Canadian Builders Quarterly

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waterfront toronto p. 76

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

A 30-year timeline. A $30 billion price tag. An unprecedented scope.

TACT ARCHITECTURE INC., p. 16 Affordable aesthetics

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renewal & Return +

beaverhall homes, p. 47 Building “curb appeal” bkl consultants ltd., p. 96 Acoustic-design gurus

As time crests forward, renovation and adaptive-reuse projects are bridging the gap between historical landmarks and the modern age p. 68

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Features 68 Renewal & Return Breathing new life into historic structures takes a keen eye and a grounded sensibility. Explore the outstanding adaptivereuse and renovation projects of AUDAX Architecture, RDH Architects, and Gair Williamson Arhitects.

76 At Toronto's Edge The largest urban renewal project in North America is underway in Toronto. It will take 30 years, but Waterfront Toronto guarantees it will revive community life on the city's lakefront.

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10 Briefs 8 10 12 111 114


Editor's note From the ground up canadian spaces canadian homes materiality

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Industry Insights

16 tact architecture inc. 20 James' Joinery Ltd. 22 McGill University 25 Hunter Residential developments 28 homes by us 30 terra view homes 32 ambiance design studio 34 lacEy construction ltd.

Through The Years

36 64 82 94 108

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Project Showcase

38 43 47 52 55 58 61

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In Profile

84 88 90 92

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The Specialists

96 100 102 105

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Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


editor's note


n 2001, the City of Toronto put its hat in the ring for the 2008 Olympic Games. Along with that bid came much excitement and anticipation from the city and the rest of the country, and plans to transform Toronto into an Olympic-worthy locale were soon underway. Most notable was the ambitious redevelopment of the city’s waterfront neighbourhoods bordering Lake Ontario. But when Toronto failed to get the bid for the Games, the governments of Canada, Ontario, and Toronto all remained resolute in their goal of bringing life back to the city’s shoreline. With the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto all committing funding toward the project, Waterfront Toronto was created. As you’ll read in our feature “At Toronto's Edge” (p. 76), the project includes a 30-year plan to renovate Toronto’s lakeside community, and an estimated $30 billion of public- and private-sector money will be invested. When completed, the highly ambitious project will be one of the largest urban-renewal projects in the Western world. The idea of revitalizing something old into something new is also the focus of our cover story, “Renewal & Return” (p. 68). Get to know three renowned design firms—AUDAX Architecture, RDH Architects, and Gair Williamson Architects—that have made a name for themselves with a slew of stunning adaptive-reuse and renovation projects throughout Canada. By transforming the old into the new, these three firms—equipped with their respective design methodologies and approaches—prove that buildings can withstand the test of time with a little care and a little know-how. (And it doesn't hurt that the projects are stunning, either.) Canadian Builders Quarterly’s showcase of impressive projects and renowned firms doesn’t stop there, though. Be sure to check out the striking projects featured in Canadian Spaces and Canadian Homes, as well as the diverse number of companies and niches covered in the Specialists, Industry Insights, and Through the Years. With the first issue of the new year already capturing a detailed concoction of some of the building and design industries’ most exciting companies, 2012 is sure to be an exciting one for the industry and the nation. Enjoy.

for more, visit • View the latest issue of Canadian Builders Quarterly® in a full-size, readable format • Get inspired by featured projects, builders, architects, and designers • Discover what’s in store for upcoming issues, and how your company can get involved • Find out what events the Canadian Builders Quarterly® staff will be attending and more!

Michael Danaher

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from the ground up

Hillcrest Aquatic Centre

Bringing the woods of British Columbia into a public space

Construction on the Hillcrest Aquatic Centre commenced in late 2007, with the At a Glance purpose of bringing one of British Columbia's greatest natural resources into a new aquatic Location: centre for the Vacouver Olympics. Built in Vancouver, BC tandem with a new curling facility, the Size: Hillcrest Aquatic Centre features striking 66,500 square feet glulam beams that frame the facility's roof. Architect: Each beam was trucked in individually and Hughes Condon Marler lifted into place with cranes. The engineerArchitects ing is impeccable, with support provided by Structural Engineer: a limited amount of metal trusses and a blue, Read Jones Christofferson oval support beam. Cladding and glazing was Steel Construction: completed on the exterior in April 2009. The Wesbridge Steelworks interior pool detailing followed soon after, Awards: and the facility's pools were filled in July of Wood WORKS! BC Wood 2009. The facility opened to the public in Design Award the summer of 2010, following the Vancouver Olympics.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

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The inviting, warm glow of the wood is seen clearly at night through the Aquatic Centre's expansive glass faÇade.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


canadian spaces

OMS Stage Innovation is truly illuminated in Winnipeg through a recent 5468796 Architecture project. Known locally as “the Cube,” the OMS Stage is a hybrid, open-air venue and gathering pavilion in Old Market Square’s Exchange District. The team at 5468796 created the skin-wrapped 28’ x 28’ structure after the City announced a design competition for a new public space. What made the Cube particularly intriguing to the jury was its ability to morph from a well-tuned stage to a hypnotic and glowing sculpture perfectly suited for its eclectic environment. Multipurpose use of the Cube was especially important because of its location in the heart of a public district. 5468796 recognized that the building would not house performances every day and knew a successful design would need to afford other opportunities in the off-season.

The OMS Stage won a 2011 Award of Excellence from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Jury members acknowledged 5468796’s unique project in the Innovation in Architecture for Art category, calling the Cube “a brilliant work of architectural art.”


Project Details Location: Winnipeg, MB Completed: 2010 Size: 784 square feet Architect: 5468796 Architecture Structural: Lavergne Draward & Associates Lighting Design: Ambiances Lighting + Visual Design Project Manager: Mark Penner Metal Fabricator: Melvin Kleinsasser Photography: 5468796 Architecture


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

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A meshwork screen wraps the perimeter of the Cube and opens to reveal a large performance space.

Best of both worlds The OMS Stage’s skin flows down or pulls away during live events, but provides a secure barrier at other times. The clever meshwork that forms the envelope not only provides flexibility in programming—it is also a work of art. The multipurpose membrane serves as a screen while the diamond protrusions direct projected images. The light is simultaneously displayed, bent, refracted, and reflected onto the skin’s outer surface and to the audience and passersby in Old Market Square.

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canadian spaces

Floor lights and projectors are positioned to maximize interaction with the polished aluminum pieces when the screen is closed.

A flexible membrane of diamond extru>> sions wraps around the Cube to conceal a stage, and a concrete core creates excellent acoustical properties. The retractable and cascading skin further controls acoustics when open, yet refracts light when closed for a dazzling display coupled with programmable lighting by Ambiances Lighting + Visual Design. The Exchange District sees a flurry of outdoor activity and is home to annual events like Jazz Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. With the OMS Stage, the historical square has a new focal point. —Zach Baliva

A protective yet flexible membrane was developed after 5468796’s designers studied chain-mail during prototyping.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

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A MEETING PLACE When the venue is free of live performances, it accommodates small exhibitions and other gatherings inside.

The two-level concrete and aluminum structure spans 784 square feet .

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featured project 8 Gladstone With the recent success of 2 Gladstone, TACT is taking on another, similar project in the same area: 8 Gladstone. Located in the Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto, the new 8-storey, 86-unit project will be set in a perfect location for experiencing city living. The project is expected to be completed in 2013.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

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industry insights

TACT Architecture Inc. James' Joinery Ltd. McGill University Hunter Residential Developments Homes By Us Terra View Homes Ambiance Design Studio Lacey Construction Ltd.

16 20 22 25 28 30 32 34

Density on a Dime Toronto-based TACT Architecture Inc. crafts cost-efficient residential developments with an aesthetic punch Text by Kelly Hayes | Photos by Han Jong-Young

With the unique perks of urban living—such as hopping the

train or walking wherever you go, and having an endless supply of restaurants and shops right outside your door—come the unique demands for urban residential design. Many residential buildings in large cities are functional or beautiful, but only those with the highest budgets offer both livability and distinguishable design. When you add the laundry list of municipal codes and guidelines, few architecture firms deliver on budget. But Toronto-based TACT Architecture is one of those firms that does. Specializing in mid- to high-rise condo buildings in the GTA, TACT has achieved aesthetically appealing and highly functional design at an affordable price. “The success of our practice inherently lies with the ability to work with our clients to achieve noteworthy architecture while meeting tight financial constraints,” says principal Prishram Jain. “Our approach is that well-designed condominium buildings can also be within industry-wide standard budgets.” Most of TACT’s clients aim to achieve as much density as possible. The trick is balancing this while maintaining a distinctive architectural style. Many firms produce drab-looking buildings because they focus exclusively on the municipal requirements or limitations presented by an urban site. Not TACT. The firm manages to maintain the architectural intent at no additional cost premium. Although TACT is able to produce architecturally significant buildings, that doesn’t mean it dives into each project on a mission to

At a Glance Location: Toronto, ON Founded: 2007 Employees: 12 Specialty: Mid- and high-rise residential architecture

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industry insights

Above: With 2 Gladstone (left), TACT had to prevent the project from overshadowing the historic Gladstone Hotel, directly across the street.


make it as eye-catching as possible. The firm first assesses the developer’s needs in terms of size, functionality, and must-have features for the building, and then creates an aesthetic to accommodate those objectives. “Private-sector residential condominium architecture is among the most challenging of architectural typologies,” Jain says. “It is almost entirely economically driven. In our experience, if an architectural treatment on a residential building is not essential to the building design, it will most likely be value-engineered out.” Sometimes a client’s criteria call for a very subtle aesthetic. One of the firm’s recent projects, 2 Gladstone, a 55-unit, 8-storey residence building designed for Streetcar Developments, is a case in point. TACT learned that the project could not overshadow the historic Gladstone Hotel, located across the street. “Our response was to literally step back and away from the prominence of the tower of the Gladstone Hotel,” Jain says. “By freeing up the corner of the site, it allowed the Gladstone Hotel to assert its prominence. The massing, proportions, and materiality take their cues from the hotel without being overtly referential or pastiche. As a result, the nearly completed building engages in an architectural dialogue with the Gladstone Hotel.” TACT’s commitment to high-quality, developmentfocused design can also be seen in its work with Urbancorp Developments, one of the largest developers of residential condominiums and townhouses in Toronto. “Urbancorp is pioneering large-scale high-rise projects in Toronto that are entirely heated and cooled using geothermal technology,” Jain says.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

“The success of our practice inherently lies with the ability to work with our clients to achieve noteworthy architecture while meeting tight financial constraints.” prishram jain, principal

As TACT Architecture continues to design residential buildings throughout Toronto, the firm focuses on responsible urban design while keeping cost in mind. For Jain, who is also president of TACT Development Inc., a sister company to TACT Architecture, cost-effective building and quality architecture should be symbiotic. “[Through] the balance between a strong, consistent architectural aesthetic and ability to generate revenue … we acquire the discipline to design with development in mind and develop with design in mind,” he says. “We have narrowed the gap to a point where we can design for others as we would for ourselves, and develop for others as we would for ourselves.” CBQ

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Location: Victoria, BC Founded: 2002 Employees: 6 Specialty: Custom-home building and renovation Awards: 2010 CARE Award Winner (Silver), 2010 Built Green Award (finalist)

Above: Exterior and interior views of the Nugget Road project.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

A Move into Green After a decade spent in renovations, James’ Joinery Ltd. moves into the custom-home market with Built Green standards By Julie Schaeffer

building market hasn’t been easy, but a focus on Built Green homes is propelling the company forward. For the last 10 years, the company has renovated houses that were built in the late 1800s up through the mid-1930s. Although many of those renovations were small, some were so large that, in the words of president Tim Schauerte, “[they] made you wonder why the owners just didn’t tear the house down and rebuild.” However, even with such experience under his belt, Schauerte has found it difficult to break into customhome building. “Despite the fact that new houses are easier than renovations, it takes a while to reach the point that people will trust you with their houses,” he says. To help break into the market, Schauerte has begun working within Built Green program guidelines, which he says is garnering more interest. “People are really interested in sustainability right now, and you can build a Built Green house without spending a lot of extra money,” he says. “As long as it’s planned in the beginning, you don’t do much differently than you would on a normal house.” Such was the case with a house in Shawnigan Lake, which Schauerte finished in 2010. Three other Built

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Photos: Vince Klassen

For James' Joinery, breaking into the custom-home-

At a Glance

industry insights

Green homes are also in the works on a plot of land that Schauerte is currently developing in Saanich, British Columbia. Schauerte has spent the last year subdividing the lot, which involved moving one house and prepping two bare lots for building. Now, he’s trying to convince potential buyers of the value his company offers. “I could have sold the lots we’re subdividing 10 times over, but they’ve been much harder to sell with building contracts,” he says. “Buyers all think they can get a cheaper builder, so they want to bring in their own.” Selling the lots has ultimately come down to education. “I explain that, at the end of the day, James’ Joinery won’t charge more than any other company that is building to comparable standards,” Schauerte says. “You get what you pay for, so if someone can build the house for less money, that savings can only come out of profits, wages, or materials.” Schauerte works with potential buyers to help explain that if these are the conditions with another builder, the chance is good that the builder will cut corners. Though it’s been more difficult, Schauerte is glad he stuck to his guns. “I figured someone would come along

who wanted to buy the land with a building contract, and I was right,” he says. “Now one of the lots has sold.” In fact, business is going so well that Schauerte isn’t even advertising. “We’ve found that most of our work comes from word of mouth, and we have enough to keep us busy,” he says. “If we keep it smaller and tighter, we can better control what we do. I’m not chasing quantity.” CBQ

Featured project: Nugget Road One of James’ Joinery’s first Built Green houses— the Nugget Road project—was a 2,200-square-foot custom home built on a one-acre lot in Shawnigan Lake, a popular summer-recreation area located on southern Vancouver Island. “The house was for a young couple, just married, who wanted to start their family there, but didn’t have a lot of money,” says president Tim Schauerte. “Building to Built Green guidelines facilitated energy efficiency, which saves the couple money on operational costs.” The firm used a number of recycled materials as well, including the reuse of a kitchen and bamboo floors from another of James’ Joinery’s homes.

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industry insights

in May 2010, the City of Montr al approved a request

At a Glance Location: Montréal, QC Founded: 1821 Campuses: 2 Sustainability Budget: $800,000+ Alumni: 200,000+

Sustainable Schooling McGill University’s dedication to eco-consciousness has made the school Canada’s greenest place to learn By Thalia A-M Bruehl

Above: The students of McGill University were the catalysts for a campus-wide Green Plan in the 1990s.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

from McGill University, one of the nation’s top schools, to convert a public street adjacent to the campus into a pedestrian zone. This proposal was one of many they had been working on for quite some time to try to eliminate parking, increase bicycle transportation to the campus, and phase out vehicle circulation in the process. The bylaw started a domino effect, and before long dozens of McGill initiatives were not just being discussed but acted on. A greener, friendlier environment was created, and both the McGill and local Montréal communities have taken away enormous benefits from the sustainable upgrades. “Since we received approval to eliminate parking on the lower campus, we’ve been experimenting with alternative surfaces for the former roadways, which could contribute further to encouraging the popularity of the site to pedestrians,” says Chuck Adler, director of campus and space planning, who has worked with the university for more than 35 years. “We’ve also considered narrowing the roadways to reduce vehicular speeds, reducing the heat-island effect through greenery, and are working to reduce the amount of hard surfaces towards better stormwater management.” McGill’s administrative and academic staff began working together to grow the university’s commitment to sustainability by drafting a Green Plan in the early 1990s.

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industry insights

“McGill University undertook the development of an environmental policy via a student initiative.”

New initiatives were created, including several energyefficiency projects and the launch of a paper-recycling system. “By the late 1990s, via a student initiative, the university undertook the development of an environmental policy,” Adler says. “The multistakeholder Environchuck adler, director of campus & space planning mental Policy Workgroup consisted of staff, students, and faculty, and drafted a proposed environmental policy that was approved by McGill’s Senate in 2001.” This environmental policy led to further programs, construction at the time had signed up to be one of the such as a paper-use policy, a campus farmer’s market, an Above left: The Life Sciences Complex is first university members of the Canada Green Building annual Rethink conference on sustainable practices, and anticipating LEED Silver Council, and the timing was fortunate since the Life the creation of the Office of Sustainability. “Some of our certification. Sciences Complex was in its design phase,” Adler says. facilities-related practices include sustainable construcAbove right: Chuck Adler. “We anticipate that the building will achieve LEED Silver.” tion and renovation principles, the use of Green Seal/ Adler’s passion for making McGill a greener univerEcoLogo-certified cleaning products, and landscaping practices that mitigate environmental impact,” Adler says. sity actually extends beyond his years as an administra The university has also made a commitment to energy tor. Adler received both his bachelor’s degree in engineering and master’s in urban planning from McGill. efficiency, which garnered recognition from the Office of “When I was a student at McGill, we pushed for the Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources Canada, and elimination of parking on our main campus,” he says. boasts one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per Now, thanks to his dedication and the open minds of the capita (from stationary combustion) in North America. In 2008, McGill took its commitment one step further students and staff, Adler has seen his dream realized. “What once was a parking lot is now a pleasant pedestrian and attempted the first LEED certification on the new zone full of flowers and the canopy of nearby trees,” he 340,000-square-foot Life Sciences Complex. The $100 says. “All of our work has been rewarding, but it was nice million project includes several energy-efficient features, to finally see this particular change happen.” CBQ including McGill’s first green roof. “The director of

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In 2009, in the midst of a slowing housing market,

Trumping the Recession A results-only work environment and a targeted marketing effort have helped Hunter Residential Developments evolve despite the housing slump By Julie Schaeffer

David and Priscilla Unger, owners of home builder Sun Village, had a revelation. “Despite the market downturn, we saw buyers out there, but they weren’t being connected with because their needs weren’t being met,” says Priscilla, who cofounded Sun Village in 1999 with her husband. “That drove us to evolve.” After renaming the company Hunter Residential Developments, the Ungers changed the company’s approach, inside and out. “We used to be fairly traditional in our managerial, building, and marketing strategies; now we’re more in tune with what employees and customers want,” Priscilla says. Internally, for example, the company implemented a results-only work environment: a human-resource management strategy wherein employees are paid for output rather than the number of hours worked. “In a traditional work environment, employees work from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.,” Priscilla says. “In contrast, we’re a group of telecommuters: our administrative and sales staff, who can tap into our corporate software from anywhere in the world, get their work done when and

At a Glance Location: Calgary, AB Founded: 1999 Employees: 10 Specialty: Multifamily residential home building

Above: The Rushes of Southfork development targets young families by creating an open and natural environment.

