Harlyn Elwood Thompson was born in Fargo, North Dakota, on July 3, 1933. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from North Dakota State University in 1956. He then studied at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) receiving a masters of Architecture in 1960. After graduation, he moved to London, England and worked for Chamberlin, Powell & Bon Architects, the architects for the Barbican. He was a ‘Block’ Architect responsible for large scale 'flat' housing.
Returning to the USA, he worked for a year with Vincent G. Kling & Associates, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the Norfolk Civic Center, Norfork, Virginia. From 1962-64, he worked with Louis I. Kahn, in Philadelphia. Projects underway included the Salk Institute in LaJolla, California. Thompson was Project Architect on the Bryn Mawr College Dormitory, Pennsylvania.
From 1964-1973, Thompson taught in the Department of Architecture & Planning, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland; the Department of Architecture, North Dakota State University, and the Department of Architecture, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.
In 1973, he became a Professor at the New Jersey School of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was also appointed as the new school's first dean. He was accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in 1978.
In 1980, Harlyn Thompson came to the University of Manitoba and joined the Faculty of Architecture as a professor and then as Dean, as well as working in private practice. He continued with the University in teaching and management roles until 1996. From 1997-2007, Thompson was Senior Scholar in the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba.
Thompson also served as a consultant on a range of international projects. From 1990-96, he worked with the Architecture & Rural Planning, Nepal Education Project, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). From 1996-2005, he was a volunteer advisor through CES/SACO on the following projects: Site Analysis/Site Planning for a Motel, Grand Rapids First Nation (1996); Space Planning, Neechi Foods Co-op, Winnipeg (1998); Site Report, Outdoor Recreation Facility, Fisher River First Nation (1998); Introduce Architectural Consulting Services using CAD via the Internet, Chisinau, Moldova (2002).
Harlyn Thompson continued to contribute to Winnipeg’s architectural community through support of the annual Harlyn Thompson lecture series at the University of Manitoba and participation as a member of the Faculty of Architecture Partners Programme.
Harlyn Thompson passed away on August 17, 2021.