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illuminating design

p. 94

From QuĂŠbec to Qatar, Ambiances Design Productions Inc. sheds some light on innovative approaches to structural illuminations

+ west coast log homes p. 129 How to construct the perfect lodging university of new brunswick p. 76 The historic school goes sustainable

An Inside Job Comprised of industry experts throughout the country, Interior Designers of Canada is making great strides in promoting the profession p. 16

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p. 94

From Québec to Qatar, Ambiances Design Productions Inc. sheds some light on innovative approaches to structural illuminations

+ WEST COAST LOG HOMES p. 129 How to construct the perfect lodging UNIVERSITY OF NEW BRUNSWICK p. 76 The historic school goes sustainable


Canadian Builders Quarterly



An Inside Job Comprised of industry experts throughout the country, Interior Designers of Canada is making great strides in promoting the profession p. 16

CBQ32_cov.indd 1

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P R I N T + D I G I TA L E D I T I O N S f I N D u S I N T h E A P P STO R E O R AT c A N A D I A N b u I L D E R S q u A R T E R L y. c A

Features 16 An Inside Job As they push the industry to new, uncharted areas, Canada’s interior-design professionals regularly turn to the expertise of Interior Designers of Canada. A look at how the association works to lend a helping hand.

94 Illuminating Design With a rĂŠsumĂŠ of brilliant structural illuminations that stretches across the globe, Ambiances Design Productions Inc. has become the go-to firm for innovative lighting design.

Ambiance's Reflective Flow is the world's largest chandelier.


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14 Briefs 10 12 14 175 178


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

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Canadian Builders Quarterly


Industry Insights

20 mohawk college 24 calista homes 26 alcroft homes ltd. 28 wolverine custom homes 29 oxford homes 32 celebration homes, inc. 34 pratt homes 36 university of saskatchewan 38 agius builders ltd. 40 pavan architects inc.

Through The Years

42 70 92 126 150 172

murphy construction corp. chinook homes hr pacific construction management burrard group freyssinet canada limitĂŠe tribuild contracting (Calgary) ltd.

Project Showcase

44 50 54 60 64 66

Ellisdon corporation ii by iv design associates top end homes westparks + Associates inc. white eagle homes ltd. rafii architects inc.


72 76 80 82 85 88

Alltrim inc. university of new brunswick biglarkinyan design partnership m&h wood specialties ltd. sjma architecture inc. concept to design inc.

In Profile

100 104 109 110 114 116 120 122

pcl constructors inc. jerilyn wright & associates sander design refined by design bird construction company s. j. lawrence architect incorporated baam productions frits de vries architect ltd.



Step by Step

129 133 137 141 144 148

west coast log homes andrĂŠ ibghy architectes kettle river timberworks ltd. howard rideout architect inc. resolutions enterprises ltd. s3 interior design inc.

The Specialists

152 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170

Cricket design company inc. aecon group inc. back country log homes cambria canada stevens burgess architects ltd. brenmar heating & Air conditioning ltd. dutchie dirt moving ltd. vinylbilt inc. wsi sign systems ltd.

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editor's note


t’s always good to have a support system. Striking out on your own might not always cut it, and when it doesn’t, it’s good to have someone or something to fall back on, a place to look to for guidance and help. For interior-design professionals in the Great White North, that “something” is Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). Comprised of designers throughout the country, IDC combines continuing-education courses with outreach programs and advocacy to promote the profession. The organization serves as an essential tool in an ever-evolving industry, as it readily meets all of the challenges and issues that today’s design professionals are facing. Also, with the Top 5 Under 5 award, IDC is helping launch careers by recognizing young, upcoming designers who are making a difference in the design world. In our feature “An Inside Job” (p. 16), we’ll take you inside IDC, where president Donna Assaly is striving for a stronger, cohesive design community. In addition, you’ll also get a glimpse of what some of IDC’s members are up to. Throughout this issue, you’ll meet firms like Cricket Design Company (p. 152) and II By IV (p. 50), among others, whose stunning work is turning heads, not only in Canada, but around the world. You’ll see why the refined art of interior design is one of the most exciting in the building industry today. Elsewhere, be sure to check out our feature on Ambiances Design Productions Inc. (“Illuminating Design,” p. 94), a company that is making waves in the lighting-design sector. With its awe-inspiring projects, as well as some new findings on lighting’s effects on the human condition, you’ll see why this Québec-based firm is an industry leader in visually stimulating work on a global scale. Also, be sure to flip through our two new sections—Step By Step and Transformed—which look at the construction industry through two unique perspectives, each showcasing projects and practices in an innovative way. These sections, as well as our revamped website (canadianbuildersquarterly.ca) and a brand-new tablet version of the magazine, have made this issue our most ambitious one to date. We have no doubt you’ll get something out of it.

for more, visit

canadianbuildersquarterly.cA • 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!

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Senior Features Editor


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from the ground up

At a Glance Location Penticton, BC Size 7,085 square metres Construction Manager PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. Architect CEI Architecture Planning Interiors Structural Engineer Fast & EPP Structural Engineers Environmental Consultant EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. Landscape Architect Site 360 Consulting Inc. Acoustic Consultant BKL Consultants Ltd. Envelope Consultant Morrison Hershfield Wall Panels Design-Builder StructureCraft Builders Inc. Photography Ed White Photographics


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Centre of Excellence

State-of-the-art sustainability at Okanagan College With an extensive project team in tow, the construction of Okanagan College’s standout Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation involved input from a number of consultants and professionals, all of whom added to the overall beauty and aesthetic of the final product. Within that team was PCL Constructors Westcoast, which took the reins in erecting the centre. Because the project was designed to LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge specifications, the construction process had to stay conscious of the numerous sustainable amenities. For this reason, 100 percent of the wood used is from British Columbia, including pine from beetle-kill-affected forests and FSC-certified lumber sourced from the province. Also, the building did not incorporate any products that are harmful to the environment. Other efforts included gymnasium walls produced by Fast + Epp and StructureCraft Builders Inc. Built with composite panels that combine concrete and glulam beams, the walls have electrical conduits, heating-and-cooling piping, and ventilation all housed internally. Installation required two cranes, and the walls mark the first use of this innovative envelope technology in North America. Other than the gym, the project team incorporated several other green features into the Centre of Excellence, including a ventilation chimney, a green roof, solar photovoltaic panels, natural daylighting, wastewater reuse, and much more. The completed 7,085-square-metre structure—which houses classrooms, trade shops, a student pavilion, a business-development space, a gymnasium, a fitness area, and more—serves as a prime indicator of the sustainable measures being taken by the next generation of green tradespeople.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

The timber frame allows for a much lower carbon footprint than a traditional steel- or concrete-framed structure. The awning also allows the centre to amplify or mitigate solar gain, with an additonal shading and ventilation system incorporated on the windows.

Phots: Ed White Photographics

The interior is not only an impressive sustainable achievement but brings a modern, visual refinement to the space.


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canadian spaces Project Details Location: Fogo Island, NL Completed: 2010 Size: 120 square metres Client: Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation Architect: Saunders Architecture Associate Architect: Sheppard Case Architects Structural Engineer: DBA Associates Services Engineer: Core Engineering Builders: Arthur Payne & Edward Waterman Photography: Bent Renè Synnevåg

The space’s exterior is made of blackened, rough-sawn pine, while the interior is lined with whitewashed spruce. Long Studio utilized locally sourced wood cladding, which reflects the fishermen’s clapboard houses.

A covered “porch” marks the entrance to the studio.

Mixing in with the shards of rock that surround it, Long Studio’s minimal, elongated form seems to hover over the volcanic boulders as it stretches towards the Atlantic Ocean.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Long Studio The remote locale of Fogo Island, some 20 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland, is to become home to a series of six unique artists’ studios designed by Bergen, Norway-based firm Saunders Architecture. The projects are commissioned by the Zita Cobb-backed Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation. These projects are part of a drive to preserve the Fogo Islanders’ culture by attracting tourism dollars (via the boutique hotel being built alongside the studios), as well as through the island’s artistic rejuvenation. Saunders Architecture is led by principal Todd Saunders, who grew up in Newfoundland. Through what Saunders describes as “the experimental use of traditional architectural forms, methods, and materials,” the firm has created striking geometric buildings that contrast with the rugged land and seascape of the North Atlantic. Long Studio, the first installment of the Fogo Island studios, features a sustainable use of wood and, standing on tall pillars, projects itself over the seawater. “It feels like doing contemporary architecture but based on what’s been there before,” Saunders has said of the design. “Most traditional buildings there are amphibious, only half on dry land, almost like walking off the land and into the water.” The spaces will be open to contemporary artists of various disciplines who can spend a few months living and working among Fogo Island’s cod-fishing communities. —Chris Allsop

Todd Saunders’s concept for Long Studio, and the other studios as well, involved the creation of strong geometric shapes that would contrast— but not compete—with the natural beauty of Fogo Island.

Due to the uneven and impenetrable ground, the space stands on wood stilts, which allow the strong winds to slip underneath the building rather than beat against it.

SMART & SUSTAINABLE Saunders Architecture has designed the six studios to be completely off the grid, without any reliance on the Fogo Island municipal water supply, sewers, natural gas, or other utility services. These green initiatives are certainly in place in the 100 percent off-the-grid Long Studio, the first completed space of the six-project endeavour. Solar panelling on the roof works in tandem with a small wood stove to supply heating for the entire space; water for the kitchen and the shower is provided by rainwater collected from the roof and stored in tanks within concealed storage rooms; and a compost toilet rounds off the self-reliant appliances, with all excessive greywater treated inside the building.


Storage and washbasins are tucked unobtrusively into a one-metre recess in the wall, keeping in step with the minimalist design and avoiding visual distraction.