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industry insights

marketing in the new millennium Building isn’t the end of the game for David and Priscilla Unger, who recognize that marketing can make or break a project. To that end, Hunter Residential Developments has implemented a comprehensive social-media marketing plan with Facebook sites for the company and its developments. “We decided that transparency trumps the risk of a negative comment from a potentially unhappy person,” Priscilla says. “We carefully manage our Facebook pages, engaging our audience and allowing them to witness how we take care of our homeowners and interact with our community. To us, it’s a great way for people to get to know who we are.”

how they want to. In doing so, we’ve become one-third more productive.” The company’s innovation wasn’t only internal, however. Externally, Hunter Residential Developments reconsidered what it means to be a first-time homebuyer. “In years past, first-time homebuyers were just happy to break into the housing market, so we focused on keeping prices low,” Priscilla says. “In the past few years, we’ve adjusted that strategy because today’s homebuyers are more savvy. They do their homework and are specific about what their needs are.” To better document these shifting needs, Hunter Residential Developments asked its client demographic what home features were important to them, and what could be given up for cost sensitivities. This process has led to several new projects that attempt to address these modern amenities head on. In Coventry Station, a 179-unit complex on the north end of Calgary, Hunter Residential Developments is seeking to meet the needs of first-time homebuyers with 101 two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhomes (some with garages) and 78 apartments with underground heated parking. “We’re hitting it all with this [project],” says Priscilla of the development, which offers a number of features unique to a first home, including at least two bathrooms in all units and fiber-optic Internet wiring. “In the past, we wouldn’t have considered putting those features in a first home because of the price; now, they’re valuable enough that today’s homebuyers are willing to pay for them,” Priscilla says. “That’s because younger people are grouping up more, even if they’re single, with roommates and guests, and they’re technologically reliant.”


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At the same time, Hunter Residential Developments is aware of price. Units at Coventry Station start at $227,000, and buyers can choose from 10 interior-design options, the most expensive of which is just $8,000. “We can’t provide a custom product, but we can customize it somewhat to make it appealing to buyers,” Priscilla says. “That’s also important to our customers, because today’s young urban professionals have their own personal style.” Hunter Residential Developments took a similar approach at the Rushes of Southfork, a 170-townhome development in Leduc, Alberta. With that project, however, the target audience was a different kind of first-time homebuyer: the young family. “Times have changed,” Priscilla says. “It’s harder for young people to break into the housing market, and many are married with children by the time they buy their first home. We wanted to meet the needs of that demographic.” To that end, the Rushes of Southfork offers what Priscilla calls a “wholesome and welcoming natural environment” akin to the summer camps of one’s youth. “There are open spaces and parks, all with a woodsy feel, but we’re trying to keep prices at a point that still meets the needs of the entry-level buyer,” Priscilla explains. Prices at the Rushes start at $225,000. CBQ

A message from wells & associates

Knowing your client has the purchaser’s best interest at heart is refreshing. Gaining both the trust and respect of purchasers is unquestionably difficult at times, given the many and varied issues that may arise. Consistently, Hunter Residential Developments has proven customer satisfaction is first and foremost. Congratulations and continued success!

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Congratulations for staying on the cutting edge of Residential Multi-Family Community development for so many years. Toole Peet Insurance is proud to be an active member of the Hunter Residential team.

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At a Glance Location: Calgary, AB Founded: 1992 Employees: 11 Specialty: Custom residential construction

Midmonth, every month, clients of Calgary-based

Quality in Calgary Homes By Us establishes a higher building standard for Alberta’s largest city By Laura Williams-Tracy

Above: Homes By Us' unassuming 2010 show home includes a bevy of features, such as a 1,000-square-foot play arena (inset).


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Homes By Us can expect a phone call. Whether it’s president Tom Ftichar or another dedicated employee on the line, the question is usually the same: “Is everything okay with your home?” Reaching out to customers as part of its warranty program is just one way Homes By Us aims to go above and beyond all industry standards. Ftichar founded Homes By Us, in 1992, to meet demand for custom, timeless homes. But beyond meeting the demand, Ftichar holds his company to a higher standard than others in the industry. “A tempting pitfall for home builders is to cut corners,” Ftichar says. “This is something that will eventually catch up to you, and no matter what, you will regret it. We are proud that we do not cut any corners. To the contrary, if we feel that something is not going to be the best, we will pay for the upgrade in material or engineering without charging the homeowner. I would be proud to live in any home that we have built.” Another way Homes By Us goes beyond expectations is in the energy efficiency of the infills and custom estate homes the firm specializes in. Each and every home is Built Green certified. “Homes By Us has always built homes with an environmental focus, and strives to minimize our impact on the effect that new construction can have on a

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

“I would say that the most important lesson that I have learned over the years is to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.” tom ftichar, president

community,” Ftichar says. “This mandate was easily transitioned to achieve Gold- and Platinum-status builds within the Built Green structure.” Luxury and environmental consciousness have been a winning combination for Homes By Us. The builder constructs as many as 30 homes a year in some of Calgary’s most prestigious communities, including Aspen Woods Estates, a master-planned development in Calgary’s West End that is undoubtedly one of Calgary’s most desirable communities. The firm handles various types of renovations, from simple remodels, to intricate renovations that involve demolishing the majority of the home and foundation. Many renovation clients select impressive finishes, including exotic materials sourced from around the world. “Our clients are interested in alternative construction methods or materials, such as insulated concrete forms, steel-stud construction, and complete home automation,” Ftichar says. Homes By Us also offers no-cost drafting services, which allow homeowners to be intimately involved in the design of their dream home from the start. Other clients opt to select from a portfolio of thoughtfully designed floor plans. No matter a project’s beginning, Homes By Us always tries to incorporate something new or different in each home, and particularly likes to wow visitors to its show

homes. For instance, the last show home included a diverse, multipurpose recreation and sports area with a 1,000-square-foot boarded sports arena, snack bar, steam shower, scoreboard, HD cinema, automated touch-panel display, and change room with a full laundry. Homes By Us is currently finishing a home with a golf theme that includes a 240-inch golf simulator, fitness room, and spa. When asked about what has made his company so successful, Ftichar keeps it simple. “Without using too many clichés, I would say that the most important lesson that I have learned over the years is to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it,” he says. “Homes By Us stands by its word, and our satisfied homeowners can attest to that.” CBQ


63-4511 Glenmore Trail, SE Calgary, AB T2C2R9

secrets of the infill Urban-infill-home building is fraught with pitfalls, the least of which is finding the right lot. “The more practice you have, the better you can judge what will work and what simply won’t,” says Homes By Us president Tom Ftichar. “I can look at a lot and tell you right off the bat all of the attributes that will either be assets or deterrents to the to-be-built home.” Location is critical, so Ftichar continuously seeks prime properties. When it comes to disposing of the existing, outdated home, Homes By Us may tear down the home, recycle the building material, or simply relocate the home to an entirely new lot. Ultimately, the process of a successful infill is a testament to flexibility. “Over the past 20 years, we have done pretty much anything you can imagine,” Ftichar says.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


industry insights

"They say the greenest home is the one you don't have

At a Glance Location: Guelph, ON Founded: 1991 Employees: 16 Specialty: Green residential and mixed-use developments Annual Sales: $30 million

Greening Guelph Terra View Homes has spent the last five years setting a new standard for green residential design in its home city By Kelly O'Brien

Above: Terra View designed Rotary International's Dream Home in 2009, achieving Energy Star, Green House, and LEED Platinum certifications.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

to build,” says David Brix, president of Terra View Homes, a developer and home builder in Guelph, Ontario. This may seem like an odd sentiment coming from a guy who builds green homes for a living, but when you understand Brix’s design approach, it starts to make a little more sense. “When I design a house, I try to design around adaptability,” he says. “If you can possibly meet a family’s needs over decades, they never have to move again.” By incorporating countless green principles and technologies into every one of Terra View’s projects, Brix has helped the firm raise the bar for green home builders across Ontario. Andrew Lambden is the founder of Terra View Homes and is a seasoned entrepreneur. He’s also Brix’s best friend from high school. When Brix, with a degree in science and a diploma in architectural design, found himself in the market for a job, Terra View was a perfect fit. Brix has been with the firm for 16 years, the last five of which Terra View has been pushing green building. This focus began when Lambden and Brix attended the first annual West Coast Green conference in the Bay Area, back in 2006. “The people who attended ... were all pumped!” Brix says. “We were all talking about how to build better and smarter, using less resources.”

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

Upon returning to Ontario, Brix and Lambden decided they wanted to focus on green building, which had yet to find much of a footing in Guelph’s residential sector. Terra View joined the Energy Star pilot program, and since then, every one of its homes has been built to Energy Star standards or higher. But even though Brix and Lambden were growing increasingly fired up about green building, public awareness was still lagging behind. Fortunately, in 2009, Rotary International gave Terra View a chance to close that gap a little. For the annual Dream Home raffle, Terra View was invited to design and build that year’s home, and the firm took the opportunity to showcase the advantages of not only the Energy Star program but also the LEED Platinum and Green House certifications. The house was on display for almost four months, giving Terra View an invaluable opportunity to educate the local community. But when a winner was drawn for the house, Terra View lost its model—so it built another one. Opened recently, Terra View’s new model home incorporates some new technologies and has added a fourth certification, Built Green Platinum, to the original three. Labels throughout the home detail the benefits of each feature in terms of savings, water conservation, air quality, energy efficiency, overall sustainability, and more. “It’s a fantastic tool for us,” Brix says. The home gives people the chance to see green technologies at work and gives them a real-world sense for each of the different green-building standards. But no matter what standard is used or the certification pursued, the bottom line for Terra View is building homes that are as good for the homeowner as they are for the planet. “We do things in our houses that we feel the homeowner would benefit from and that are smart to do, whether they’re required or not,” Brix says. CBQ

“When I design a house, I try to design around adaptability. If you can possibly meet a family’s needs over decades, they never have to move again.” david brix, president

A message from station earth

For over three decades, Station Earth has been bringing our clients the finest in entertainment solutions. We are a service-based firm, employing 28 passionate individuals. We pride ourselves on being capable of any-sized project, both residential and commercial. Station Earth has aligned with Terra View Homes to bring Terra View’s clients the latest in smart-home technologies. Many builders overlook this critical aspect, but today’s homebuyers are seeking out builders that are forward-thinking and account for emerging technologies during construction. Homes that are prewired for new technologies ensure that the homeowner can take full advantage of any item now and in the future, without having to open drywall or disturb the home’s vapour seal and insulation. Trust Station Earth to handle your project through our team of project managers, engineers, and technicians. With a fleet of 15 on-road vehicles, we can service any client anytime.

Above: The interior of the Rotary Dream Home demonstrates how sustainable construction techniques can maintain a traditional yet modern finish.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


industry insights

bilingual designer Johanne Roy fully appreciates

At a Glance Location: Prince George, BC Founded: 1994 Employees: 4 Specialty: Interior design, renovations, additions, and new construction Annual Sales: $1 million

Above: Ambiance provides renderings, like this one of the Meadow Residence, to clients to give a sense of the final space.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Ethical Design & Construction Ambiance Design Studio focuses on the basics to build a diverse and lasting firm By Christopher Cussat

the power of word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, this owner, founder, and principal of Ambiance Design Studio, who, in 1994, founded the firm in her British Columbia house, never advertised more than in the phone book. The company’s work started with one small interiorrenovation project, and Roy has never stopped since. Today, Ambiance provides complete interior-design services and project management for interior renovations, additions, new construction on custom residences, and commercial and hospitality projects. “With our new constructions, we create each house from a ‘design for living’ perspective, which enables us to effectively integrate the interiors and clients’ lifestyles with the architecture of every house,” Roy says. Ambiance’s clientele varies among residential, commercial, and hospitality areas, with some work cropping up for multifamily condos and vacation properties. The firm is currently completing a 7,000-square-foot modern residence in Durham, Ontario, and a 7,500-square-foot classic residence in Prince George, British Columbia. “We also provide interior-design services for a large amount of British Columbia government offices,” Roy says. Ambiance stays competitive by taking pride in its ethical business practices and by providing unique concepts to all of its clients. “Although a large amount of our clientele desire a rustic or mountain aesthetic, we ensure that all of our projects are different,” Roy says.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

featured project: The maligne lake chalet, guesthouse, and washhouse The restorations of three historical buildings at Maligne Lake in Alberta's Jasper National Park—the Maligne Lake Chalet, Guesthouse, and Washhouse—are part of a complex that was the base for Fred Brewster’s Rocky Mountain Camp in 1925. This complex is the largest and most luxurious accommodation in Jasper National Park, and was constructed of the Lodgepole pine logged in the area. The structure features a wraparound veranda and hip roof. The original hardwood floors, ceiling and wall panelling, and stone fireplace were preserved and restored. All lighting and plumbing fixtures, hardware, interior details, and finishes are reproductions of the period. In addition, all furnishings and furniture are also reproductions of the original pieces, and some antiques, which remained on-site, were also restored. The Maligne Lake Chalet and Guesthouse were recognized as National Historic Buildings by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office in 1987, and after the restoration was completed in August 2011, the buildings will be used again for gatherings, meetings, special events, and weddings.

“We never repeat a design concept, and we are comfortable within every style—whether contemporary, classic, or rustic.� Roy has always been interested in being a business owner, and she has consistently had a clear vision of how an ethical interior-design practice operates. At the root of such conviction is her team. With a very distinct set of skills, everyone at Ambiance Design Studio contributes to the success of every project. Ambiance is now beginning to focus on environmentally friendly materials and concepts, as well as ensuring a low-carbon footprint and employing sustainable-building practices. “Two of our team members are currently upgrading their skills with LEED certification,� Roy says. In the short term, Roy hopes to complete LEED accreditation, and her long-term goal is to establish a “sustainable interior-design concept and operating program� for green hotels. The keys to Ambiance’s success read like a best-practices handbook: integrity; being respectful of all team members, employees, trades, and consultants involved in a project; customer service; open lines of communication; and originality. “We take pride in delivering a construction-document package with all the information required for all trades involved during the construction process,� Roy says. “We continually try to challenge ourselves while creating comfortable and functional spaces for our clients.� As it looks ahead, Ambiance plans to maintain a superior level of customer service; to continue growing, learning, and self-educating; and to remain up-to-date with building and design trends. As for Roy, she simply plans on continuing to do what she loves. “I enjoy starting a project, understanding the clients’ wishes, and transforming their thoughts into reality by creating functional and beautiful environments,� she says. “I absolutely love [turning] a space from a drawing to reality.� CBQ

McInnis /,*+7,1*


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


industry insights

Teenagers tend to steer a few particular ways come

At a Glance Location: Deroche, BC Founded: 1999 Employees: 10 Specialty: Residential and commercial custom builds

The Young Veteran of Fraser Valley

Above: Erik Lacey, president. Opposite: An Interior view of the Sawatsky project showcases Lacey's talent as a young builder.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

The founder of Lacey Construction Ltd. grew from a novice builder right out of high school to a community mainstay By Kelli Lawrence

high-school graduation time, with the widest roads leading to either employment, postsecondary education, or some combination of the two. Erik Lacey, however, saw a slightly different path for himself: a path that started—and ended—with him as the boss of his own construction company. Lacey’s father, a builder of tilt-up warehouses, offered cautious encouragement. “He was positive, but kind of thought I was crazy,” Lacey says, laughing. “I had to explain to him what I was thinking, and how I didn’t really know what I had to lose.” That was 13 years ago. Today, Lacey Construction thrives as a home builder in the Fraser Valley area of British Columbia. With roughly 18 high-quality projects completed annually and Lacey’s amiable, trustworthy reputation, the company’s against-the-odds success is unmistakable. Lacey returns the favour by using local suppliers and trades, donating labour for community parks and buildings, and giving back to the Fraser Valley community as best he can. Some of Lacey Construction’s most prolific work can now be found among the Aboriginals in his area. “I’m surrounded by First Nations communities; I went to school with quite a few and had some as friends,” Lacey says. “So I stopped at one of their band offices one day and asked them what they do for construction maintenance, and who builds their houses. The local one didn’t have anyone, so I dropped off a card and set up a meeting.” Lacey followed suit with every band in Fraser Valley, and the extra effort paid off—in 2009 and 2010, his company was responsible for more than 140 projects involving First Nations homes. The building of most of those homes was overseen by Claire Seymour, the company’s construction manager. Filling a role almost exclusively occupied by men, Seymour’s initial acceptance was similar to that of Lacey’s as a teenage entrepreneur—pretty hard to come by. “She has to prove herself with new clients,” Lacey says. “But she achieves that quickly. It’s probably a challenge for her, but she’s a good asset for my company. She connects with both men and women, plus she has the female input on different things. She manages quite a few guys—they respect her now.” Seymour’s presence also frees up Lacey to pursue new opportunities, such as one of his largest to date: a 9,000-square-foot, high-end residential project in Surrey, British Columbia, designed to easily accommodate people with disabilities. Homes and cottages continue to be Lacey Construction’s mainstay, though, with a large concentration of Off the Grid (OTG) structures now turning up in the Harrison Lake area. When he first ventured into OTG projects, Lacey encountered many challenges due to the remote locations and lack of systemized power, water, and communication. “The first time out, I had no idea what to

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Making a name Maintaining one’s own business is no small feat. And maintaining a construction business, where one poor choice could undo it, is highly impressive. Doing all the above when one is barely old enough to vote is nothing short of a minor miracle. But that’s exactly what Erik Lacey managed to do. “Being such a young age, no one really took me seriously at first,” he admits. “But one key thing was that my first client was probably 30 years older than I was, so I always brought him with me to all my meetings … to try and calm people, I guess! But that was key to helping me get new jobs.” Lacey also credits his well-educated and -trained workers, as well as owning his own tools and equipment, for helping make his name a standout in the Fraser Valley community.

charge for an OTG,” he recalls. “So I simply doubled the price I would charge for a ‘normal’ house in a standard subdivision ... and I barely broke even. That was a learning experience!” Lacey has also learned to appreciate the focus that comes from working in a peaceful locale with a weak cell-phone signal, forcing his numerous business calls to voicemail. Such is a hazard, perhaps, of a relatively young man with a dream that has already come true. “I saw a vision for my company and where I wanted to go,” Lacey says simply. “I just did it the way I thought I could.” CBQ

West Coast Geothermal is a service first company servicing the Vancouver and lower mainland area. We are committed to designing and building the best quality, highest efficiency site specific energy systems available.

