Waisman Ross was founded by Allan Waisman and Jack Ross – both recent University of Manitoba graduates – in May of 1953, with offices at Room 308-356 Main Street in the Great Western Building. Much of Waisman and Ross’ early practice consisted of small rural hospitals; one of these was a hospital in Teulon, Manitoba which won the firm a Massey Medal in Architecture honourable mention. Larger commissions in Winnipeg came in 1955 and 1956; these, notably, included the new Winnipeg Builders Exchange offices at 290 Burnell Street, a clean-lined, classically proportioned building in which the courtyard space contained a mosaic-mural by renowned Canadian artist Takao Tanabe. Another example of public art – yet again in mosaic-mural – is also evident in another Waisman Ross building of the same year, a Robert Bruce piece gracing the entrance arcade of the Astra Building, at 208 Edmonton Street.
During the early 1960s Waisman Ross completed the New York Life Building (385 St. Mary Avenue, 1957), a two storey glass and steel office of understated proportions and detailing. In 1961, the firm won a silver Massey Medal for their design of the multi-use Thompson Municipal Building and another silver medal for Waisman’s design of his own summer cottage in Husavik, on Lake Winnipeg, a wood and glass structure which blurs the separation between interior and exterior, nature and structure. This era also saw the practice enter into a business relationship with local developer R.C. Baxter, who employed Waisman and Ross to build four office buildings along Broadway between 1961 and 1964. These projects, all of a modernist character, include the Imperial Oil Offices (379 Broadway, 1961), Premier Life (360 Broadway, 1962) and Britannia House, 338 Broadway,1962). It was during this time that Waisman and Ross designed and built their own office at 10 Donald Street, a structure large enough to be shared with their partners – the engineering firm of Klein and Dashevsky.
1964 saw the merger of Waisman Ross and Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna. The amalgamated practice was located in the former Waisman Ross office building; following a period operating as Waisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmore Hanna, this ungainly title was changed to Number TEN Architects, in honour of the building’s street address.