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László Imré

László Imré Németh

Dec 19th 1940 — Oct 19th 2023 (82 years)

Biography

László (Laci) was born in Szombathely, Hungary. László was predeceased by his mother, Rozália Resetár; father László Németh as well as his sister, Margit Németh (Babu), brother, Péter Németh (Öcsi) and sister, Mária Németh (Nanu). He will be missed by his wife, Wendy Németh and their daughter Sophia Németh, as well as his daughter Tobey Németh (husband Michael Caballo, mother Jen Németh). László is also survived by his brother Bill Németh (Béla) {including wife Ilsa, children Péter (wife Mary and their children Alexis and Stephanie) and Susan (husband Greg and children Ben and Sam)} and survived by his sister Katalin Timár nee Németh (Katus) (partner Rudolf and son Roland) as well as his nieces and nephews: Nunu's son András; Babu's children Attila, Andrea and Ádám; and Öcsi children Péter and Zoltán.
László was triumphantly curious and intelligent. He cared deeply to understand the world around him, and he did so with a mastery that impressed both those who knew him well and passerby alike. With his intelligence came his humour. Despite English being his fifth language, he enjoyed playing with words and turning sentences inside out. “You have to make sure to smile afterwards”, he told Sophia on an occasion that she tried to use one of his jokes out in public, “so that they know it’s a joke”.
During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, at the age of 16, László and his older brother Bill (Béla) guided their mother’s brother living in Austria, made the trek through a minefield to cross the border to safety in Austria. At that time, the government of France helped the refugee teens by creating a high school for them in their building in Innsbruck. After completing high school, László was given a scholarship to study at Technical University in Vienna, Austria.
From Austria, László moved to Manitoba Canada where he had an uncle and where Bill (Béla) had settled and started a family. He and his first wife Jen moved to Montréal where László was involved with significant designs including the National Arts Theatre in Ottawa while working for the Architectural firm arcop, Montreal, Quebec. The firm wrote a letter of recommendation to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Laszlo’s behalf, outlining the success of his work on the Theatre. This led to him receiving a scholarship to complete his Masters in Architecture at MIT. Simultaneously he lectured at Harvard and was invited to work with Walter Gropius of T.A.C. (The Architect’s Collaborative) as Captain of the design team for the NASA Research Center in Cambridge, MA and to travel with Walter Gropius to Berlin to work on the West Berlin Housing project.
After completing his Masters degree, he was invited as a Canadian Doctorate Fellow to study at London College for his PhD. While in London, he worked for Arup Associates on the commercial and civil development of Cambridge Lion Yard design. László went from London, England to Eugene, Oregon to teach at University of Oregon. He taught on subjects such as Community and Development and Culture and Environment at University of Oregon. As the Vietnam War broke out, he and Jen returned to Canada and settled in Toronto where he was hired by Bregman + Hamann Architects to design Toronto Eaton’s Centre in partnership with Fairview Cadillac Architect Eb Zeidler. He based the design of Eaton's Centre on the European cathedrals and strived to bring natural light to all three levels. At First Canadian Place he designed an award winning rooftop park and a living wall for Panasonic’s Head Office. When he started his own firm in 1975, he was invited to design a community of 10,000 in Ahsanabad, Pakistan. He was a bit embarrassed to find his name written in huge letters at the entrance to the Project. It was explained to him that ‘Németh’ in the Urdu language means ‘Gift of God’.
László was ahead of his time as an architect creating sustainable and green buildings long before green was popular. I had the privilege to work with him for over 14 years and sustainability was embedded in all his designs.. Our daughter Sophia is currently completing a degree at McGill University on International Development Studies and Social Entrepreneurship. She has shared how his values guided her towards her career, including her interest in seeking solutions to housing for refugees. For those of us who knew and loved László, he was indeed a 'Gift from God'!

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