Julius Roy Izen was born July 10, 1936 and raised in Winnipeg. Izen graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture in 1960 and continued his studies with a graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During this period, he was employed at Boston firm Salzberg & Le Blanc.
Upon his return to Winnipeg, he was employed by local firms Blankstein, Coop, Gillmore & Hanna, Weisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmore Hanna (later known as Number TEN Architectural Group), and Libling Michener and Associates (later known as LM Architects) as a project designer/architect.
Izen was a founding partner at IKOY. After colleagues Ron Keenberg, Stan Osaka, and Jim Yamashita earned an honourable mention for their entry in a national design competition for the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1968, Izen joined the group to found the new firm, IKOY Architechs. IKOY drew its moniker from the names of its principle designers: Roy Izen (I), Keenberg (K), Stan Osaka (O) and Yamashita (Y). During his time at IKOY, Izen worked on projects including the UMSU Building on the University of Manitoba campus (overall design, 1969) and the Hampton Green apartment complex.
After leaving IKOY, Izen worked with MMP Architects (Senior Design Associate, 1973-1983); Department of National Defense (Design Architect, 1984-1989); Public Works and Government Services Canada/Building Product Sector (Chief Design Architect, 1989-1991); Public Works and Government Services Canada/Real Property Services (Chief, Architectural Services, 1991-1997). In 1997, he opened his own office, J. Roy Izen (Principal Architect, 1997-1999).
In addition to displaying his creativity through his work in architecture, Izen’s eccentric and dynamic art style was captured in his sketches and collages, reflecting his humour and interest in popular culture. Izen also contributed to set design on Royal Winnipeg Ballet productions (ca. 1960s).
Izen married Ann Barbara Galpern in April, 1961. The couple had three sons, Michael, Jon, and Steve. Roy Izen relocated to Richmond, B.C after his retirement in 1999. In 2016, the family collaborated on a book to raise awareness of the importance of prostate exams, following Michael’s Stage IV prostate cancer diagnosis.