Morden Yolles dies at 98
January 26, 2024
Morden Yolles, a prominent structural engineer known for many iconic projects within Canada and beyond, died earlier this week, peacefully at home and surrounded by family. He was 98.
Born in Toronto in 1925, Yolles graduated with a degree in civil engineering at the University of Toronto (U of T) in 1948. His father Leon arranged for him to the engineering firm J.H. Hopper, where he applied then-new computational techniques in concrete design to Leon’s Benvenuto condominium complex project, which was completed in 1955.
Yolles soon joined Austrian engineer Roland Bergmann to launch their own firm, Yolles Partnership. They went on to design many notable structures, including the Katimavik and Polymer Pavilions at Expo 67, the Ontario Science Centre, Trent University, the Toronto Zoo, the Toronto YMCA, First Canadian Place, the BCE Place galleria, World Financial Center in New York, N.Y., and Canary Wharf in London, England. In 1997, they endowed a scholarship at U of T’s faculty of engineering for innovative structural design.
“Mordy was not your typical technical engineer,” said Bergmann’s son Andy, who was the firm’s CEO from 1982 to 2009. “He was about the artistic side and how buildings fit in a broader cultural context. A generation of engineers and architects learned a lot from him and recognized what a broad thinker he was, shaped by unconventional and diverse interests like food, photography and a deep love of architecture.”
“To enter the artistic realm, the work of a structural engineer must go beyond the application of technical knowledge and skills and achieve a collaborative balance of the visual, innovative, economic and functional,” Yolles said, as quoted in the 2002 publication, Yolles: A Canadian Engineering Legacy, by Beth Kapusta and John McMinn.
Yolles was named to the Order of Canada in 2002 in recognition of his role as one of the nation’s leading structural engineers. The firm was sold to Halcrow in 2004, creating Halcrow-Yolles, which in turn was bought by CH2M Hill in 2011. Finally, Jacobs Engineering bought CH2M in 2017.