The Studio

Firm History

IKOY, founded in 1968, has consistently been at Canada’s architectural leading edge introducing innovative design, contract documents and a unique architectural philosophy that has become central to IKOY‘s work and that of its chief architect, Ron Keenberg. The result is a signature architecture that is internationally recognized.

The story of IKOY begins in Winnipeg with the founding partners: Roy Izen, (I); Ron Keenberg, (K); Stan Osaka, (O); and Jim Yamashita, (Y). Their first jobs were the published ground breaking interior of the University of Manitoba’s new Student Union Building and Winnipeg’s first high income large suite high rise apartment, both in 1968. The apartment building, Hampton Green, won a CMHC award for the best in housing 2 years later. This tradition of publishing and winning awards started in 1968 and has continued in a consistent manner year after year (see Recognition-Publications).

In these early years, IKOY focused on public housing and won more than 30 competitions in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. IKOY, under Keenberg’s design direction, pioneered a system of assemblage using pre-cast hollow core concrete and sheer walls. Forming an alliance with MBS Contractors, IKOY was consistently able to produce public housing for about 12% less than any other firm. The firm produced more than 3,000 units per year and expanded its team to 50 working in four provinces.

In the 1970s, Keenberg and Yamashita became the senior partners and added several associates. Together, the group saw that the firm now had potential far beyond the profile of public housing. IKOY became an unusual architectural entrepreneur. Borrowing from the banks, the firm bought land and built award winning housing as well as office towers in Calgary and Saskatoon for Dome Petroleum and the Saskatoon Potash Corporation.

Keenberg and Yamashita continued their innovative partnership, now organizing several low-income families and single parents to form co-ops. With financing from the CMHC and the banks, Keenberg oversaw the delivery of award winning life cycle co-ops such as the trend setting 1973 Westboine Village (185 town house units) along Winnipeg’s Assiniboine River.

In 1976, Keenberg and Yamashita with MBS construction designed, built, financed and sold a 31 storey apartment/office complex in Calgary (Bromley Square). The building was erected in 121 days as proof of the high-speed opportunities of Keenberg’s new design philosophy. This project was recognized in Canada and the USA and published in several journals as an example of a high-speed delivery system not dependant on site management but totally on the design of its components for assembly.

In 1978, Keenberg financed and designed IKOY‘s first Governor General Medal (1982) winning signature building, IKOY‘s office building in Winnipeg. This first demonstration of Keenberg’s unique humanist high tech philosophy made people smile with delight.

In the early 80s interest rates went through the roof in Canada and all rental housing ground to a halt. IKOY‘s business direction moved from an entrepreneurial housing/office building practice to a government/university practice: a switch that took three years.

IKOY’s new thrust of government and university work now propelled it to the forefront of Canadian architecture. In 1981, IKOY was a finalist in the Museum of Civilization competition and a winner of the Harbour View competition in Winnipeg.

In 1981, Keenberg designed the Red River Community College Auto/Diesel Shop receiving a Governor General’s Medal for it in 1986. The Northwest Recreation Centre in Regina, designed in 1982 also won a Governor General’s Award in 1986 and in 1983, the Winnipeg International Airport and the University of Manitoba’s Earth Sciences Building were acclaimed in both national and international architectural journals and the public press.

IKOY also became a leader in Design and Contract Documentation – the stock in trade of architectural language. Among other innovations, IKOY created documents and drawings in four-colour offset printing to help bidders understand the firm’s assemblage systems.

In 1983, Keenberg designed the internationally published Flin Flon Courthouse. In 1984, he won the national design competition for the William Davis Computer Research Centre. It was also during the mid-1980s that Keenberg first visited the ideas of sustainable buildings.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Keenberg’s new work was a constant feature of architectural reviews (see Publications). By the mid-1980s, IKOY stood for a signature architecture, instantly recognizable, consistently evolving the rigor of fastidious detailing and expressing the elements of its making – the five constructive elements of his architectural philosophy.

