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13 John C. and Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Ambulatory Care A new addition to a rehab hospital by Montgomery Sisam Architects in joint venture with Farrow Partnership Architects supports patient healing and wellness through boldly humane architectural gestures. TEXT Paige Magarrey

Nic Lehoux

Nic Lehoux

Tom Arban


9 News

27 Report

20 Cactus Club Café Lubo Brezina

Acton Ostry Architects enhance the public realm of Vancouver’s English Bay with the latest addition to the Cactus Club Café chain of restaurants. TEXT Adele Weder

 lack Hills Wine Experience Centre B opens in the Okanagan; Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities program welcomes foreign-trained architects.

 ent McKay and Shafraaz Kaba describe K efforts to address the dire state of First Nations communities in Canada.

31 Insites

 ye Farrow espouses the development of T healthier built environments to shift the focus on positive health creation.

35 Practice

 aj-Lis Vettoretti explores how architecM tural firms can address new business development and growth opportunities.

41 Calendar

 uilding: Inside Studio Gang Architects at B the Art Institute of Chicago; Ryue Nishi­ zawa of SANAA lectures in Toronto.

42 Backpage

 ichelangelo Sabatino discusses the M reinvention of the Sukkah for Mel Lastman Square in North York.

October 2012, v.57 n.10

Cactus Club Café on Vancouver’s English Bay by Acton Ostry Architects. Photograph by Nic Lehoux. COVER

The National Review of Design and Practice/ The Journal of Record of Architecture Canada | RAIC

10/12 canadian architect


Mark Hemmings


­Editor Ian Chodikoff, OAA, FRAIC Associate Editor Leslie Jen, MRAIC

In Transit is an installation for a transit terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick. The Acre Colla­borative, one of the many promising architecture firms that will un­­ doubt­edly shape the future of architectural practice in Canada, completed the project. ABOVE

The only certainty in life is change. The time has come for me to leave my position as the Editor of Canadian Architect magazine and begin a new chapter in my career. During my tenure at this publication, I have been exposed to practically every aspect of the architectural profession and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to interact with a broad range of individuals dedicated to improving our built environment. The diversity of personalities is staggering. The breadth and depth of intellectual capital associated with those who work in the fields of architecture and design in Canada is humbling. We should consider ourselves blessed to have so much talent, dedication and innovation amongst us. Assuredly, there remains an endless supply of projects and firms that have yet to be published as this magazine continues to facilitate invaluable discussions relating to Canadian architecture and design. I end my involvement at Canadian Architect with a greater appreciation for my profession than when I began my journey as Editor nine years ago. Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to circumvent the toxicity of cynicism expressed by those who feel as though they have not received their fair share of accolades. It is often asked why some firms receive so much attention when others barely get a mention? And why do some architects appear to garner a disproportionate amount of credit for a project involving the efforts of so many? It is difficult to explain questions like these but I will attempt to summarize with a simple anecdote. I have often remarked that my job has necessitated the ability to lend a shoulder to cry on for a recently laidoff architect only to find myself lending the other shoulder to support the woes of a sadden­ ed partner of a major firm who was forced to lay off several architects due to a cancelled project. In architecture, just as in life, there are several sides to any story. A junior architect is often quick to disparage the boss’s leadership while the boss is convinced that his staff—unfortunately there are still too few female bosses—will never appreciate the inherent risks associated with managing a firm. It is difficult to satisfy every architect’s desires, especially given the 6 canadian architect 10/12

fact that inflated egos can be found at every level of the profession. Far too often, the cult of archi­tect as individual is lauded over the strengths of architects as collaborators. Mediating amongst these disparate paradigms is a big part of architecture, and a significant part of producing our monthly publication. Every issue of Canadian Architect demands coordinating the efforts of countless individuals who inevitably include architects, freelancers, and photographers who have each helped influence our editorial content in some shape or form. Developing relationships with the many practitioners, academics, researchers, professional associations, allied professionals, and students over the years has provided this magazine with remarkable insight into emerging trends and broader issues pertaining to the future of architecture. Most importantly, Cana­ dian Architect would be nothing without the commitment and professionalism of both Associate Editor Leslie Jen and graphic designer Sue Williamson who have been integral to the success of this publication and with whom I have laboured on over 100 issues of the magazine. And let’s not forget our publishers who ensure that this magazine continues as a viable business concern. The motivations for becoming an architect are diverse. It is widely understood that a career in architecture is going to be challenging. The passion and desire required to become an architect are largely driven by an ideology to make a positive impact on the world—an ambition that often overshadows more rational considerations such as projected income and job security. For these reasons alone, I believe that hard work, collaboration and patience is what ultimately defines a life in architecture. As I exit the world of publishing, I look forward to collaborating with the many wonderful individuals that I have met over the years. I have enjoyed watching their dreams and ambitions develop as they continue to influence our profession in positive ways. Happily, many stories are yet to be told as Canadian Architect magazine begins a new chapter in its long history. Ian Chodikoff

Editorial Advisors John McMinn, AADipl. Marco Polo, OAA, FRAIC Contributing Editors Gavin Affleck, OAQ, MRAIC Herbert Enns, MAA, MRAIC Douglas MacLeod, ncarb Regional Correspondents Halifax Christine Macy, OAA Regina Bernard Flaman, SAA Montreal David Theodore Calgary David A. Down, AAA Winnipeg Herbert Enns, MAA Vancouver Adele Weder Publisher Tom Arkell 416-510-6806 Associate Publisher Greg Paliouras 416-510-6808 Circulation Manager Beata Olechnowicz 416-442-5600 ext. 3543 Customer Service Malkit Chana 416-442-5600 ext. 3539 Production Jessica Jubb Graphic Design Sue Williamson Vice President of Canadian Publishing Alex Papanou President of Business Information Group Bruce Creighton Head Office 80 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, ON M3B 2S9 Telephone 416-510-6845 Facsimile 416-510-5140 E-mail Web site Canadian Architect is published monthly by BIG Magazines LP, a div. of Glacier BIG Holdings Company Ltd., a leading Cana­dian information company with interests in daily and community news­papers and business-tobusiness information services. The editors have made every reasonable effort to provide accurate and authoritative information, but they assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the text, or its fitness for any particular purpose. Subscription Rates Canada: $54.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $87.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (HST – #809751274RT0001). Price per single copy: $6.95. Students (prepaid with student ID, includes taxes): $34.97 for one year. USA: $105.95 US for one year. All other foreign: $125.95 US per year. Single copy US and foreign: $10.00 US. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian Architect, 80 Valleybrook Dr, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 80 Valleybrook Dr, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be re­produced either in part or in full without the consent of the copyright owner. From time to time we make our subscription list available to select companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us via one of the following methods: Telephone 1-800-668-2374 Facsimile 416-442-2191 E-mail Mail Privacy Officer, Business Information Group, 80 Valleybrook Dr, Toronto, ON Canada M3B 2S9 Member of the Canadian Business Press Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations Publications Mail Agreement #40069240 ISSN 1923-3353 (Online) ISSN 0008-2872 (Print)

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund (CPF) for our publishing activities.

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News Projects

With its grand opening this past summer, the new Wine Experience Centre at the Black Hills Estate Winery offers visitors a tantalizing taste of the Okanagan lifestyle. Designed by local architect Nick Bevanda, a partner with CEI Architecture, the new facility offers a bright space to sit down and learn more about the wine while enjoying expansive views of the Black Sage Bench, its vineyards and surrounding mountains. A pool offers guests a refuge from the hot climate of the South Okanagan. The new Wine Experience Centre adds to the strong heritage of the Black Hills Estate Winery, the only winery in Western Canada to win a major architectural design award, also designed by Bevanda. “As the name suggests, the Wine Experience Centre is about the enjoyment of the entire tasting experience,” explains Bevanda. “The wine is central to that, of course, but so is the social aspect, as well as the natural environment. It’s all part and parcel of what the Okanagan offers visitors.” The Centre highlights the unique character of its location in Oliver, British Columbia—the desert climate and picturesque views. It is constructed from the same palette of materials as the award-winning Black Hills Estate Winery building, with a steel structure supporting precast concrete panels. Interior spaces are softened by warm wood finishes and deep overhangs, and low-E2 glazing provides protection from the desert sun. Born and raised in the Okanagan, Bevanda is one of the most prolific winery designers in the region. His design of the Black Hills Estate Winery was awarded the Lieutenant-Governor of BC Award of Merit for Architecture in 2008, making Black Hills the only winery in Western Canada honoured with a major architectural award. KPMB Architects design expansion of the Rotman School of Management.

