Richard Isaac

Brit Richard Isaac came to Canada – via Ger­many – as a vol­un­teer home­builder for First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties. Now, he leads Manasc Isaac, an award-win­ning ar­chi­tec­tural firm

Alberta Venture - - Contents - Richard Isaac, Prin­ci­pal Ar­chi­tect and Part­ner , Manasc Isaac

English­man Richard Isaac came to Canada – via Ger­many – as a vol­un­teer home­builder for First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties. Now, he leads Manasc Isaac, an award-win­ning ar­chi­tec­tural firm

“We worked in the Arc­tic with se­vere weather con­di­tions, so we had to have well-con­structed build­ings. It at­tracted clients who were seek­ing the same thing.”

“A busi­ness deal went sour and I was fed up with Ger­many and wanted to move. I had the ro­man­tic idea of com­ing to Canada.”

Aug. 23 1951

Born at his par­ents’ home in the vil­lage of Woolton Hill, Eng­land

Late-1950s

Grows up in the com­mu­nity of 200. Plays cricket, soc­cer and “gets into mis­chief with the lo­cal boys on [their] bi­cy­cles.”

1964

Gets his first (un­paid) job, work­ing for a lo­cal farmer. “I didn’t want to be a farmer, but I wanted to drive the trac­tor.”

1965

Dis­cov­ers his affin­ity for ar­chi­tec­ture af­ter see­ing a photo of Falling­wa­ter, a home de­signed by Frank Lloyd Wright. “I thought, ‘I’d like to de­sign some­thing like that.’” In his draft­ing class, he draws build­ings rather than ma­chine parts

1969

Grad­u­ates from St. Bartholomew’s Gram­mar School as head boy

1976

Grad­u­ates from the Ox­ford School of Ar­chi­tec­ture

1977

Moves to Ger­many to find a job and re­al­izes he must learn the lan­guage. Washes pots and pans for a fish restau­rant in Ham­burg

1982

Friends re­turn from vol­un­teer­ing in Slave Lake and con­tinue to read the town’s news­pa­per, Lake­side

Leader. “I would read about open liquor of­fenses and snow­mo­bile ac­ci­dents and it fas­ci­nated me. What the hell is a snow­mo­bile?”

Joins Fron­tiers Foun­da­tion, an abo­rig­i­nal non-profit, and moves to On­tario and then north­ern Al­berta to build houses for First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties

1985

Moves to Ed­mon­ton

1987

Joins ar­chi­tec­tural firm FSC Groves Hodg­son Manasc

1997

Launches Manasc Isaac Ar­chi­tects with Vi­vian Manasc. “It was scary to have 10 peo­ple on staff and ask­ing our clients to go with us.” The same year, Isaac is awarded the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Medal for Ex­cel­lence for the Yukon Vis­i­tor’s Re­cep­tion Cen­tre

2012

Com­pletes Cal­gary’s award-win­ning Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre, one of his favourite projects. “The com­mu­nity wasn’t keen on hav­ing a large build­ing, so we came up with a way to push the build­ing into the ground, sat­is­fy­ing the res­i­dents and the city.”

“We were the first firm in­ter­ested in do­ing abo­rig­i­nal work. The rest of the ar­chi­tec­tural fra­ter­nity thought it was too risky.”

Fall 2017

Manasc Isaac’s pro­ject, MacEwan Uni­ver­sity’s Cen­tre for Arts and Cul­ture, will be com­pleted. The glass-cov­ered struc­ture is rem­i­nis­cent of black and white pi­ano keys and is il­lu­mi­nated by nat­u­ral light

At Park house Sec­ondary Mod­ern School , 1965

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