Services : Full service landscape construction, irrigation and maintenance within the development market, focusing on enhancing the green space within subdivisions. Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


through the years

United Communities LP 1978 a business is born

United Management is founded by Jack Singer. In 1978, Calgary developer and businessman Jack Singer founded United Management Ltd. Two decades later, the company was succeeded by United Communities, which is led by president Don Douglas. After developing many residential communities—as well as commercial and corporate complexes— United Communities LP eventually found its niche in residential land development and is known today for its green, familyfriendly communities among some of Canada’s most scenic locales. “Through innovative and attractive architectural controls; master-planned, environmentally friendly communities; and with amenities that create lifestyles, United ensures that its communities are places people want to live,” says Chris Kolozetti, executive vice president and COO of the company. United Communities gains popularity among home builders for offering a variety of housing types at many different price points, as well as providing on-time delivery, which is critical with Canada’s short construction season. Today, the company has developed more than 22,000 building lots in 44 communities, and boasts a 10 percent market share in its principal markets of Calgary and Edmonton. —Kelly Hayes

1993 shifting gears

After several years of developing new communities, shopping centres, office buildings, and multifamily projects throughout Alberta, Arizona, and Texas, United Management begins to divest itself of its nonland assets and operations, establishing land development—primarily in Calgary and Edmonton—as its core business. United Communities has since continued focusing on residential land development with projects in the greater Calgary and Edmonton regions; Kimberley, British Columbia; and in Sacramento, California. “The company prides itself on developing sought-after, livable, new communities that individuals and families are proud to call home,” Kolozetti says.

"The company prides itself on developing sought-after, livable, new communities that individuals and families are proud to call home.” chris kolozetti, executive vice president & coo

1998 new beginnings

United Inc. (the successor to United Management Ltd.) goes public with an initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). United commences development of Crystal Ridge in Okotoks (15 minutes south of Calgary), a major amenity community with both a man-made lake and golf course.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

1999 a calgary community shines

2000 the takeover & record numbers

United acquires and commences development of its flagship Discovery Ridge Community in Calgary, which is adjacent to the 300-acre Griffith Woods Natural Environment Park, one of the most desirable and sought-after communities in Calgary.

After three years as a public company trading on the TSX, the company goes private with $70 million in assets. The company is purchased from the Singer family and public shareholders by United Communities LP, led by United’s longtime president, Don Douglas. 2003 heading south

Photo: Tes Bonyai

United enters the United States with its initial project in Sacramento, California.

2011 (Sage Hill) 2006 (Drake Landing)

2006 here comes the sun

Photo: Bruce Edward

United partners with the Town of Okotoks, Sterling Homes, ATCO Gas, and Natural Resources Canada to begin an award-winning phase in its Drake Landing community. The phase is comprised of 52 solar-heated homes with a central, underground geothermal-energy-storage system. United also creates the PEER program, an industry-leading indoor and outdoor water-conservation program, for its communities, encompassing low-flow water fixtures, xeriscaping, and the provision of rain barrels for irrigation for each home.

2009 an environmental achievement

United commences its Big Lake community, which marks the first low-impact development community for both the company and Edmonton. 2011 (Silverado)

2011 looking ahead

Photo: Bruce Edward

United launches its new home-building operation in Sacramento. The company plans to continue creating residential developments that inspire and set a mould for the towns in which they are built. “United’s goal is to continue to grow and to create value for its stakeholders, and in the process provide its customers with continually improving communities that are responsive to their needs,” Kolozetti says. The company also commences or maintains work on many other projects, including Sage Hill, Drake Landing, Crystal Ridge, Silverado, the Ranch, Forest Crowne, and Nolan Hill. “United is proud to have been a part of building and shaping the cities and towns in which it operates,” Kolozetti says. “[We] look forward to continuing to provide communities in which residents and their families grow and thrive.”

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012




Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Hudson Kruse Design David Coulson Design Ltd. Beaverhall Homes Vancouver Island University Rayn Properties Ltd. Fanshawe College Architecton

Hudson Kruse Design Hudson Kruse Design, which specializes in residential development projects across North America, is known for its ability to create a unique balance

1. One Cole Condominiums 2. The Capital Condominiums 3. CHICAGO Condominiums

38 43 47 52 55 58 61

By Julie Schaeffer

between functionality and design—yet nothing it does is formulaic. “If you look at our portfolio, you’ll see projects that range from contemporary industrial to overtly traditional,” says founder Trevor Kruse. “The solutions are based on the architecture and project rather than on what Hudson Kruse projects look like.” This approach has clearly been a success. In addition to designing some of the most

notable buildings in Toronto—including Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto—the nine-employee firm has won a number of awards, including a 2005 National Post Design Exchange Award, a 2007 Arido Award of Merit, and a 2007 IIDA Leadership Award. Most recently, the firm won an honourable mention in the Showflat category of the Ring iC@ward 2009.

1 One Cole Condominiums


Toronto, ON Started: 2007 Completed: 2010 Size: 6,000 square feet (3rd floor) Building Type: Residential

The transformation of 69 acres of Toronto’s east downtown into a vibrant mixed-use community will occur over the course of six phases, but if the first phase is any indication, the project will be a success. One Cole Condominiums, developed by the Daniels Corporation at the northeast corner of Dundas Street East and Parliament Street, is the first condominium building to be constructed as part of the revitalization. The project includes 293 residential suites in two distinctive buildings (a 9-storey west building and a 19-storey east building), a number of amenity and retail spaces, and a 20,000square-foot landscaped courtyard. In approaching the interior design of One Cole Condominiums, Hudson Kruse considered the environmentally friendly nature of the project, which is seeking LEED Platinum certification.

“Interior-design details include recycled and locally sourced items, many of which were made by craftspeople from parts that could not be used in the normal manufacturing process,” Kruse says. “As a result, the overall feel of the project is contemporary but eclectic.”

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


project showcase 2

2 The Capital Condominiums Mississauga, ON Started: 2004 Completed: 2008 Size: 10,000 square feet (amenities) 4,000 square feet (lobby) Building Type: Residential

When The Daniels Corporation first asked Hudson Kruse to design the interior of the Capital Condominiums, part of Daniels City Centre, a condominium community in the heart of Mississauga, Ontario, the developer was seeking a design that would appeal to a first-time buyer with no access to a weekend retreat. The idea was for the two-tower develop-


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

ment—which has more than 10,000 square feet of amenity space, including pools and parks—to have the feel of a getaway. In response, Hudson Kruse’s first design concept “spoke directly to this sort of cabin-in-the-woods aesthetic,” Kruse says. After the Daniels Corporation sold the project and started construction, however, it had a change of heart and asked Hudson Kruse to make the project less thematic. “They asked us to guide them toward a more contemporary boutique hotel version of the aesthetic, so we redesigned the project with a clean, contemporary look, albeit one that had a warm feel,” Kruse says. “We used natural materials, such as wood and slate, and used colours based on the maple leaf turning throughout the fall.” The end result was clearly a success: the Capital Condominiums won the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association’s Best Condo Building Design Award.


Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase 3

3 CHICAGO Condominiums Mississauga, ON Started: 2004 Completed: 2011 Size: 17,000 square feet Building Type: Residential


CHICAGO, the sixth addition to the landmark Daniels City Centre condominium community, in the heart of Mississauga, combines striking architecture with 17,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities. In an attempt to be true to the Chicago School of Architecture, the 35-storey, 484-unit residential tower was designed with three distinct architectural components similar to a classical column. The first floors represent the base; the middle floors form the shaft; and the top is a crown featuring a highly detailed and decorative cornice. That architecture, Kruse says, informed the interior of the tower as well, and that, in turn, guided Hudson Kruse’s design approach. “The interior was designed to look like an old Chicago hotel built in the 1920s, so there were many historical references and traditional details, such as corridors that feel like old hotel hallways,” Kruse says. “We injected a lot of that tradition into the interior-design solution.”

A message from vifloor canada ltd.

Photos: Arash Moallemi.


Vifloor Canada Ltd. celebrates more than 15 years as a leading importer and distributor of floor surfaces, specializing in both commercial and residential softsurface applications. Vifloor Canada provides customdesigned products suitable for highdensity residential and hospitality applications through Shaw Hospitality Group, and distributes extensive lines of commercial carpet from Patcraft divisions of Shaw Industries Inc. We are the exclusive Canadian distributor of commercial-matting products from Holland, and we import the highest-quality residential products exclusively from Western Europe and distribute them under Cortenaer, Wool Carpet. To view our full line, go to Vifloor Canada provides quality products and quality service, and all products by Vifloor contribute towards LEED certification. or call toll free: 1-877-521-9014.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


Proud to have Collaborated with

Hudson Kruse Design

The Capital Condominium, Mississauga, ON

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- Stereo Systems (Custom Built-In Applications, Home Theatre).

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(Control All Aspects Of Home Or Business From Smart Phone - Eg. Lighting, Security Cams, Hvac Systems).

- Motor Control Systems.

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(Telecommunications, Catv, Ethernet Systems).


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project showcase

David Coulson Design Ltd. David Coulson is a man of many interests. From furniture design to international travel, theatre production to sustainable technology, it’s rare that he meets a subject he can’t sink his teeth into. As the

1. 222 Vancouver Street Retrofit 2. Stewart Residence 3. Cliffside Residence

By Kelly O'Brien

president of David Coulson Design, a design-build firm in Duncan, British Columbia, he puts that versatility to excellent use, doing historical restorations, cutting-edge green retrofits, and custom residential and commercial projects of every shape and size. Coulson describes his style as a combination of old-world craftsmanship with a strong sense of individualism. Of

the 10–20 projects his firm does every year, Coulson says it’s the big, complex renovations that excite him the most. “There’s something about turning a sow's ear into a silk purse that’s really fun,” he says. And with more than 30 years of experience, the 57-year-old designer has become an expert in silk purses, whether they start from sows’ ears or from scratch.

1 222 Vancouver Street Retrofit Victoria, BC Started: 2006 Completed: 2008 Size: 3,000 square feet Building Type: 1913 Arts & Crafts bungalow


What started out as a straightforward basement renovation for the architecture- and sustainability-conscious owners of 222 Vancouver Street, wound up as one of the most technologically advanced, historically accurate top-to-bottom retrofits in all of Western Canada. When looking at the Arts & Craft walk-up, you’d never suspect that below the raised-bed front garden lurks a geothermal well, or that the original single-pane windows are treated with super-efficient glazing, or that beneath the restored fir floors run fiber-optic, Cat-6, and whole-house audio cables as thick as your arm. That’s because for Coulson and his firm, owning a vintage home doesn’t mean one has to sacrifice sustainability. “I wanted to show the marketplace that you don’t have to tear these places down,” Coulson says. The house scored within the top one percent of energy-efficient buildings in Canada. Balancing green technology with historical preservation was sometimes a challenge, but in the end, dozens of cutting-edge systems are hidden within the home’s faithfully restored interiors. “What makes the house special is that you cannot see any intervention,” Coulson says. “The house looks like it was perfectly restored, but it’s modern at the same time.”

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


project showcase

2 Stewart Residence North Cowichan, BC Started: 2010 Completed: 2010 Size: 5,100 square feet Building Type: Single-level ranch house

In 2009, the Stewarts, a couple in North Cowichan who’d spent decades running the family holly farm, decided to retire and sell the family estate. The house had always felt more like the family’s house than their own, and so the Stewarts contracted Coulson to build them something new. “They wanted to build something woodsy, something more West Coast,” says Coulson, who was happy to oblige. Coulson, inspired by a recent trip to Hawaii, started his design with a sloping Dickey roofline, tucking beneath it a ranch house replete with eco-friendly features, loads of natural light, and expansive outdoor living spaces. “They can step out onto deck from any room in the house,” Coulson says. In addition to a down-toearth aesthetic, the Stewarts were also committed to using local materials—really local. The site for the house had “an incredible stand of very uniform Douglas-fir trees,” Coulson says. These were cleared, milled, and used in the framing, flooring, siding, soffits, trim, and more. The home not only earned David Coulson Design an honourable mention in the 2010 North Cowichan Community Planning Awards, but it also gave the Stewarts a home they can finally call their own.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012



Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

3 Cliffside Residence Maple Bay, BC Started: 2009 Completed: 2010 Size: 2,700 square feet (3 storeys of 900 square feet) Building Type: Residential


When Coulson first drove out to Maple Bay to look at the house his clients wanted to renovate, what he found was a one-storey shack clinging to the side of a cliff with a dingy crawl space beneath it. In other words, “dozer bait,” he says. Looking at the finished home—a glass-walled, Italianate triumph—you’d never imagine such humble beginnings. The house only has a 900-square-foot footprint, but with three floors, vaulted ceilings, and a spacious cantilevered deck, it feels open and airy. Standing in the living room, taking in the panoramic ocean views, it’s easy to forget the massive technical feats holding the house up. “There is more engineering in that 900-square-foot footprint than any commercial building in the valley,” Coulson says. The “postage-stamp-sized” site, as Coulson calls it, was a major challenge, boasting a 60 percent grade that drops 70 feet from a hairpin turn to the rocky shore below. During construction, everything had to be craned in—not just materials and machinery, but lunch boxes and tools as well. Coulson’s crew needed their hands free to climb down to the jobsite safely. The project’s dramatic location was certainly a challenge, but it also makes the finished home impressive to behold, inside and out.



Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


EST. 1974

Excellence in Hardwood

At Weston

Flooring Ltd. our first priority is to provide you with a comfortable and

informative purchase experience and deliver “Excellence in Hardwood.� Congratulations to Ami and Beaverhall Homes! 87 Westcreek Drive

| Woodbridge, Ontario

Lanstaff & Weston Road, just off Highway #400



project showcase

Beaverhall Homes Beaverhall Homes has been building homes of exceptional quality for more than 30 years throughout the Greater

1. Ocean Club 2. The Mercer 3. Regency Estates


By Chris Allsop

Toronto Area. The company specializes in building residential homes, from singlefamily to high-rise condominiums. Beaverhall’s president, Ami Tamam, is a hands-on general contractor who is on-site throughout the construction of his projects. Recognized in the industry for the “curb appeal” of its communities, the

company also aspires to create interior spaces in its homes that are contemporary, functional, and in sync with the busy lifestyles of today. Beaverhall employs 12 people, and its offices are located in Richmond Hill, Ontario. All three projects featured here are a joint partnership with Graywood Developments.

1 Ocean Club Toronto, ON Started: 2011 Expected Completion: 2014 Size: 405–2,000 square feet per unit

Photos: Virginia Macdonald

Building Type: Residential


Located on the waterfront of Lake Ontario, the Ocean Club development offers what Beaverhall’s project manager, Elisa Pennino, describes as “resort-style living in a cosmopolitan setting.” Comprising two buildings—a 37-storey high-rise and, behind it, an 8-storey boutique low-rise that offers the same units at a more affordable price—the design for both structures is modern, with plenty of glass to take advantage of the waterfront views. “We opened last fall, and we’re now 85 percent sold out,” Pennino says. “And we’re attracting all age ranges, from people in their 20s to retirees.” The reason the development is selling so well, Pennino believes, is due to a combination of location, price, and the quality of the finishes. Suites feature fully integrated, custom-designed kitchens by Tomas Pearce. Features also include nine-foot ceilings, wide-plank engineered hardwood flooring, floor-to-ceiling Low-E windows, and a balcony or terrace. Other highlights include an indoor saltwater pool, an outdoor deck with a hot tub, a retail-facility restaurant, and no less than two pet-grooming stores. Prices for the 460 units range from $259,900 to more than $1 million.