The Rotman Expansion, the winning scheme in an invited design competition designed by Kuwa­bara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB), was officially opened in September. The Rotman School is part of the University of Toronto and according to a recent Financial Times survey of MBA programs, is ranked one of the top 10 business schools in the world for faculty research. The expansion project was conceived to create a vibrant global hub in which to evolve Rotman’s core mission to promote the power of creativity, innovation and integrative thinking in 21st-century business education. The nine-storey-high project is seamlessly

Ed White

Black Hills Wine Experience Centre highlights the best of the Okanagan.

integrated with and doubles the size of the Rotman School’s home on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus. It is also connected to an existing Victorian residence. KPMB conceived a vertical campus to fit the varied program of tiered classrooms, study rooms, research centres, study lounges, and dedicated student spaces on a tight urban site. The project features many spaces for gathering, including the event hall and a state-of-the-art teaching and meeting space. The 500-seat event hall is the centrepiece of the project, its large elevated glass box facing out on to St. George Street to broadcast the vibrancy of Rotman’s programs to students of U of T and the city. The multi-level south atrium features a large-scale serpentine staircase with a hot pink accent which simultaneously reduces reliance on elevators and increases interaction between students and faculty. Marianne McKenna, partner in charge for KPMB of the Rotman expansion, says that the design process was inspired by Rotman’s Integrative Thinking™ program: “the design is a direct reflection of broad thinking, flexibility and teamwork involving the input of Rotman and the University of Toronto.” Targeting LEED Silver certification, the project exemplifies sustainable design principles and prioritizes the well-being of students, faculty, staff and visitors. The interior is filled with natural light, fresh air, and spectacular views of the university’s campus. Terraces with green roofs and a courtyard provide access to the outdoors. In scale and massing, the KPMB design responds to the surrounding context, between the residential scale of the historic 19th-century residence and the massive Brutalist architecture of the Robarts Library across the street. It is sited to respect views and minimize shadow impact on Massey College to the east.

ABOVE The new Wine Experience Centre by Nick Bevanda of CEI Architecture complements the previously built awardwinning Black Hills Estate Winery in ­ Oliver, British Columbia.

Awards Winners of the 2012 ARIDO Awards announced.

The Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) recently announced the winners of its annual Awards program. One of the most highly regarded honours in the industry, the ARIDO Awards recognize excellence, innovation and creativity in interior design. This year’s winners include a Project of the Year, two Awards of Excellence and 19 Awards of Merit, including one Award of Merit for Sus­tain­ able Design. Johnson Chou of the Toronto-based firm Johnson Chou Inc. received the coveted Project of the Year Award for Sixty Colborne, a condominium presentation centre located in downtown Toronto. Two Awards of Excellence went to the Telus Generation 2 Store by Chris Wright and Andrew Gallici of figure3, and to the Polar Securities Office Renovation by Chen Cohen of MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects. Eighteen Awards of Merit were given to: 150_W Residence by Neal Prabhu of nkArchitect; Pied-à-Terre by Michel Arcand and Don Parker of IN8 Design Inc.; McLaren/Pfaff Tuning by George Papa­datos and Steve Cascone of Mayhew; The Metrick System by Cheryl Krismer of Crayon Design Co.; Optimus | SBR by Jacqueline Claassen and Donna Wood of Bullock Associates Design Consultants Inc.; DRAFTFCB by Inger Bartlett and Lynn Nguyen of Bartlett & Associates; FMC Law by Peter Heys of the IBI Group; Teva Cafeteria by Michelle Sta. Ana-Ascenzi of 10/12­canadian architect


Perkins + Will; ARIDO Headquarters by Chantal Frenette of modo; Mark Anthony Brands by Bryan Chartier of Giannone Petricone Associates; 590 King Street West by Brian Betten­court of Watt International; Ronald McDonald House Toronto by Anne Carlyle of Carlyle Design Associates; 88 Scott Sales Centre by Kelly Cray of UNION31; Quartz/Spectra Model Suite by Suzanne Bettencourt and Chris Wright of figure3; McGregor Community Centre Lounge by Tania Bortolotto of Bortolotto Design Architect Inc.; Old Fort Erie Interpretive Centre by Cathy Misiaszek of Reich + Petch Design International; New Delta Guestroom Brand Standards by Randa Tukan of HOK. Finally, one Award of Merit and Award of Merit: Sustainable Design went to Nova Scotia Power by Caroline Hughes and Erin Armstrong of figure3. awards_2012.pdf

What’s New Call for presenters for ConEd sessions at the 2013 OAA Conference.

The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) and its Continuing Education Committee invites presenters to submit proposals for ConEd sessions

to be considered for the 2013 OAA Conference: Reimagining the Business of Architecture. According to Susan Lewin, Chair of the Con­tin­u­ing Education Committee, “We are looking for presenters who excel in their areas of expertise and can deliver captivating and educational presentations. We are providing a user-friendly Call for Proposals format, to assist potential presenters in describing their continuing education session, background, and learning objectives.” The 2013 Conference takes place from May 8-10, 2013 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and InterContinental Toronto Centre. To learn more about the opportunities and the process, please visit the “News” section on the OAA homepage. The deadline for submissions is October 26, 2012. CALA program welcomes foreign-trained architects.

The 11 provincial and territorial Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities (CALA) have announced the launch of a program called the new Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects program (BEFA), which offers experienced foreign-trained architects an alter­native path to registration and licensure in Canada. The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human

Resources and Skills Development, recently helped to launch the federally funded BEFA program and underscored the importance of helping skilled newcomers succeed in the Canadian job market. “Our government’s top priorities are job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity, and we recognize that internationally trained professionals help fill skills shortages in key occupations. This is why we are working with partners like Architecture Canada so that newcomers can find meaningful work in their fields faster and help to contribute to Canada’s economy.” The BEFA program was created through over $1.9 million in federal funding, and will streamline the licensing process for internationally trained architects through a national online assessment tool and standard interview process. Internationally trained architects will be able to find out sooner whether their qualifications meet Canadian standards of practice, or if they need to undergo further training and skills upgrading. The eligibility criteria include: an architecture education/ degree; registration/licensure as an architect in a foreign jurisdiction; demonstration of seven years experience of post-registration; licensure experience in architecture and a minimum of six months of relevant Cana­dian architectural

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The Canadian Centre for Architecture honours the memory of Melvin Charney.

Over the course of his career, artist-architect Melvin Charney was involved in many projects that united the fields of art and architecture, and his work took both a celebratory and critical perspective of the urban environment. A native of Montreal, Charney studied architecture at McGill and Yale University to work for different firms in Paris and New York in 1961. In 1964 he returned to Montreal to accept a position in the architectural department at the Université de Montréal. Appointed associate professor in 1966, he created and directed the Faculté d’aménagement from 1968 to 1972, and the Unité d’architecture urbaine from 1978 to 1992. He subsequently authored numerous studies in urban design and architecture and was a visiting critic at universities around the world. His work came to international attention following his proposal for the Canadian pavilion at the Osaka World Fair in 1970, and though the proposal was not accepted, it was widely acclaimed. He received the Prix Borduas from the government of Quebec (1996), was named a Chevalier of the Ordre National du Québec (2003), Commandeur of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2006), and received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from McGill University (2009). He was chosen to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale both in art and architecture (1986 and 2000). In 1987 he began developing the CCA’s sculpture garden, a process which took two years. His other well-known public works include the prize-winning entry for the Cana­dian Human Rights Monument in Ottawa. “Charney occupied a prominent place in contemporary art and architecture in a vibrant fusion of disciplines that encapsulates the essence of the urban environment. His work encompassed a vast territory both physically and philosophically, and his contribution was especially appreciated in France,” said his longtime friend and collaborator Phyllis Lambert, CCA’s Founding Director. Charney passed away on September 17, 2012.