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Photo: Greg Fess

See more of the Bauer Kitchen in Cricket Design’s feature on p. 152 16

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Interior Designers of Canada

An Inside Job Interior Designers of Canada provides education, business development, and advocacy resources for interior-design experts throughout the country By Kelly O’Brien Interior design is a complex profession. Although furnishing the interior may be the very last stage of any new building or renovation project, interior designers are involved in the design process from its inception. Keeping current on all of the trends, products, codes, and practices involved in the building industry is a huge task. And promoting a business in a market that doesn’t always understand the profession can be equally challenging. Helping Canada’s interior-design community address and overcome these diverse challenges is the mission of Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). Edmonton-based Donna Assaly has been an interior designer since 1985, specializing in interior-design solutions for retail, corporate, and hospitality clients all over Western Canada. Assaly says it’s her comprehensive service and extensive industry experience that keep the clients coming in, and since the 2011 IIDEX/NeoCon Design Exposition & Conference in Toronto last September, Assaly has also been putting that expertise to use as


IDC’s president. “My primary responsibility is to represent the board and the members of IDC across the country and internationally,” she says. “I do not have my own agenda.” Rather, her goal is simply to help support and promote the interior-design industry and to provide resources to designers in IDC’s member provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Each province has a provincial branch that serves as the regulatory body for its local interior-design community. Assaly and the rest of the IDC leadership team—all volunteer positions, by the way—all got their start volunteering with their provincial organizations. The provincial organizations are IDC’s front line; they provide the initial point of contact between aspiring designers and the interior-design industry at large. “You can join your provincial association as a student,” Assaly says. “Once you have a degree, you

Featured Members:

II BY IV Design Page 50

Westparks Page 60

Jerilyn Wright Page 104

Refined By Design Page 110

Cricket Design Page 152 april/may/june 2012


An Inside Job

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Top 5 Under 5 Awards Celebrating young interior designers working at major firms across Canada, the Top 5 Under 5 Awards are the brainchild of Jessica Gozdzierski, a young designer and intern member of IDC’s Board of Management. The awards had their first run in 2011, and, says IDC president Donna Assaly, “were a huge success!” The competitors were presented with a challenge: design a self-contained living-space survival pack for victims of natural disasters. Based on the ingenuity and originality of their 18

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designs, as well as recommendations from an IDC designer with whom they worked, five winners were chosen and honoured at the 2011 IIDEX/NeoCon trade show. “These five winners are the ones to watch,” says Assaly, who was one of five judges for the competition. “Their submissions were innovative, thoughtful, and impressively presented. Plus, all entrants to the Top 5 Under 5 Awards program came very highly recommended from some of the top professionals in the industry.” Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: Yianni Tong

have an intern membership as you’re gaining your experience.” The next level of membership is becoming a full-member interior designer—the requirements for which is a combination of completing your education, gaining experience, and passing the North American qualification exam NCIDQ. (One of the changes to IDC that Assaly is eagerly anticipating is that, by 2015, all of the provinces will have standardized their requirements for becoming a full member.) Furthermore, IDC welcomes input from its membership, regardless of the level of experience. The IDC Board of Management, for example, includes an intern designer, an industry representative from a manufacturer or supplier, and an educator. This is a plus for Assaly. “I meet a lot of really interesting people and become part of the design conversation,” she says. In order to stay in good standing with IDC, interior designers are required to take a certain number of continuing-education courses. While the provincial organizations are responsible for regulating the standings of their members, IDC itself provides the courses, which cover business, insurance, contract law, taxes, and even how to write an RFP. “It’s not the pretty stuff,” Assaly says,


“IDC is there to ensure that if there’s a conversation about the built environment, we’re at the table.” —Donna Assaly, President

“but it’s the really important stuff, and we are there—we are a resource.” In addition to education, outreach is also a huge part of IDC’s role in the industry. One of the forms this takes is liaising with government agencies, which is headed up by the executive director and requires keeping track of titles, acts, and building codes that could impact the interior-design community. “IDC is there to ensure that if there’s a conversation about the built environment, we’re at the table,” Assaly says. The popularity of HGTV and the DIY-design mentality, coupled with the fact that some unqualified individuals market themselves as interior designers, poses a challenge that IDC works hard to overcome. Through media coverage, promotional literature, and DesignFind— IDC’s unique, online database of interior designers—the organization does everything it can to raise awareness and appreciation for the craft. One of IDC’s biggest tools, both for its outreach efforts and for its member services, is IIDEX/NeoCon, the annual IDC design expo, which brings together thousands of interior designers, architects, and industry

representatives for a two-day celebration of Canadian design. The IIDEX/NeoCon Canada Innovation Awards, held every year at the conference, recognize new products, materials, and technologies that have come on the market. To ensure that all of its member provinces are able to participate in IIDEX, IDC runs a subsidy program to help designers from distant provinces fly into Toronto for the event. IIDEX 2011 was a benchmark, as it was host to the inaugural Top 5 Under 5 Awards, which honoured five interior designers who have excelled within the first five years of their professional experience. While most of IDC’s work is focused within Canada, the organization also represents Canadian design around the world. Last fall, Assaly travelled to India on one of IDC’s trade missions, which are organized to help members learn about doing business internationally. Regardless of where she finds herself— whether on the road, at IDC headquarters in Toronto, or at her home in Edmonton—Assaly’s mission as IDC’s president is a singular one: “To advance the profession of interior design across Canada and internationally,” she says. CBQ

april/may/june 2012


The Learning Exchange Opened in January, 2011, the Learning Exchange is the first LEED-certified building at Mohawk College. The 40,000-square-foot structure is home to the Cummings E-library, which houses 65 percent of available resources in a digital format, and a rooftop patio off the second floor that showcases a variety of native plant species. Overall, the Learning Exchange incorporates Mohawk College into its urban setting while paying homage to the surrounding natural landscape.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights Mohawk College Calista Homes Alcroft Homes Ltd. Wolverine Custom Homes Oxford Homes Celebration Homes, Inc. Pratt Homes University of Saskatchewan Agius Builders Ltd. Pavan Architects Inc.

20 24 26 28 29 32 34 36 38 40

The Green Gambit By banking on a new, sustainable initiative, Mohawk College has secured its long-term vitality By Rita Smith

Photo: Banko Media

Manufacturing has been a prominent industry in Hamilton,


Ontario, since the early 20th century. Long defined by two major steel companies, Hamilton has come to be known as an industrial powerhouse that successfully coexists with its beautiful, natural surroundings. While advanced manufacturing continues to be a key part of the city’s identity, recent decades have seen significant momentum building behind the sustainability movement at local, regional, and global levels. Mohawk College has responded by establishing sustainability as a strategic priority and by undertaking the development of an environmental management plan to shape the college’s transformation towards a greener, more prosperous future as an institution conscious of its environmental, social, and economic impact. “One of the ways we are working toward this goal is by taking a good look at our facilities,” explains Emily Baynes, who assists with policy development and communications at Mohawk. “Through green building, efficient site design, waste management, and renewableenergy resources, we are making sustainability an integral and visible part of Mohawk.” Opened in January 2011, Mohawk’s 40,000-square-foot Learning Exchange is a prime example of how to construct and operate a sustainable building. It’s also the first LEED-certified building at the college. Baynes notes that, in addition to a green roof and living wall made from more than 2,000 plants, the building also includes clean-energy features such as wind- and solar-powered exterior lights, in-floor heating, and interior lighting equipped with automatic sensors. “It’s

At a Glance Locations Hamilton, ON Brantford, ON Stoney Creek, ON Founded 1967 2010 Graduates 3,813

april/may/june 2012


Photo: Banko Media

industry insights

Above: Abundant natural light and a two-storey living wall add to the pleasant ambiance of the Learning Exchange.


april/may/june 2012

modern, functional, and filled with natural light,” she says. “There are always lots of students in it—they love it.” The positive response to the new building is, in part, a result of the extremely inclusive nature of its development. “Stakeholder consultation is a vital part of our planning and development process, and of all Mohawk’s sustainability initiatives,” Baynes says. “Being receptive to stakeholder input helps us ensure that our practices are aligned with the needs and expectations of the community.” Engaging students and staff to play a role in building their own campus has a number of benefits for both the college and the community at large. At its largest and oldest campus in Hamilton, Mohawk College is also completing a multiyear, $10 million energy-retrofit program. The campus’s cooling units, boilers, doors, windows, taps, toilets, and lighting—which dated back to the late 1960s and early 1970s—have been replaced with state-of-the-art equipment. While many of these changes are hidden from view behind walls, in ceilings, on the roof, or in boiler rooms, they’ve made a big difference in Mohawk’s push toward sustainability. “Simply changing standard taps and toilets to hands-free taps and low-flow, low-flush toilets has cut Mohawk’s water consumption in half,” says Tony Scime, manager of mechanical and electrical for the Mohawk Facilities Management Office. Reducing the consumption meant the college could then replace the building’s hot-water storage tanks with units half the size, using less energy to keep the water hot. In addition, a new heating-and-cooling system gives the college more control while reducing costs. “The

building-automation system provides total control over where and when parts of the building are cooled or heated,” Scime says. The system can be controlled remotely via the Internet, or set to regulate itself, depending on factors such as outside air temperatures and indoor carbon dioxide levels. The result is a more efficient heating-and-cooling system. Moreover, the energy-retrofit improvements are saving Mohawk about $400,000 annually, while reducing its impact on the environment. The college was also able to take advantage of more than $160,000 in grants and incentives from sources such as Horizon Utilities, Union Gas, Natural Resources Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, and the Ontario Power Authority. Mohawk’s dedication to embedding principles of sustainability into the college culture will continue to inspire development of first-class, LEED-certified facilities. With the incorporation of green-building practices, efficient site design, and innovative energy solutions, Mohawk is reducing its carbon footprint, lowering operational costs, and guaranteeing the long-term vitality of the institution. CBQ

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industry insights

High-End City Living At a Glance Location Calgary, AB Founded 2000 Specialty Custom homes

Calista Homes builds legacy homes in Calgary’s most desirable neighbourhoods By Laura Willaims-Tracy

In an uncertain home-building market, Calista

Above & Opposite: Kitchen and bathroom views of a custom-built, contemporary home in Altadore, a community in southwest Calgary.


april/may/june 2012

Homes has found success by sticking to a proven formula. The Calgary-based home builder is loyal to sure-thing neighbourhoods and sophisticated buyers. And most importantly, the husband-and-wife building team relies on a steadfast partnership. Patrick and Lamise Kochorek launched Calista Homes in 2000, and named the boutique firm for their daughter. The former teachers met while teaching at the same high school and apprenticed under Lamise’s uncle, a Calgary builder with more than 30 years of

experience, for three years before starting their own home-building business. Today, Calista Homes builds in Calgary’s desirable neighbourhoods—including Altadore and Elbow Park, one of the oldest residential areas in the city—delivering luxury homes for buyers who want to be close to work, excellent schools, theatres, restaurants, and other amenities. “There has been a huge jump in the market and a huge demand,” Lamise says. “A lot of people don’t want to live in the suburbs.” In 1999, Calista Homes began building narrow, urban homes priced near $400,000. Today those same homes

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

working as a couple For the husband-and-wife team of Patrick and Lamise Kochorek, working as a home builder means the details of the day often seep into family time. But the lifestyle offers advantages to clients and the family. “Clients choose us because we come as a package, with a male and female perspective on the home,” Lamise says. “We have the experience to guide the process and help our clients make the right decisions.” Lamise says she and her husband enjoy working toward the same goal and share the same interests. “The challenge is that there’s not that separation between home and work,” she says. “There are nights when it’s 11 p.m. and we are still talking about business.” But being self-employed allows the couple to structure building so they can enjoy Calgary’s short summers. “We try and structure our building year to ensure that we have family time in Calgary’s short summer to build memories and not only houses,” Lamise says. “With three children, there’s flexibility in the schedule that makes it all work.”

average nearly $800,000, and Calista Homes is building even larger homes, priced to $3 million. Patrick serves as site manager on every project, to ensure quality control, while Lamise manages the company finances and coordinates designs and schedules. The couple’s teaching background has served them well, as both jobs require good communication skills in dealing with trades, organizational and management skills, and the ability to delegate. In addition to its success in the Altadore and Elbow Park neighbourhoods—which feature more than 40 Calista-built homes—the company has transitioned from primarily a spec builder to a custom builder, and this year it will complete seven luxury homes. “Custom homes are definitely more challenging, but interesting because you are building someone else’s vision and seeing that come to fruition,” Lamise says. In-town building offers the challenge of finding suitable building lots. Often the Kochoreks will canvass neighbourhoods door-to-door, speaking with homeowners about their interest in selling, or they’ll leave a note letting


the owner know someone is interested in their home. When Calista Homes purchases an infill lot, Lamise says, the preferred model is to sell the home to a house mover who will buy the house and relocate it to a new community, as it is more environmentally conscious and energy efficient. When construction is underway, Lamise says Calista Homes endeavours to preserve the old-growth trees that make the community so desirable. Calista Homes builds in a variety of styles, from contemporary to Arts and Crafts to traditional. “It really is the client’s vision, and the style often depends on the street,” Lamise says. “We show our versatility in that we don’t build just one style of home.” In addition, Calista Homes builds to EnerGuide standards. The company’s last six houses have received a rating of 80 or better, demonstrating efficiency and sustainability. “It’s a trend with higher-end homes,” Lamise says. “We want to separate ourselves from other builders and build a structure that will last a long time and be cost-effective.” CBQ

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Photo: Robyn Slayers

industry insights

Working as an aircraft-maintenance engineer

At a Glance Location Grande Prairie, AB Founded 2007 Employees 3–5 Specialty Custom-home construction Annual Sales $2 million Above: The Flying Shot Lake custom home is a 2000-square-foot, two-storey house that is up to seven times more airtight than a code-built house, resulting in much lower energy costs.


