Larry Wayne Richards is Professor Emeritus and former dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty Of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. He served as dean from 1997 to 2004. Richards received a professional bachelor of architecture degree from Miami University in 1967 and worked with The Architects Collaborative (TAC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts until 1971. At TAC he was a member of design teams for major institutional and cultural buildings, including the American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Following a year in Florence, Italy, he completed a post-professional master of architecture at Yale University during 1973-75, studying under Charles Moore, Vincent Scully, and James Stirling.
In 1975 Richards immigrated to Canada and taught for five years at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie University). In Halifax, he established the experimental studio, NETWORKS, with Eric Fiss, Brian MacKay-Lyons, and Frederic Urban, and a monograph was published by Tech-press: Larry Richards: Works, 1997-1980. NETWORK's Lyons Tower project was published in Domus in 1980.
During 1980-81, Richards taught at the University of Toronto before appointment as director of the University Of Waterloo School of Architecture (1982-87) where he continued as professor for ten years. In 1997 he returned to the University of Toronto as dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (then al&d). At UofT he was instrumental in restructuring the Faculty's academic programs and authored a comprehensive guidebook on the university’s architecture (University of Toronto: A Campus Guide, Princeton Architectural Press; first edition 2009, second edition 2018). As dean, Richards strongly advocated for both progressive architecture and historical preservation and served on the board of Ontario Heritage Trust for nine years.
Richards has written extensively on Canadian architecture in journals such as AZURE, Impulse, Canadian Architect, Canadian Art, Parachute, and Trace. He edited the 1989 book on the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal (CCA: Building and Gardens, MIT Press) and co-edited Toronto Places: A Context for Urban Design (with Marc Baraness, University of Toronto Press, 1991). He has written on the work of Canadian-American Frank Gehry for the Art Gallery of Ontario and is the author of a forthcoming chapter on Canadian postmodern architecture for Princeton Architectural Press: "Postmodernism: Reconnecting with History, Memory, and Place."
As a curator and designer, Richards has completed more than thirty exhibitions. He was curator and designer for two Canadian exhibitions at the Venice Architecture Biennale, including "RECIPROCITY: Patkau + 16" in 1996. In 2004 he presented "Maple Leaf Gardens: From Hockey Heaven to Superstore" at the Eric Arthur Gallery. And in 2006 he curated and designed "Frank's Drawings: Eight Museums by Gehry" for the University of Toronto Art Centre and the Patricia Faure Gallery in Los Angeles.
In 2008 Richards co-founded WORKShop, Inc. with Hong Kong-based real estate developer and fashion designer, Kin Yeung. Located at 80 Bloor Street West in Toronto, WORKshop was a design research centre, gallery, and retail shop. Richards served as WORKshop's creative director until 2016. During 2008-2016, Richards consulted for Kin Yeungon a broad range of architecture and urban design projects in Canada, China, and the United States.
Among Richards' professional affiliations, he is an international member of the American Institute of Architects and a fellow in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. In 2007 Richards received the RAICs national Advocate for Architecture award. He has been a guest critic at Cornell University, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, the University of California (UCLA), and Yale University. Conceptual projects and drawings by Richards have been acquired by museums and research centres, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and the Clark Art Institute.
Nearly forty years ago, in the book Larry Richards: Works, 1977-1980, Richards promoted "an architecture of accommodation and confrontation" wherein "Architecture should accommodate; it should support day-to-day human activities. Architecture should confront; it should challenge existing patterns." He maintained that it is this dialogue between the fitting into of accommodation and the cutting through of confrontation which produces meaning. He presented design projects — many dealing with concept more than built form — employing collage strategies. This focus on accommodation and confrontation continues to drive Richards' creative work.