Letters The article in the September 2012 issue about Sing!, the multi-lingual karaoke kiosk in Vancouver, seemed to imply that Urban Republic was coerced into locating the kiosk downtown. The article stated that “The city used funding restrictions to persuade them to relocate downtown.” Although the project was initially conceived as an activity to bring residents of linguistically diverse neighbourhoods together, Urban Republic made the decision to launch the project downtown. We believe the opportunity to obtain sponsorship from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) and the City of Vancouver through its Viva Vancouver program was critical to the development and realization of the Sing! karaoke kiosk. We applaud our sponsors for backing not just the kiosk, but numerous other public-space projects that have taken place downtown during the last two summers. Urban Republic supports the continuation of the Viva Vancouver program and would encourage more private sponsors to partner with the City to bring thoughtfully designed and programmed public activations to neighbourhoods across Vancouver. In short, the availability of funding from the DVBIA was viewed as an incentive, not a restriction. Sometimes when it comes to funding smallscale design interventions, money not only talks, it can Sing! Peeroj Thakre Co-Director Urban Republic Arts Society


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Building Health

A new addition to a Toronto-area rehabilitation centre incorporates many design features that contribute to the patients’ health and well-being. The John C. and Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Ambulatory Care at St. John’s Rehab Hospital, Toronto, Ontario Architects Montgomery Sisam Architects in joint venture with Farrow Partnership ­ Architects Text Paige Magarrey Photos Tom Arban Project

Driving up its tree-lined thoroughfare in North York, St. John’s looks more like a turn-of-thecentury resort then a rehab hospital. Blue striped canopies and meandering rose gardens flank the original structure, built in the late 1930s by the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine on a 25-acre farm as an embodiment of what health care should be. Eighty years—and a few more misguided (one might even argue unsuccessful) additions to the hospital—later, and the original building’s ideals are again being brought to light in a 4,500-square-metre expansion that

illustrates how crucial the built environment can be to the wellness process. Both Toronto firms involved in the project, Montgomery Sisam and the Farrow Partnership are well-versed in health-care design; among Montgomery Sisam’s recent completions is the LEED Gold-certified Sister Margaret Smith Addictions Treatment Centre in Thunder Bay. But the John C. and Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Ambulatory Care, the latest addition to the St. John’s Rehab Hospital, feels decidedly different. Completed earlier this year, the addition unites all the hospital’s outpatient facilities into a flexible, shoebox-style space designed to shift easily to new configurations and uses in the future. The team also negotiated new parking lots onto the site without disrupting too much of the natural surroundings, and shifted the main entrance from the original building (which was

ABOVE A healing therapy courtyard garden features lines of young trees that will eventually provide shade to strolling patients and staff in this lush natural setting.

accessible only by stairs), to an accessible at-grade drop-off in the new wing. The new entrance sets the tone for the whole space: a glasswalled, light-filled atrium that overlooks a pristine courtyard, tightly nestled between the new wing on one side, and an older addition on the other. The “therapy garden,” accessible via the lower floor and completely at grade for wheelchairs, features immaculately tended greenery and lines of young trees that will eventually provide shade to strolling patients and staff. It’s these two elements, the entryway and the lush natural setting beyond that really connect back to the original structure’s English country manor-style back terrace and gardens, according to partners in charge Terry Montgomery and Tye Farrow. But rather than create a similar multi-level outdoor space, they instead opted to turn the idea “inside out,” says Farrow, 10/12­canadian architect





3 2 4





1 entry drive 2 heritage court 3 loading dock 4 main entrance 5 addition 6 therapy court 7 landscaped grounds 8 ravine 9 parking



Site Plan



1 4





1 entry 2 reception 3 lobby 4 gift shop 5 therapy pool 6 treatment gym First Floor

14 canadian architect 10/12




and make the second-storey entrance atrium a kind of indoor veranda that soaks in views of the garden below, setting the tone of the space the minute patients come inside. “How can you just lose that anxiety that’s inherent in hospitals?” says Farrow. “You’re coming in anxious, something significant is happening to you. If you’re uncertain about something, your mind begins to fill in the blanks with what it sees and hears and smells. And so if you walk in here and you sit up looking out, and the light is beginning to bleed in, that communicates to you that you’re in good hands.” Another important component to alleviating that tension involves helping patients to quickly orient themselves to the space with ample windows and wide corridors. In most hospital environments—and even in the other wings of St. John’s—the corridors are double-loaded in the centre of the space. “The circulation never touches the outside,” says Montgomery. “Unless someone has their door open and you see through their window, it’s hard to know where you are.” At St. John’s, they situated the main thoroughfare along the edge of the shoebox space, against a glazed exterior wall tracing the perimeter of the courtyard so that patients are connected to their surroundings throughout the space. And while most hospitals want to minimize corridors as much as possible—to gain more room for other areas and keep patients from walking too far—Farrow and Montgomery saw these hallways as important spaces to the design, particularly in a rehab hospital where patients are constantly using them for their therapy sessions and physio. “For us, these spaces are the nicest. They make the difference between a good design and a mediocre one,” says Montgomery. The main corridor skirts around the open-concept rehab gym, which constitutes most of the wing’s second-floor space. A window into the busy space runs the length of the corridor, bringing in natural light and views of the courtyard. The opening also brings a sense of dignity; there was some concern that patients in the gym wouldn’t respond well to being so visible to passersby. “Do people want privacy? Do they want to be seen?” says Montgomery. “But I think that’s what this place is about. There’s no reason to be stigmatized about it.” Instead of complaining about the lack of privacy, patients are happy to have a connection to the outdoors. In fact, from inside the gym, the corridor space all but disappears and gives the

appearance that the gym window leads directly outside (the team used a similar treatment in the reception area, where an interior window overlooking an exterior window in the therapy pool room brings sunlight deep into the building). Skirting around the gym’s periphery, the corridor leads to smaller clinic rooms and offices with floor-to-ceiling windows that further reduce the need for artificial light. A staircase by the front entrance leads to the therapy pool below. Putting the staircase in a more conspicuous spot than the elevator goes against traditional hospital layout mantras, but it encourages patients to work toward convalescence and staff to stay active. It also doubles as training space for patients. Downstairs, the therapy pool room is clad in concrete and cedar panels for a distinctly spa-like feel. The team incorporated a ramp and an overhead lift for patients to use when getting into the water, as well as an inset walkway along the length of the pool that allows the therapists to be closer to eye level with their swimming patients. They also installed a floor-to-ceiling window with a cedarslat privacy screen to bring in natural elements while still offering privacy. “The materials evoke


Section A 0

TOP A generous canopy incorporates signage, creating an unambiguous entrance to the facility. ABOVE The prominence of the staircase encourages physical activity for both staff and convalescing patients while also providing a means to engage more fully with the building and exterior landscape.



10/12­canadian architect


a feeling of somewhere else,” says Farrow. “It doesn’t evoke hospital. It plays to your senses.” The pool is a great example of an element ever-present in the project—a simple, natural palette of colours and materials like wood, brick and glass aimed at soothing the patients and keeping them rooted. It also creates a timeless aesthetic that won’t go out of style in a few years. Montgomery and Farrow also saw intangibles like natural light and the natural surroundings as part of the aesthetic palette and played with the way light and views would change during different times of day and through the seasons. Energy-efficient elements like LED lighting, energy recovery wheels in the air-handling units, and a building automation system that monitors energy usage throughout the wing— along with recycled steel, concrete, carpet, drywall and linoleum—also helped to keep costs down during and after construction. It’s a complex design in a number of ways. It’s no surprise that Montgomery and Farrow spent months exploring every inch of the existing space and educating themselves on the needs of the patients. While there were few—if any—envelope-pushing rehab hospitals they could visit to develop their design concept (particularly for such specific areas as the therapy pool), they did have one lucky break. Due to the slow timeline of the project—they began discussing the project in 2001 but didn’t start construction until 2010—they actually designed and built the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in the meantime, which afforded them some experience in the building type and helped them to further develop their approach to architecture in the health-care realm. “Architecture is that third element in the equation of healing,” says Farrow. “There’s what happens to you, the medical staff, and then what the environment can do to help as a healer. It’s part of the process.” Though it’s rarely in the brief that architecture can or should help evoke a sense of wellness, Montgomery and Farrow see it as a driver for the design. While the healthcare industry is often focused on the pathogenic side of things, where the central concern is the cause of the problem, Farrow sees merit in flipping that focus around to zone in on salutogenics, which concerns the causes of health. “You begin to really look and see how the building can actively cause health,” he says. “The environment has a massive impact on what makes TOP LEFT Double-height spaces are awash in natural daylight, avoiding the cloistered feel of many health-care institutions. LEFT Vast amounts of glazing are featured on the elevations facing the courtyard, providing a critical orient­ ing device for patients and a vital connection to the outside world.

16 canadian architect 10/12

you feel good or not. What can we as a design team do to enhance the ability of people to perform better than what they might do otherwise?” In the case of St. John’s, it’s in the details: moving the staircase into a conspicuous spot, developing ample green space for people to spill outdoors, and flooding the indoors with natural light. This approach to health-care architecture is still in its earliest phases—evidence-based design that focuses on more traditional notions of healing is far more prevalent at the moment— but projects like St John’s are starting to generate irrefutable proof of the impact architecture can have on a patient’s recovery. And it doesn’t take much, says Montgomery: the wing was completed on time and under budget. “Making a more pleasant setting doesn’t necessarily cost more. The most important room in this whole space is that one,” he says, pointing out the window at the tree-lined courtyard below. “And we got it for free.” CA Paige Magarrey is a Toronto-based architecture and design writer.

