Zeidler Architecture) was born in Braunsdorf, Germany and died at home, peacefully, in his sleep. He will be missed by his wife Jane, his children Margie, Robert (Laura), Kate (Peter) and Christina (Deanne), and his grandchildren, Taylor, Oliver, David, Julia and Steven. Eb had one brother and a niece, Elisabeth who lives in Germany.

The influences of the war, starvation, multiple life-and-death escapes across arbitrary political borders left him with a profound gratefulness: “I never got into bed without being grateful that there was a bed to sleep in.” After the war, he studied at the reopened Bauhaus in Weimar in East Germany and then escaped to the West to finish his degree at Karlsruhe, in West Germany. In 1951, at age 25, he followed his fortune to Canada to join the architectural firm of Blackwell and Craig in Peterborough, which eventually became Zeidler Architecture.

He was a proud immigrant. He loved Canada. He was committed to the multicultural ideal, recognizing the value in so many diverse people living and working together in peace. This ideal was best reflected in the optimism of Ontario Place; a place for all to experience the natural beauty of Lake Ontario with a sense of welcome and belonging.

If he had a superpower, it was his wife of 65 years, Jane. He recognized and valued her contribution with everything he did. A wag nicknamed them Eb and Flow. The home that he designed for his family on Beaumont Road was perched halfway down a ravine, mixing urban living with the natural beauty of Toronto’s ravines. It was a playground for the children and all their friends. Eb delighted in that and would watch with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. As a father he was always supportive of his children and their endevours. They all share his passion for city building and architecture in their own unique ways. Eb and Jane loved art in all its forms. They were nicknamed the “octogenarian hipsters” because they were a fixture at every contemporary art event.

He is best known for architecture that brought large urban sites vitality through varied use and people-centric experiences. His work spans three continents and includes virtually every project type from Ontario Place and the galleria at Eaton Centre in Toronto, Canada Place in Vancouver, Torre Mayor in Mexico, Cinedom in Cologne and BNI City in Jakarta. He wrote a remarkable book (among four) called “Healing the Hospital”, which outlined his people-centred solutions to hospital design and spoke of light-filled atriums and access to nature to aid in healing. Examples are Sick Children’s and Princess Margaret Hospitals in Toronto, and Mackenzie Health Sciences in Edmonton. His first hospital project – McMaster Health Sciences Centre in Hamilton, is where he met two of his greatest friends and allies – Dr. John Evans and Dr. Fraser Mustard. Eb received countless awards and accolades for his work, including Officer of Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, four honorary doctorates and the Gold Medal from Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. He was an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto for many years. The library there is named in his honour.

He delighted in the physical beauty of Ontario and enjoyed being outdoors every day, skiing (in his signature Lederhosen) at Osler Bluff in Collingwood, sailing and swimming great distances at Stony Lake, in the Kawarthas, and jogging daily in the Rosedale Ravine (with his trusty Dictaphone in hand). Eb was a generous, big-hearted force of nature, who brought his passion for architecture, urbanism and the respect for human experience to all his endeavours. Gracious to the end, he so appreciated the unconditional kindness he received from Jane and his caregivers, who showered love and attention on him. Thank you to Lisa, Cathy, Norma, Isabel, Amalyn, Mitch, Merly and especially Victor. The family would also like to thank Dr. David Greenberg, whose care was exceptional.

The family will celebrate Eb’s life when it is safe to gather again. In the meantime, do something creative for your city or your community and think of Eb.