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project showcase

2 The Mercer Toronto, ON Started: 2011 Expected Completion: 2014 Size: 400–1,800 square feet per unit Building Type: Residential high-rise


The Mercer is a luxury high-rise located in the heart of the business and entertainment districts of Toronto. Architect Brian Brisbin believes that the design genius of the Mercer lies in its ability to capture the mood of its century-old environs on Mercer Street while remaining contemporary, culminating in what one of Brisbin’s partners termed “romantic modern.” According to Brisbin, the Mercer achieves this effect through a series of design expressions—blending layers of brick, stone, and glass. It’s an approach intended to make the Mercer stand out from the glass buildings found nearby. “Quite simply, this building tells a story—the story of Mercer Street,” Brisbin says. “It’s a contemporary design, but it describes the character and life of this unique street, both in its use of materials, like stone and brick, and in a series of design moves, both at grade and on the skyline.” Inside, the units have been decked out in high-end fashion, with marble, granite, and hardwood throughout. The living spaces combine the latest ideas on how to make the transitions between the living, dining, and kitchen areas seamless and aesthetically pleasing. The building is also equipped with amenities including a roof terrace and party room. Units are selling from $500,000 to $1 million.



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project showcase 3

3 Regency Estates Vaughan, ON Started: 2011 Expected Completion: 2012 Size Per Home: 3,940–5,865 square feet Building Type: Low-rise residential

Regency Estates, Beaverhall Homes’ community of 34 homes, is located in the high-end residential Woodbridge neighbourhood of Vaughan. Designed by Stephen Hunt of Hunt Design Associates, the stucco, stone, and brick homes are characterized by arches, pitched rooflines, decorative metalwork, and masonry accents. Prices start at about $1.3 million. Intended to attract local, high-income families, the


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custom-designed homes offer premium oak staircases; crown and ceiling mouldings; fireplaces with cast stone mantels and hearths; vaulted, tray, waffle, coffered, domed, and/or cathedral ceilings in a smooth finish; and decorative columns. The main level features ceramic or porcelain tiles, plus prefinished stained-oak strip flooring throughout the nontiled areas. According to Pennino, the kitchens are made to an equally high level. “Well-crafted cabinetry is combined with granite countertops, breakfast counters, a chef’s desk, islands, and pantries,” she says. “And the ultimate spa experience is located in the master en suite, which is equipped with marble floors and countertops, a floating acrylic tub, and an oversized, frameless-glass shower stall.” Beaverhall has also incorporated green features into the homes, with Energy Star elements such as energy-efficient windows and Low-E, argon-filled windows.


Canadian Builders Quarterly

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project showcase

Vancouver Island University Seventy-five years ago, it seemed impossible that we could wreak such destruction on our coasts. Impossible, too, that we could also have the power, through technology, to clean up the extent of our mess. Back then, terms like “sustainability” and “going green” were far from blips on the radar, much less

By Seth Putnam

bandied about as casually as they are today. But some of the oldest institutions, like British Columbia’s Vancouver Island University, which was founded in 1936, are the ones leading the way into our modern understanding of good stewardship. Taken aback by the rapid rate of

coastal development and the lack of consideration for water ecosystems, Vancouver Island University recently decided to take the lead with a brandnew facility that provides a laboratory for marine biologists and, perhaps most importantly, an example for the rest of the country.



Deep Bay Marine Field Station Deep Bay, BC Started: 2009 Completed: 2011 Size: 13,000 square feet Building Type: Research facility

Vancouver Island University’s Marine Field Station in Deep Bay, British Columbia, was born out of an idea for something far more modest. In fact, the initial concept was little more than a steel barn from which professors and students could study mollusks and crustaceans. “The problem that’s happening around North America is that the rates of development on the coast are twice as high as anywhere else,” says Brian Kingzett, manager of the Deep Bay Marine Field Station. “And so we’re kind of loving our oceans to death.” University officials quickly realized that if they planned to stem the tide of destructive urban development, they needed to lead by example. So the plain steel barn became an impressive, completely sustainable, shellfish-shaped structure. The station, which Kingzett is confident will earn LEED Platinum status, incorporates renewable rain and ocean energy, as well as passive-solar techniques. Throughout the building process, there was a strict commitment to using local materials and contractors—


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which translated to a learning experience for area journeymen and apprentices. The lumber came from British Columbia, and the fixtures were no more elaborate than private consumers would use in their own homes. “We wanted to ask, ‘Is this something someone would normally buy and put in their house?’” Kingzett says. “If the answer was ‘no,’ we said, ‘Find an alternative.’” Yet the Field Station’s techniques for managing energy and waste are impressive. The facility, which is capable of providing five cubic metres of seawater each minute for research activities, incorporates a number of sustainable strategies, such as ocean-source geoexchange energy, natural lighting with high-efficiency glazing, daylighting controls and occupancy sensors,

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Photos: Vancouver Island University


rainwater harvesting, gravity-flow for toilets, on-site tertiary wastewater treatment, riparian zone protection, and rehabilitation. When possible, station technicians flip off the lights and make use of natural daylight. They harvest rainwater, and they rely on natural ventilation, radiant-floor heating, and native foliage. On the bottom floor, the main research area sits in all its glory. The public is able to peek through the glass walls of the sealed laboratory to see exactly what the scientists are up to. Visitors can also take advantage of a “touch tank” to get up close to all sorts of shellfish, starfish, and other marine creatures. “There’s no point in putting technology in our building that isn’t accessible to the local community,” Kingzett says. “We didn’t want to be in an ivory tower.” Not only does the building have tangible research applications, but it’s a story in itself that inspires a deeper consideration of marine life and what must be done to protect it. “We rent the facility out now for conferences and meetings,” Kingzett says. “And people say it can be a distracting room to have meetings in because everybody’s staring out the window at the coastal environment. But that’s actually our objective: to make everyone who’s using the building to think about why they’re here.” So far, the experiment is working beautifully. Change seems to be on the horizon—a fact that is encouraging to Kingzett and his team, because Vancouver Island University sees its role as one of education, not governance. “We didn’t build a green building just because we thought, ‘We’re the university, and we should have a green building,’” Kingzett says. “We built it because we’re not going to save the earth without a shift in foundational beliefs. And that starts with education.”



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project showcase

Rayn Properties Ltd. Rayn Properties was started by Rov Dosanjh in 2007. The Victoria-based firm specializes in high-end residential projects, and Dosanjh, together with his in-house staff, works closely with his customers to create exceptional, luxuri-

1. 163 Levista 2. Aspen Road


1 163 Levista Victoria, BC Started: 2010 Expected Completion: 2011

Photos: Christian J. Stewart

Size: 3,061 square feet Building Type: Residential

“163 Levista is one of my favourite projects,” says Dosanjh of the home he designed for Raj and Karen Mahal. “Up until this project, I’d

By Thalia A-M Bruehl

ous custom homes. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, Dosanjh’s team was presented with the CARE Award for its dedication to its clients. “I just love seeing a family living in their custom home, and knowing it’s their perfect place,” says Dosanjh of his achievements. The firm’s three employees work on an average of six projects per year, and

they have placed a great importance on sustainability since the company’s inception. Rayn Properties uses natural products and makes an effort to choose no- to low-VOC products, as well as local materials. The firm also integrates green options like tankless hot-water heaters into its designs whenever possible.


been mainly involved with West Coast character homes, which I describe as a modern version of the Arts & Crafts style of homes from the 1940s and 1950s. 163 Levista was my first contemporary style of home with a flat-roof design.” Outside of the flat roof, 163 Levista also features contemporary-style elements such as large, expansive windows; clean, crisp lines; and cool colours. “The owners had seen a home like this built elsewhere in Victoria and loved the original design,” Dosanjh says. “I took the design and modified the interior to make it more usable and comfortable.” Dosanjh’s modifications led to some high-concept design features as well. “My favourite interior-design feature is the curved maple panels suspended from the matching curved wall,” he says. “This area is the centre of the house and can be seen upon entry.”

Dosanjh created the opposition wall using two concave curves and a convex one, which both flow through the hallway. The client also specified to Dosanjh that they were hoping to have a home with some “bling,” as they put it. To meet this demand, Dosanjh added other special features, including an oversized quartz island and a stainless-steel backsplash in the kitchen, and other luxurious choices throughout the home. For the master bedroom, Dosanjh designed nine vertical leather wall panels to help create the client’s desired effect, but quickly realized leather would put them over budget. A vinyl product that had a great look and sheen was used instead, and was a fraction of the cost. Dosanjh even designed hand-painted wood panels to place along the sides of the upholstered vinyl panels for an extra sumptuous touch.

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project showcase

2 Aspen Road Victoria, BC Started: 2011 Expected Completion: 2012 Size: 4,400 square feet Building Type: West Coast contemporary residential

Just outside of Victoria lies Rayn Properties’ Aspen Road project. The six-acre oceanfront property has views of both the water and the mountains, and was designed with all of its rooms spread along the length of the building to offer optimum sight lines. “Upon entry, your eyes are instantly taken to the large windows offering the views to the ocean,” says Dosanjh, who also used 12-foot-high ceilings to maximize the impact. The home will include such luxury features as a large deck, an inground pool, and a hot tub. “The most special thing about this house is how it takes advantage of the ocean and mountains,” Dosanjh says. “The house was designed with 80 feet of frontage in order to place each room with ocean views.” Getting these amazing views was not always an easy task, requiring the assistance of geotechnical and structural engineers who worked in conjunction with Dosanjh. Rock blasters and heavy-machine operators were also necessary when it came to placing the home at the perfect spot.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012



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project showcase

Fanshawe College Located in the beautiful landscapes of London, Ontario, Fanshawe College has made it its mission to not only prepare and teach more than 16,500 full-time students and 38,000 part-time registrants, but to serve as a leader and example in the act of sustainability.

By Tricia Despres

While the college’s administrators have made energy conservation a focus for more than three decades, the mission took on a whole new meaning in the last few years. Five years ago, a Honeywell energy audit of the college’s use of electricity, natural gas, and water

resulted in $3.5 million worth of projects to become even more energy efficient. And in July 2009, the college signed an agreement with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges to lead the fight in making sustainability a priority for years to come.

1 Centre for Applied Transportation Technologies London, ON Started: 2009 Completed: 2011 Size: 148,000 square feet Building Type: Educational facility


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irrigation, solar preheating for domestic hot water, natural daylighting and daylight harvesting, lighting and occupancy sensors, and low- to no-VOC finishes,” explains Shawn Harrington, manager of facilities planning and development at the college. “We even installed innovative solar-powered GPS tracking skylights (shown above) that track the sun and redirect the sunlight into the shops throughout the day, reducing the need for artificial light.” Thus far, the lighting systems have made the most noteworthy change in the facility. “All rooms were put on a series of motion sensors that allow us to control lighting and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning,” says Allan McLuskie, manager of facilities operations. “We also upgraded the building automation systems, which went far in allowing us to set temperatures back during the nights and weekends and evenings, and reduce ventilation when the spaces were unoccupied.” Administrators say that just these changes alone have resulted in a savings of more than $500,000 in annual ongoing operating costs. The students of Fanshawe College have also played their part within the sustainability efforts. Over the past

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: John Sing

When handed a $31.8 million grant, college administrators thought long and hard about not only where the money would go but where it would make the most impact in the future. After looking at the campus landscape and listening to the thoughts of an enormously active and energy-conscious student body, the college found an answer. In 2009, it broke ground for the 148,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Centre for Applied Transportation Technologies. Known around campus as the CAAT Building, it now serves not only as one of the most advanced transportation training centres in the country but as one of the greenest. In just over two years, builders completed work on Fanshawe College’s Centre for Applied Transportation Technologies, created specifically to house the college’s innovative transportation programs in auto mechanics, auto-body repairs, avionics, aviation, heavy equipment, and farm-equipment technologies. While offering unsurpassed educational opportunities, the building was also equipped with a number of sustainable initiatives. “Green features include 38,000 square feet of vegetated green roofs, polished concrete floors in the shops, stormwater reclamation for toilet flushing and site

project showcase 1

two years, the students have directed approximately $300,000 of their annual Student Campus Improvement Fee towards sustainability initiatives. While many of the changes have gone relatively unnoticed to the average student population (since they have been completed during the summer—when student population is lowest—for behind-the-scenes areas like mechanical rooms), others have occurred thanks to overwhelming input from the student body. “We have installed water-bottle refill stations in several locations on campus as a result of the interest expressed by the student representatives,” Harrington says. “So far, the waste from 26,000 disposable plastic water bottles has been eliminated by just one of these units, which we installed less than a year ago.” In the future, college administrators say they hope to add more green roofs throughout the campus area and take upon a solar photovoltaic project at one of the college’s regional campuses. There is even a plan to hire a full-time sustainability coordinator for the college. “We are growing to consider sustainability as much more than just energy conservation,” McLuskie says. “It also includes looking into ways to include the sustainable practices into the curriculum and the overall teaching of our students, researching sustainable practices, recycling, purchasing practices, transportation, public engagement, and much more.”


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Volume 4 No. 31, 2012





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project showcase


By Kelly O'Brien

Architect Kanau Uyeyama's very first commission was to build a house for a garter snake that then-science-student Mary Todd had adopted. Now, Uyeyama

1. Hemlock Ski Chalet 2. EcoFabulous Home

and Todd have been married for four decades and have been running design firm Architecton for just as long. With Uyeyama as principal and Todd as chief researcher (she wrapped up her career as a medical professor five years ago to join the firm full-time), the company has a long, storied history in the Vancouver

area. In recent years, the four-person firm has focused most of its energy on developing a market for high-end, prefabricated homes. “People are still distrustful of modular construction because it's not the usual way,” Uyeyama says. But Architecton is working to change that perception.

1 Hemlock Ski Chalet Hemlock Valley, BC Started: 2005 Completed: 2005 Size: 1,850 square feet Building Type: Modular mountain chalet

Architecton’s first prefabricated project, the Hemlock Ski Chalet, was experimental and required a great deal of research. Uyeyama and Todd had bought a lot in the mountains for $25,000, and they decided to build a home that would showcase the potential of architect-designed modular homes. In addition to being in a region with the heaviest snow load in North America, the property also had a severe slope, which presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Building on the side of a mountain is tricky, no question, but Todd points out, “in British Columbia, there are a lot of remote areas where it’s almost impossible to get a contractor and trades … This type of construction is ideal.” For the Hemlock Chalet, Uyeyama came up with a multilevel design perched on concrete columns that was made up of six prefabricated modules. Once the support structure was in place, it was simply a matter of assembling the modules. “The work in the factory and the work on the site started the same day, September 20,” Todd says. “On November 20, the six modules were put together in one day. The speed of construction was amazing.”


Prefab construction also offers a lot of design flexibility. And once it’s assembled, Todd says, the effect prevents it from being identified as modular or site-built construction. Todd and Uyeyama use the Hemlock Chalet as a vacation rental. Its success has found the duo several people interested in commissioning a modular mountain hideaway of their own.

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project showcase 2

EcoFabulous Home Gabriola Island, BC Started: 2007 Completed: 2008, for the BC Home & Garden Show Relocated: 2010, moved to Gabriola Island Size: 1,400 square feet Building Type: Green, modular vacation home

In 2007, Peter Simpson, the head of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, asked Uyeyama to design a show home for the British Columbia Home and Garden Show. “They wanted a small house that was green, prefabbed, and of a design that you wouldn’t walk down the street and see,” Uyeyama says. That’s just what Architecton delivered. The home consists of two wings (each a prefabricated module) that join in the centre at a 90-degree angle, framing a cozy and inviting deck. Wood abounds


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Photos: Martin Tessler


in the home: custom-cut cedar siding, rough-hewn fir stilts, cherry and cork flooring, and a maple drop ceiling in the corridor. The house also boasts a great many green features, from energy- and water-efficient appliances to cabinetry made of recycled paper. “This was the first project where we really went out of our way to get everything as green as possible,” Todd says. “Because it’s an exhibition house, there are design details that bring art into it,” Uyeyama says. For example, a sculptural drop ceiling controls the scale of a corridor with a high ceiling. Another is the multihued, prismatic, plastic highlights on the steel window braces. “[Uyeyama] always has unique ways of using colour,” Todd says. After the home show, where the EcoFabulous Home had more than 60,000 visitors, it was a home without a home—until 2010, when Architecton found the ideal site. Now, this testament to architect-designed modular construction sits on Gabriola Island, 17 minutes by seaplane from Vancouver, where it’s currently waiting for the right owner to come along.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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through the years

Tonda Construction Limited 1978 tonda construction limited is founded

as president of Tonda Construction Limited, Tom Weller takes great pride in the amount of structures and businesses his company has contributed to in and around southwestern Ontario. Specializing in commercial and institutional renovations, the $40 million business has become quite the family affair of late. Tom’s son, Darrin, currently holds the title of vice president of the company, while Tom’s daughter, Tracey Poels, works in the office as accounting manager. Even Tom’s wife, Dorothy, helps out and works in human resources. “Everyone wonders how we get along so well,” Tom says, laughing. “We go out for lunch every Friday and often want to spend time with one another on the weekends, even though we spend every day of the workweek together.” Tom recently sat down with Canadian Builders Quarterly to look at the incredible timeline of milestones and accomplishments that Tonda Construction has experienced since its inception more than 34 years ago. —Tricia Despres

1989 going it alone

Tom assumes sole ownership of Tonda Construction. “The partners that I had worked with were my friends, so I was touched personally to see the last partner go in 1989,” he says. “However, professionally, the year I became the sole owner was also the year we went from doing $3 million [in] volume a year to $10 million [in] volume a year. Things changed a bit. It required that I was in the office, acting both as an estimator and project manager.”