Client St. John’s Rehab Hospital Architect Team Terry Montgomery, Tye Farrow, Geordon Green, John Archondakis, James Mallinson, Marta Belcourt, Hong Kim, Laureen Wint, Ingrid Wimenta, Sebastian Spataro, Rosalie Dawson Structural Halcrow Yolles Mechanical/Electrical MMM Group Landscape Vertechs Design Interiors Montgomery Sisam Architects in joint venture with Farrow Partnership Architects Contractor Buttcon Ltd. Area 48,300 ft2 Budget $26 M Completion November 2011

A perspectival view of the two wings forming the green therapy court. The walkways are completely at grade to permit ease of use for wheelchair-bound patients. MIDDLE The open-concept rehab gym also benefits from natural light and views to the outdoors through two glazed walls. ABOVE The light, bright and inviting therapy pool welcomes patients with a spa-like ambiance. TOP

10/12­canadian architect




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Beach Banquet

A new restaurant along the edge of Vancouver’s English Bay is a microcosm of that city’s identity.

project Cactus Club CAFÉ at English Bay, Vancouver, British Columbia ARCHITECT Acton Ostry Architects Inc. TEXT Adele Weder PHOTOS Nic Lehoux

The civic discussion of Vancouver’s public space is never more contentious than when talk turns to the waterfront. Lotusland’s serpentine beach and northern seawall is hallowed ground: a linear, centripetal piazza where throngs of citizens stroll, board, bike and bask. And the nexus of this ribbon of public space is the English Bay shore: the inflection point that reads as a junction between Stanley Park, Sunset Beach and Denman Street. This is the site where Acton Ostry Architects’ Cactus Club Café has replaced the dilapidated concession stand that had long served the immediate area. But the new restaurant is generating much more than a better grade of nourishment: it has actually produced a new kind of public realm. The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has been highly cognizant of the fraught mythology of building on the beach: the Watermark 20 canadian architect 10/12

ABOVE The Cactus Club Café’s location alongside the busy Seawall Promenade ensures a steady stream of customers. OPPOSITE Residents and tourists can enjoy the natural beauty of the beach right in the heart of the city, just steps away from the new café and the high-rise apartments that loom behind.

Restaurant, designed and completed by architect Tony Robins in 2005, was built after years of strained and sometimes fractious public input. Today, the erstwhile Watermark (which has since been purchased by the Boathouse restaurant chain) is a stalwart, controversy-free Kitsilano landmark, frequented by locals and visitors alike. The Watermark project proved to Vancouverites that architecture on the beach could be beloved, site-sensitive and even more important than whatever is on the menu. Once built, the project demonstrated to local residents that building on the beach did not have to undermine the public realm; and, if designed to the highest standards, it could actually enhance it. Today, Kits Beach serves as a gathering place for a greater number of people from different social strata, in large part because the architecture has enriched the public space into something for everyone. And so it is with the Cactus Club Café on English Bay. When the Park Board decided to replace the aging hot-dog kiosk on the site, it faced little pushback from locals. Not only did it have the hard-won public acceptance of the Watermark under its belt, it also had a site on which existing buildings sat. “Vancouver has a strong history and pattern of extensive

civic use of the waterfront,” notes Acton Ostry principal Mark Ostry. Belying the common belief that its parks and beaches were pristine expanses of nothing prior to Expo ’86, he adds that “the city has, in the past, really engaged its waterfront by way of densely built-up infrastructure.” As Ostry and co-principal Russell Acton gleaned from poring over historic images of English Bay, the site had been even more densely built up during the 20th century than it was at the turn of the millennium. In fact, the area only became a true “beach” in 1898, when tonnes of sand were hauled in and spread out on its muddy shores. Human engineering and intervention had long been essential in maintaining this naturalistic retreat for urbanites. Commissioned by the Park Board to configure the master plan for the English Bay site, Acton Ostry faced a particularly daunting set of design challenges. First, there was the irregularity of the site’s trapezoidal footprint that defied a paradigmatically functionalist solution. Second, heri­ tage and viewline considerations meant the architects had to respect the sitelines of the adjacent century-old bathhouse in addition to the streetside waterviews. Third, there was the freighted challenge of designing for the mythological intersection between Vancouver the city and Vancouver as Lotusland. The existing hot-dog kiosk was opaque and divisive, but the new structure would be expected to better connect the starkly differing realms of beach and city on either side. Constrained on all sides with a beach to the west, a busy street to the east, a heritage building to the south and a park to the north, the site itself

Exploded Perspectival Projection

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could serve as a microcosm of Vancouver proper. The master plan proposed uniting the wildly diverse realms through transparency, the plan’s fundamental design principle. After Acton Ostry’s master plan was put out to tender and various bidders had submitted their proposals, it turned out that the highest bid was that of the Cactus Club Café, a moderately sophisticated local chain of restaurants. Each Cactus Club Café is designed with a distinctive concept that relates to the specifics of its neighbourhood and site. However, the company does have one executive chef (the vaunted Rob TOP The long, low horizontality and transparency of the new café preserves the sense of a horizon line from streetfront to oceanfront. LEFT With transparency as a fundamental design principle, diners inside the café can enjoy views of English Bay in one direction and Beach Avenue in the other.

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Feenie) and one architectural firm—Acton Ostry Architects—that has done virtually all of their projects for the past decade. On English Bay, the master planners became the project architects by pure happenstance. Acton Ostry took the transparency principle of their master plan and developed it to suit the mandates for what had effectively become two clients: the Park Board and the Cactus Club Café. Known in its early years as a middlebrow meet-market with dark interiors, the restaurant’s more recent iterations have been expressed as lighter, sleeker and more familyfriendly venues (though unfailingly staffed with eye-poppingly cute servers). That transparency Ample outdoor seating on the terrace combined with unparalleled views of beach and ocean have made the Cactus Club Café at English Bay a popular year-round destination. RIGHT

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2 5

Section 1 forecourt 2 entry 3 dining 4 servery 5 kitchen


3 3



0 6 7 8 9

ethos of the master plan fit well with both clients’ requirements. The glazing has linked the street and beach visually—and also fits perfectly with the restaurant’s current image as a sleek but inclusive social gathering place. The skeleton of this LEED Gold building is comprised of glulam, steel and concrete, but the skin is sheathed in low-iron, ultra-clear tripleglazed glass panels with anodized aluminum mullions. The central section of the façade is transparent glazing, which brings a generous glimpse of beach and ocean to the harried pedestrians on the street side. Acton Ostry kept


terrace upper promenade Beach Avenue seawall promenade




1 5



3 4

Upper Floor 1 forecourt 2 entry 3 bar

4 terrace 5 service 6 upper promenade


7 park entry 8 bathhouse 9 Beach Avenue





3 0 1




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upper plan






12 8

13 Lower Floor 1 entry 2 dining 3 bar 4 kitchen 5 cooler

0 6 concession 7 take-away 8 terrace 9 staff 10 mechanical


11 service 12 seawall promenade 13 beach 14 bathhouse 0 1





lower plan

De eS

St re et

Da vi







Beach Av




Location Plan 1 restaurant 2 bathhouse 3 English Bay

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location plan

a sense of translucency by designing the façade as a continuous curtain wall and using coloured panels where opacity was required. To this reporter, the orange-and-yellow glazing evokes a Singapore Sling and the sense of languid pleasure contained in such a cocktail. But that wasn’t the intention, at least consciously: “We were inspired by the colours of an English Bay sunset,” says Ostry of the tangerine hues. They imbued the glass façade with a sense of depth by choosing a specific colour for each pane of the triple glazing. The roofline of the restaurant does not rise

above that of the old kiosk it replaced, and that scale maintains the sense of a horizon line from the streetfront to the oceanfront. The space needed for upstairs and downstairs dining as well as a new lower-cost beachside concession was generated by splitting the floor plan over two levels as it steps down to the ocean. Given the site constraints, there was little space left over for the restaurant’s kitchen. Acton Ostry’s master-planned solution was to insert the kitchen underneath the sidewalk. The ventilation system is discreetly embodied in the glazed vertical column adjacent to the restaurant—heat and kitchen exhaust is disgorged from the top and rear side of the column. What is effectively an elegant glass chimney, then, also serves as a beacon for the restaurant, and subtly relays the Cactus Club Café signage to passers­by. The Park Board wisely placed careful restrictions on the size and prominence of corporate signage displays. But with an architecture that so effectively brands and adds value to both its private client and the public realm— all within the glorious context of Vancouver’s English Bay—who needs signs to announce the importance of place? CA Adele Weder is an architectural curator and critic based in British Columbia.