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Greening Grande Prairie Alcroft Homes Ltd. is bringing sustainable standards to a community in Alberta that has been without them By Tricia Despres

nearly 10 years ago, Brian Mycroft was fascinated by the way things worked, specifically why they worked in a particular way. Yet something was missing from the job, and Mycroft took his fascinations to the home-building industry to provide quality homes in a price-effective manner. “I had been building houses since 1998, doing carpentry alongside my father on the side as I waited for the right opportunity to go off on my own,” he says. “When my wife and I decided to incorporate a business in 2007, we mainly stuck with a small amount of spec homes. We were out there not only to prove ourselves as builders but also to prove that we could come up with a spec home that looked better than a square box.” As president of Grande Prairie, Alberta-based Alcroft Homes, Mycroft and his team specialize in custom- and spec-home construction in the 1,300–2,000-square-foot range. Since leaving the engineering field, Mycroft has completed a professional carpentry program with

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featured project flying shot lake custom home The goal of one of Alcroft Home’s most adventurous and well-known projects in the Grande Prairie area began within a number: 86. This was the EnerGuide rating the prestigious builder set forth to achieve on the project, guaranteeing a $10,000 Climate Change Goal rebate for the homeowner. “Our vision has always been net zero, but getting there cost effectively is tough,” Mycroft says. “If you are looking for energy efficiency, you must always look for quality materials. Luckily, we found a homeowner who saw the importance of energy efficiency and what it would mean for them financially down the road.”

honours, a Grande Prairie Regional College timberframe course, and a Cheng Concrete countertop course. He also devotes much of his time to continuing his studies in energy-efficient home building—something that is a relatively new trend in the Grande Prairie area. “I remember when I first started taking some LEED classes, and I was sold on the idea right from the start,” Mycroft says. “I loved looking back on the history of how they built homes hundreds of years ago, and I soon realized that building with energy efficiency in mind was nothing new. For example, people have always cared about what direction they build their home to face.” Mycroft says he is still somewhat shocked that energy-efficient home construction hasn’t taken hold yet in the Grande Prairie area. “Every time a homeowner opens a bill, you would think they would want to educate themselves more about energy efficiency,” he says. “Generally, our utilities are relatively cheap, but once our utilities begin to go sky high, I think people will begin to pay more attention. Education is key.” Alcroft Homes has enjoyed local press coverage regarding the trails it is blazing in energy-efficient construction. This has meant more business for the company, but Mycroft remains wary of a large amount of projects, as he values being hands-on in each one. The builder also utilizes a solid group of journeyman for the construction portion of the building process. Mycroft, whose company is a member of the CaGBC, would like to see more incentives when it comes to energy-efficient construction. “Austria is leading the world when it comes to providing incentives for those builders who are devoted to creating energy-efficient homes,” he says. “Canada truly needs to get on board.” Sustainability isn’t the only aspect the company hopes to make progress in. Alcroft Homes is looking to transition to solely custom homes, including high-end construction. “We don’t want to only be known for our energy-efficiency efforts, but also the fact that we can design an incredible-looking home,” Mycroft says. CBQ


HARDCORE INDUSTRIES INC. 15 years with the TOP BUILDERS in Calgary Specializing in cribbing. Also offering services from excavating to backfill.


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industry insights

Tailored to Fit Wolverine Custom Homes creates houses that match its clients’ needs and desires By Thalia A-M Bruehl

At a Glance Locations Calgary, AB Okotoks, AB Founded 2007 Employees 8 Specialty High-end custom homes; turnkey, fully developed acreages Annual Sales $2–10 million Annual Projects 10+ Average Build Time 6+ months

Above: All of Wolverine’s kitchens are built with top-end stainless-steel appliances, granite, and oversized islands.


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Since its inception, in 2007, Wolverine Custom Homes

has been devoted to building custom homes inspired by its clients’ unique styles, personalities, and requests. “Each project is designed and constructed with integrity, and with an ultimate goal of exceeding our clients’ specific needs,” says company founder and owner Jim Elder, who strives to bring high-quality craftsmanship and affordability to every project. “Our only real business strategy is providing a far superior product for the price point.” Elder’s background, which includes a business-based education and a real-estate license—as well as two journeyman trades in iron working, and welding and pressure piping—gives him a rare perspective that allows him to think from multiple points of view. “I spent 15 years in commercial and industrial construction, as well as four years working with the Calgary Fire Department,” he says. “My background, plus those 20 years of hands-on experience, taught me how to build homes, what craft really is, and what the people of Calgary really want. I like to think I’m giving them what they deserve.” Outside of the high-quality work Elder provides his clients, his hand-selected team brings more than 100 years of combined residential and industry knowledge to the table for every project. “Wolverine is built on pure

experience,” Elder says. “Our company boasts some of the most advanced estimating software, site management, and scheduling in the industry, as well as the industry’s top dedicated tradesmen.” The eight employees that comprise Elder’s team support the business in every area, including accounting, estimating, sales, construction management, site supervision, quality control, and relations. Elder has also formed relationships with countless subtrades, adding an extra wealth of knowledge and growing the firm’s skill base. “A lot of our competitive pricing is purely due to our team members’ extensive experience,” Elder says. “Wolverine does not require much of an unneeded overhead, which sets us apart from a lot our competitive builders.” For its high-end homes, Wolverine is able to keep prices as low as $350,000 for 2,000 square feet. As a custom builder, Wolverine can craft a home with every detail and personal touch a client requires. The firm also offers 12 stock floor plans, which allow clients to decide on specifications like flooring and tile. The floor plans include granite kitchens, Toto toilets, and birch, dovetailed drawers with soft closures. Multiple appliance plans are also available, and include options like the stainless-steel-appliance package, which includes a fridge, stove, dishwasher, and microwave hood fan. Elder also adds touches like a 42-inch gas fireplace and an en-suite master bath to all floor plans. And for those clients really looking to customize every last detail, Elder offers 25 stain colours for the flooring, 50 tile colours, and 60 carpet colours. Above all else, Wolverine is dedicated to making its clients’ dream homes a reality. For Elder, this means finishing every project with top-of-the-line products, techniques, and hardware, and building homes to be as energy efficient as possible. “It shouldn’t matter where the home is—whether it be assisted living in Saskatchewan or a rural acreage project—it’s the builders’ job to do their best work,” Elder says. CBQ

shaking up The Scene Wolverine brings its high level of custom craftsmanship into each community it builds in, whether the project is in an inner-city neighbourhood or an exclusive development. “We have a commitment to making quality homes, building strong client relationships, and providing top-of-the-line service,” says owner and founder Jim Elder. “And we’re doing it all at affordable prices.” Elder hopes that by greatly reducing the profit margin at which Calgary homes are built, he’ll be able to change mediocre inner-city building practices and show other builders that custom homes are an option for every budget. “We like to think we’re shaking up the Calgary home market by infusing each project, regardless of the neighbourhood, with a certain level of integrity,” he says. “Our competitive pricing is a reflection of our diverse team and their dedication.”

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

Henry Ford famously told customers, "You can have

Customizing Calgary The flourishes of Oxford Homes offer the city surprising options without breaking the bank By Rita Smith


any colour you want—as long as it’s black.” Calgarybased Oxford Homes has found success by offering the opposite: its buyers can access an impressive level of customization at surprisingly affordable prices. “Allowing buyers to customize their new home is not that complicated,” says George Chahal, vice president of planning and development. “We bring them in early and adjust accordingly. We offer design flexibility that is often unavailable in lower- to midrange housing projects. This makes a large difference to our customers.” George has been working with his father, founder Ram Chahal, since the company was created, in 1998. Ram brings 37 years of broker experience with the Calgary Real Estate Board to the firm. Oxford offers customizations that are culturally sensitive and appealing to the growing number of multigenerational families. “A family might wish to have a first-floor bedroom that can accommodate aging parents, or a basement suite with its own separate entrance,” George says. Also popular with some East- and South-Asian clients are homes with “fry kitchens,” George says. These are small kitchens tucked away from the primary kitchen,

At a Glance Location Calgary, AB Founded 1998 Employees 6 Specialty Reasonable customization of new homes; ICI and land development

Above: Oxford Homes’ modern, refined design has become a staple of Calgary’s residential neighbourhoods.

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Above: The Arcadia, a 32-unit multifamily project in Calgary’s Crescent Heights community, will be ready in fall 2012.


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used for particularly messy jobs, and aren’t usually included in a traditional Calgary home. Oxford Homes does its best not to impede such flourishes. “We pass on costs when our buyers customize, but we don’t penalize them by charging them for upgrades,” George explains. “It makes things possible.” George grew up working in the family’s real-estate and property-management businesses with his father and his uncle, Jeff Randhawa, of Stanford Homes. After graduating from university, George spent several years working in financial services. He earned a master’s degree in environmental design, writing his thesis on planning for ethnic diversity, before returning to the family business. There, George’s research gave the firm unique insights into the needs of its diverse clients. George clearly relishes the work; he speaks enthusiastically about the best and worst parts of the business. The best include being able to work creatively—dreaming up ideas and designing projects—as well as getting to see the final, finished product and satisfying customers. The worst, he says, are financing issues, litigation, and conflict. “[When] running a business, you must do lots of things that aren’t your favourite things,” George says. “Litigation conflict is the worst. No one likes to become involved in litigation, but it happens; in the best case, these can be learning opportunities, which hopefully will help you avoid them in the future.” For the Chahals, succeeding in building and business means committing to hard work and having the right people on board.

no frills Oxford Homes takes pride in running a lean operation. Even during the recession of 2008, it managed to stay on track without having to lay off a single staff member. “We believe in slow and steady growth,” says George Chahal, vice president of planning and development. “We have never bitten off more than we could chew; dealing with tradespeople, we believe we should never give too little, and never give too much—our attitude is, ‘Tough, but fair.’”