After working for a local general contractor and travelling from one side of Canada to the other for 18 years, Tom decides it is time to start his own company and makes the city of London, Ontario, home. In the fall of 1978, the firm starts out with Tom alongside three partners—Tom acting as field superintendent, two partners staying in the office, and one remaining a silent partner. “Of course, we started out very small,” Tom says. “We didn’t have much money starting out, and you really were out there fending for yourself.” Luckily, Tom’s prior relationships help get the business up and running. “We knew architects in town that put us on their prequalified lists right from the start,” he says. “It was tough there at the beginning. But now, we are one of the oldest general contractors in town.”

“The partners that I had worked with were my friends, so I was touched personally to see the last partner go in 1989. However, professionally, the year I became the sole owner was also the year we went from doing $3 million in volume a year to $10 million in volume a year.” tom weller, president

1991 the first high-profile project

After a handful of years struggling to get its feet on the ground as a new company, Tonda Construction wins the job on an extensive interior-renovation project at the University Hospital in London. “Our first $16 million project made me quite confident we were going to not only make it but succeed in this industry,” Tom says.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2001 (Greek Orthodox Church)

2001 dreaming of the green & constructing a new landmark

In the spring of 2001, Tom sees his dream of owning a golf course become reality. After purchasing a local golf course, Tom renovates it and makes it a very respectable business. (Years later, in 2009, Tom would go on to purchase the adjacent property to the course, servicing the land and placing nine large lots up for sale. Those lots are now all sold and in the process of being built.) Late in 2001, Tonda Construction is approached to begin work on the construction of the Greek Orthodox Church in London. “This was obviously a unique project for us,” Tom says. “The level of detail was amazing. We definitely learned a lot throughout the project.”

2001 (Greek Orthodox Church)

2006 special recognition

Soon after completing work on the rather extensive London Health Science Centre, Tom and his team are invited to a lunch where they are presented with a one-of-a-kind plaque recognizing the company’s hard work on the centre. “The plaque now sits on our wall as a true symbol of not only our success but of the reputation we have achieved in this community,” Tom says. 2011 keeping up the projects

Work begins on the Logan Funeral Home, located just down the road in London. “This project consisted of a teardown of the existing building and the creation of a brand-new building,” Tom says. “These kinds of projects really allow us to create quite a legacy in London. These are the kinds of places within the community that will stand the test of time.”


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RDH brought a modern renovation complete with expansive glass to the Hamilton Public Library and its neo-brutalist façade.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

renewal & return Three renowned firms use their design prowess to create some of Canada's most striking adaptive-reuse and renovation projects

by Chris Allsop


Photos: Tom Arban

veryone’s passionate about adaptive reuse and renovation. Not only does it provide environmental benefits, cut costs, and save old landmarks from destruction, but it supplies the local community with a bridge across time—splicing the new with the old. However, because of this meeting point of old and new worlds in architecture, renovation and adaptive reuse can also be an interesting flash point for opinions on the state of design. Moreover, designers’ passions aren’t doused by the common challenges that crop up during an adaptive-reuse project. (In fact, it’s an element that attracts Gair Williamson, principal at Gair Williamson Architecture, to these types of projects.) A common problem involves finding the proper documentation to uncover what has happened, from a construction perspective, in the duration of a building’s life. Connected to this is the element of the unknown—the fact that, when you open up a wall and what lies beneath is not what is expected, you’re pressed to innovate. Tyler Sharp, associate and project designer of Toronto-based Rounthwaite Dick and Hadley (RDH) Architects Inc., notes how you can also be

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The Bloor-Gladstone Library Toronto, ON › RDH Architects A renovation addition to a listed heritage site, the existing neo-classical building was 12,000 square feet. RDH added 13,000 square feet. Built in 1912, the library was still functioning at the time of renovation but had fallen into a disrepair. RDH extended the podium and added a glass-box addition alongside the old stone building. Tyler Sharp, associate and project designer, describes this as a conscious move to draw attention to the duality of the function of libraries: as both a solid fortress protecting books from light and a contemporary resource, with the application of information technology and things that are “somewhat more immaterial.”


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

renewal & return

At the Bloor-Gladstone Library, fresh views into the historic "fortress" of books are provided by extensive glasswork inside and out, notable in an elevated reading room and the library's brandnew addition. limited in what you do by the existing structure. “With the Bloor-Gladstone Library, we had to do an awful lot of reinforcing of the existing structure for many of the design moves that we introduced,” he says, referring to one of RDH’s recent projects. But it’s worth it, not only for the prestige that a successful overhaul of an old landmark can bring, but also due to the complex knot of culture, society, and environment inherent to adaptive-reuse and renovation projects. Older buildings are landmarks to the local population, and their rebirth as something with a new face—and often a new purpose—can cause complicated responses.

Photos: Tom Arban and Steve Evans

Generational cycles

At this stage in history, the adaptive reuse or renovation of historical buildings has to take in a broad sweep of styles, and from the layman’s perspective, not all of these are made equal in terms of immediate aesthetic appeal. Sharp believes that people do develop attachments to buildings, even if they aren’t attractive architecturally. “Naturally, the public has quite a positive response to the revitalization of an existing building that has fallen into dilapidation,” he says. With a project like RDH’s Bloor-Gladstone Library, it’s an easy sell, as it’s a beautiful piece of neo-classical architecture that most would agree is aesthetically pleasant. On the flip side, RDH’s adaptive reuse of the Hamilton Public Library and its neo-brutalist, late-’70s concrete shell would perhaps, if you asked a roomful of people, draw a less enthusiastic response. “But we found it very appealing because it has beautiful concrete work, and the craftsmanship of that concrete work is not something you’d be able to do today without spending a lot of money,” Sharp says. “And I also think that the general public goes through cycles of familiarity with architectural styles; after a certain amount of time, people intuitively seem to understand and appreciate a new style. From this perspective, the more modern styles perhaps haven’t been around long enough for the public to really develop an appreciation for it. However, you get a sense that midcentury buildings are beginning to develop a public appeal.”

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The Shops of Summerhill Toronto, ON › AUDAX Architecture The redevelopment of the Shops of Summerhill was a multiphase commercial project comprised of a contemporary addition to a series of historical buildings. The client for the 27,000-square-foot project was Woodcliffe Properties. The design of the addition took cues from the adjacent context, using a material palette that is found in the surrounding buildings. In this addition, however, the stone and masonry was treated in a much more contemporary fashion, allowing opportunities for a marriage between modern glazing and clean lines.

“We should find ways to inspire, not only the critics, but also the people who live in the neighbourhoods where our buildings are constructed and who will live with these structures.” gianpiero pugliese, principal, audax architecture


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For Gianpiero Pugliese, principal of Toronto-based AUDAX Architecture, modern production methods and the speed of architectural development over the past century have exacerbated the public’s aesthetic issues. At one point in his career, Pugliese recalls becoming frustrated by how modern projects designed with rigid lines and naked materials would be erected to critical acclaim but public indifference or dislike. “After a certain point, I got tired of defending this type of architecture,” he says. “Often you will find talented designers intellectualizing their architecture to such a degree that they end up producing something that people just don’t respond favourably to. I think we need to find a balance between respecting popular tastes without turning our architecture into something that is kitsch. We should find ways to inspire, not only the critics, but also the people who live in the neighbourhoods where

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: Steven Evans

A more “human” architecture

renewal & return

To create a sense of scale in the Shops of Summerhill, Pugliese and his team referenced the largest pieces of limestone in the adjacent historical buildings and cut all new building components in relative dimensions.

our buildings are constructed and those who will live with these structures.” Besides this ivory-tower detachment, Pugliese also believes that the gulf between public and industry is in part a result of a historical change in methods of production, materials, and scales of components. Pointing to the industrial revolution, Pugliese describes how materials for construction were suddenly pulled out of the human scale by machines able to create things of a size that were previously put together piecemeal. “Building components and construction methods started to change and are now related to the industrial scale,” he says. “And I think people perceive that difference in the aesthetic treatment of modern buildings.” Pugliese describes how in his work he is developing a new approach to the marriage between these separate scales, calling it “human architecture,” where design relates back to the human scale but is executed through

contemporary methods. This thinking informed the Shops of Summerhill project, where Pugliese and his team referenced the scale of the largest pieces of limestone in the adjacent historical buildings and cut all-new building components to relate to those dimensions “We didn’t have any large panels,” he says. “Instead, it was all composed of assemblies of smaller components.”

A connection of a different kind Adaptive reuse and renovation are often the first steps in the reinvigoration of a dilapidated area. In Vancouver’s historic Chinatown district, Gair Williamson Architects’ award-winning Keefer Hotel helped do just that. The same can be said for the Bloor-Gladstone library, during which the quality of the area seemed to rise in step with the progress of the project. And while the overhaul of a single building probably isn’t the only reason for an area’s reinvention, it could be

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The Keefer Hotel emerges out of the husk of a former warehouse. Gair Williamson Architects topped the structure off with a penthouse pool that features a glass floor, allowing those inside to see swimmers above.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: Ed White

renewal & return

fair to say that the Bloor-Gladstone project and Hamilton Public Library achieved Pugliese’s human scale through a different route: the application of transparency. “There was a very clear intention [of ] creating a very strong dialogue between the library and the streetscape,” Sharp says. “A big part of the glass addition is a raised reading atrium, completely clad in glass and raised about five or six feet above street level. People walking by are able to see what’s happening inside of the atrium.” RDH achieved the same effect at the Hamilton Public Library. Sharp describes the area around the site as quite run-down, with transparency at a minimum in the surrounding buildings. The addition was almost a storeyand-a-half-long extent of new glazing, giving the look of an office tower laid down on its back. “It was interesting to take a block of Hamilton that was solid walls facing the streets and offer views into a vibrant new piece of architecture,” Sharp says. “Thinking about adaptive reuse, if you can transform these buildings and give them a new life with regard to contemporary culture, you will always get a positive public response.” For Pugliese, this transparency is a physical manifestation of a new, inward-looking philosophy that signals a reassessment of what has come before. “On an urban scale, we are returning to the city,” he says. “We want more community interaction and involvement, and I think that will translate into our architecture. It’ll no longer be only about the sleek glass towers you can see from the freeways, but about the intimate infill sites that have articulated façades and rich materials. These types of buildings offer opportunities for gathering, can accommodate patios, are places of public interaction, and are pleasant structures to walk by and interact with. Things are turning around now, and that’s encouraging.” CBQ

A message from den bosch + finchley

The Keefer Hotel Vancouver, BC › Gair Williamson Architects An overhaul of a former masonry and timber warehouse built in 1910 and located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district, the finished project is a five-storey hotel with a ground-floor restaurant, three full-floor suites in the existing masonry shell, and a penthouse suite with an enclosed courtyard, roof deck, and lap pool. Gair Williamson’s design drew on the history of the structure, with each stage of the building’s life exposed in various parts of the hotel. The Keefer was named as one of 2010’s best new hotels by Condé Nast Publications and was awarded a Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Award in Architecture.

For over 25 years, Den Bosch + Finchley has consistently remained among the most highly respected and sought-after custom builders in the Greater Toronto Area. Providing a complete constructionmanagement service, managing partners Robert Barber and John Tackaberry oversee a diverse and exceptional group of master craftsmen whose combined talents result in some of the most finely crafted homes in south-central Ontario. In recent years, Den Bosch + Finchley’s award-winning residential historical restorations have branched into its own commercial arena, lending expertise to such projects as the redevelopment of the famous Five Thieves retail shops on Yonge Street, south of Summerhill Station, and currently the rejuvenation and restoration of the Market Street Fish Market. This historical site is undergoing an enormous rejuvenation under Den Bosch + Finchley’s meticulous management, and promises to be yet another major accomplishment in this established firm’s repertoire.

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"When finalized, the area will be home to 40,000 new residential units, 10 million square feet of commercial and entertainment space, and 90 parks and public spaces." —John Campbell, President & CEO, Waterfront Toronto

the simcoe wavedeck 76

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

at toronto's edge

The scope is unprecedented. The time frame spans three decades. The cost is $30 billion. How Waterfront Toronto will revamp the lakeside of Ontario’s capital.

by Julie Edwards

ometimes adversity becomes inspiration. Such is the case of Waterfront Toronto, an extremely ambitious and extensive initiative to revitalize Toronto’s neighbourhoods bordering Lake Ontario in what will be one of the largest urban-renewal projects in the Western world. “[Waterfront Toronto] is transforming 2,000 acres of brownfield lands into beautiful, accessible, sustainable mixed-use communities and dynamic public spaces,” says John Campbell, president and CEO of Waterfront Toronto. “When finalized, the area will be home to 40,000 new residential units, 10 million square feet of commercial and entertainment space, and 90 parks and public spaces.” The initiative began in 2001, following Toronto’s failed bid for the 2008 Olympics, which generated a groundswell of excitement about potential renewal of the waterfront area. The three arms of government—the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto—decided the revitalization should proceed regardless, and to begin the process, each committed $500 million toward the project. Over the 30 years planned to complete the renovation of Toronto’s waterfront, an estimated $30 billion of public- and private-sector money will be invested. “Public accessibility, design excellence, sustainability, and economic development are the key drivers of waterfront revitalization,” Campbell says. “This project is not just about real estate but is about building a community. Our goal is to create vibrant, sustainable neighbour-

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Corus quay


Sugar beach

Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes


Corus quay

Diamond and Schmitt Architects


queens quay boulevard West 8, DTAH


underpass park Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

Photo: Richard Johnson


wavedecks West 8, DTAH

sugar beach & Corus quay


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at toronto's edge




Photo: Nicola Betts



hoods that will reconnect Toronto with its waterfront.” For this approach to result in a successful revitalization, it will require bringing together the most innovative approaches to sustainable development, urban design, real-estate development, and technology. “We are taking an integrated planning and design approach that looks not just at buildings but at all the things that make cities great, such as walkable streets and green spaces,” Campbell says. “Our goals include reducing urban sprawl, creating quick access to public transit, building mixed-use communities where resident needs can be met close by, and developing parks and public spaces for community gatherings.” Given its size and scope, Waterfront Toronto has divided the initiative into several key project areas to facilitate planning and construction. “We are implementing development in a phased approach to ensure the success of each individual project,” Campbell says. “East Bayfront and West Don Lands are the first two communities underway. Built on former industrial sites, these new mixed-use neighbourhoods will deliver an exciting new kind of sustainable urban living.” The first phase of the revitalization is also incorporating significant funding for parks and public spaces. “[This] is a critical step since these spaces draw people into new areas and demonstrate that change and development is happening,” Campbell says. The master plan also looks beyond simply building new, modern spaces, but also hones in on expanding culture and the arts in the area. Waterfront Toronto

“We’re rethinking, reimagining, and redefining what the waterfront can be, and working to create a world-class destination where people will want to live, play, and work. It is an exceptional city building opportunity that will benefit future generations for years to come.” —John Campbell, President & CEO, Waterfront Toronto

recently issued a Request for Expressions of Interest for a waterfront cultural and animation strategy, which will look at opportunities for museums, public art, performing-arts centres, and festivals on Toronto’s waterfront. “Our hope is to create a cultural legacy for the city of Toronto by creating a premiere destination for both residents and visitors,” Campbell says. Such a vast undertaking presents varying degrees of challenges to ensure the project achieves its goals. Waterfront Toronto has to balance a multitude of stakeholders, from private investors to members of the government. One key has been ensuring that the private sector can enter into development with a high degree of certainty. Waterfront Toronto has done most of the legwork—planning public spaces, ensuring that zoning and approvals are in place, building infrastructure, and

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Photo: John Heineman

“Our goals include reducing urban sprawl, creating quick access to public transit, building mixed-use communities where resident needs can be met close by, and developing parks and public spaces for community gatherings.” —John Campbell, President & CEO, Waterfront Toronto


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

at toronto's edge managing the environmental risks. This gives the builders more freedom, necessitating that they only handle market and construction risks. On the financial front, Waterfront Toronto has finalized numerous public- and private-sector development deals valued at $1.475 billion, far exceeding the $900 million in public investment spent to date. While the majority of the land being revitalized is publicly owned, Waterfront Toronto has development control of the land and facilitates revitalization by working with public- and private-sector partners who buy or lease the land for development. “We diligently screen our partners and choose innovative, experienced teams that share our commitment to sustainable development and design excellence,” Campbell says. To date, several projects have already been completed. Three wavedecks represent a central feature of the waterfront design. A series of wooden platforms, the wavedecks mimic the contours of the Lake Ontario shoreline and provide public gathering spaces on main, waterfront streets. Designed by West 8 and DTAH, these unique spaces also give visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the lake in areas that previously lacked public access. Sugar Beach, designed by Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes and located in East Bayfront, draws upon the industrial heritage of the area and its relationship to the nearby Redpath Sugar factory. The park features an urban beach, plaza space, and a tree-lined promenade. The beach allows visitors to relax in the sun or play in the sand. One facet, a dynamic water feature embedded in a granite maple leaf beside the beach, allows the chance to cool off when needed. Neighbouring Sugar Beach is Corus Quay, a 500,000-square-foot office and broadcast centre located at the water’s edge. Home to Corus Entertainment Inc., Corus Quay is a round-the-clock broadcasting hub, the design of which helps to promote the area’s business and culture. “The lower level of the building was designed to open to the outside so that the company can host concerts and other events for the community and visitors to Sugar Beach,” Campbell says.

underpass park Spanning 2.7 acres and boasting a $4.7 million budget, Underpass Park wraps under and around the Eastern Avenue and Richmond/Adelaide overpasses. Its renovation transforms a derelict and underused space into a bright, new, urban neighbourhood amenity that serves as a key pedestrian connection and passageway. Designed by renowned landscape architects Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg in association with the Planning Partnership, Underpass Park embodies the epitome of innovative, urban park design. The design creates a socially engaging park for community members by incorporating public art by Paul Raff, recreational space,

playful climbing structures and play areas, flexible community space, community gardens, and public gathering places. A defining design feature of Underpass Park is a series of long, narrow, ribbon-like strips made from a palette of concrete and ipe wood. The strips rise from the ground and create directional cues for pedestrians, as well as informal park benches and gathering spaces. Key portions of the ribbons will be illuminated by energy-efficient LED lights. The design of these ribbons is influenced by both the physical infrastructure of the overpasses and the natural qualities of the nearby Don River.

