Claude Cormier (1960-2023) Dies at 63

Claude Cormier, CCxA”s founding partner, has died on September 15th 2023 in Montreal, at the age of 63. The cause of death was complications from Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that predisposes carriers to multiple cancers.

Claude was a great visionary who influenced us in surprising and powerful ways, thanks to the creative force and joie de vivre he brought to all our lives. His effervescent creativity and warm presence enabled him to lead a company of great renown, centred on a positive, generous mindset and an unshakable belief in the power of design. His creative, problem-solving approach, coupled with an open and iterative design process, was able to take us all off the beaten track.

Day after day, Claude played the roles of mentor, teacher, boss, colleague, friend, and confidant, with a leadership style based on expertise, boldness, rigour, humour, love, and generosity. He inspired numerous generations of landscape architects during his career, with local, national, and international reach.

Claude Cormier, landscape architect emeritus, is the creative force behind many of Montreal and Toronto’s best-loved public squares and urban parks – some of the most joyful and critically acclaimed in Canada, such as Place d’Youville and Dorchester Square, the Pink Balls and their 18 Shades of Gay, Clock Tower Beach, the Ring at Place Ville-Marie, HtO Urban Beach, Sugar Beach, Berczy Park, Love Park, and many others. His career began in the early 1990s with landscape art installations that shattered the conventions of landscape design in Canada, and with projects that deployed strong design narratives, the techniques of conceptual art, abstraction, and the bold use of colour.

A great lover of the city, of culture, and of art, Claude truly blazed a new trail in landscape architecture with poetic, inspiring, and uplifting work that challenged the modernist orthodoxy of public space, all the while remaining practical and appreciated in a popular context. He invited people to laugh, to come together, to see things differently.

Over the years, Claude has been invited worldwide to present dozens of lectures featuring the firm’s work and design approach. Driven by the desire to give back as he himself had benefited from the generosity of others in his early career, Claude bestowed a major gift in 2020 – the Claude Cormier Award in Landscape Architecture – to the University of Toronto to support creative excellence and bolster landscape architecture recognition. A major retrospective entitled Serious Fun: The Landscapes of Claude Cormier by Marc Treib and Susan Herrington, was published in 2021, highlighting the importance and uniqueness of his work. The recent renaming of his firm of 15 professionals to CCxA marked the passing of the torch to his long-standing collaborators – Sophie Beaudoin, Marc Hallé, Guillaume Paradis, and Yannick Roberge – and their commitment to perpetuating a unique approach at the crossroads of design and art, nature and artifice.

The CCxA Team

Photo: Will Lew