“Have a good team around you,” George says. “Your accountant, bookkeeper, and lawyers all help you present your business professionally to bankers and lenders, which is very important. Establish good relationships with your tradespeople; they are the secret to your success. You need to understand their jobs and challenges in order to deliver for your customers.” Currently, Oxford Homes is expanding into land development, retail, multifamily dwellings, and office/ warehouse. In fact, the firm recently completed construction of a 43,000-square-foot office/warehouse space. At the end of the day, George is very proud of Calgary (the city of his birth), and he has a keen desire to give back to his community. “My goal is to help build a beautiful city,” he says. CBQ

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Beautiful By Design At a Glance Location Edmonton, AB Founded 2011 Employees 11 Specialty Custom-home construction Annual Sales $10 million

Above: Interior shot of the Carlisle Showhome at the Ravines of Richford.


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Celebration Homes, Inc. makes luxury and elegance standard features for home buyers By Jeff Hampton

The term "custom home" suggests fine finishes such

as handcrafted mouldings, balusters, and cabinets. It’s no surprise, then, to find those details in a home by Celebration Homes, because founder Randy Ettinger got his start doing millwork in 1991. Today, he is president of Edmonton-based Celebration Homes, where he has combined his keen sense of design with a desire to refine and improve the home-building and -buying process. “I learned about speed and process control by working with a builder of luxury modular homes called Noble

Homes; also how not to waste so much as a single stud,” Ettinger says. “Then I learned a lot about overall corporate management and marketing from a local builder of site-built homes that I partnered with for 10 years.” These experiences set the stage for Ettinger to launch Celebration Homes in 2011. “Home building is like manufacturing, except that the factory work stations move to the individual jobsites instead of the product moving down the assembly line,” he says. “This adds a level of complexity to the work, since overall process control is by nature so decentralized.” To address this, Celebration Homes has a defined process to take a home from design to completion. Routine checklists and other steps reduce errors and help meet the completion timeline. As a former woodworker, Ettinger rounds out his disciplined process with a hands-on approach when designing and building each home. “Much of our most important finished work is not done by subcontractors but rather by in-house specialists,” he says. “This allows us to maintain a super-high-quality level on critical elements, like millwork.”

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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featured project Carlisle ShowHome With the Carlisle Showhome, Celebration Homes is showing what the Ravines of Richford development has to offer. The home is designed for families, and offers 1,291 square feet of living space on the main floor, which is finished with five-inch, engineered charcoal-maple hardwood from Alberta Hardwood Flooring. The great room and den (left) are divided by a see-through fireplace, which was supplied by Timberwolf Hearth Products. The open concept allows for ample entertainment possibilities and excellent views. Three bedrooms provide plenty of space, and the home even includes a bonus family room, bringing the total footprint to 2,612 square feet. Celebration Homes has recently moved to a new ravine bungalow showhome, leaving the Carlisle open for occupants.

By having many of the details crafted in-house, Celebration Homes is able to offer home buyers a higher-quality home at a more reasonable cost. “We believe we offer a more-stylish, better-designed home than ordinary,” Ettinger says. “Design is an element that we feel is a low-cost way to make a home beautiful.” Instead of giving clients different choices at different price levels, Celebration Homes provides high-quality features as part of a standard design package. The standard specs represent what the company believes the average buyer is going to want. “Why annoy them with upgrading to this level when we can just present it ‘out of the box’ this way?” Ettinger says. “Our concept is to market our homes similar to luxury automobiles, where most everything is ‘standard.’” Even so, home buyers still have some decisions to make, and that can be a daunting and stressful exercise for even the most savvy customer. Celebration Homes has refined this process, too. “We have an in-house designer who assists each client,” Ettinger explains. “We encourage the clients to focus on the big picture and let the designer fine-tune the details. This results in much less stress for all and often a better package of details, as we are letting the professional do her work. We have a beautiful selection centre that assists in visualization.” With 35 homes built in his first year of business, Ettinger has mapped a path of measured growth that will top out at approximately 50 homes per year. “We believe the growth should be steady and controlled,” he says. By doing so, Celebration Homes has ensured that the level of quality and detail will always be high. CBQ


“Design is an element that we feel is a lowcost way to make a home beautiful.” randy ettinger, president & founder

A message from world stone

“Rock solid” are words that describe World Stone’s products as well as its commitment to excellent craftsmanship, service, and installation. Based in Edmonton, World Stone is the leading fabricator of counters, fireplaces, and showers crafted from enduring granite, marble, and quartz. World Stone customers see the full-slab and full-colour renderings prior to cutting, which is just one way that World Stone provides the results, value, and style that sophisticated builders and their customers demand.

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industry insights

At a Glance Locations Barrie, ON Innisfil, ON Founded 1890 Employees 10+ Specialty Residential construction Annual Projects 50–100

Although the Pratt family has been proud to offer a

A New Haven for Home Buyers With Toronto’s home prices soaring, Pratt Homes is making a statement with affordable housing in other communities of the GTA By Kelly Hayes

Above: The Luxury Manors are designed in response to customers wanting more square footage for their dollar. Options like double garages, large living spaces, and functional floor plans are ideal for families.


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wide range of residences throughout Simcoe County, Ontario, for more than 100 years, Pratt Homes has recently been capitalizing on the increased demand for residential property in Barrie and Innisfil—two fastgrowing communities north of Toronto on the western shore of Lake Simcoe. “We believe in this area, and we believe in our product,” says Brad Pratt, owner of the company. Both cities are located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA); however, Innisfil has historically been a rural area known for its seasonal homes. The immense growth in Barrie—and the GTA in general over the last four years— has paved the way for greater opportunities for residential development in Innisfil as well, and the community is now popular for permanent residents. Pratt Homes has kept a pulse on this growth over the years and is taking advantage of the new demand for housing in both areas. A shortage of land in Toronto itself makes it hard for new home buyers to find affordable homes in the city, but that’s not the only pull of Barrie and Innisfil. Buyers also seem drawn to the areas because they are more attractive and suitable for raising families. They generally have better schools and amenities, as well as proximity to

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“We are giving customers what they want: more home for less money.”



brad pratt, owner

Can-Barr Mechanical Ltd has been in business since 1980 under the ownership of Jeff Doyle. lakes, beaches, and trails that create a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Residents also find that the price of living—not just the price of a home—is more accommodating in these areas than in Toronto. “Before purchasing a new home, customers are becoming more educated than ever before,” says Doug Trumble, who serves as the sales and marketing manager for the company. “This [drives] customers to this area because of its many benefits.” Moreover, the GoTrain—a commuter-rail network that provides easy, timely, and affordable transportation to and from Toronto—provides another perk for Innisfil and Barrie residents. “Most customers used to look at the increased transportation cost with the decreased house cost, now there is much more than lower-cost homes here,” Trumble explains. Still, Pratt knows that lower-cost homes—especially larger, more affordable homes—are a major appeal that sometimes overrides all other factors for families needing a lot of space. As a response to this demand, Pratt Homes recently completed Luxury Manors. As a freehold townhome development in Innisfil, the homes range in size from 1,752 to 2,400 square feet, with optional two-car garages, and prices starting around $250,000. “We are giving customers what they want: more home for less money,” Pratt says. With efforts like these in place, Pratt Homes continues to thrive by offering home buyers a variety of high-quality homes in a number of flourishing communities. “We will always strive to be a great value builder,” Pratt says. “We can’t always sell everyone on what a great home we build or how great the community is or what great value you receive when you buy a Pratt Home; however, when their friend or family member buys and has a great experience, [they will come to us]. And we will be here when they are ready.” CBQ A message from exp

Can-Barr has worked for DG Pratt Construction since 1981 and continued that working relationship when Karen and Brad took over. 68 Hooper Rd. Unit • Barrie, Ontario L4N 8Z9 ph (705) 728-7617 • fx (705) 728-3271 • www.can-barr.com

Dedicated to client satisfaction

exp (the new identity of Richardson Foster Ltd.) provides professional, technical and strategic services to the world’s built and natural environments. Serving Barrie and surrounding area since 1987, we are proud to be part of the Pratt Homes/Pratt Construction development team. Barrie office: 4 Cedar Pointe Dr, Barrie, ON L4N 5R7 +1.705.728.0009

Pratt Construction and Pratt Homes continue to set the bar higher with every development, and we wish them continued success in their current and future works.


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At a Glance Location Saskatoon, SK Founded 1907 Tenured Faculty 760 Undergraduates 16,578 Graduate Students 2,890

Business as Usual How the University of Saskatchewan is finally getting recognized for what it’s been doing all along By Seth Putnam

Ron Cruikshank chuckles when he hears sustainabil-

Above: The D-wing of the new Health Sciences Complex aims for LEED Silver certification by taking advantage of natural light and communal work areas.


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ity called a “new” initiative. In reality, the director of planning and development for the University of Saskatchewan’s Facilities Management Division has been devoting his waking hours to greening the campus for nearly the past decade. Although the university opened up the Office of Sustainability in 2005—which is dedicated to promoting environmentally friendly practices—a commitment to

preserving the earth is something the administration has always kept close to its heart. “This is something we’ve been focused on for a long, long time,” Cruikshank says. But with the creation of the Office of Sustainability, the university was looking to develop a formal plan. That plan will be finalized this year, and it will set forth a laundry list of green practices, goals, and commitments to faculty, staff, and students alike. At the top of the heap is making “sustainability more than just an initiative,” Cruikshank explains. He points out how for the university, ideas start as concepts, then become initiatives, then ideally are woven into the fabric of everyday life. “What really is sustainability?” Cruikshank asks. “It’s being careful with our resources for projects and ensuring that the impact is minimal outside the university.” That question gets asked in practical ways every day, right down to what sort of lighting is best for the earth. The university is actually in the process of replacing lights across campus to be both more energy efficient and cost-effective. By going from T-12 fluorescent fixtures to T-8, the campus is saving more than $200,000 per year. Over the years, the Office of Sustainability has been responsible for certain awareness programs. The recycling program, ongoing since 2006, has been one of

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photo: Liam Richards

industry insights

industry insights

the biggest successes. “We went from a few centres to several hundred across campus,” Cruikshank says. “It’s no longer just about pop cans, but now paper, cardboard, and plastics.” Elsewhere, the Office of Sustainability is looking into the little things: double-sided printing, earthworm farms, and more. But nowhere is the university’s conscientious philosophy more apparent than some of the department’s recent large-scale projects. First, there’s the new addition for the College of Law—for which Cruikshank’s team targeted and received LEED Gold certification. “We were keen to come up with solutions,” he explains. “We learned what works and what doesn’t in a cold environment.” On the energy front, the team paid special attention to the envelope’s heat-recovery stats, incorporating radiant cooling instead of air-conditioning, which reduced the consumption of ventilation. They installed low-flow water fixtures. The crown jewel, though, is a living roof, which reduces heat loss and further protects the roof membrane, meaning less runoff and less strain on other infrastructure. But perhaps the university’s most ambitious undertaking is the new Health Sciences Complex, which has been in the planning stages since 2001. Two wings in particular are targeting LEED classifications. The D-wing—the medical-research portion—looks to achieve LEED Silver by taking advantage of natural light and communal work-

space so that researchers can feed off each others’ findings. Meanwhile, the E-wing—the social-research portion—will feature classroom layouts designed to foster interaction between the students and faculty. But the University of Saskatchewan isn’t just ticking off certifications with such endeavours. “What LEED has provided is a framework,” Cruikshank says. “It’s validating the things we’ve already been doing for 20 years.” CBQ

greening the university Since its founding, in 2006, the Office of Sustainability has launched various initiatives to plant seeds in the minds of faculty and students about environmentally conscious practices. One of these included a study on the university’s waste stream. At the end of the study, during the annual Employee Appreciation Picnic, staff occupied garbage stations to identify and sort the food waste. They tracked how many pounds of food were wasted and discovered that at the next picnic, they had taken a substantial chunk out of the number. “We’re asking ourselves, ‘How can we improve?’” says Ron Cruikshank, director of planning and development. “And, ‘How can we compost better?’”