IKOY, founded in 1968, has consistently been at Canada’s architectural leading edge introducing innovative design, contract documents and a unique architectural philosophy that has become central to IKOY‘s work and that of its chief architect, Ron Keenberg. The result is a signature architecture that is internationally recognized.

The story of IKOY begins in Winnipeg with the founding partners: Roy Izen, (I); Ron Keenberg, (K); Stan Osaka, (O); and Jim Yamashita, (Y). Their first jobs were the published ground breaking interior of the University of Manitoba’s new Student Union Building and Winnipeg’s first high income large suite high rise apartment, both in 1968. The apartment building, Hampton Green, won a CMHC award for the best in housing 2 years later. This tradition of publishing and winning awards started in 1968 and has continued in a consistent manner year after year (see Recognition-Publications).

In these early years, IKOY focused on public housing and won more than 30 competitions in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. IKOY, under Keenberg’s design direction, pioneered a system of assemblage using pre-cast hollow core concrete and sheer walls. Forming an alliance with MBS Contractors, IKOY was consistently able to produce public housing for about 12% less than any other firm. The firm produced more than 3,000 units per year and expanded its team to 50 working in four provinces.

In the 1970s, Keenberg and Yamashita became the senior partners and added several associates. Together, the group saw that the firm now had potential far beyond the profile of public housing. IKOY became an unusual architectural entrepreneur. Borrowing from the banks, the firm bought land and built award winning housing as well as office towers in Calgary and Saskatoon for Dome Petroleum and the Saskatoon Potash Corporation.

Keenberg and Yamashita continued their innovative partnership, now organizing several low-income families and single parents to form co-ops. With financing from the CMHC and the banks, Keenberg oversaw the delivery of award winning life cycle co-ops such as the trend setting 1973 Westboine Village (185 town house units) along Winnipeg’s Assiniboine River.

In 1976, Keenberg and Yamashita with MBS construction designed, built, financed and sold a 31 storey apartment/office complex in Calgary (Bromley Square). The building was erected in 121 days as proof of the high-speed opportunities of Keenberg’s new design philosophy. This project was recognized in Canada and the USA and published in several journals as an example of a high-speed delivery system not dependant on site management but totally on the design of its components for assembly.

In 1978, Keenberg financed and designed IKOY‘s first Governor General Medal (1982) winning signature building, IKOY‘s office building in Winnipeg. This first demonstration of Keenberg’s unique humanist high tech philosophy made people smile with delight.

In the early 80s interest rates went through the roof in Canada and all rental housing ground to a halt. IKOY‘s business direction moved from an entrepreneurial housing/office building practice to a government/university practice: a switch that took three years.

IKOY’s new thrust of government and university work now propelled it to the forefront of Canadian architecture. In 1981, IKOY was a finalist in the Museum of Civilization competition and a winner of the Harbour View competition in Winnipeg.

In 1981, Keenberg designed the Red River Community College Auto/Diesel Shop receiving a Governor General’s Medal for it in 1986. The Northwest Recreation Centre in Regina, designed in 1982 also won a Governor General’s Award in 1986 and in 1983, the Winnipeg International Airport and the University of Manitoba’s Earth Sciences Building were acclaimed in both national and international architectural journals and the public press.

IKOY also became a leader in Design and Contract Documentation – the stock in trade of architectural language. Among other innovations, IKOY created documents and drawings in four-colour offset printing to help bidders understand the firm’s assemblage systems.

In 1983, Keenberg designed the internationally published Flin Flon Courthouse. In 1984, he won the national design competition for the William Davis Computer Research Centre. It was also during the mid-1980s that Keenberg first visited the ideas of sustainable buildings.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Keenberg’s new work was a constant feature of architectural reviews (see Publications). By the mid-1980s, IKOY stood for a signature architecture, instantly recognizable, consistently evolving the rigor of fastidious detailing and expressing the elements of its making – the five constructive elements of his architectural philosophy.