After a remarkable 31-year tenure as a Partner with Number TEN, Robert Eastwood completed his carefully planned transition in March to his new role as a senior advisor to the firm. To the casual observer, it may appear as though not much has changed. Eastwood still works out of the same office, still puts in countless hours working on projects, and apart from a recent low-key office celebration of his professional accomplishments, work continues on much as before. In short, he is still the same person he always was: a hard-working family man who lives and breathes architecture.
Image: A selection of Bob Eastwood's projects, completed during his long career at Number TEN
In the 1980’s, Number TEN’s partnership formulated a policy whereby partners would divest shares in the firm once they reach age 65. An innovative idea at the time, the policy means that five years prior to the transition, partners begin the sizable task of transferring knowledge to new and upcoming leaders to groom them for the next generation of leadership. “At the core of it, it’s about mentorship: investing in people and divesting responsibilities to allow for the continued momentum of the firm,” explains Eastwood. “People only grow if they are provided with opportunities for leadership”.
Joining former partner Terry Cristall, Eastwood’s new role as senior advisor involves ongoing mentorship, supporting long-standing clients on current projects, and advising the partnership group on business operations. “The advisor role combines mentoring and advising, but also puzzle solving and planning. I still love taking complicated concepts and developing them into a coherent plan that at its core has a strong architectural vision,” says Eastwood.
At an early age, Eastwood knew that he wanted to be an architect. The profession would allow him to combine his love for drawing with his fascination of buildings. “My mother once told me that even as a toddler, she would always know where to find me. I would always end up wherever there were machines running and people building something,” he says with a chuckle.
In first-year university, he recalls interviewing former Number TEN partners Morley Blankstein and Doug Gillmor, prior to writing a report on his favorite building at the time, the Chief Peguis Pavilion at Kildonan Park. “I grew up in West Kildonan and watched it go up. I just loved the way the Miesian architecture integrated seamlessly with the landscape.” Little did he know at the time that three decades later he would lead a major renovation project to the building he grew up admiring as a child.
Images: The original Peguis Pavilion and the building today after a recent renovation
By the age of 20, Eastwood secured a summer job working with his mentor, U of M architecture professor Carl Nelson, designing buildings for northern communities. The job provided him with experience setting up and running a small architectural practice, where he developed skills which would serve him well throughout his career. During his masters degree in 1974, Eastwood applied to work as a student with Number TEN, and was given opportunities to work on major projects including a university campus in Zambia, a residential development in the North West Territories, and a brand new building in Winnipeg that would come to be known as the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
Images: The original Winnipeg Convention Centre and the recent RBC Convention Centre redevelopment and expansion
“Everybody was engaged,” recounts Eastwood. “Izzie (Coop), Morley (Blankstein) and Al (Hanna) taught me how to communicate with people, work as a team with respect and professionalism. They ingrained in me the importance of being straightforward and truthful with clients and projects. Integrity in our design and our business relations continues to be an essential part of how we work at Number TEN.”
By the 1980’s, Eastwood was working full time as a project architect with Number TEN. His first major project was the Manitoba Law Courts – at the time the largest capital building project undertaken by the Province of Manitoba. “We had a great team of designers, technologists and senior project architects,” says Eastwood. “To be able to come fresh out of university and play a significant role in a project of this magnitude and complexity was a real honour.”
Images: Manitoba Provincial Law Courts
By 1985, Eastwood was appointed partner. For the next 31 years he would go on to lead a variety of innovative, enduring projects that are still considered to be some of the best ever produced by the firm. “There are so many memorable projects, but the most memorable for me would have to be Oak Hammock Marsh (Duck’s Unlimited National Headquarters) in 1990. We teamed up with Gary Hilderman (HTFC Planning and Design) and a whole team of engineers that were focused on sustainable design at the highest level at that time.” The project incorporated a unique curved-masonry architectural form with an extensive green roof planted with native prairie grasses. It would later go on to win the first ever International Green Roof Award of Excellence in 2003, as well as recognition as one of the top five world ecotourism sites.
Images: Duck's Unlimited Headquarters and Conservation Centre
Eastwood went on to lend his talents to many more notable projects, including the Brandon Regional Health Centre and Westman Lab redevelopment, the Misericordia Health Centre Phase 1 redevelopment, Nunavut Justice Centre, the Downtown Walkway System, the historic National Bank Building redevelopment, the new RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre expansion, and various projects for St. Amant to name a few.
Images, clockwise from top: Misericordia Health Centre Phase I | Nunavut Justice Centre | St. Amant | RBC Convention Centre Redevelopment
Perhaps the largest profile and most rewarding of all was MTS Centre, a building that would eventually attract NHL hockey back to Winnipeg – along with a steady stream of world famous music and performance acts which in the past would have bypassed the city. “Number TEN was brought in by True North Sports and Entertainment in the design development phase, to replace the original associate architect when numerous challenges began to put the project in jeopardy,” says Eastwood. “Our role was to work with True North and prime consultant Sink Combs Dethlefs to bring the project back on track and support the project approval process. We managed to deliver it on-time and on-budget, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Images: MTS Centre
In his new role as senior advisor, Eastwood plans on continuing to support the firm and to work with existing clients such as Misericordia Health Centre, and complete projects in development such as the Roslyn Road Apartments in Winnipeg. He will also be working closely with Number TEN’s Victoria office to support a slate of seniors’ living projects throughout Western Canada.