Cormier died today in Montreal after complications from Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic condition that makes carriers susceptible to multiple cancers, his company, Claude Cormier + Associés, said.
His company describes Cormier as the creative force behind some of Canada’s most colorful, critically acclaimed public spaces — including Toronto’s Percy Park dog fountain — and the canopy of pink (later multicolored) plastic balls that hung for years over Montreal’s Village District.
His works ranged from high-traffic squares such as Montreal’s Place d’Youville and Dorchester Square, to the brightly colored umbrellas of the city’s Clock Tower Beach.
Claude Cormier won awards for his design of Toronto’s Sugar Beach, with its pink umbrellas and giant candy-striped rocks.
He also designed Leslie Lookout Park, which is currently being completed in Toronto’s Port Lands area.
In Ottawa, Cormier built the National Holocaust Memorial, a multi-level gathering space for remembrance, with a design rooted in the symbol of the emerging star.
His last major project was a 30-metre suspended steel hoop in downtown Montreal entitled The ring (The Loop), and Toronto’s Heart-Shaped Love Park, both described as love letters to Cormier’s favorite cities.
Cormier’s career began in the early 1990s with landscape art installation projects, and is seen as challenging Canadian landscaping conventions.
He is survived by his mother, sister, brother, nieces and nephew, as well as many colleagues and friends, the obituary says.
On X, formerly known as Twitter, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante called Cormier a “visionary, builder and one of Montreal’s great people.” She described his passing as a “huge loss.”
The news of Claude Cormier’s death is a shock and a huge loss. Claude was a visionary, builder and one of Montreal’s great people.
His influence on the city’s icons and public squares can be counted in dozens: the arena, the village ball, the square… pic.twitter.com/UBmtJKPip5
Plante told CBC that Cormier helped Montreal attract global attention for his design.
“He made us shine, and he continues to make us shine at the international level,” she said.
According to Dino Bombaro, policy director at Heritage Montreal, the poetic quality of Cormier’s work has helped revive appreciation for landscape architecture.
“It reminds us that the city’s heritage is not only about what was created in the past, but also about the heritage we create in our generations,” Bumbaru said.