The Nan Griffiths Memorial Seminar Room is now open!


December 16, 2019

The Nan Griffiths Memorial Seminar Room at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism formally opened on December 2, providing an inviting new space within the school for study, research, seminars, and meetings.

The room, to be used by students, faculty, and visitors, commemorates the school’s first full-time woman faculty member. Nan Griffiths taught from 1977 to 1998. As the only female professor for years, Griffiths was a mentor to many women who came to Carleton to study architecture. “She really introduced the urban emphasis into this school,” Jill Stoner, the director, said at the opening reception, attended by alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and family.

When Griffiths died in 2018, her family donated books from her collection. The new room, designed and built into part of a double-height reading area, houses these books, as well as the book collections of former faculty members Gil Sutton and Barbara Humphreys. They are displayed in wood-and-steel bookcases designed by Henri Cleinge, an architect in Montreal and former student of Griffiths, and built in-house by the school’s shop technicians, Mark McGuigan and Robert Wood. Another alumnus, Ottawa architect Philippe Doyle, donated maple wood for the shelves, salvaged from mature trees that once grew on the site of the Shenkman Arts Centre. In the centre of the room is a large wooden table that accommodates small seminar groups, atop a Turkish rug in the shades of red that Griffiths loved. Cleinge also provided design concepts for the room, which was built last summer to construction drawings by the Ottawa office of HOK.

“It’s really satisfying to see this room come to fruition,” said her daughter Anna Griffiths. “I know Mum, and my father, who died last May, would have been extremely proud. It’s really great to see her made permanent here in some way.

One of the school’s main fundraising efforts of 2018-2019, the room is “a labour of love,” said Stoner. “I am incredibly grateful for everyone who contributed.” A few details are yet to come: names of donors will be etched into the glass doors of the bookcases, and Professor Sheryl Boyle’s graduate workshop will design and cast concrete panels to surround the large window overlooking the reading room below.

If you would like to be included among the donors, please visit