OPPOSITE AND ABOVE A variety of images provide an indication of the contextual conditions surrounding the café, and how well it mediates between the built form of the city proper and the natural organic elements of beach, water and foliated landscape.

CLIENT Cactus Club Café ARCHITECT TEAM Russell Acton, Mark Ostry, Derek Fleming, Mark Simpson, Antonio Colin, Peter Padley, Rafael Santa Ana, Bob Sumpter, Nebo Slijepcevic STRUCTURAL Equilibrium Consulting Inc. MECHANICAL Cobalt Engineering Ltd. ELECTRICAL MCW Consultants Ltd. LANDSCAPE PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc. SUSTAINABILITY Recollective CONTRACTOR Makam Construction AREA 7,500 m 2 BUDGET $4.3 M COMPLETION January 2012

Wire Mesh Building Envelopes Halifax Stanfield International Airport | Los Angeles Police Department | Aurora GO Transit Station Greg Bryson

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First Steps

Nic Lehoux

A group of Alberta-based architects is working on resolving First Nations development issues. TEXT

Kent McKay & Shafraaz Kaba

Mould-infested houses. Buckets where there should be toilets. Entire families crammed into uninsulated tents with forty-below-zero temperatures outside. Children covered in skin rashes due to contaminated water. The deplorable living conditions in the Northern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapiskat made headlines during the winter of 2011, eliciting a collective reaction of horror from the international public. Canadians were shocked and astounded that such squalid conditions existed in Canada. However, the community of Attawapiskat is not an isolated case. The lack of sus­tain­ able infrastructure in First Nations communities runs deep, and has continued to exist largely unnoticed by the general public for decades.

In the summer of 2011, prior to Attawapiskat hitting the news, the Sustainable Buildings Consortium (a non-profit organization created by Edmonton-based Manasc Isaac Architects) had begun planning the inaugural First Nations Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Communities. The aim of the Conference was clear: bring together a diverse group of stakeholders and initiate a conversation about the vision, planning, design and operations of sustainable buildings and community facilities for Canada’s First Nations. This dialogue would need to involve First Nations Elders and Council Leaders, scientists, architects, engineers, leaders in environmental sustainability, educators and students, among others. The bigger question remained: how do we get their attention? According to Dewey Smith, who represented the Assembly of First Nations at the conference held at the beginning of last March, 70 percent of First Nations households reported houses in

ABOVE The First Peoples’ House at the University of Victoria is by Alfred Waugh, an architect of Chipewyan descent who expresses ancient First Nations cultural values through the use of ­ cutting-edge building technologies.

need of repair, compared to 25 percent of those living off-reserve. In Canada, nearly 2,000 First Nations households do not have running water or a means of septic waste disposal. Meanwhile, the average home on a reserve is roughly half the size of an average off-reserve home. Building on a reserve takes place under a unique set of circumstances. Property located on a reserve belongs to the particular First Nation in question and cannot be owned by individuals. This renders most First Nations people unable to access a mortgage, as banks and financial institutions are generally unwilling to lend money if unable to seize land or 10/12­canadian architect


Nic Lehoux

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Mark Gauti

Donna Morton

TOP The ceremonial hall in Alfred Waugh’s First Peoples’ House provides a calming, soothing environment for its users. MIDDLE A rendering of the Red Cross Community College by the Dalla Costa Design Group Inc. is a culturally appropriate response to the needs of this First Nations community. RIGHT Two images of photovoltaic panels adorned with stunning Aboriginal etchings— an architectural gesture that bridges between cultural traditions and technology.

Dalla Costa Design Group Inc.

assets in the case of defaults. When housing projects do occur, they are almost always subject to a stringent list of requirements that invariably eliminate any possibility of collaboration with the actual First Nations inhabitants, thereby compromising the cultural appropriateness of the housing project. Each of these circumstances contributes to a lack of ownership on the reserve, and the ultimate neglect and accelerated deterioration of the facility over a short period of time. Architect Richard Isaac has known about the conditions in First Nations communities for 30 years. He first moved to Canada from the UK in 1982 to work as a volunteer in the First Nation

Michael Bednar

community of Wabasca in Northern Alberta. There, he not only built housing, but invaluable relationships with First Nations people. Isaac later relocated to Edmonton to establish the firm Manasc Isaac alongside architect Vivian Manasc. Taking time to explore the cultural context and the stories of First Nations people, the firm began to understand the myriad gaps that led to such inadequate infrastructure in these communities in the first instance. Beyond the federal government and the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, (then known as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), there were many other stakeholders needing to participate in this dialogue. Manasc Isaac needed to develop a wider con­ versation. Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency on October 28, 2011 and the media spotlight swivelled abruptly toward this ill-fated Ontario reserve, illuminating the broader problems of inadequate infrastructure in First Nations communities across the country. Canadian and international media suddenly made us aware of the urgent need to initiate a conversation about the basic needs for these people. Grand Chief Stan Louttit of the Mushkegowuk Council, to which Attawapiskat belongs, agreed to travel to

Alberta and provide a firsthand account of the story. The outcome of the conference was significant. A recurring theme was the need for selfinitiated economic development in First Nations. Chief Clarence Louie led the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation to unparalleled success by cultivating business opportunities on the reserve. His initiatives gave his First Nation community greater autonomy, which is a fundamental gap elsewhere, noting that, “reserves were set up to be dependent on the federal government.” Engaging First Nations people in employment is also key to improving their overall health, he insisted. “The best compliment I can give [someone] is ‘you’re a damn good worker.’ A job is at the core of most healthy people’s lives,” he stated. Once the community is engaged and employed, social health will follow: “you can’t talk about education unless you talk about economic development.” Chief Ron Morin of Enoch Cree Nation, just a few minutes’ drive outside of Edmonton, knows about economic development and its importance to First Nations communities. In fact, the very venue in which the conference was held illustrates this point. The River Cree Resort and

ABOVE The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is another handsome project ­ by West Vancouver-based architect Alfred Waugh.

Casino was an initiative spearheaded by Morin in order to build a stronger economy on the reserve. The $178-million resort was the first of its kind in Canada and brought significant employment and a steady cash flow to the reserve. Still, there are complications. Shortly after the conference, in April of 2012, a funding dispute resulted in the casino’s defaulting on a $111million loan. The casino’s operator cited the provincial government’s refusal to work with Enoch to solidify a new funding arrangement through the First Nations Development Fund. The future of the resort is unknown, and despite attempts to access alternative funding to keep the facility operational, all of the red tape surrounding the process has frustrated the Enoch Cree Nation. Chief Morin arrived late to the conference, emerging straight out of a crucial meeting in which the Alberta government pulled the plug on his proposal for the Canada’s first Aboriginal-run petroleum refinery. Others immediately felt his frustration and tension in the 10/12­canadian architect


conference room when he arrived. For months afterward, media accusations of racism and backroom politics would swirl around the proposal’s rejection. Yet amidst that day’s frustration, there was a high level of energy and purpose in Morin’s voice: “if they want a fight, they’ve got a fight,” he said. Clearly, First Nations are achieving successful results in business and planning ventures on their own. One innovator is Donna Morton, co-founder of First Power, an organization that works to economically empower First Nations communities through clean energy initiatives. Her presentation at the conference illustrated how green technology can merge with culture, honouring First Nations traditions. In one project, she demonstrated how photovoltaic panels adorned with stunning Aboriginal etchings exemplify a bridging between cultural traditions and technology, social issues and the visual arts. Through her work, she is able to bring several industries together and build something greater than the sum of its parts. Representing a small roster of Canadian architects of First Nations heritage, Wanda Dalla Costa and Alfred Waugh presented their own work while discussing the general social implications of architecture in First Nations communities.

