Reflecting on Jack Diamond through 17 years of Summer Solstice parties

With the passing of Abel Joseph “Jack” Diamond on Oct. 30, one week shy of his 90th birthday, Canada lost one of its leading architects. Gold Medalist of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, a Member of the Order of Ontario and an Officer of the Order of Canada, he was a favourite “talking head,” succeeding Arthur Erickson, whom journalists would call when they needed an authoritative quote about architecture or urbanism.

An enduring reason for his influence was the annual Summer Solstice party hosted by his firm, Diamond Schmitt Architects (DSA). Much more than the typical client-appreciation soirée, it was an institution on the social circuit that seemingly attracted le tout Toronto: politicians, academics, business people and personages in the arts.

2018: DSA partners Don Schmitt and Jack Diamond (photo by David Lasker).

The longest-day fête was held in the shady, ivy-covered courtyard of Berkeley Castle, a collection of formerly rundown Victorian-era industrial lofts that Diamond renovated into smart premises for his and other design-related firms. Since 2007, the gathering has taken place in a series of DSA-designed venues: the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Daniels Spectrum (formerly the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre), and Don Valley Brickworks.

2003: A sense of buzz amid the vintage charm of Berkeley Castle’s courtyard.

Herewith, a selection of event photos I shot for the Canadian Interiors Party Time, subsequently Scene, section, documenting Summer Solstice parties from 2001 to 2018. Not only these images but also the cutlines are historic artifacts, a wistful memento mori for Toronto’s A&D community.

Photography by David Lasker