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Everyone knows the three most important things

At a Glance Location Powell River, BC Founded 1995 Specialty Recreational homes in remote and isolated locations Annual Sales $10 million

Above: Douglas-fir timbers, natural limestone, and a stone fireplace all radiate warmth and create an inviting ambiance at the Bliss Landing Retreat.


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Getting Away The stunning residential construction of Agius Builders Ltd. takes on the remote coastal regions of British Columbia By Rita Smith

about real estate are location, location, and location. Jim Agius of Agius Builders takes the principle to heart: the home builder lives, works, raises his family, and even sources materials within a stone’s throw of his hometown on the rugged coast of British Columbia. “I’m from Powell River,” Jim says. “A town of 22,000, two ferry rides away from Vancouver—it’s the kind of community kids usually leave after high school. I left, too, to go to college.” Following graduation, Jim took a job in construction and fell in love with the industry. After years of successfully building and renovating houses in the Vancouver Island area, Jim was approached by Vancouver Island University to run its residential-construction program, working with students each year to construct a new house. This experience helped him realize a key principle of running a construction business: knowing how to teach construction fundamentals is the difference between an “at the tools” contractor and a large builder. “Trusting your staff and having the ability to delegate makes large projects possible,” Jim says. “If you can’t delegate, you can’t grow.” After a decade of teaching, he was itching to get back into business and back to Powell River, near his family and 20 minutes away from his ocean cottage. In 1996, Jim; his wife, Tracy; and their four kids returned to Powell River, and Jim resumed his building business. Agius Builders specializes in construction at remote sites, including oceanfront or island properties. Jim’s deep connection to the local landscape even includes sourcing extraordinary materials locally for his projects. “We are so lucky to be able to access some of the most beautiful and unusual materials right from here,” he says with enthusiasm. “We can harvest dead and down trees that have fallen to the forest floor. Some are enormous— hundreds of years old and several feet thick. We are allowed to bring them out and use the lumber. No trees are killed.” Agius Builders’ projects also use granite quarried locally from nearby ocean inlets. The combination of local wood and stone materials allows for breathtakingly beautiful recreational residences built to painstakingly high standards. “Most of the properties are fly-in or boat access,” Jim says. “Prices range from $500,000 to $1.5 million—not as fancy as Whistler, but good, solid, family recreational properties.” In order to expand, Jim hired manager Weyden Langille to oversee commercial projects on Vancouver Island in 2004. “[Langille] brings commercial strength, energy, and dedication to that side of the business,” Jim says. Langille is now a business partner. A number of Jim’s apprenticeship graduates have also returned to work with him as subcontractors. “It is great

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

featured project murrelet place The first phase of Agius Builders’ Murrelet development has already sold out its 78 homes. Next door, another development, called Lancaster, is just being launched and will offer 58 new units. Designed with retiring baby boomers in mind, Murrelet boasts elegant patio homes with double garages and 11-foot ceilings in the family room. The development is only minutes from year-round golf courses, skiing at Mount Washington, and excellent fishing. Murrelet is also steps from brand-new shopping developments in Comox, BC, which is located on the Georgia Strait, on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

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“Trusting your staff and having the ability to delegate makes large projects possible. If you can’t delegate, you can’t grow.” jim agius, principal

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to see them doing well,” he says. For all young business owners, Jim offers some basic advice: “Work hard, dream big … then go have a beer,” he says with a laugh. “There has to be balance.” Jim suggests all business people need a five-year plan that includes not only business goals but “everything you want in your life,” he says. “Don’t overextend yourself— build slowly and competently. I have seen local builders putting up entire subdivisions that just aren’t selling … It happens.” CBQ


(see in-store for details)

Valley Building Supplies Ltd. 4290 Padgett Road • 604 485-9744 www.valleybuildingsupplies.com

april/may/june 2012


industry insights

Hands-on Design Whether designing golf clubhouses or industrial plants, Pavan Architects Inc. prefers working up close and personal with its clients By Jeff Hampton

At a Glance Location Markham, ON Founded 1997 Employees 1 Specialty Golf course, industrial, and school design

Above: The pro shop at Dragon’s Fire Golf Club.


april/may/june 2012

Architect Roger Pavan has spent enough years

working on big projects with big firms to learn plenty about design and, just as important, how to conduct business. For him, smaller is better. “Smaller projects with smaller firms are more hands-on, more personal,” he says. “You’re dealing more with the principles of the client and the construction contractor. At that level, there is more of a vested interest in creating good buildings at a reasonable cost.” Pavan began shaping this philosophy in 1979, when he worked with a small firm while in university. He continued with them for 10 years, designing schools and industrial facilities in the $2–5 million range. “I found

that in that smaller setting, there was a more humane way of dealing with contractors directly,” he says. In 1989, Pavan went to Italy for two years to work with firms in Rome and Milan. “I’m of Italian background and I wanted to discover my roots,” he says. “They have great design there, too, of course.” Pavan then returned to a Canadian firm, but in 1997 he set out on his own. “It was difficult getting projects, and I ended up consulting for B+H Architects, one the largest Canadian firms,” he says. “I was there for nine years while still maintaining my practice.” Despite becoming an associate, Pavan wasn’t satisfied. The projects were huge—up to $55 million—and spanned as much as three years. “I like smaller projects that take less time,” Pavan says. “We architects sort of like to see our designs actually built.” In 2006, Pavan left B+H to concentrate on his own firm, Pavan Architects, Inc. Based in Markham, Ontario, the firm has worked on projects throughout the Greater Toronto Area and is especially busy west of the city, where there is significant growth. One of his first projects in the area was Dragon’s Fire Golf Club, in Carlisle, which combined his love of golf with his flare for design. Today, while working to expand his golf-course business, Pavan is also seeking industrial projects with

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights




featured project dragon’s fire golf club As an avid golfer, Roger Pavan had plenty of clubs in his bag when he was asked, in 2006, to design facilities for the new Dragon’s Fire Golf Club, in Carlisle, ON. The 1,000-square-foot stone-clad pro shop, topped with a dragon weather vane; a 7,200-square-foot maintenance facility; and a 1,500-squarefoot green keeper’s bungalow were completed in 2008. A 3,500-square-foot clubhouse designed for seasonal golf events was postponed when the owner’s vision expanded. Pavan Architects has since designed a two-storey, 24,000-square-foot clubhouse complete with banquet and kitchen facilities for hosting year-round events.

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unique features and potential for growth—such as renovating an aluminum-painting plant in Scarborough, Ontario, to fit a new piece of equipment that paints aluminum sections vertically instead of horizontally. Floor space is not an issue, but height is. The solution: lift the roof 20 feet and install new support columns and cladding. “The existing building has a brick-and-block exterior, but we can’t put any more weight on the foundation,” Pavan says. “So we’re using foam insulation panels and marrying them to the existing design to make it look like it has been that way from the start.” Pavan brings such innovation to the design process with Revit advanced 3-D and BIM software. “When I saw what [these] could do, I decided to implement it in all our projects from day one,” he says. With this software, coordination of drawings is automatic, and architects can design multiple iterations quickly. Perhaps most important, everyone can see designs more readily. “It’s easier for the client to relate to the design in 3-D, whereby we can display the building from all views by spinning the model around in real time, right before their eyes,” Pavan says. The technology also gives Pavan Architects a competitive edge. “Most of the larger firms are still catching up,” he says, “but we’ve been working in 3-D for three years.” Industrial projects will continue to be a staple for Pavan. “But we’ll seek golf courses and schools that add more flare and design work,” he says. “And we’ll continue working on projects that are manageable with small contractors and their principles.” CBQ




101B, 2866 Mt. Lehman Road, Abbotsford, BC V4X 2N6 Telephone: 604-557-0223 Cell: 604-935-4728

Office Fax: 604-557-0224 Direct Fax: 604-898-4427

E-mail: Bluelinegroup@shawbiz.ca april/may/june 2012


through the years

Murphy Construction Corp. 1997 murphy construction corp. is founded

From start-up to major player in just 15 years? It might sound a little too good to be true, but it’s an accurate depiction of Murphy Construction Corp. (MCC). Based in Pemberton, British Columbia, the firm has harnessed a passion for quality workmanship and an unflagging “can-do” attitude to rise from a home-based business to a multimillion-dollar firm that works throughout Pemberton and Whistler. At the outset, MCC concentrated on building custom homes, but its current services include planning; design-build; complete project management for general construction, restorations, and renovations; and envelope remediation for commercial and residential projects. Murphy Construction also applies a strict environmental and sustainability policy to its employees and subcontractors. MCC’s administrative, operations, and financial staff are based in the Pemberton office, and a team of experienced project managers strives to bring in every job on schedule and within budget. “We’ve accepted jobs that others thought were impossible—such as the Tyax resort refurbishment—and pulled them off successfully,” says owner Graham Murphy. —Frederick Jerant

After emigrating to Canada from England, Graham Murphy spent five years in the construction business, eventually serving as project manager for the building and renovation of high-end custom homes. At the urging of several colleagues, Murphy starts his own business in 1997. “I was fortunate to win some good bids at the outset,” he says. “Things just fed upon themselves from there.”

“We face a limited budget, so we are taking special pains—and a lot of creative thinking— to spend the money in the right way.” graham murphy, owner

1998 the big move

After running the company from his home for two years, Murphy hires coordinator Lori Gobert. Murphy rents what he calls “a shoebox of an office—no more than 120 square feet— about two blocks from my home in Pemberton.” The office has a phone, a computer, a filing cabinet, and some space for desks.

2000 the insurance market beCkons

Local insurance companies hire Murphy for drywall removal and similar postdisaster work on 150 townhouse units in Whistler, after a flood damages them. “[The insurance companies] prefer to work with local firms, and I soon found myself getting repeat business,” Murphy explains. Within a year, insurance-company work provides up to 70 percent of MCC’s income. Around the same time, the firm begins the same sort of work for hotels, schools, and other commercial properties, as well as building new homes and renovating existing structures.


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

2007 The olympics

2010 the olympics part ii

After a rigourous review process, MCC is hired to contribute to the Athletes Village in Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics. The project will accommodate 2,400 athletes, coaches, and officials; will include a medical centre, recreation centres, entertainment facilities, and other structures; and must adhere to LEED Gold standards. MCC builds 85 housing units—about 40 percent of the total.

In May, MCC receives contracts to convert the Athletes Village’s 85 units from dorm-style structures into multifamily dwellings, with a quick deadline of autumn. MCC removes temporary walls and installs new kitchens. All of the rehab work is LEED certified and emphasizes the use of green materials.

