Architect Raymond Moriyama was in demand for large building projects in the late 1960s, having successfully designed and built the Ontario Science Centre. Moriyama mirrored Albert Campbell’s sentiments about Scarborough, describing it as “neighbourhoods centred around elementary schools, parks and business sub-centres,” which created strong localities but lacked overall cohesion.

Image depicts head and shoulders portrait of Raymond Moriyama
Raymond Moriyama
ca. 1975
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 218, Series 2502, File 145, Item 1


Moriyama’s first draft in April 1969 proposed a single civic building to be shared by the Borough and the Board of Education, with an adjacent public square. Initially proposing a split pyramid building, Moriyama revised his design to two half-pyramids facing each other across “a single public central space.” Each half-pyramid had soaring roof lines representing “hope and aspiration for the future.” In his fuller report released that summer, the building required 18.6 acres of land, plus some residual for the public square, with an estimated total construction cost of $13.2 million ($90.1 million in 2023).

Image depicts architectural plan of Scarborough Civic Centre site
Raymond Moriyama’s overview sketch of the civic centre site
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 218, Series 2949, File 3, Item 3


Building on his unity and shared-space themes, the building interior was to consist of open concept offices and include navigable space for persons using wheelchairs. Aiming to preserve elements of the natural environment, Moriyama’s plan left intact a woodlot between the new structure and Ellesmere Avenue (later named after Mayor Frank Faubert), as well as a lone oak tree on the site.

Reminiscing later, Moriyama asked himself why the land’s former owner had preserved the oak – “Was it sacred to him? These questions still intrigue me.” Sadly, this tree was severely damaged by lightning a month after the Civic Centre opened. It was cut down in 1975, and in 1980, pieces of the “Moriyama Oak” were offered as souvenirs, 100 of them requested by the Scarborough Clerk for preservation in lucite.

Image depicts undeveloped farmland
Scarborough Civic Centre site looking east before
construction began
Photographer: Realisation
August 8, 1971
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 218, Series 2949, File 48, Item 1

Moriyama’s lone oak tree is in the centre and the Faubert woodlot is at top right.

Image depicts oblique aerial view of construction site
Aerial view of Scarborough Town and Civic Centre site under construction, looking south-east.
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 218, Series 1762, File 1, Item 31

The Faubert Woodlot is visible, as is Ellesmere Avenue.


The Borough and Board alike approved Moriyama’s plan in May 1970, and created a joint committee to monitor the project, particularly over shared interests. Another firm, McDougall Construction Management was assigned to facilitate the building process. For the much larger shopping centre, Triton hired Bregman and Hamann as the architect of the Y-shaped facility.

Construction began in July 1971, with the formal sod turning on September 9. Taking under two years to complete, and only three months off its initial timetable, both the Civic and Town centres were ready for occupation at the beginning of May 1973, nearly two months before expected.

Image construction of Scarborough Civic Centre
Scarborough Civic Centre under construction
Photographer: Realisation
September 1, 1972
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 218, Series 2949, File 48, Item 63
Image depicts exterior of near complete Scarborough Civic Centre
Scarborough Civic Centre exterior near completion
Photographer: Realisation
April 1973
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 218, Series 2949, File 48, Item 97