From Alcan to the Pope, designs were their game

When Pope John Paul II celebrated open-air Mass at LeBreton Flats in 1984 before 400,000 people, he did so at an altar designed by Murray & Murray, Griffiths & Rankin. The architecture practice, one of the biggest and longest-running in Ottawa, was founded in 1961 by Irish-born brothers Tim and Pat Murray. “A month later, I’m crossing Confederation Square and I hear a helicopter,” recalls Tim, 79. “And out of the helicopter, dangling on two long cables, is the main altar canopy. I says, ‘My God what a fitting tribute. They’re taking it to heaven!'”

It’s a typical story from the Murrays, combining the breadth of their experience in architecture with mischievous humour. Among the firm’s many projects are Dunton Tower and Robertson Hall at Carleton University, the original Algonquin College campus, master planning and buildings at the University of Ottawa, and the Minto Place hotel and office complex.

Pat, 77, led a parallel career in politics as mayor of Rockcliffe Park and councillor for the former regional government. The brothers will give a talk today at 6 p.m. at the National Gallery of Canada, part of the Forum Lecture series organized by the Carleton University school of architecture, highlighting their body of work and experience running a firm for 45 years.

The Murrays grew up in Dublin, and both received bachelor degrees in architecture from University College in Dublin and masters of civic design from Liverpool University. After deciding to move to Canada in the late 1950s, Tim got a job with the federal department of public works in Ottawa.

The Ottawa Citizen