Later that year, Murphy becomes a maintenance-service provider for the Village, providing 24-7 coverage during the Games themselves, and both daytime and evening coverage during pre- and post-Games times. “I’m very proud of those contracts, and feel honoured to have won them,” Murphy says.

2010 construction impossible

For the Tyax Wilderness Resort, MCC is called upon to perform two years’ worth of work in about six months. “In May 2010, the resort’s new owners were ready to invest $4 million to make the resort a world-class facility by that December,” Murphy says. “We made recommendations to the owner and built a team of trades and consultants who had in the past exhibited the ‘can-do’ attitude that we knew was critical to delivering a successful project.” MCC’s team remediates 30 hotel rooms, all corridors, the dining room, and entryway; installs a new commercial kitchen and first-class spa facility; and replaces all exterior post-and-beam work, including the deck infrastructure at the heli-skiing operation. All of it is completed on time and on budget.

2010 (Tyax Wilderness Resort)

2011 queen of peace monastery arises

Construction of this 23,000-square-foot structure in Squamish Valley includes a chapel, infirmary, kitchen, library, refectory, cloister-walk, and accommodations for the 20 Dominican Sisters who live there year-round.

2010 (Tyax Wilderness Resort)

The project presents some interesting challenges. “Because the monastery is located on a mountain, everything must be pinned to rock,” Murphy says. “We face a limited budget, so we are taking special pains—and a lot of creative thinking—to spend the money in the right way.”

MCC begins building a $1.2 million, 3,000-square-foot custom home in Whistler’s Baxter Creek Development. The home emphasizes “greenness”—energy efficiency, proper insulation, heat recovery, and more. “We’ve had a long relationship with the owner [a prominent architect], and he’s very forward-thinking,” Murphy says. The company brainstorms with its consultants to achieve high levels of efficiency with a minimal-cost impact. The results are encouraging: without drywall, the home achieves a blower-door test rating of 1.2 (Canada’s R-2000 program’s airtightness standard is 1.5).


Photo: Chris Christie

2011 the start of the whistler house

2011 (Queen of Peace Monastery)

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april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase EllisDon Corporation II BY IV Design Associates Top End Homes Westparks + Associates Inc. White Eagle Homes Ltd. Rafii Architects Inc.

EllisDon Corporation One of the largest general contractors in operation, EllisDon is an employee-owned company delivering construction expertise and services to clients throughout the globe. Incorporated in 1951, and located in Mississauga, Ontario, EllisDon has long distinguished itself through its people and

44 50 54 60 64 66

By Christopher Cussat

its innovative practices. Completing in excess of $2.5 billion in new construction annually, the firm employs more than 1,000 staff members and has a presence throughout North America, as well as offices in the United Arab Emirates. EllisDon offers complete construction and

project-management services, and has a growing range of construction consulting services that include ICT, BIM, sustainable building, and facilities management. It is no surprise that EllisDon is behind some of the most exciting and innovative projects throughout the world today.

1 Eighth Avenue Place


Calgary, AB Started 2007 Completed 2011 Size 990,000 square feet Building Type Commercial


Photos: James Ireland

Eighth Avenue Place (EAP) is perhaps EllisDon’s most ambitious project to date. Located in downtown Calgary, EAP was conceived and built to inspire the city’s business leaders today and well into the future. “We have only built the east tower so far, which has 45 rental floors, [at] about 21,000 square feet each,” says Martyn Wesley, EllisDon’s construction manager. Starting with the now-completed single, all-glass east tower—and eventually doubling with a second, west tower—the architectural composition of EAP is considered to be an aesthetic, modern, and sustainable masterpiece. When completed, the project’s two towers will become a unique and striking landmark of the Calgary skyline, providing more than 1.8 million square feet of commercial office space for the city’s growing business community.

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project showcase 1


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase


Photos: James Ireland

The east tower also contains a lobby that is three stories high, and there are six levels of parking beneath the tower, with the entire project taking up a city block in both directions. Started on December 11, 2007, EAP’s east tower had partial occupancy on November 21, 2010, with full occupancy booked on February 21, 2011. Construction of the west tower is expected to begin in spring 2012. One of the most unique aspects of EAP is that none of the floors necessitated the use of intermediate columns. “All of the columns are at the perimeter, so the floors are completely open,” Wesley says. “It’s actually a different kind of composite construction: we have a concrete core with structural-steel frame and concrete-topped-metal deck floors.” Because the building is so long and narrow, it behaved differently when initially constructed, actually leaning to the south before coming back. “This was predicted by the engineers, but it was not until we got a year into the job that it actually happened,” Wesley says, “so we had to make some adjustments.” Complementing the east tower’s spectacular three-storey-high lobby, and resting between the podium where the west tower will be built, there is a huge atrium called the Winter Garden, which houses trees, plants, and flowers throughout the year. In addition, all of the surfaces of the building’s interior lobby and the Winter Garden are clad with stone. “There is stone on the floors, walls, and on the exterior up to the third-floor roof,” Wesley says. “The stone came from all parts of the

world—we have imported quartzite from Switzerland, marble from Italy, and limestone from Spain.” At the time of writing, EAP is precertified for LEED Platinum status. “EAP will be the first [LEED-CS Platinum] building in Canada, and I think the second in North America,” Wesley says. This highly efficient and sustainable building also boasts the largest green roof in Canada, which is located on a third-floor level.

B LUEBIRD C ONTRACTING S ERVICES L TD. 3024 - 49 Ave SE Calgary AB T2B 2X4 P: 403.279.9094 | F: 403.720.3268

Bluebird Contracting Services Ltd is a full service earthworks company. Delivering projects on time and on budget, with a superior level of quality is a reputation we’ve held for 30+ years. We are proud to have partnered with Ellis Don on the 8th Avenue Place project, and look forward to continued service together.


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112 Skyline Cres. N.E. Calgary, Alberta T2K 5X7 Phone 403.275.6432 Fax 403.275.2452


SimplexGrinnell combines in-depth knowledge of local codes and standards with the resources to tackle anything - from a two-story office building to the fifty-one story Eighth Avenue Place building; from a retrofit to a ground-up project. We have 150 company-owned offices that serve customers locally. With a portfolio that includes fire alarm, sprinkler, suppression, mass notification, integrated security, communications and nurse call, SimplexGrinnell is a company you can trust. Make the safe choice. Contact our local office (403-287-3202) for your next project.

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Your budget does more when your facility consumes less. Siemens can help your facility become smarter, more efficient and green. usa.siemens.com/efficient

Operations can account for 60% of the life cycle cost of a building, so managing energy and operational efficiency is critical to maintaining your facility’s overall value. And it gets harder with age. Siemens experts can help your facility do more for less. We take the time to understand your operations and longterm business requirements. We then provide answers

tailored to meet your specific needs and budget constraints. With strategies, systems, services and financing options designed to maximize building performance, we can help your building reach peak efficiency at any stage in its life cycle. Greater efficiency means less waste, an improved environmental impact and more for your bottom line.

Answers for infrastructure.



april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Interior Designers of Canada Member

II BY IV Design Associates When Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrook formed their interior-design firm in 1990, they wanted a name that described what they do rather than just announce

1. The Chairman’s Suite 2. Trump International Hotel & Tower 3. Donato Salon + Spa

By Jeff Hampton

their own names. They chose II BY IV because, just as a two-by-four piece of lumber is a basic element of all construction, hands-on attention is at the heart of every project they undertake. “All companies like to think they are different, and we are because we are actively involved as partners with every project,” Menchions says. “We don’t take

on more work than we can handle, and we overservice our clients. We design the project and then we walk with the client through the entire process.” If II BY IV has a design “signature,” it is dramatic lighting and innovative finishes. “We light the space and the product, and not just the people in the space,” Menchions says.

1 The Chairman’s Suite


Toronto, ON Started 2010 Completed 2010 Size 5,400 square feet Photos: David Wittaker

Building Type Luxury sports club Client Air Canada Centre

When the Toronto Maple Leafs took to the ice for the 2010 season at Air Canada Centre, the NHL team’s most moneyed fans watched the action from the new elegance of the Chairman’s Suite. Carving the exclusive 120-seat club from what once were 12 individual luxury suites was no small feat for the designers. “The space is basically a concrete bunker, and it was a challenge to create a beautiful setting without the benefit of natural light,” Menchions says. “On the other hand, we were able to gain good ceiling heights due to the rising seat structure on top of the space.” II BY IV installed high-end finishes of rosewood and


marble, bronze screens and light fixtures, etched glass, and herring bone-patterned wood floors. “It is the most expensive, private sports-facility suite in North America,” Menchions says. II BY IV had a tight schedule—the suite had to be ready in time for the first game of the 2010–2011 season—but the firm had home-ice advantage because it had been there before. “We worked at the centre when it was first designed, and it was exciting to come back 10–12 years later and work on an exclusive space,” Menchions says.

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project showcase 2

2 Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, ON Started 2007 To Be Completed 2012 Size 850,000 square feet Building Type Multiuse high-rise Client Talon International

It’s no secret that when Donald Trump and his family put their name on a building, there is going to be glitz and glamour. The 57-storey Trump International Hotel & Tower takes it to the extreme. When you walk into the lobby of the hotel/residential high-rise, you walk into a world decorated with onyx walls and


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Macassar ebony millwork, parquet and carpet-like marble and granite floors, crystal-studded wall appliqués, antiquemirror ceiling panels, Portofino marble arches, and soft-bronze metalwork. “Every aspect of the interior is spectacular,” Menchions says. “Nobody is building at as high a quality as this. This will likely be Trump’s flagship property.” For II BY IV, the project presented a rare opportunity. “It’s unusual for one firm to be asked to design an entire hotel, and there’s nothing in the building that we haven’t touched,” Menchions says. That includes residential and hotel lobbies, elevators and elevator lobbies, corridors, guest suites, bars, a spa restaurant on the 29th floor, and a sky lobby on the 37th. “There are five luxury-hotel brands opening in the city, and all are fairly contemporary,” Menchions says. “This one takes a modern approach to classic details.”


Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase 3

3 Donato Salon + Spa Toronto, ON Started 2009 Completed 2010 Size 5,400 square feet Building Type Retail hair salon and spa Client John Donato



Top fashion models needing a new look often call on Canadian hair stylist John Donato to do his magic. With two salons and a school in Toronto, as well as an abundance of international clientele, Donato is one of the best at what he does. Likewise, when Donato wanted to create a new brand in his home city, he turned to one of the best. Donato Salon + Spa, located at the Shops at Don Mills, takes Donato’s famous style to an all-new level. The full-service spa features an intimate, boutique feel that enhances the exclusive, pampered experience enjoyed by clientele. “The salon has areas for fine retail, styling stations, a colour bar, treatment rooms, and even private areas for celebrities,” Menchions says. “The original plan required more square footage, so we had to design in a way that brought all of the tasks of the salon into a smaller space.” While divided into different sections, the spa features open views throughout the space. And because the product is the people themselves, the décor is elegant but not overwhelming. “Interior colours are cream and charcoal, to let the people decorate it with their own colour and eccentricity,” Menchions says. A message from NGi designer glass

Photos: David Wittaker

We congratulate ll BY lV for its success and well-deserved recognition. We enjoy working together to help develop special products for its projects. We are a decorative commercial-glass fabricator, constantly developing new looks and products. Whether you need a custom solution or value-engineering options, we strive to get the right solution for you. Our products and processes are all GREENGUARD certified and Greener Seal approved for valuable LEED points. Our capabilities include digital imaging, colouring, bending, lamination, tempering, acid etching, CAD design, CNC shaping, V grooving, water-jet cutting, sandblasting, UV bonding, and precision assembly. Quality, value, and certified green products.


april/may/june 2012





april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Top End Homes Top End Homes is a small company with a big heart, ready to help its clients with any of their construction needs. To simply say that Top End Homes is a builder of custom

1. Mustang Alley 2. Bakerview 3. The Cedars

By Christopher Cussat

homes is misleading, for this diverse development firm has designed and built barns, cabins, shops, and warehouses, and has also completed renovations and additions to existing homes. But Top End Homes’ specialty is actually in timberframe residences. “We believe that the beauty of the natural timber brings warmth and character to any home,” says

president Dean Hodgson. The company believes in helping owners with each step of the building process. “A client will have a dream, and we need to help them make it come true,” Hodgson says. “We are involved with each homeowner from the ground up, to ensure that each stage of the project runs smoothly.”

1 Mustang Alley Coquitlam, BC Started 2009 Completed 2010 Size 10,000 square feet

This 10,000-square-foot luxury timber-frame home took almost three years to complete, including the year it took to find the lot and finish the landscaping. The owners had a short wish list for the home: a showroom to store all of their collectable Mustang automobiles; a home large enough to entertain 30 for dinner, but cozy enough for two to be comfortable; a master bedroom on the main floor; and an elevator. In order to include all of these requests and remain in town, a double lot was needed that also had street access to both the front and back. After finding a gently sloping property, Top End Homes was able to build a house with a 2,070-square-foot showroom—enough space to store 14 cars—half on the floor, half on hoists in the air—and a three-car garage on the main level at the front of the house. Since most of the “living” is done on the main floor, the home has an open-concept kitchen and great room. The patio doors from these two rooms fold laterally out of the way, so there is no obstruction to the outside on a beautiful summer day. Hodgson admits that nothing was spared with the construction of this luxury home, yet Top End


Photos: Alec Watson

Building Type Timber-frame home


Homes still managed to create a cozy atmosphere. “The 21-foot-tall ceilings with exposed Douglas-fir timbers in the great room create a dramatic space,” he says, “but the large exposed-wood timbers keep the space feeling warm and comfortable.” Moving downstairs, one finds the theatre, wine cellar, showroom, and lounge. “The showroom is beautifully separated from the lounge by floor-to-ceiling, wall-towall, clear-edge-grain-fir windows,” Hodgson says.

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project showcase



Bakerview Abbotsford, BC Started 2008 Completed 2009 Size 5,600 square feet Building Type Timber-frame home


The timbers for this beautiful 5,600-squarefoot timber-frame home were erected in 2008 on a lot overlooking the Fraser Valley. Since it is located in town, the challenge with the home’s design was maximizing privacy, especially with neighbours close by. “We needed to take advantage of the breathtaking southern view of the valley floor and mountains beyond, which was unobstructed by anything behind the home,” Hodgson says. As one walks into the home’s 400-squarefoot great room, with its high, vaulted ceiling, a wonderful view of Mount Baker can be seen through the south wall of windows, which are beautifully framed by the warm oak timbers. Designed with the kitchen in one back corner and the master suite in the other, Top End Homes had ample room to recess the 400-square-foot timber-frame deck and its outdoor fireplace. “This design feature gives complete privacy from the neighbours on the east and west sides of the house, allowing one to sit by the fire on a fall evening and watch the stars come out without feeling you are in the middle of a suburb,” Hodgson says. The timbers are the focal point of this 2009 Gold Georgie Award-winning home. By using up lighting in all of the vaulted timber ceilings, Top End Homes was able to highlight the timbers without the light fixtures becoming the focus. “We also kept the space open by using a glass railing in the upper bridge hallway that overlooks the great room and the front entry,” Hodgson says.

Photos: Roger Wade



april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase 3

3 The Cedars Mission, BC Started 2004 Completed 2005 Size 4,600 square feet Building Type Timber-frame home

The Cedars was Hodgson’s first timber-frame home. After falling in love with timber-frame homes and doing much research, he found a small, wooded acreage to build this 4,600-square-foot home. This home was unique because log siding was used for the exterior finish, which suited the natural surroundings. “I love the exterior look of a log home in the right setting, but I personally


find that log walls on the interior can be a bit overwhelming,” Hodgson says. He soon discovered that this combination of log siding and timber frame was perfect for the home. As a result, the Cedars has the great look of log on the outside and the warmth and character of the timber on the inside—while still having drywall and paint, which brightens the interior and allows for colour changes in the future. Hodgson also believes that timber-frame construction allows for the full spectrum of interiordesign options. “This home had some great features, such as the large prow in the great room that made for a dramatic view of the forest and creek,” Hodgson says. “In addition, the 27-foot ceiling (finished in pine instead of drywall), the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, and the concrete kitchen counters maintained the more rustic feel of this home despite its size.”


april/may/june 2012




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april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Westparks + Associates Inc. Although Theo West-Parks was born into an architectural family, she wasn’t sure she would become one. At university, she began studying English and art history, but before long, her father, a senior partner in a large Toronto firm, convinced

1. Cara Operations Headquarters 2. Cushman & Wakefield

Interior Designers of Canada Member By Seth Putnam

her to take a leap. “Halfway through, he said to me, ‘Have you thought about what you really want to do with your life?’” West-Parks says. “I had always loved art, and so I enrolled in the architectural-design program at the Ontario College of Art. That was the beginning for me.” In 1996, she started her own company, Westparks + Associates. “Part of the company’s intrinsic value is that once we


have a relationship with a client, we can help to inspire and transform them,” West-Parks explains. “If you understand their values and their vision, you can become a support system to their overall business plan.” It’s that relational focus that shines through in two of her most recent projects: award-winning office spaces for Cara Operations and Cushman & Wakefield.


Cara Operations Headquarters Vaughan, ON Started 2006 Completed 2009 Size 100,000 square feet Capacity 425 employees Building Type Commercial


Photos: Doug Hall

When you enter Cara Operations’ gigantic new headquarters, there’s a striking sense of openness. With skylights in the 18-foot-tall ceilings and a wide boulevard that runs the length of the space, no one is hidden from view—not even the president. That boulevard becomes the major corridor for clients and staff, and as they walk along, they have full access to boardrooms, presentation areas, and even a coffee bar—all with clear visual lines. “They wanted a transparent organization,” WestParks says. “You understand immediately the kind of energy they want to inspire.” Flat-screen televisions are everywhere, and thanks to

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project showcase

extensive wiring design by Sparks AV, they are set up to host company-wide presentations and provide up-to-the-minute news and strategies. “All 28 meeting rooms have TVs that are set up for presentations,” West-Parks says. “They’re all connected to the broadcast sensor, and there are projection and video-conferencing options. It’s very state-of-the-art.” Elsewhere, there’s a large test kitchen available for developing new culinary combinations, and it’s hooked up to the in-house broadcast network, so associates can watch progress as it’s happening. Upstairs, there’s a large gym, showers, a yoga studio, and a spinning room, in addition to a bevy of meeting/training spaces. “They wanted to be on the leading edge,” West-Parks says, referring to Cara’s commitment to outfitting the building with LEED features. “Everyone in a seated position has access to daylight and exterior views. From an energy perspective, there are dimmers and sensors throughout.”




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Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase



Cushman & Wakefield Markham, ON Started 2010 Completed 2011 Size 13,000 square feet Capacity 80 employees Building Type Commercial




Photos: Andrew Sit

A global real-estate firm based in New York City, Cushman & Wakefield has recently transformed itself to encourage more creativity and interaction between its employees, as well as to incorporate a sustainable precedent at its headquarters. “The Canadian office that we did was given the same parameters,” West-Parks says. “It was to meet the LEED standards New York had established. Real estate is a sales organization. Much of the time, it’s driven by private offices, and as you earn status in a company, you earn your territory.” But West-Parks told the executives that, in order to meet LEED standards and move into the 21st century with a motivated, intelligent workforce, they needed to free up their environment. The administration agreed, and West-Parks set about designing a block of 22 offices, leaving the other 54 workstations open. The offices were fitted with floor-to-ceiling glass to create an atmosphere of transparency and approachability. “It was about creating a team environment where people could collaborate, where they could work on change, and where they could work on technology,” West-Parks says. “In the old, closed environment, you never knew who was there, because you never saw half the people. Now, you can walk through the organization and connect to them immediately.” As Westparks + Associates’ second LEED facility, this project demonstrated a special commitment to sustainable practices. What started as an older building became an environmentally responsible edifice, with upgraded washrooms, carbon monoxide sensors, and plenty of daylight. In addition, the designers made special provisions for eco-friendly paint, carpet, adhesives, and wood, right down to the Haworth furniture. The success of the project finds Westparks + Associates lined up to work on another of Cushman & Wakefield’s locations: the new, Mississauga, Ontario-based facility.

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project showcase

White Eagle Homes Ltd. Mike Odyjewski and his wife, Bozena, created White Eagle Homes in 1996, when they built their first show home in Edmonton. The show home was an attractive bi-level model with the master bedroom above the garage, and it was an innovation at that time. By looking at home building from the customer’s point of

By Julie Schaeffer

view, the Odyjewskis have developed some of the most notable homes on the Edmonton market. White Eagle Homes, which builds approximately 35 homes per year, is known for its functional floor plans, luxurious interiors, and customerservice program, which lets customers stay in touch with their builders. Four of

the company’s homes (Blue Diamond II, Emilia III, Sandstone IV, and Ruby II) were finalists for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association 2011 Alberta Award of Excellence in Housing. Two of them, Emilia III and Sandstone IV, became winners, and White Eagle Homes was chosen as the Builder of the Year in Alberta.

1 Emilia III Edmonton, AB Started 2010 Completed 2011 Size 3,138 square feet

White Eagle Homes’ Emilia model began with a customer request, so it seemed appropriate to name it after the child of the family buying the home. Approximately one year later, White Eagle Homes built its first show home based on Emilia’s floor plan. This model became so popular that the company decided to continue building the same model. “The Emilia model has been so popular that we’ve developed three, improving each one along the way,” Bozena says. Built in the Allard Estates subdivision of south Edmonton, where White Eagle Homes has built many houses using Emilia’s floor plan, the third Emilia model (Emilia III) is a two-storey, 3,138-square-foot home with a 1,500-square-foot finished basement and a two-car garage. The open-concept house features rooms that flow organically. “The front room can be used as a dining room or a sitting room, and the space opens to the great room, with only a staircase in between,” Bozena says. “You can see from the front of the house to the back.” The home features four bedrooms upstairs, one of


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Photos: David Higgs

Building Type Residential


Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase 1

which—the large master bedroom—includes a walk-in closet and a luxurious master bath with double sinks, a Jacuzzi, and a steam shower. The master bath is fully finished with granite from floor to ceiling, and crown moulding complements wall colours.” One unique feature of Emilia III is the 600-squarefoot space below the garage, which Bozena says can be used as a storage area, wine cellar, or even shelter. “The area, which makes use of otherwise wasted space, is all concrete, which makes it very secure, with secondary access through the corner of the garage,” she says. Another unique feature is the home’s attention to function, as evidenced by two laundry rooms, one downstairs and one upstairs. “Our target customer is a family, and it’s beneficial to have the second laundry room upstairs when you have a family occupying four bedrooms,” Bozena says. Mike and Bozena Odyjewski are proud that Emilia III is a winner of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association 2011 Alberta Award of Excellence in Housing. Alberta had a record-breaking 283 entries in 2011, and Emilia III was one of three finalists in the Single Family $575,000–749,999 category, eventually becoming the winner. With typical upgrades, the Emilia III model home typically sells for $850,000–1.1 million, while the original Emilia III show home is listed at $1.1 million. Despite its higher price tag, Bozena expects the Emilia III to sell soon, given its universal appeal. “This model has been so popular because it is unique and functional,” she says, “and its well-utilized space and very open concept make this model really grand.”



