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SkyDome architect Roderick Robbie dies

01/05/2012 11:56 EST | Updated 03/06/2012 05:12 EST

Architect Roderick "Rod" Robbie, best known for designing the inventive SkyDome in Toronto and the Katimavik Canadian Pavilion at Expo '67, has died at the age of 83.

He died Wednesday in Toronto after being admitted to St. Michael's Hospital on Dec. 25.

British-born Robbie studied architecture and city planning in England before immigrating to Canada in 1956.

As partner in the Toronto firm Ashworth, Robbie, Vaughan and Williams Architects & Town Planners, he was a lead figure in designing the inverted pyramid-shaped Canadian pavilion at the Expo '67 world fair in Montreal. At the time of his death, he had been serving as chairman emeritus at the firm Robbie, Young & Wright/IBI Group Architects.

In the 1980s, Robbie submitted a complex and ambitious pitch to a design competition for a new downtown Toronto arena. He eventually teamed with engineer Michael Allen to bring the SkyDome — now known as the Rogers Centre — to fruition, battling critics of the building and its landmark retractable roof. The controversial venue, home to Toronto's Blue Jays baseball team and Argonauts Canadian Football League team, eventually opened in 1989.

He was also noted for his devotion to building schools, from facilities for young children to post-secondary institutions —including consulting with fellow Brit Will Alsop on the latter's design of OCAD University's Sharp Centre for Design in Toronto.

Robbie was a fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada in 2003. Along with serving on various construction and building industry councils and committees over the years, he and his wife Enid became political activists soon after their arrival in Canada, championing women's rights and campaigning against the proliferation of nuclear arms. She died in 2001.

Robbie is survived by his four children and his grandchildren.

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