Designed by the renowned Diamond and Schmitt Architects, Corus Quay, like all new buildings in East Bayfront, has targeted LEED Gold certification. But for Campbell, the defining project of the revitalization is the waterfront’s main street, Queens Quay Boulevard, which started construction in September 2011. The revamped boulevard will feature two lanes of traffic on the north side of the street and a dedicated transit line in the middle, while the south side will feature a wide, pedestrian promenade. “The newly designed Queens Quay Boulevard will truly change the face of

the waterfront,” Cambell says. “It is the centrepiece of the overall project.” Excited by the work already happening and the projects to come, Campbell believes that a city has an opportunity to revitalize its waterfront once every couple hundred years. That time is now for Toronto. “We’re rethinking, reimagining, and redefining what the waterfront can be, and working to create a world-class destination where people will want to live, play, and work,” Campbell says. “It is an exceptional city building opportunity that will benefit future generations for years to come.” CBQ

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through the years

JEDS Construction Ltd. 1984 jeds construction is founded

To establish JEDS Construction as a premiere contractor to commercial and government clients, Jose Prazeres parlayed his expertise in stone carving with his rich career in the construction of significant public projects. A native of Portugal, Jose served in the Portuguese military and learned the trade of stone carving before immigrating to Canada in 1973. A decade later, he launched JEDS Construction as a general contractor, first completing residential work and eventually moving exclusively into commercial and government work, including extensive work for the City of Winnipeg, Public Works & Government Services Canada, the Canadian military, and several school divisions. Today, JEDS Construction offers a wide range of services in construction, renovation, repair, and maintenance, including stone carving and design-build. The firm employs a staff of more than 30, working in project management, estimating, and administration. The company recently completed its signature project, the Path to Full Citizenship Ramp at the Manitoba Legislative Building. —Laura Williams-Tracy

Jose Prazeres founds JEDS Construction in Winnipeg. He previously owned a construction company with a partner but decides to open his own business, naming it for the first initial of himself, his wife, and his two children. An initial focus on residential projects gets the firm off the ground. “Work was work, and I never turned anyone down,” Jose says.

Dinis (left) and Jose Prazeres in front of the JEDS sign that Jose created.

1986 work begins with the city departments

Among JEDS Construction’s first projects for the City of Winnipeg are office renovations and building repair and maintenance.

1988 moving into day cares

KinderCare Learning Centers, an international day-care operator, chooses JEDS Construction to renovate several facilities in Manitoba. The same year, JEDS Construction takes on a large, ornamental-stone project at Kil-Cona Park.


1990 the largest project to date

Construction begins on the Old Market Square Stage in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, a national historic site for hosting city festivals. The project includes removing an existing mobile stage and replacing it with a new, permanent, concrete stage complete with piles, planters, columns, interlocking stone, landscaping, and a steel canopy.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2008 a signature project takes shape

With a growing staff to handle increasingly complex projects, JEDS Construction wins the contract to construct a universal access ramp at the Manitoba Legislative Building. The ramp is designed and constructed to blend with the National Heritage site’s existing architecture. Concrete works, piles, grade beams, retaining walls, stone installation, a new canopy, and a heat-trace system (to melt snow through the winter) all make their way into the final ramp. “The major goal was to blend this century-old structure with an access ramp that would blend in with the architecture,” Jose says. “It looks like it was always there because it’s so comparable to the existing building. It’s functional for the public, and looks like it is part of the original structure.” The project garnered JEDS Construction a preservation award.


2010 assiniboine park zoo renovation 2007 jose's son comes aboard

Dinis Prazeres, Jose’s son, joins JEDS Construction as a vice president and helps position the firm to win larger projects. “I began working to harness all of the opportunities we had and to bring in the right people,” Dinis says. “We set our sights on larger and more complex projects by building on the strong foundation and client relationships we had in place.”

As JEDS Construction’s portfolio of projects grows, so does the staff. JEDS Construction is hired to complete historic maintenance for the City of Winnipeg, including the restoration of a limestone wall and gate at East Gate, and an extensive façade restoration of the Firefighter’s Museum of Winnipeg. 1995 (East Gate)

.ca ail info@jeds 4.3805 | em | fax 204.33 204.338.9900 0H2 | phone

1995 (Firefighter's Museum of Winnipeg)

B R2P Winnipeg, M llips Street, 2890 McPhi

1995 company grows to 10 employees

“The Manitoba Legislative Building Ramp became a catalyst for other large projects, and we put pins in place to functionally be able to tackle other projects,” Dinis says. “It gave us the confidence to see what else we could accomplish.” JEDS Construction renovates the existing Lion’s Pavilion at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The project results in new roofing, insulation, glazing, eavestroughs, and down pipes for the structure. Aside from the construction of the new, interpretive display-area addition—complete with storage room, washroom, vestibules, and a gated-service area—mechanical and electrical upgrades are done throughout. The project was lauded with a Best New Exhibit award in 2010.

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construction commercial anagement m n nstructio project & co restoration g & historical stone carvin rformer safety top pe construction Council g in ild ada Green Bu an C of r ram be mem d safety prog COR certifie

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Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

One SEED Architecture + Interiors DPI Construction Management Penfolds Roofing Kon-strux Developments Inc.

84 88 90 92

It started with what Allison Holden thought was a highschool photography course. Now, it’s her dream come true. Interview by Seth Putnam

When people asked Allison Holden what she wanted to be when she grew up, “architect” wasn’t on her shortlist. Yet here she is, the principal of her own architecture firm, One SEED Architecture + Interiors, which specializes in designing contemporary residences. Before starting the company in 2008, she worked in commercial architecture. But there was something missing. Although she had gained valuable experience, she yearned to draft her own designs. So she plunged headlong into independence and dedicated herself to turning peoples’ life savings into dreams come true in a sustainable way. Canadian Builders Quarterly touched base with Holden to look back over the past four years.

One SEED At a Glance Location: Vancouver, BC Founded: 2008 Employees: 1 full-time, 3–4 consultants Specialty: Residential design and interior renovations Annual projects: 9

CBQ: If architecture wasn't on your radar at first, how did you get started?

Allison Holden: I thought I was taking a photography course as a high-school elective. It ended up being a drafting course, and I fell in love with the idea of creating an imaginary space from nothing. So I determined my university choice—McGill University, in Montréal—based on which had an undergraduate architecture program. After university, I had a year and a half of work experience, including nine months at a French, all-female firm. That really inspired me to be one of the women who

make it through. As the years go on, fewer women are still practicing as family life catches up. CBQ: What got you to Vancouver?

AH: I got my master’s degree and did my thesis on an aboriginal healing centre, and worked with a healer from the Algonquin nation. I became LEED accredited in school, and the first LEED-accredited designer in Québec. At the time, there just wasn’t the push there for green. So I moved out to Vancouver, because that has always been my passion for as long as I can remember. CBQ: And how did you start One SEED?

AH: Architecture is creative and passionate. But to get there, you have to spend quite a few years drawing other people’s designs. I had great mentors, but it was never my design. I had taken a leave of absence to help my parents with their house; then my boss hired me to design a house for him; and then a third opportunity fell right into my lap. So I said, “Forget this.” It really just takes one person to give you the chance to do it on your own.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


in profile

CBQ: What's behind the name?

AH: It comes from the writings of Vetruvius, who was one of the first people who created a manifesto for architectural excellence. His idea centred around three words: firmitas [strong], utilitas [useful], and venustas [beautiful]. So I made that my own philosophy, and SEED is an acronym: Sustainable. Evocative. Efficient. Distinctly purposeful. People come to me with their life savings and say, “Make my dream house.” It’s a huge responsibility but also a huge honour. CBQ: Can you talk a bit about the Narrow Passive House you're designing.

AH: The clients have a new baby and wanted to build a sustainable house. It’s an interesting property. In Vancouver, the smallest standard-lot size is 33 feet. This property is less: 30 feet. I favour West Coast contemporary feel, so I used a natural palette with warm woods and cool tones. In the name of affordability, it’s fairly geometric and boxy. When you walk in the door, it goes straight from entrance to living room to dining room to kitchen to back deck. In the interest of promoting green practices, sunlight pours in through a light well, knocking diffuse light through the whole space. And there’s a CMU wall that sucks up the heat during the winter and regulates the temperature in the house for free. There’s also a very special green roof—50 percent of which will be planted.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Top: The Narrow Passive House has a flexible open-concept main floor, where natural materials flow from outside to inside. The space is passively lit, heated, and ventilated by the CMU block wall, which extends up to the south-facing rooftop windows. Above: The thermal-mass waterwall is both beautiful and functional in the Ridiculously Small (Eco) Footprint House. The low winter sunlight hits the water, reflecting daylight down to the main floor and warming the water to create a radiant source of heat. Summer light is shaded and enters only as diffuse daylight, thus the waterwall has a cooling effect on the house.

Canadian Builders Quarterly


"Architecture is creative and passionate. But to get there, you have to spend quite a few years drawing other people’s designs.”

H O M E S .





allison holden, principal

CBQ: Word is that you've entered a prototype in the Interior Design West competition.

AH: Yes, it’s the Ridiculously Small (Eco) Footprint House. It has a [footprint of ] 398 square feet, including patios and overhangs. But it’s a hyperfunctional, compact living space. At 20’ x 20’, it fits well within Vancouver’s usual garage footprint. The design is contemporary, whimsical, fun, and adaptable. It’s got one bedroom, a living room, and a bathroom, with an upper floor for flex space and a green roof on top, which doubles as outdoor space for privacy and somewhere to grow herbs. One of the coolest features is its “guerilla thermal-mass project.” I used wire cages for bike water bottles and put clear-glass wine bottles filled with water in them. The light hits the water and retains heat and radiates it into the house. But in the summer, it acts as a cooling device. CBQ: There seems to be a refreshing, creative whimsy about the project.

AH: This is part of what made me fall in love with architecture. I got to do whatever I wanted because I didn’t have a particular client in mind. So I stuck with what I care about: sustainability and affordability. CBQ: Are you hoping to do more of this in the future?

AH: I just want to keep working with people who are excited about their projects—people who have aspirations and a dream they want to attain that I can help them get to. CBQ


t t 3


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Fax: 306-352-2820

in profile

Renovating a space on a tight deadline and budget is tough enough. Renovating a space while it remains occupied is another beast entirely. Interview by Thalia A-M Bruehl

For more than 10 years, DPI Construction Management has been leading the way in preconstruction management, providing interior renovations of occupied commercial spaces for clients like Google, Forces Canada, the Toronto Police, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, and Industrial Alliance. Stuart Smith, vice president of business development at DPI, recently spoke with Canadian Builders Quarterly about the company’s commitment to safety, sustainability, and the delivery of projects on time and on budget.

DPI At a Glance Location: Toronto, ON Founded: 1999 Employees: 23 Specialty: Construction management, corporate/business interiors, and renovations Annual Projects: 70+


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CBQ: DPI does everything from design-build work to lease and prelease budgeting. How would you define the company's specialty?

Stuart Smith: Our core business is the build-out of corporate-business interiors. It can mean various things, including a build-out of new space, the complete renovation of an existing space, or the occupied renovation of existing space. CBQ: How large do those projects get?

SS: Since I’ve joined DPI, we’ve pushed for larger projects. When the company started, they did a lot of smaller projects, which is how it works: you do a lot of small projects, and you try to do them well. As your reputation develops, you get into bigger projects. Our push right now is on larger projects, especially LEED and green-oriented projects. We’re working to make our average project size grow from the $200,000–400,000 mark to the $5 million mark.

CBQ: What's going to give you that edge? What sets you apart from other companies trying to do the same thing?

SS: We have a real commitment to safety, which is often overlooked by other companies. This includes public safety, our clients’ safety, and first and foremost the safety of our own employees. We utilize an external organization, Barantas, to conduct third-party audits and to work with us on the management of our safety programs. We have a zero lost-time frequency rate, which certainly helps set us apart. CBQ: Would clients say safety is more important than cost or time management?

SS: Truthfully, not all clients understand how important safety actually is. So our safety program for them isn’t as important as cost or budget, and we have to stay competitive there, too. That goes for scheduling as well. Our commitment to delivering on those two core elements—as well as the acquisition of industry-leading

Canadian Builders Quarterly

1355 Morningside Ave. Scarborough, Ontario M1B 3C5 P: 416.286.3500 F: 416.286.6891

professionals, like project managers and site managers, who all have unique abilities to be proactive thinkers, especially in terms of project development—that’s what draws our clients and then helps us keep them. CBQ: What do you think has made DPI such a success in the corporate-renovations market?

SS: We deliver on two fronts primarily. The first is construction management, and the second is general contracting. Under the construction-management model, we are an effective partner and leader from the preconstruction process, ensuring that budgets are managed and expectations are aligned at the end of the line. In doing so, we’ve developed a scenario by which changes and unexpected occurrences are minimized, and cost and budget are achieved. CBQ: You've also recently found great success in sustainable building. What are some of your sustainable practices?

SS: We utilize waste-management practices in all of our projects, regardless of whether or not we’re going for LEED certification. We also focus on indoor-air quality. Material selection and design can also be helpful and make a big difference; when the opportunity presents itself, we push to ensure that those are implemented as well. We’ve been seriously investing in these practices for almost four years now.

Malvern has highly skilled, knowledgeable professionals for planning, drafting and installation of your new floor coverings. With years of training, certification and experience in the industry, Malvern knows how to get things done right. The Malvern team includes relationships with major producers of the best quality flooring in the world, which Malvern distributes to you.

CBQ: Speaking of LEED, I've heard that your entire staff are APs.

SS: Well, as the vice president of business development, I’m not LEED accredited, but I’m the only person in the company who isn’t. We now ensure that all of our project managers and project coordinators go through the LEED-accreditation process, and we do what we consider a top-down approach. The approach comes from Rick Perin and Elvio DiSimone, our cofounders. They did the accreditation process first—and then mandated that our entire project team and the rest of the company get the accreditation as well. CBQ: Tell me a bit about your recent LEED Gold project for Altus Group.

SS: We just finished the build-out of Altus Group’s new head office in Toronto. We built 65,000 square feet for them on one floor in the GWL building, located at 33 Yonge Street. It’s not a LEED-certified space as of yet, but we are in the submission stages, and it appears that we will achieve LEED Gold status. We chose to feature FSC millwork and low-VOC products. The important thing to know is that we were able to deliver that space at only $70 per square foot. It’s an incredible mark for the build-out of a LEED Gold space, and an incredible mark for us. CBQ

12 Steinway Blvd., Unit 6 Etobicoke, ON M9W 6M5

Tel: (416) 674-8686 Fax: (416) 674-2204 Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


in profile

What if old car tires could be turned into indestructible, maintenance-free roofs? What if those roofs lasted 100 years? Interview by Seth Putnam

It’s called the EcoRoof, and it’s Penfolds Roofing’s hottest seller. It accounts for a full 35 percent of the Vancouver-based custom roofer’s business, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The magic of the EcoRoof is that it’s made of worn-out tires, ground up into granules to create a rubber roofing product that is impervious to splits, dents, or cracks, and is easy to clean if ever needed. Most important is that it is probably the only roof an owner will ever need to put on a building. Canadian Builders Quarterly sat down with the president of Penfolds, Ken Mayhew, to learn more about his innovative company.

Penfolds At a Glance Location: Vancouver, BC Founded: 1936 Employees: 160 Specialty: Roof installation and repair Annual Projects: 1,000


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CBQ: Before we get into the EcoRoof, let's talk about how you got started with Penfolds Roofing.

Ken Mayhew: When I emigrated from South Africa about 23 years ago, I was looking for a business opportunity and settled on Penfolds. When I bought the company in 1990, it was a very small operation. But I knew roofing was a sought-after product, and the company over the years had built a very good name for itself. CBQ: What kinds of changes did you make after you took over?

KM: One of the first things we did to grow the business was to take a bold step in computerizing the estimating process. That enabled me to bring in estimators who could relate to people well and understand their needs, as opposed to roofers who understood the technical aspects but didn’t necessarily understand the needs of customers. We shopped around the world to see if there was an estimating program available but found nothing suitable. So, way back in about 1992, we wrote a custom program.

It was a tracking system that incorporated estimating and proposals. Today, it’s the backbone of our company, and we employ two full-time IT personnel. [The system] allows us to give accurate and consistent estimates, and control what’s going on in the field. This, combined with the fact that most of our installers are hourly paid employees, enables us to deliver a consistent, quality installation. Today, we have about 20 estimators working throughout our trading area. CBQ: I hear you're launching a new department.