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Dalla Costa explained that culturally inappropriate architecture leads to building neglect and a lack of ownership amongst First Nations communities. She recounted a story about a project involving a new home built for an elderly man with all of the possible modern amenities such as indoor plumbing, but with no regard to the man’s actual needs. Shortly after he moved in, the man received a visit from the builders who wanted to follow up on his transition. As they approached the house, the builders were shocked to discover that the toilet had been removed from the bathroom, and was sitting out on the lawn. The man plainly explained that he could not imagine having such a filthy tool next to where he eats. Exploring modern and unconventional ways of expressing First Nations culture, Dalla Costa’s work lends a non-traditional voice for First Nations culture. “As long as it’s not red brick; that reminds me of a residential school,” one of Dalla Costa’s clients reminded her. Alfred Waugh is an architect of Chipewyan descent and is known to express ancient First Nations cultural values through the use of cutting-edge building technologies. Recognized for projects such as the First Peoples’ House at the University of Victoria and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, his architecture has

been lauded for its ability to deliver Aboriginal culture through modern design. It could be said that 2012’s inaugural First Nations Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Communities raised several questions for its participants rather than providing simple answers. Given the deep and systemic issues responsible for deplorable conditions found in such communities as Attawapiskat, it will take many years to unpack and identify all of the problems, let alone solve them. Nevertheless, it is only through conversation where the questions that one asks are often more important than knowing all of the answers. In 2013 the conversation will continue through a follow-up conference entitled “Sharing Our Stories.” Here, fresh perspectives and dynamic speakers will deepen our insight and understanding into issues of sustainability across First Nations communities. This and future conversations will undoubtedly shed light on the journey that lies ahead for all of the stakeholders involved. CA The 2013 First Nations Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Communities will be held at the River Cree Resort & Casino in Edmonton from February 27-28, 2013. Details can be found at


A Healthier Agenda learning and research focused on causes of health

An examination of the concept of ­ salutogenesis reveals an approach to design that creates healthier built ­ environments.

healthy natural environment

Tye Farrow



Our culture has developed a lopsided focus on illness rather than health. This misguided emphasis is vividly demonstrated when we search for the terms “cause” and “health” on the Internet. Running a Google search will typically yield one or more of the following possibilities: “cause health problems,” “cause health abnormalities,” “cause health risks” and “cause ill health.” Any positive results on how we might actually create—or cause—health is missing in the torrent of health-care deficiencies and disease prevention tips that bombard us on a daily basis. The larger question for architects is how can we find ways of integrating the societal issues associated with health into the ways in which we resolve our clients’ design challenges. It is unfortunate that the word “health” has become synonymous with “health care.” Debates over medical care efficiencies, wait times and public or private delivery have obscured the much larger question of how to reduce overall usage and dependence on medical services. We are therefore living in a culture of negative health. It is no wonder that costs associated with keeping our society healthy have become unsustainable. Moreover, no local or federal government can hope to build a strong economy under the weight of productivity-draining chronic diseases that cost the Canadian system over $90 billion every year in costly treatments and lost productivity in the workplace. By extension, health-related costs linked to deficiencies in the built environ­ ment are threatening our universal health-care system altogether. This dismal situation presents an opportunity for the architectural profession to assume a greater leadership role in minimizing the bur­ den of illness on society. Nevertheless, architects are living in a time of opportunity, one in which our profession has the opportunity to change the definition of health so that it is no longer centred on illness and prevention. Architects can instead accelerate a quest to identify factors in the built environment that can be seen as causes of health. These factors

health-enhancing built environment

healthy political systems

creation society

health-centric medical systems

healthy financial systems

healthy state of mind healthy civic engagement

can then be integrated into the design of a more healthful built environment. In the process of changing the very meaning of the word health as it is known today, architects can increase their presence as important players in creating healthier solutions in our built environments. Is it possible to imagine a future where a large portion of the many billions of dollars spent on traditional health-care delivery methods every year are directed to resolving issues best left to architects? Absolutely! To begin this quest, one of the larger questions we must ask ourselves is why do we even have terms like disease-causing or pathogenic, while the corresponding word for health-causing is missing from our vocabulary? To fill this gap, we can look to the pioneering research developed by medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky whose books Health, Stress and Coping (1979) and Unraveling the Mystery of Health (1987) highlight the relationship between health and illness. Antonovsky coined the term salutogenesis, a concept which reframes health as a positive force rather than a collection of deficiencies. Salutogenesis is derived from salus, a Latin word meaning health, and the Greek word genesis, meaning origin. “I learned a lot of pathology, and a lot about medicines. We were taught virtually nothing about health,” writes Richard J. Jackson, chair of the Department of Environmental Health at UCLA and host of the popular television series on PBS entitled Designing Health Communities. “I had to learn a whole lot more about the embedded health in the world around me if I was to

This diagram illustrates how the concept of salutogenesis involves many factors of daily life which contribute to a healthier society.


make an impact.” Public awareness of the value associated with positive health attributes in our built environment can change dramatically in less than a generation. Does anyone remember nonsmoking rows on airplanes? That gesture was a baby step that can be compared with current “share the road” strategies for cyclists. Segregated bike lanes will surely become the norm in the future, while current share-the-road options are destined to seem as anachronistic as designated smoking sections on airplanes. Such baby steps in pursuit of health might have been acceptable in the past, but today we need to react much more quickly to address the chronic disease cost crisis. Fortunately, there are vanguard players. For example, the government of Scotland has recognized the potential for salutogenesis to guide them toward a wider spectrum of research. Dr. Harry Burns, the country’s chief medical officer, wrote in his 2010 Annual Report that, “by concentrating too strongly on the treatment of disease, we might be missing an opportunity to build health more effectively. Even over the past year, there has been a growing international interest in the value of salutogenesis and its potential implications for health improvement.” While ongoing research aimed at pinpointing what’s bad for us will continue to yield crucial 10/12­canadian architect


medical breakthroughs, it’s time to balance pathology-oriented discoveries with an entirely different pursuit. If we really want to minimize the burden of illness on society, we need to launch a quest to discover the causes of health and how this will affect the social and economic prosperity of Canada. Such a shift in thinking requires much more than placing a positive spin on intractable problems. For example, salutogenesis can help liberate us from playing the role of a passive medical patient. The traditional focus on efficiencies and deficiencies in the health-care delivery system is so pervasive that many people are baffled by the question of what actually causes health in their lives. At best, health is commonly perceived to be freedom from illness or injury, rather than something more ambitious. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Clearly, the health-related concepts can be found everywhere in our built environment, encompassing a holistic approach to living. This broader concept of health means that we should strive to achieve a higher quality of life than to live out our lives where our primary goal is to prevent ourselves from getting sick. In brief, a salutogenic orientation has the potential to change the fundamental nature of health research, and by extension—how architects can design solutions for a population that is resilient, energetic and creative enough to thrive in a knowledge economy, while building healthier cities. For instance, although the benefits of replacing car-dependent suburbs with walkable neighbourhoods are now widely recognized, what will all these new neighbourhoods look like in 20 years? Will they possess qualities that cause health, or will they merely add to the anxiety, alienation and depression that cause disease? What are the visual, physical and spatial qualities that nourish our brain, ignite our spirit and motivate our bodies? How will such places become assets that inspire and enable people to reach their full potential in our increasingly stressful urban environments? Solutions to the chronic health-care dilemma are firmly rooted in the realm of architecture and the physical environment. However, we must recognize that these solutions exist above and beyond current environmental sustainability initiatives. An in-depth comprehensive understanding of how the physical, mental and social environments we create can cause health is required. “The primary factors that shape the health of 32 canadian architect 10/12

Canadians are not medical treatments or lifestyle choices but rather the living conditions they experience,” according to The Canadian Facts, a report1 by York University’s School of Health Policy and Management. Non-hereditary, non-communicable factors that have an effect on people’s health are known as “social determinants of health.” The social determinants of health identified in York’s report include these elements that are directly affected by the built environment and incorporate working conditions, housing quality and social inclusion, among others—all of these components certainly have real implications for designers. To improve these factors, public health and urban design professionals need to restore their close working relationship held prior to the late 19th century. At that time, the two professions collaborated on improving living and working conditions in overcrowded, disease-ridden cities. Although urban design and public-health

professionals have since diverged away from each other—blame it on the ways in which research is funded and conducted—there are certainly growing concerns over alarming rates of inactivity, obesity, and associated chronic diseases. The two fields have begun to work together once again to build environments that encapsulate salutogenic public policy and design. Architects can lead this quest for a “health creation society” and thereby change the meaning of health at every level, by everyone, everywhere. CA Tye Farrow, co-founding partner of Farrow Partnership Architects in Toronto has launched which is an open-source website for visitors to post their ideas, news and links to research regarding how to accelerate the shift to active societal health. 1

The following examples illustrate how architects and urban designers are changing what people expect from their built environment by designing places that cause health. WHAT: EngAGE is a program in the Los Angeles area that is the opposite of the assisted-living model. It provides arts and other classes for some 5,000 people living in (mostly low-income) senior apartment communities. WHY: “We live in a society that’s very acutecare based—we wait till someone’s sick,” co-founder Tim Carpenter said. “We decided to try to get people to take on healthy behaviours without having to go to the doctor.” CAUSES OF HEALTH: The social determ­

inants of health that this project addresses include bringing people together to pursue creative interests that stimulate the mind and keep people active well into their retirement years. One of the “artists’ colonies” within this project includes a 77-seat theatre in the lobby where residents will deliver performances they have written, created and produced themselves.

