H.K. Black 1912-1993.
During the time of Ken Black’s active involvement with his practice, more than 5500 projects were completed. Click HERE to see a picture of HKB at a building opening during the 1950s.This immense scope always made it hard for him to pin down a favourite, but when pressed, he would always mention the Regina Family YMCA, Lakeview United Church, the Union Hospital in Moose Jaw, the Provincial Administration Building in Regina and the Valley View Center in Moose Jaw as projects that stood out. Of interest also is the design of Speer’s Funeral Chapel. Throughout his active involvement with architecture and during his retirement, Ken Black kept in close touch with a former professor at the University of Toronto Eric Arthur, a truly significant figure in the drive to ensure respect for Canada’s architectural heritage. In reflective moments, Ken Black would talk of the struggles that he had with the federal bureaucracy to get them to use Saskatchewan architects for federal projects in Saskatchewan. He made numerous trips to Ottawa and eventually, his firm began to receive federal jobs such as the K Income Tax Building on Smith Street in Regina. Of his first job in an architect’s office (Storey & Van Egmond summer of 1934) Ken Black remembered that the “only thing on the boards at that time was the provincial Liberal election campaign. Van was a good grit, so that’s what everybody worked on; the campaign. That year, it was the ONLY thing that people had to work on. Ken Black’s father Henry Black, also played a major role in the construction of the city.
Valley View Center - Moose Jaw
Ken Black felt that the Valley View Center - in Moose Jaw was amongst his most significant projects. The immense facility, designed to house some 3000 residents, is situated in a park-like setting just south of Moose Jaw. At the time of its construction, it represented a significant advancement in institutional design. The architects worked closely with world reknown mental health care consultants from America in the facility’s design. The facility is home to dependent members of our society. It provides many levels of care and has successfully evolved along with advancements in the care of the chronically mentally disabled.
YMCA - Regina
The doors of the Regina Family YMCA , opened in 1959. Since that time, the building has enriched the lives of thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life. A design attribute that Ken Black felt set the Regina Y apart from all others at the time was the fact that all the facilities were accessible from one floor. The pool, the gym, the locker rooms, the racquetball courts - all were on the same level - a boon for Y members after a hard work-out. As of 1996, some 40 years after opening its doors, and undergoing two major renovations, the ‘Y’ continues to play a vital role in the city that it serves.
Speer's Funeral Chapel - Regina
In 1960 BLM was called upon to design a new home for Speer’s Funeral Chapel; a long- established Regina business. The new building was to be located on College Avenue, in the middle of a quiet residential area. The low, stone-faced building enhances and dignifies the ambiance of the block. The chapel’s unique and practical design ensures that people attending funeral services and visitations (many of whom are seniors) do not have to contend with any stairs.
As a young man, Ken Black was an athlete of some local stature. He won the provincial tennis championship in 1932 or 33 and Doug Shaw won the provincial doubles tennis championship in 1934. At the University of Toronto he was on both the UofT Basketball team and the UofT tennis team. He was a leader of his fraternity - Psi Upsilon at UofT. At the start of the Second World War he was in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester with stomach problems that led to a major operation. He eventually recovered and enlisted in the Navy, serving as a base planning officer for the east coast. He married Rhoda on September 17, 1946. Following the war he returned to Regina and set up his architectural practice in the Black Block. His first commissions were the offices ofWestern Tractor (George Solomon) and the Regina City Dairies building. Ken and Rhoda bought the cottage at B-Say-Tah Beach on Echo Lake in 1950. Hunting trips were very important. Every fall he would head off to Leader and other Saskatchewan points with companions including Howard Duncan and Doug and Ken Martin. He and Howard Duncan spent many Sundays in their Peterborough wooden boats powered by 25 horsepower Johnson outboards - heading up to favourite spots on Pasqua Lake. Ken Black was very involved with the community. He served as President of the Regina Chamber of Commerce, on the Board of the United Appeal, on the Board of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and on the Board of the Regina YMCA. In 1959, in partnership with Bob Kramer and Fred Hill, Ken Black built the Financial Building on 13th Avenue - it was Regina's first 'modern' high rise - at a modest 7 storeys. After retirement from architecture, his business interests included the Financial Building, Producers Pipelines, Centennial Shopping Center, Wakedo Properties and Belgravia, the family farm located just south of the Regina airport. He and Rhoda spent half of the year at their apartment in Hollywood Florida, the other half in Regina. He and Rhoda travelled extensively - Russia, the Far East, Europe, Africa. A highlight was a trip they made to Russia in 1972 to see the Russia-Canada hockey series. Rhoda died in Florida in 1986. The following year Ken moved out of the big house at 2370 Lorne Street into the small house at 3237 Angus Street. He lived there, and in the apartment in Florida until his death in 1993.