KM: In the past, we’ve focused on replacement roofing, so this year we’ve created a division to handle new-roofing construction as well. It’s a different clientele. We now work with contractors and architects in addition to our continued renovation projects with individual homeowners, Strata complexes, and commercial roofing. CBQ: What gives your products an edge in the market?

KM: Well, the biggest advantage for Penfolds is that most of the products we sell are either manufactured by

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

us or for us. We’ve got our own fabricator that rollforms metal for roofing right there on the jobsite so that we can install it immediately. That was a capital investment of about $100,000. Also, we use laminated fibreglass shingles and laminated rubberized shingles, and we have two leading manufacturers who manufacture them for us under our Penfolds brand. On all these products, we offer our customers both the material and the workmanship warranty in one. The customer doesn’t have to worry whether there’s an application or a manufacturing problem; our company will take care of it all, “bumper to bumper.” CBQ: Then there's the crown jewel: the EcoRoof.

KM: Yes, the EcoRoof is manufactured in Calgary, and we have the exclusive rights to install it in British Columbia. This rubber product is actually manufactured from recycled tires, and it’s environmentally friendly. The tires are ground up into little pellets; then they extract the metal out of the “regrind,” as it’s called. It’s then shipped off and mixed with a colouring agent, to produce colours other than black, and injection-moulded to form the profile. The average home will take approximately 400 car tires out of the landfill.

CBQ: What's the general life expectancy on your products?

KM: EcoRoof is a lifetime product. Once it’s up there, it’ll probably be the last roof that will ever go onto the home. It has a warranty of 50 years, but it would most likely be there for 100 years if the dwelling stands for that long. CBQ

“EcoRoof is a lifetime product. Once it’s up there, it’ll probably be the last roof that will ever go onto the home.” ken mayhew, president

CBQ: How is it applied?

KM: We have three different profiles for this roof. In British Columbia, cedar shakes are very sought after, so our most popular profile looks exactly like that. In fact, you can’t tell them apart. Another is moulded to look like a slate roof, and the third looks like concrete tile, which seems to be preferred in new construction. But they’re all made out of rubber. The panels are about three feet wide and 20 inches tall, and they lock into one another. Installation is very quick. The benefit with the rubber is that it’s less expensive. You can walk on the roof without denting the panels, and they don’t crack. If you’re in an area with a high frequency of hail, it’s a real plus. With the EcoRoof, the average price to reroof a home is about $18,000. The average price for a new construction would be in the region of $15,000. CBQ: Have you installed it for any notable projects?

KM: We’ve used this technology on a fairly well-known heritage building in the city: Ridgeview Elementary School in North Vancouver. They did a major renovation, and this was the roofing product chosen because it is LEED certified. The school roof was 10,000 square feet, and it took us about a month to complete in the rain.

At Penfolds Roofing, we have a full range of roofing services available to meet every customer’s needs: Residential Roofing Multi-family Roofing Commercial Roofing New Roof Construction Roof Repair Our company celebrates 75 years of successful roofing next year

Request A Free Estimate For Your Roof 877.652.7663 From A Penfolds Roof Specialist Today! Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


in profile

The feminine touch isn’t something you’d usually associate with the construction industry. But with two women at the helm, this builder shows that the times are changing. Interview by Chris Allsop

Founded in 2007 by co-owners Shannon Lenstra (left) and Fran Morisset, Calgary-based Kon-strux Developments Inc. is a full-service, residential design-build remodeling company. Besides the rarity of a company in the construction industry run by two women, Kon-strux also differentiates itself through its adoption of a commercial business model. Lenstra—an active steward of the RenoMark Council, a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, and a SAM Award Judge (who assures us that neither she nor Morisset voted in the Renovation category at the 2010 SAM Awards)—talked to us about the firm’s business.

Kon-Strux At a Glance Location: Calgary, AB Founded: 2007 Employees: 8 Specialty: Home renovations


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

CBQ: You were a finalist in the 2010 SAM Awards for Best Home Renovation (without Addition). Why do you think you were nominated?

Shannon Lenstra: We had a wonderful client; they were easy to work with and had definitive choices already made. It helped that their designer came up with this fabulous plan that transformed their house. As a result, we were able to give them a complete lifestyle renovation.

CBQ: Why did you focus on renovations when you began?

SL: It was partly due to demand, but also because we found a niche market we could fit well within. A lot of female homeowners were making the lifestyle choices for their units, and we found, as a female-run company, that we connected really well with them. Consequently, we were able to push forward and grow as a business. Also, we like renovations for the challenge: There’s something that changes every day. It’s always different.

CBQ: Do you bring a particular style to your renovations?

SL: No. We are very careful not to impart our style on a client—our style is defined solely by what a client wants and by what a designer has envisioned for that client. It’s the holy grail for us that we follow the designer’s intent to the letter.

CBQ: Did you market yourself as a female-run company?

SL: We definitely talked about it and brought it up when appropriate. Our core focus, however, is not so much on us, as how we do things, but on the strong team we bring to the table, be they men or women. Customers like the

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

fact that women are involved. It seems to breed an immediate sense of comfort in knowing the attention to detail their project will be getting on account of that—so it does work to our advantage.

TINWORKS For All Your HVAC Needs

CBQ: Have you encountered sexism in the industry?

SL: Oh, of course. But it’s like anything—it’s a matter of how you make it over the hurdles and of the strength it gives you to overcome it.

Specializing in: Furnace Replacements

CBQ: Why do you and your co-owner, Fran, work well together?

SL: We are complete opposites—ying and yang. We balance each other. My strengths are her weaknesses, and vice versa. That allows us to push the company to new levels in a calculated way. I’m the outgoing, “let’s-get-itdone” one, and Fran is the analytical, business one. It works really well, because I push her and she holds me back when it’s necessary. CBQ: Any clashes?

SL: As with any relationship, marriage, or partnership— absolutely there are clashes. But we feel our communication skills are very strong, we respect each other, and we talk it through and find that balance. That is why we work so well together.


P: 403.371.7870

CBQ: You also differentiate yourselves from a businessmodel perspective, is that right?

SL: We found that the old-fashioned residential model that a lot of other renovators employ seemed to have a lot of holes in it. We have a more commercial model, where we do a precontract agreement with the client, and then—when we know everything there is to know about the project and everything is specified—we hold a trade day where the trades come and bid. We don’t believe in a salesperson selling a job and the tradespeople not seeing it until the day they start the job. We could not do this without our trades, so why not include them right from the beginning? For us, our way makes a lot of sense and builds a far better team. CBQ: And you're moving into new builds now?

SL: That started about a year and a half ago now. It was a planned move, a natural progression. We really like renovations, and we’ll always be a renovation-centric business. CBQ: What has been the difference between these new builds and renovations?

SL: Oh, they are so much easier than renovations! You don’t have the clients living in the home, and you’re not dealing with any preexisting conditions or past renovations, whether good or bad, to that home. You have a clean palette, you start from scratch, and that always makes it easier. CBQ

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


through the years

NFOE et associés architectes 1912 A century of design begins

Founded in Montr al almost a century ago, NFOE designs some of Canada’s most important private- and public-sector buildings for an impressive range of industries, including healthcare, communications, aerospace, and education. “Over the years, our firm has developed a specialization in the design of complex and sophisticated facilities,” says Alan Orton, a partner with NFOE. “These facilities require a thorough understanding of programmatic requirements, flexible design solutions, and the seamless integration of architectural and engineering considerations. Our knowledge base and collaborative approach serve to distinguish NFOE from our competitors in these areas.” A full-service architectural firm, NFOE has gone from designing Montréal’s first skyscrapers to working on the city’s two largest ongoing construction projects. The firm continues to build on its areas of expertise and expand its service offerings to keep pace with development in key market sectors. But regardless of the project, Orton asserts that one key factor never changes. “Our primary objective is to fully comprehend our clients’ needs and tailor our services accordingly,” he says. “We particularly support the development of innovative and cost-effective design solutions and, thus, encourage creative thinking, strategic decision making, and proactive management at all levels of our team.” —Julie Edwards

Originally known as Barott, Blackader & Webster, NFOE is founded by Ernest Isbell Barott, who came to Canada from the United States to work on the Bank of Montréal headquarters in the early 1900s. Barott stays and forms a partnership with architects Gordon Home Blackader of Montréal and Daniel T. Webster, a fellow American. All three had been colleagues at McKim, Mead & White in New York, a relationship that leads to major commissions for the young firm early on, including the Vancouver Terminal Station (1913–15), whose design is reminiscent of Pennsylvania Station, and the Vancouver Credit Foncier Building (1913–14), which mirrors the style of the Gorham Building in New York City.

1930s (Bell Building)

1922 Reaching for the sky

The firm designs the Canada Cement Building, a 10-storey “skyscraper” that caps the maximum height for commercial buildings at the time. The $1.3 million project is the first Canadian office building constructed of reinforced concrete, and features precast-concrete façade elements and underground parking. The final design reflects the exacting care in design and execution of the firm’s work, with a focus on classical detailing and strong horizontal accents.

1930s looking up

The firm contributes greatly to the changing skyline of Montréal with the 1929 construction of the 22-storey Bell Building on Beaver Hall Hill and the Aldred Building on Place d’Armes in 1931. Both buildings reflect a new, urban quality, and showcase the distinctive Art Deco detailing of the era. While working on these and other notable office and residential projects, NFOE also undergoes a new wave of partners, each of which brings new direction to the firm.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly


2006 winning design work

2010 back to the future

The vaccine-production complex of GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Sainte-Foy, Québec, wins a Lauréat des méritas d’architecture de la ville de Québec, the Prix Armatura in the industrial category, and the Prix Accès grand prize for industrial work.

The firm relocates to the original banking spaces of the Québec Bank, located within Montréal’s oldest skyscraper, the New York Life Insurance Building on Place d’Armes, which was completed in 1889. The elegant remodeling to accommodate NFOE’s studios pays special attention to restoring the original features of the space.

1988 2011 a leader in the field

NFOE is chosen as the leader of the architectural consortium for the new research centre of the Centre hospitalier de l’université de Montréal, and lead architect for the design of the research centre of the new McGill University Health Centre, both under construction as PPP projects. NFOE continues to build its science, technology, and industrial knowledge base, and brings the design of dedicated office buildings and healthcare facilities back to its portfolio of work. Recent university- and schooldesign opportunities complete the firm’s return to a diversified practice.

1988 a 20-year hallmark project begins

NFOE lands its biggest project to date—the Merck-Frosst campus development—which establishes the firm’s credibility in the marketplace. From 1988 to 2008, the firm completes 10 buildings for the project and, through the process, doubles in size.

“Over the years, our firm has developed a specialization in the design of complex and sophisticated facilities.” alan orton, partner

1970s a change comes

After undergoing a fourth wave of partners in the late 1970s and 1980s, the firm takes a strategic change in direction, becoming more involved with industrial and private-sector development in the high-technology and heavy industries.

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Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

BKL Consultants Ltd. Ridge Sheet Metal Co. Molior Cabinets Direct Ltd. Kingsmith Homes

96 100 102 105

The Acousticians

Easy listening is the goal as BKL Consultants Ltd. tackles some of the nation’s toughest acoustic challenges

Photo: Mark Bliss

For nearly 45 years, BKL Consultants has been

breaking sound barriers through its diverse offerings of comprehensive acoustical-engineering services. Although the firm’s commitment to establishing the most advanced industry-related technologies has made it one of the largest and most successful acoustical-consulting firms, it is BKL’s employees and its 100-plus years of accumulated experience in varied areas of acoustics that have made the company what it is today. Formerly known as Barron Kennedy Lyzun & Associates Ltd., BKL was formed from the 1988 merger of Barron & Associates and Harford Kennedy Lyzun Ltd., and has a history dating back to the beginnings of acoustical consulting in Western Canada. The original office opened in Vancouver in 1966, and it was the first acoustical-consulting firm west of Toronto. BKL’s consulting services include all areas of acoustics and usually deal with acoustics in buildings— measuring desirable or undesirable sound/vibration—or environmental noise and vibration, including prediction, assessment, and mitigation of noise from transportation corridors or industrial facilities. BKL’s typical clients include architects, developers, government agencies, corporations, and engineers. Within commercial buildings, BKL’s acoustical expertise finds a variety of applications. The firm can

improve the sound quality within a theatre, increase the speech privacy between working spaces within an office building, reduce in-suite HVAC mechanical noise, or even cull the reverberant noise of swimming pools. Though acoustics are typically associated with interiors, BKL regularly applies its expertise to large exterior projects. “We are currently working on a major highway improvement project to reduce both construction and operational noise, as well as vibration impacts on adjacent residences,” says BKL president Douglas Kennedy, P. Eng. The firm has further extended its aural reach by assessing the effect of meteorology on the propagation of port noise over large distances, and it is even helping to predict the noise-mitigation effects of a proposed ground run-up enclosure at Vancouver International Airport. Education is another key facet of BKL’s offerings. The company assists governments and regulatory bodies in developing new regulations or policies; provides classroom instruction in sound and vibration theory, measurement, and assessment; and provides expert witness testimony in courts of law. According to Kennedy, rather than relying solely on “rules-of-thumb” recommendations, BKL commonly proposes more comprehensive services in order to better solve specific planning, design, or remedial concerns.

At a Glance Location: Vancouver, BC Founded: 1988 Employees: 13 Specialty: Acoustical-engineering consulting Annual Sales: $1.5 million

Opposite: Acoustics matter inside and out, as evidenced by BKL's work on the BCIT Aerospace Technology Campus.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


Photo: Mark Bliss

the specialists

Above: In 2009, BKL helped with the acoustics for this radio studio in the CBC Regional Broadcast Centre in Vancouver.

Taking on the Top Acoustical Issues 1. Environmental Noise in Buildings: Improved building-envelope sound isolation can provide quiet noise environments in developments close to major noise sources. 2. HVAC Noise & Vibration in Buildings: HVAC noise and vibration control is essential for providing acceptable environments in all buildings, particularly in performingarts spaces and recording/broadcast studios. 3. Sound Isolation in Buildings: High sound isolation is needed to meet building-code requirements in apartments and schools, to adhere to performance standards and LEED regulations, and to achieve low ambient-noise levels in theatres and studios. 4. Room Acoustics: Reverberation control is paramount in performing-arts spaces, studios, and spaces featuring audiovisual conferencing or public-address systems. 5. Environmental Noise & Vibration Control: Noise and vibration impacts from transportation and industry should be mitigated to protect local communities.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

“We are often called to resolve acoustical problems in newly completed buildings, which could have been much more easily dealt with in the design stage,” he says. BKL utilizes its own in-house tools and customized commercial software to provide the best service in the business. “Our services are carried out using a combination of experience, relevant technical references, and tools such as specialized measurement instrumentation and modeling software,” Kennedy says. “This allows us to not only improve accuracy and efficiency in addressing complex situations but gives us the ability to effectively display our results to the layperson.” BKL’s success is directly related to consistently maintaining a strong reputation of excellent service over a long period of time. But perhaps it is no surprise, since listening and the interpretation of sound are such uniquely human processes, that Kennedy gives the most acknowledgment to the highly trained and skilled people of BKL. “Many of our staff members are musicians or hi-fi audio buffs, which gives a clear indication of their ability to critically ‘listen’ on the job,” he says. “I think the key to our success has always been our ability to attract such highly qualified, motivated, and experienced acousticians.” —Christopher Cussat A message from vibra-sonic control

Since 1980, Vibra-Sonic Control has supplied highly specialized noise, vibration, and seismic-restraint materials/products, and, more recently, state-of-the-art sound-masking systems. Our team has between 12 and 35 years of experience in the field and effectively acts as liaisons between the professionals who specify and those who effect the results. We are pleased to have this opportunity to proudly support BKL Consultants Ltd. as partners in providing "acoustically superior environments."

Canadian Builders Quarterly

VIBRA-SONIC CONTROL Canada’s Leader in Seismic Restraint of Resiliently Mounted Systems

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the specialists

The Ventilators

With safety on the line, Ridge Sheet Metal Co. adheres to stringent methods to ensure there are no mistakes It was one of the most challenging projects Dan At a Glance Location: Port Coquitlam, BC Founded: 1977 Employees: 40+ Annual Sales: $10 million+ Projects Per Year: 80–200 Specialty: HVAC and ductwork

Above: Employee Brett Roberts welds sheet metal.