WHAT: Via Verde is an affordable housing

development in the South Bronx that is a model of health-causing infrastructure. WHY: “Via Verde helps shift the conversation,” says The New York Times, and “…it goes out of its way to be healthy.” CAUSES OF HEALTH: The narrow footprint of the buildings allows apartments to wrap around a leafy semi-enclosed courtyard, which provides them with cross-ventilation. To encourage people to walk and take the stairs, staircases were placed ahead of the elevators and stairwells have windows. A fitness centre is located in a highly visible spot rather than in the basement. Via Verde’s signature feature is a 40,000-square-foot terraced roof planted with communal garden and fruit trees.

For more information on EngAGE, please visit For information on Via Verde, please visit design/via-verde-in-south-bronx-rewrites-low-income-housing-rules.html?pagewanted=all.


The Strategic Path There are many options for architectural firms to adopt in ­ planning their growth strategies while diversifying their range of professional services. TEXT

Maj-Lis Vettoretti Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc.


In the September issue of Canadian Architect, my colleague Elaine Pantel discussed how recent legislative changes to the Architects Act of Ontario opened a range of new organizational and ownership opportunities for the province’s architects. One of the most significant changes is that a wider range of parties, including outside investors, can now take on ownership stakes in architectural firms. With that foundation as a starting point, this article will offer a somewhat more “macro” view and discuss how architectural firms can address these new business development and growth opportunities through various strategies and business combinations, including joint ventures and other collaborations, mergers and acquisitions, and internal succession plans. First, we begin with the assumption that the management groups within firms are focused on strengthening and growing their business, rather than simply maintaining everything in an “as is” fashion. As such, the key considerations that must always be kept in sight are building top-line revenue and bottom-line profits, as well as managing cash flow and cash resources. Short-Term vs. Long-Term Plans

Any firm considering a shift in its strategic trajectory must focus its efforts on the appropriate time horizon to encompass either, or both, shortterm and long-term prospects. Particularly if this is a new direction for the firm, starting with a shortterm outlook may be a lower-risk option, as it allows management to further develop their plans before committing significant time and resources to a single strategic path. It also gives them the opportunity to assess the performance of any new parties who may have been brought into the picture and their “fit” for a longer-term relationship. This short-term focus often starts with the introduction of a new service or the initiation of a specific new project. Many architectural firms choose to collaborate on a wide range of short-term projects, both locally and internationally, through consortiums, joint ventures and other arrangements, giving them broader reach. Looking at longer-term strategic planning, the firm may have decided to commit greater resources to in-house development of a new service, or the parties are interested in coming together in a more formal arrangement where ownership and investment may be shared in some manner. Public-private partnerships (P3s) offer another long-term strategy for architectural firms to expand their reach through participation in large and complex public infrastructure projects. In doing so, many firms become exposed to new methodologies and processes that allow them to win other projects and grow their business over the longer term. Through these various arrangements, architectural firms can gain a competitive advantage through accessing pools of talent, acquiring new leading-edge technologies, and entering new markets. If managed properly, this can all lead to increased valuations for these firms, giving more power to their succession and growth plans, and bolstering the opportunities for the owners upon their retirement. The enhanced flexibility offered by the changes to the Architects Act for structuring the ownership of architectural firms can help facilitate these plans.

ABOVE An interactive lounge area features a carpeted ribbon for wayfinding, foosball tables, and vibrant, uniquely shaped furniture—a departure from typically bland work environments.

Adding New Services

By adding new services, most architectural firms leverage their reputations and contacts to introduce a new, broader range of offerings to the marketplace. Many firms are expanding beyond core architecture services into areas such as project and construction management, functional and space planning, interior design, and furniture design and distribution, to name a few. Choosing to develop the capability of providing new services internally can be a cost-effective strategy to build on existing resources and infrastructure. However, this still involves planning for staffing and resource allocations, marketing, and systems and process integration. When considering this approach as a longer-term strategy, the current ownership structure should be reviewed, particularly if there are different levels of liability risk relating to the new service areas, as compared to the core architectural practice which carries professional liability, and also to optimize tax planning opportunities. One useful strategy is to use separate corporations for new services outside of the architecture practice, thereby limiting risk. Many architectural firms trying to expand their reach commonly hire professionals or other companies as sub-contractors or sub-consultants to get the job done. This type of outsourcing allows the firm to access talent without committing additional internal resources. It is important to have properly drafted sub-contractor agreements outlining the responsibilities of the parties and clearly establishing the contractor status, as opposed to employment status. A further benefit is that if everything goes according to plan, these relationships can lead to longer-term and more permanent collaboration arrangements in which ownership is shared in some manner. Joint Ventures and Other Collaborations

Joint ventures are a common and very effective way for architectural firms to broaden their horizons on specific projects. In such arrangements, the involved parties retain their separate and legal identities, with each recording their specific share of revenues and expenses on the project. Whenever such agreements are struck, there should always be written contracts in place to specify the roles and responsibilities of each party in fulfilling the project. Some points of consideration within these agreements include who will handle the accounting and administration, how the project will be financed, and how revenues and expenses will be shared. 10/12­canadian architect


Quadrangle Architects in joint-venture lockstep with March of Dimes

Maybe it was serendipity. With the Ontario government set to begin enforcing a law that would require virtually every business in the province to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility for customers and employees with disabilities, Quadrangle Architects Limited didn’t have to look far for a partner both to help educate companies about the new requirements and to build its longestablished accessibility consulting business. The fact is that Susan Ruptash, a principal with Quadrangle—a prominent architectural firm in Toronto—had been a strong proponent of universal, barrier-free building design for more than 20 years and she already had a close working relationship with March of Dimes Canada, a community-based rehabilitation and advocacy charity for people with physical disabilities. In 2009, with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) calling for almost every business in Ontario to be in compliance by 2025 getting closer to fruition, it was like a light switch went on for Ruptash.

“We were already working with March of Dimes. We knew and respected their work and their people,” explains Ruptash. “With AODA enforcement on the horizon, we saw a big opportunity for our firm to grow and it was only natural that we would ask March of Dimes to come together with us in a joint venture.” Starting with a series of small, focused projects to help the two organizations finetune their working relationship—a critical success factor in the much bigger and ongoing accessibility program that would follow, according to Ruptash—Quadrangle and March of Dimes soon launched Access­A bility Advantage, an organization specifically focused on helping Ontario businesses interpret and implement accessibility standards that meet AODA standards. While acknowledging that the collaboration between Quadrangle and March of Dimes came together in a largely organic manner, Ruptash says there were still some obstacles to overcome in bringing the two culturally

Architecture firms are collaborating and partnering with companies and organizations in new and creative ways, bringing their unique capabilities together to access new markets. An example of just such a collaboration, undertaken by Quadrangle Architects Limited—one of our clients—involved their work with March of Dimes Canada, a non-profit charity dedicated to working with individuals who have physical disabilities (see inset above). Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions among firms are increasingly common in the architectural design industry as the trend towards consolidation continues across Canada, resulting in larger multidisciplinary firms. Although the terms “merger” and “acquisition” are often grouped together, they refer to two very distinct types of organizational events. A merger commonly happens when two firms, often of about the same size, agree to go forward as a combined entity. These transactions usually involve a swap of shares or payment of cash between the parties. An acquisition is when one firm buys another firm and clearly establishes itself as the new owner; often a larger firm acquires a small firm as a means to grow rapidly. Effectively, the target firm ceases to exist as the buyer “swallows” the business. In all cases, when businesses are combining there is a need to value each business separately, and these valuations will impact the ownership structure that is put in place. It is critical to consider how the business will be financed going forward, both externally from bank loans and contributions by owners and investors, and internally from operating profits retained in the business. Under the revised Architects Act, outside investors may now take an equity position in the firm, providing new ways to structure and finance a merger or acquisition transaction, which may also include the buy-out of a departing owner as part of the deal. We have worked with many clients over the years to help them negotiate and structure merger and acquisition transactions during the due diligence process that takes place in the period prior to the transaction. This includes financial and tax due diligence, with a focus on the opportunities and wide range of risks associated with the proposed transaction. 36 canadian architect 10/12

distinct parties together in a formal working relationship. “One of the big challenges,” she explains, “was in determining exactly who was going to do what and having clarity in how responsibilities for specific tasks would be parcelled out. That’s not always easy when you have two strong organizations that are con­fident in their own processes coming to­gether.” The key to success, she says, was “having a shared vision and a huge mutual respect between the two organizations.” While AccessAbility Advantage is still in its early days, Ruptash says the joint venture with March of Dimes has already started to pay dividends for Quadrangle. “It’s opened the doors to a wide range of new business opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise and it’s allowed us to build a bigger internal team of accessibility specialists whose energy and fresh creativity add to the strength of our entire firm.” Serendipitous, indeed.