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Beer and his team at Ridge Sheet Metal had ever tackled. AgCanada commissioned the company to provide all the HVAC and ductwork for a new, high-tech laboratory designed to study infected animal carcasses. These scientists were going to be dealing with everything from mad cow disease to the most volatile of the influenzas: avian and swine. It meant Ridge Sheet Metal had to install welded, stainless-steel exhaust manifolds and high-efficiency particulate air filters to prevent the airborne spread of disease. Mistakes in the ventilation system could have been disastrous. Beer, the company’s project manager and lead estimator, explains that there’s a lot on the line for a company that provides industrial, commercial, and institutional ventilation and custom fabrications. “Your conduct during the project is important,” Beer says. “And we like to be part of the solution. You want to

plan ahead and try to foresee the challenges and problems you’ll be facing before they become monsters.” High performance is a part of the business for Ridge Sheet Metal’s six partners: Beer, Mike Vinter, Mark McLaren, Brent Wesnoski, Brian Kuzak, and Joe Kalinich. The British Columbia-based company has been providing its cornerstone, “Great service and value,” since 1977—a bragging right that has resulted in repeat customers accounting for a full 80 percent of its business. Thirty-four years later, the company is still at it. And the partners aren’t sitting on back on their heels. They’ve placed a high importance on being at the forefront of the industry, which can be seen in their membership in the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association. “We’re serving as trustees and directors on various boards, so our hands are in the industry,” Beer says. “We’re proactive and involved.” Ridge Sheet Metal’s high level of involvement—and its six-partner committee—has paid off magnanimously in

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

dividends of creative success. “At the end of the day, six dumb people do better than one genius,” Beer jokes. “As a group, we’re able to achieve so much more than an individual. That’s the rewarding part of working together.” The company is chest-deep in innovation, too. Ridge Sheet Metal is currently testing a technology that allows workers to electronically create their designs in virtual space so that they can test and conserve their resources more efficiently. The technology is to building what a flight simulator is to an air strike: a low-risk way to make sure everything works. “It’s going to change contractual relationships between the players,” Beer says. “It’s a very big revolution in the way buildings are built.” Although it’s a technology that has been at the disposal of architects for some time, it has only partially come on-stream for contractors, and some say its full implementation is a few years away. But it has major potential to allow smoother, cheaper, and more integrated planning. Such techniques are indicative of a “measure twice, cut once” mentality, and it’s evidence that, above all, the folks at Ridge Sheet Metal are committed to accuracy. Because when you have a team of scientists depending on you to prevent a major biomedical fallout, you have to be. —Seth Putnam

Ridge Sheet Metal's Toughest Projects The lab for AgCanada was only one of many tough bulls Ridge Sheet Metal has taken by the horns. Here are three more: 1. QLT, Inc.: Ridge Sheet Metal provided ductwork for a pharmaceutical company. This job was complicated because the FDA required that the individual materials be rigourously tracked in case of malfunction. “It was very demanding,” explains project manager Dan Beer. “With most jobs, if you put a cap-plated screw in, nobody asks you where it came from.” 2. Olympic Village: The company installed large chimneys on boiler plants to convey hot gases when the Olympics came to Vancouver. 3. Simon Fraser University: Ridge Sheet Metal provided ventilation for a renovated chemistry lab, complete central exhaust, and fume hoods. The more than 100,000 pounds of welded stainless steel had to be completed within 14 months and cater to the existing structure, which made for a very chaotic and complex project.

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


the specialists

The Crafty Craftsmen

Alberta-based Molior Cabinets Direct Ltd. stays vibrant despite industry setbacks and a questionable economy It was the winter of 2008, and furniture manufacAt a Glance Location: North Lethbridge, AB Founded: 2008 Employees: 22 Specialty: Furniture manufacturing Annual Sales: $2 million+

Above: This Golf Pro Shop displays just one of the many ways in which Molior's cabinetry can adapt to any need.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

turer Russ Kramer and a handful of his experienced colleagues found themselves out of a job. Their previous employer had fallen to the demands of the failing economy, leaving a number of talented professionals wondering where their next cheque would come from. Yet, Kramer had a dream that would offer him and his friends a chance to succeed in a marketplace that still showed signs of not only recovery but of a true future. “In order for companies to survive these times, you needed to have a niche,” explains Kramer, president of Molior Cabinets Direct, who works alongside business partner James Flanagan. “I felt strongly that we had an understanding of our target audience within the service industry, and so we went for it. With approximately 50 percent of our current staff coming from our previous employer, we like to say we are a three-year-old company with decades of experience under our belt.” Since that day, the cabinetry craftsmen at Molior Cabinets have grown from a small, 8,000-square-foot office with four employees to a 22,000-square-foot factory with 22 employees who come to work each morning dedicated to the same goal: providing exceptional

furniture and cabinetry to their list of high-end clientele. “As a company, we have developed a mind-set that we will never back down from a challenge,” says Kramer, who has led the way on projects such as the Gardens at West Highlands, Solara Resort & Spa, and Avalon Gardens at Murrayville. “Of course, on some days, keeping this promise might be hard, but in the end it is incredibly rewarding.” Focusing on manufacturing kitchen and bath cabinetry for the resort industry, Kramer says that starting small with a set goal of a handful of customers certainly helped the company at the beginning. “Knowing our clients’ desires in terms of form, function, and style is of utmost importance,” he says. “Since we tend to work with a number of large-scale developers, we also need to be very budget oriented, knowing that, ultimately, price is going to be on the top of their mind.” The move has paid off. Between 2008 and 2011, Molior Cabinets saw sales quadruple. And all the extra work is certainly no problem for Kramer. Communicating via phone or e-mail, the tedious task of going through blueprint after blueprint is something he enjoys immensely. With each project, Molior Cabinets works hard to establish its unique concept. This necessitates figuring

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

out everything from certain styles to colour palates to actual renderings. The key is to be open and available. “It’s all about being on the same page,” Kramer says. “We also make a number of site visits to confirm that everything is working and being delivered correctly to the installation company we work with.” One of Molior Cabinets’ most notable projects was its work at Spirit Ridge Resort. The company initially came on during phase two, working with the existing cabinetry and adding matching cabinets to finish the first two buildings. Ultimately, however, Molior Cabinets would go on to provide all of the kitchen and bath cabinetry for the final three buildings. The company also designed and fabricated a custom reception counter and display cabinetry for the confection area. These days, despite the still-fluctuating economy and the slowing of new construction within Western Canada, Molior Cabinets continues to look to the future. Some of its current aspirations lie within its continued work in manufacturing dormitory furniture, along with a test project currently underway with a retail-dealer network. “It certainly has been an interesting ride,” Kramer says of the company’s first four years. “This company began when the world economy crashed. It was the worst time to begin, but every year, things get a little bit better. And while we don’t like to compare ourselves to other companies, we personally feel we have succeeded.” —Tricia Despres


“We will never back down from a challenge. Of course, on some days, keeping this promise might be hard, but in the end it is incredibly rewarding.” russ kramer, president

Providing Quality cabinetry with Superior service!

Kitchen | Bath | Cabinetry | Dormitory Furniture | Custom Millwork | In-House Design Staff Molior Cabinets Direct Ltd. • 820 30th Street N. • Lethbridge, Alberta T1H 6E8 Phone: (403) 380-2535 • Fax: (403) 380-2086 • Email:

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012




Insulation and Drywall Installation

60 Commercial Drive South West Calgary, Alberta. T3Z 2A7 Tel. (403) 219-1046 Main Fax: (403) 250-6721 Email:


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

The Neighbourhood Builders

The partners behind Kingsmith Homes have made a name for themselves by staying close to the community they call home As one of the leading home builders in Alberta,

Kingsmith Homes brings a hands-on approach to its custom construction projects. Under the purview of partners Kern Kingsmith and Craig Wiens, the company has garnered a reputation for quality workmanship and seemingly unparalleled customer service. Based in Cochrane, a small suburb of Calgary, the owners keep up with their customers via phone and e-mail—and also run into them around town more often than not. “Both Craig and I live in the districts we build in, so our customers are actually our neighbours,” Kingsmith says. “I think that’s rare these days.” Wiens adds, “It’s nice to be at the supermarket and be able to talk to people and hear how their life is, and how their home is doing.” The company was formed in 1985, when Kingsmith branched off on his own after years of working for his

father’s construction business. “I was raised in the construction industry,” he says. “I am a fourth-generation carpenter.” Kingsmith spent years building the company—even withstanding one of the worst recessions that Alberta has ever seen. “There were significant roadblocks at that time, but we persevered and made it through,” he says. Wiens joined the company four years ago, quickly working his way up from general labour and quality control to one of the company’s partners. “I started doing back work and a lot of the labour jobs, inspecting trade workmanship and doing quality checks,” Wiens says. “Kern and I just really hit it off. We both want to be proud of the houses we build and both want customers to have a good experience—we want them to be happy with the homes they purchase from us.” Together, the two have worked to build the business, employing the

At a Glance Location: Cochrane, AB Founded: 1985 Employees: 9 Specialty: Custom homes Annual Sales: $11 million Above: Kern Kingsmith (left), founder and partner, and Craig Wiens, partner.

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the specialists

best people in the industry and maintaining a stronghold on all of the markets in the Cochrane area, from entry level to estate homes.

Top 5 Tips for Building in Cochrane, AB Quality First: Kingsmith Homes has spent the past 26 years building a reputation of high quality. Be Up-front About Costs: With the emergence of the Internet, prospective homeowners are well versed on what products to use, as well as their costs. Be Part of the Community: Cochrane is an Old West town with family values. Support it in any way possible, from food banks to working with local businesses.

Above: A model from the Regal Collection, the Regency features secondfloor laundry and a separate den on the main floor. The home is currently on display as a show home.


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Craftology: Kingsmith Homes generates new business by incorporating old-fashioned craftsmanship with new technology, which results in a great product. Let People Talk: In a town like Cochrane, the best advertising comes from word of mouth. Be present in the community, and get to know your neighbours.

The pair has recently introduced the Regal Collection, a new line of homes that feature smaller models. Geared towards the first-time-homeowner market, the line was created as a way to offer smaller models that are extremely efficient while maintaining Kingsmith Homes’ superior quality. “Anyone getting into the housing market can get into these houses and rest easy knowing that it’s a Kingsmith product,” Wiens says. “Because if it’s a Kingsmith home, people know it will be high quality, and that gives a person a lot of reassurance.” The Regal Collection features a duplex model that starts at $269,900, in addition to the two-storey, 1,350-square-foot Princess model that starts at $299,999. And though the Regal Collection will certainly bring an influx of business to the company, Kingsmith and Wiens are determined not to let the additional work affect the company’s customer service. “Craig and I both share a vision of integrity and attention to detail,” Kingsmith says. “We strive to maintain consistent, high-level quality on all of our products.” The pair works directly with their customers—from the initial meeting through move-in day, and continues to look after them to ensure that they receive any services needed during the warranty period. “It’s a really personal approach,” Kingsmith says. “We realize they have names, [and] we try to keep it pretty lighthearted.” —Lisa Ryan

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


through the years

D&S Homes Ltd. 1977 d&s homes ltd. is founded

D&S Homes, a Saskatoon-based real-estate-development firm, originally began as a side venture for president Dennis Slater. But that changed as the company quickly grew into a full-time business, with almost 20 employees in two offices completing around 40 projects per year. Today, the firm is a family business, with Dennis’s three sons all involved, and D&S Homes has made a name for itself by focusing on large, high-quality homes. “High-end customers expect more because they’re spending more money,” says Troy Slater, director of operations. “We position ourselves in the market as an established land developer and builder that can give high-end customers what they need.” Here, Troy walks us through the company’s progress through the years. —Julie Schaeffer

1980 firm goes full-time

Dennis, who was developing food stores across Canada for Federated Co-op, founds D&S Homes as a side job. “He wanted to make his own hours and be rewarded for the hours he put in, but he wasn’t ready to leave his full-time job,” Troy says.

“Casa Rio Estates had some of the highest-end homes in the areas … It really made the firm stand out and get noticed.” troy slater, director of operations

Dennis starts small, building only a few high-quality homes per year. But word soon spreads, and Dennis quits his job at Federated Co-op and dedicates himself full-time to D&S Homes. Employees, including a servicer and finisher, come soon after.

1990 Moving into bigger business

D&S Homes begins buying large plots of land and developing subdivisions around the city of Saskatoon.

1996 troy slater joins the firm

Troy, who moved back to Saskatoon after finishing school, begins working as a foreman on the Casa Rio Estates project, which consisted of 60 homes of around 3,000 square feet each. “The development had some of the highest-end homes in the areas, with movie theatres and a dedicated area for grand pianos,” Troy says. “It really made the firm stand out and get noticed.”


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2008 the regina office opens

With a population of 250,000 and an unsaturated real-estate market, Regina is a prime opportunity for D&S Homes. “We opened an office and started developing residential subdivisions,” Troy says. “The first one, Stonepoint Estates, consisted of 67 houses and sold out within a year.”

2007 moving into commerical projects

D&S Homes constructs its own three-storey, 30,000-square-foot office building in Stonebridge. The firm rents out the space, and the project is so successful that in 2010 the firm completed a twin tower. Together, the duo is called the Corporate Centre.

2000 condos in martensville

The first phase of the three-storey condo development in the Saskatoon suburb of Martensville begins, with the second phase coming later in 2009. The project consists of 53 1,200–2,000-square-foot units with two or three bedrooms and private decks. “The target market was the elderly community, and it responded well to amenities such as heated underground parking and a car wash,” Troy says.

2011 teeing up

D&S Homes purchases Greenbryre Golf and Country Club in Saskatoon, as well as the surrounding land. “We subdivided the land into one-half-acre to three-quarteracre lots, and are building residential walkout homes,” Troy says of the development, which is named Greenbryre Estates. “We are targeting completion in 2012.”

1998 building big in saskatoon

D&S Homes completes townhomes on 9th Street in Saskatoon. “It was different project,” Troy says. “We started with 16 upscale townhouses, ranging from 1,600 to 1,800 square feet, and marketed them to professionals, many of whom worked at the nearby university.”

1998 south point estates

D&S Homes completes South Point Estates, a project smaller than Casa Rio Estates in size and scale. “The 43 homes are a maximum of 3,500 square feet, and nowhere near as luxurious as those at Casa Rio Estates," Troy says, "but they nevertheless filled a need in the community, which was saturated with the houses we had just finished.”


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012


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canadian homes

The Riverhouse makes a bold statement with its materiality. Instead of employing traditional residential materials, the house adopts ones used in commercial construction.

The New Cool of the Niagara How a bold new design from Zerafa Architecture Studio LLC is changing the residential landscape of this historic river

You can’t help but notice that Riverhouse is unlike any other home along the banks of the Niagara River. Just upstream from Horseshoe Falls, outside of Toronto, the home was sited to take advantage of unencumbered river views. The distinctly modern design, which is comprised of three distinct, horizontal masses, was brought to life using materials primarily found in commercial construction. The end result is a home that architect Jason M. Zerafa, of Zerafa Architecture Studio, hopes will redefine the way homes are built along the Niagara River. Canadian Builders Quarterly recently sat down with Zerafa to talk more about the home and how best to evolve the aesthetic of the region.


canadian homes Project Details Location: Niagara Falls, ON Completed: 2009 Size: 5,000 square feet Designer: Zerafa Architecture Studio Architect of Record: Chapman Murray Associates Architects Inc. MEP: Hallex Engineering Photography: Tom Arban

The ground floor of the Riverhouse is defined by expansive glass walls that provide unhindered views throughout the house. Meanwhile, the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor provide privacy.

>> CBQ: How did the site inform your design?

Jason Zerafa: The principal feature of the 1.85-acre site

is the unobstructed river view across the full 164-foot width of the property. I thought, “If we’re going to build a house here, it has to be all about the water views.” CBQ: How did you maintain the relationship between the Riverhouse and the river? JZ: Our idea was to find a balance between the relative transparency encouraged by the views and the privacy concerns of the owners. We brought a lot of glass to the ground floor, so there’s basically a glass box between the privacy of the backyard and the river, with a series of service spaces lining the southern part of the house providing a buffer from the neighbours. All of the more private areas, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, are on the second floor. CBQ: How did you choose the materials? JZ: The client, a young couple [with ties to] a family-

owned commercial building business, had relationships with commercial contractors, and that’s the construction they understood. We decided to make use of the commercial trades—curtain-wall and aluminum-panel contractors, concrete contractors, and steel fabricators.


Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

This defined how the house was going to get made. During construction, the team joked that the neighbours may have thought they were getting a grocery store. CBQ: What about the exterior façade? JZ: Regarding the exterior material palette itself, the

owners felt it was important for the cladding materials to be both rich and varied. In response, the design features glass, aluminum, quartzite, and granite cladding. An extensive use of cedar lines the decks, soffits, and façade returns, providing a warm transition to the interior. CBQ: How have people reacted to the home? JZ: Overwhelmingly positive, which surprised me a little.

Homes built on this river over the past 20 years have been the same as homes built anywhere; no one had fully taken advantage of what was inherently special about this location. This home is different. I had dinner there this winter, and looking outside, I could see blocks of ice floating down river, giving the impression that the house was moving. It’s an experience none of the traditional homes there offer, so I hope this home is a catalyst for people in the area to think about relating a house more directly to the site. —Julie Schaeffer

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Above: The home's "museum" stair, made of maple with a walnut finish, was custom-designed and fabricated locally. Below: The exterior shell of the main living quarter is designed to offer views of the river and garden to the east and west while also providing privacy from the neighbours to the north.


Cork It’s time for builders and designers to take a lesson from sommeliers and get to know cork. Harvested from the cork oak, a tree native only to countries bordering the Mediterranean, cork is providing a sustainable solution to various construction needs. The material is made from the bark of the cork oak itself, and can be harvested safely once every nine years without damaging the tree. The selections featured here showcase both the practical and theoretical boundaries that cork is helping to break.

Cork Mosaic Tile / Habitus / / The benefits of cork come fully forward with this cork tile. As a material, cork allows the tile to repel moisture, and it is a softer surface to stand on that retains a steady temperature of 70 degrees year-round.

Cork Speakers / The Home Project / / These speakers prove cork’s usefulness beyond an aesthetic. Lightweight and shock-resistant, these USB speakers for laptops dampen vibrations due to the cork’s natural qualities.

Dulce De Leche Divan / Trevor O'Neil Design / / As much reclamation as leisure seat, this divan is made of 90 inches of cork salvaged from a Chicago warehouse conversion. Laminated birch legs and light cushions provide a striking contrast.

Cork Peg / molo design / / With a unique magnetic mounting system, these cork pegs allow for a unique storage system. The load is anywhere from 1.2 to 2.2 kilograms, depending on where the object is hung on the peg. 114

Volume 4 No. 31, 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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20 years in business Specializing in building custom homes in new communities as well as infills.