Internal Succession Planning

Internal succession planning refers to how a firm plans to transfer the management and ownership of a firm from its current owners to the next generation, over time. The strategy involves creating a long-term ownership opportunity for qualified employees in order to facilitate the continuity of the firm. Continuity of the firm secures the future of employees beyond the careers of the current owners, and creates “legacy” value. Over the past years, there has been significant interest by many firms— from well-established firms to new start-ups—to include internal succession as an essential component of their strategic growth planning, often in conjunction with some of the other strategies I’ve presented. The strategy of achieving “buy-in” from key employees enhances the culture of the firm. The succession planning process includes creating the financial plan and timelines, a remuneration strategy for owners, and a valuation basis for ownership interests. Pricing a deal with employees has some unique factors to consider and many options are available to negotiate and facilitate a sale to employees. We work with our clients to develop the best structure for their situation that considers both financial and tax strategies that can shorten the period of time in which employees will have access to the necessary funds to finance the purchase of ownership interests. One such example may be the use of holding companies and separate classes of shares in order to aid in the removal of any surplus assets by the existing owners and to maximize cash flow available to employees to fund purchase financing. Vision and Objectives

In all of these scenarios, the strategic planning process should cause the owners to carefully consider and establish the firm’s strategic vision and objectives, to consider the firm’s profitability and future growth, to benchmark the firm to the industry, and to implement strategies to improve the firm’s standing and financial health. The recent changes to the Architects Act in Ontario provide an opportunity for firms to consider new options to integrate changes to the ownership of their firms in line with their strategic planning.

The planning begins well in advance of a transaction. Once the strategic growth plan has been formulated, you will need to assess the firm’s current resources (e.g., financial, human resources, real estate, etc.) to have a clear understanding of what will be needed going forward. Understanding how firms are valued before starting will give you a head start on how a deal may be priced and structured and, ultimately, will help ensure the long-term success of the effort. CA

ABOVE LEFT Inside Corus Quay, Quadrangle Architects’ specialization in barrier-free design helped them to work on improving accessibility through measures such as wide hallways for mobility devices, and desks divided by brightly coloured partitions. ABOVE A wave-shaped reception desk, reflective of the building’s waterfront location, provides lowered access points for accessibility.

Maj-Lis Vettoretti, CA, is Partner, Assurance and Business Advisory and Elaine Pantel, CGA, is Principal, Assurance and Business advisory at Toronto-based Shimmerman Penn LLP where they both head up the firm’s industry specialist group for architecture, engineering and design firms.






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10/12­canadian architect


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Calendar Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects

September 24, 2012-February 24, 2013 This exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago is devoted to the Chicagobased architectural firm headed by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang. Être et Transmettre | Michel W. Kagan, architect and educator (1953-2009)  

that are increasingly complex and global in nature. Linnaea Tillett lecture

October 29, 2012 Linnaea Tillett, Principal of Tillett Lighting Design in New York, delivers the Canlyte Philips Lighting Lecture at 6:00pm in Room G10 of the MacdonaldHarrington Building at McGill University.

October 4-November 11, 2012 This exhibition at the UQAM Centre de Design honours and traces the fascinating career of internationally renowned French architect and professor, the late Michel W. Kagan.

Almost Nothing

Here Be Monsters: The Territory

Paris 1970-2020: 50 Years of Urban Strategies


October 15-November 12, 2012 This exhibition celebrates thesis work from the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design’s 2011/2012 academic year, and responds to urban design challenges

Greenbuild 2012

November 8, 2012 Professor and award-winning architect Sarah Wigglesworth of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects in London, UK delivers a lecture at 6:30pm at Ryer­son University’s Department of Architectural Science in Toronto.

November 14-16, 2012 Taking place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo convenes the industry’s largest gathering of representatives from across the green building sector.

Hallucinating in Public

November 11, 2012 Bill Pechet of the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture delivers a lecture at 2:00pm at the Museum of Vancouver.

October 30, 2012 Adam Yarinsky of Architecture Research Office (ARO) in New York delivers a lecture at 6:30pm in the HR MacMillan Space Centre Auditorium in Vancouver.

November 12-13, 2012 Architecture for Humanity presents this practitioners’ forum of innovative panel discussions and workshops in San Francisco, addressing the challenges and lessons learned in human­i­ tarian design.


24 SEPT 2012







and are


5 NOV 2012


Subsequent Lectures held at the





All lectures begin at

For more information about these, and additional listings of Canadian and international events, please visit


22 OCT 2012

November 16, 2012 Pritzker Prizewinning Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA in Tokyo delivers a Bulthaup lecture at 6:30pm in Room 103 at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto.


Opening Lecture Held at the


Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA lectures

Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE!

November 5, 2012 Dominique Alba of APUR in Paris delivers a lecture at 6:30pm in the HR MacMillan Space Centre Auditorium in Vancouver.


Sarah Wigglesworth lecture

11 MAR 2013


For More information - find us on facebook: Forum Lecture Series; or visit; or contact us at 613 520 2855 or

10/12­canadian architect




Harvesting Ideas

A design competition for the temporary hut constructed for use during the weeklong Jewish festival of Sukkot raises aware­ ness of the need for affordable housing. TEXT

Michelangelo Sabatino

The global design community is shaped by contradictory impulses: on the one hand, blue-chip architects anxiously compete for high-profile public commissions with signature designs that are loud enough to get the attention of an in­ creas­ingly distracted media. On the other hand, a growing number of “activist” architects agree with E.F. Schumacher that small is beautiful, and are working to persuade the profession and academia that alternative modes of making and thinking are not only possible but necessary in the wake of grave threats to our environment. The motivations underlining the second annual Sukkahville 2012 competition align themselves with the social conscience of this latter group. Launched by the Toronto-based Kehilla Residential Programme (KRP), an organization that “champions affordable housing in the Greater Toronto area and implements housing initiatives for the Jewish community,” Sukkahville 2012 is part of an increasing number of initiatives that explore low-impact and low-budget “sustainable” housing. Although the Sukkahville 2012 competition shares affinities with activist 42 canadian architect 10/12

ar­­chi­tects whose work is predicated upon “designing like they give a damn,” they also asked designers to reinterpret a rather unconventional type that combines ritual and religion along with basic shelter. In fact, a sukkah is a temporary free­stand­ing dwelling that is used during the weeklong Jewish celebration of Sukkot and is intended to symbolize solidarity and survival in the wilderness. The two-tiered selection process for the Sukkah­v ille 2012 competition was overseen by a jury that included prominent Canadian architects, critics and planners. The five finalists selected by the jury were provided a modest budget of $3,600 to realize their sukkahs as part of a temporary village (September 30th-October 3rd) for North York’s Mel Lastman Square. Although the schemes of the five finalists (from the US and Canada) varied significantly, all of them share a common interest in the romance of organicism in keeping with the theme of nature and wilderness. The Sukkanoe of Houston-based design firms Arquipelago (Gregory Marinic and Nicholas Herrera) and Ambrose&Sabatino (Michelangelo Sabatino and Serge Ambrose) trans­forms the iconic birch-bark Canadian canoe into a shelter-vessel that befits our hybrid times. Craig Deebanks’s Embryonic Canopy playfully employs balloons to create a hut that blurs the distinction between roof and wall. Harvest

ABOVE A rendering of Arquipelago and Ambrose&Sabatino’s submission entitled Sukkanoe, which transforms the iconic birchbark canoe into a shelter-vessel.

Wave by the team of Andrew McGregor, Robert Miller, Raymond Bourraine and Teresa Cacho employs wood to evoke blades of autumnal grass moving with the wind whereas Ion Popian’s Woven Sukkah interweaves bulbous fruit-like elements to create a hybrid space. Finally, Christina Zeibak and Daphne Dow’s Hegemonikon com­­bines orthogonal geometry with curved elements to create an environment that is porous and inviting. The jurors awarded first prize to Hegemonikon and second prize to Harvest Wave. The substantial turnout and the media coverage surrounding the event has encouraged Kehilla organizers to continue their efforts next year. By encouraging architects and designers to create modest-sized yet imaginative Sukkahs, Sukkahville will continue to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing while promoting the idea that small can indeed be beautiful. CA Michelangelo Sabatino is Associate Professor at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston.


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Canadian Architect October 2012  

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...

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