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Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Rafii Architects Inc. There are many ways to measure success, and for architect Foad Rafii it’s a three-part formula. “A job is successful if the client, the end user, and [the architect] are all happy,” he says. “We

1. Luna 2. Era 3. Drake

By Jeff Hampton

try to create that balance.” Rafii began building that philosophy in Vancouver in 1983, and got his big break right away. “There were some decentsized projects in competition for Expo ’86, and we won the commission to design the Admiralty,” he says. The 10-storey residential tower, where Rafii Architects has its offices today, was the first in a growing portfolio of mid- and high-rise

residential and mixed-use developments that grace the skylines of Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, and elsewhere. The Vancouver Sun has dubbed Rafii as “one of the architects who shaped the Vancouver of today,” and the principal gained that reputation while keeping his practice small and agile. “We didn’t want to become so big that we lose the personal touch,” he says.

1 Luna


Calgary, AB Started 2010 Expected Completion 2012 Size 180,000 square feet Building Type Residential high-rise Image: QUALEX-LANDMARK GROUP/BIG GREEN

Project Partner BKDI Architects Client Qualex-Landmark

The portfolio of Rafii Architects includes many similarly designed projects for developers, and that’s especially true with the Stella, Nova, and Luna condo towers that Rafii designed for Qualex-Landmark. “The towers are not siblings but are more like cousins,” says Rafii, explaining that their styles are complementary rather than identical. Located in the Beltline neighbourhood of downtown Calgary, the 22-storey Stella tower was completed in 2007, followed by the 29-storey Nova tower in 2008. When it is completed in 2012, the 32-storey Luna tower will join its cousins in offering suites ranging


from 664 to 1,085 square feet. Amenities will include couture kitchens with quartz countertops, top-of-the-line appliances, and more. Combined, the towers have 593 residential units, 1,021 parking spaces, and features such as guest suites, entertainment lounges,

exercise facilities, and private parks. A clear sign of success is that eight months into the construction of Luna there were less than a dozen units still available for purchase. “We consider ourselves a developer’s architect,” Rafii says, “and the end users like our work, too.”

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project showcase



POMARIA, 1455 Howe St, Vancouver

Back of DONOVAN,

1055 Richards St, Vancouver

DOMUS, 1055 Homer St, Vancouver

PARAMOUNT, 900 Burrard St, Vancouver

R A F I I A R C H I T E C T S I N C. www.rafiiarchitects.com

2 Era Victoria, BC Started 2011 Expected Completion 2013 Size 122,000 square feet Building Type Residential high-rise Project Partner Richard Henry Architect Client Concert Properties


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Rafii Architects, together with Richard Henry Architect, is bringing new life to a historic landmark building in the heart of downtown Victoria. When completed in 2013, the 15-storey Era will feature commercial businesses on the ground level and 157 residential suites above. Creating living spaces that are small but functional was the chief challenge for the architects. “The developers don’t want us to cut corners, but they want to be able to sell the project to residents, too,” Rafii says. Rafii and his team created living spaces that range from spacious, urban two-bedroom flats to studios of just 500 square feet “but with all the goodies,” Rafii says. “This is

what we are famous for: floor plans that really work, even when they are constrained.” Rafii was attracted to the project, not only because of the challenge of saving a heritage building, but because he would get to work for Concert Properties, a repeat client. “Our job says it all when 80 percent of our work is from repeat clients,” he says. “That shows our clients are happy with what we do.” While construction continues at Era, Rafii Architects is gearing up to design three new towers for Concert right beside Vancouver’s Olympic Village. “We’re looking forward to an exciting project there,” he says.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

3 Drake Calgary, AB Started 2011 Expected Completion 2013 Size 95,000 square feet Building Type Residential high-rise Client Grosvenor

Imagine designing a three-bedroom house and then suddenly needing to expand it by 30 percent to four bedrooms—all within the original building envelope. That was the challenge presented to Rafii Architects by the developers of the Drake, an 18-storey residential high-rise in Calgary. “We designed it for 99 suites, and then after a year, the client wanted to increase it to 135 units,” Rafii says. “The challenge was to reconfigure the entire building. It was very tight.” As usual, Rafii Architects met the challenge head on, and construction is well

under way. “We like to see the client be successful,” Rafii says, explaining that his firm’s efforts to increase the number of residential units by 30 percent help boost the developer’s opportunities for financial success. When completed in 2013, the Drake will offer residents a selection of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom floor plans just off of 17th Avenue, Calgary’s preeminent destination for dining, shopping, and entertainment.


2009 WEST 4TH AVENUE VANCOUVER, BC V6J 1N3 T. (604) 736.6562 F. (604) 736.9805 ENGINEERS@NEMETZ.COM






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through the years

Chinook Homes 1983 moHsen seyed mahmoud comes to canada

Born and raised in Iran, Chinook Homes' owner, Mohsen Seyed Mahmoud, is fully aware that he brings a new vision of building to Canada. Established in 1994, the Lethbridge, Alberta-based company has specialized in a number of single-family and multifamily residential projects, focusing on higher-end homes in the $400,000–800,000 range. Here, we take a look at the events that have made the company what it is today. —Tricia Despres

Growing up outside of Tehran and moving to the Philippines to attend university, Seyed Mahmoud says Canada ultimately became his home as an effort to escape religious persecution. “I came to Lethbridge, got married, and started a construction-management company,” he says.

Mohsen Seyed Mahmoud

1996 The first home

Photos: Bean Machine Moving Pictures

The founding of Chinook Homes began with the building of Seyed Mahmoud’s first home, in Lethbridge. “I was born into a different culture, so right from the start I knew that I was going to hold a very unique niche in the market,” he says. “The building we began to do was influenced greatly by the cultural environment that I had grown up in.”

2003 going green

“When I am looking for new opportunities, I pay close attention to the location and how my designs will fit in the natural landscape,” says Seyed Mahmoud, who is a Built Green-certified builder. “I love properties that back into a park or natural environment, and then I work to design a home that takes advantage of those landscapes.”

2006 chinook centre debuts

Chinook Centre in downtown Lethbridge marks a point in Chinook Homes’ history that signals the company is ready to put its residences on the map. “The development was a mix of residential and commercial space,” Seyed Mahmoud says. “The parking situation was interesting here, since there was an overlap of parking needs between the residential and commercial owners.” An increased amount of work results in the creation of new offices in downtown Lethbridge for Seyed Mahmoud, who up until this time was working in a small office in his home. “I was doing all of my own bookkeeping, and, looking back, I realize that I had quite a unique setup,” he says. “We have never looked at our growth in terms of the number of employees we had.”


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2007 (Chinook Manor)

Canadian Builders Quarterly

2011 (162 Grizzly Terrace)

2011 future projects lie ahead

After completing 162 Grizzly Terrace, Chinook Homes begins plans for a future multifamily 12-plex in downtown Lethbridge. The 1,400-square-foot condos will feature three bedrooms and two baths, with each unit receiving its own personal furnace room. “This is quite a unique feature, since each unit will then draw its own fresh air, similar to a single-family dwelling,” Seyed Mahmoud says.


2008 adding to the résumé

In addition to his duties as a successful builder, Seyed Mahmoud takes on the role of real-estate broker in order to keep a close eye on the market. “Being a real-estate broker gives me a huge advantage out there,” Seyed Mahmoud explains. This is evidenced by the exclusive daily report he receives through the Lethbridge Real Estate Board. “Getting a daily bulletin to see what my competitors are doing gives me the chance to adjust prices,” he says. “It works well for me.”

3210 - 8th Avenue North Lethbridge, AB T1H 5C9 Phone: (403) 327-7507 Fax: (403) 329-4925 EMAIL: BROCK@CHALLENGERBUILDING.COM WEB: WWW.CHALLENGERBUILDING.COM

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2007 biggest project to date

The $1.9 million Chinook Manor residential condominium project and the nearly $1.1 million Chinook Centre residential/commercial project become Chinook Homes’ biggest project to date in 2007, incorporating a residential 12-plex project in Lethbridge. “I like to say that I am a brave man, but the ever-changing market conditions can make one quite nervous,” Seyed Mahmoud says. “But back then, I had a confidence it would succeed, and capital was plentiful.”


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Raised as a Builder Then: As a young boy, Mathieu Fournier assisted his father on the jobsite

Now: With these lessons in tow, Mathieu founds Alltrim Inc. as a diverse construction operation


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

transformed Alltrim Inc. University of New Brunswick BiglarKinyan Design Partnership M&H Wood Specialties Ltd. SJMA Architecture Inc. Concept To Design Inc.

72 76 80 82 85 88

Mathieu Fournier cut his teeth in the building trade by assisting his father, Francis, on jobs. Today, Mathieu spends his time running Alltrim Inc., which consists of a home-building subsidiary, a historical-restoration company, an inground-pool company, an ICF-foundation company, and Smalltrim Playworld, whose primary product, Kids Crooked Houses, has been showcased on such TV shows as Jon & Kate Plus Eight and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Moreover, the company has become a family affair, with Melissa, Mathieu’s sister, serving as Alltrim’s general manager. Canadian Builders Quarterly caught up with Mathieu to hear how he turned what he learned from his father into a full-fledged, thriving business in Moncton, New Brunswick. as told to chris allsop

I was 11 years old when I worked on my

first project with my father. I had my own tool belt and measuring tape, and we did a renovation on an old house. Part of that renovation was cedar shake, and we did that on the outside of the whole house. He was a jack-of-all-trades, and I learned all the basics from him. I always wanted to fly helicopters, and

at one point in my life I thought I might do it as a career. But then I thought that I’d do what I love and what I’m good at, and then I’d make enough money to buy my own and then fly for fun. I haven’t bought one yet; I want to turn that $5 million [in annual sales] into $50 million before I do that. My father has worked for me a couple of

times, but he’s been working in the peatmoss farming industry for half a dozen years and he’s gotten used to the tractor! He gets out working in the heat and he struggles a bit, but I think he does want to come back to work for me someday. I asked Melissa to work with me at Alltrim after the first six months, but she was pregnant, so she wanted to stay with the safe option—her old job with a more established company. In her final months of maternity leave, she accepted a tentative part-time


Opposite: This Alltrim home was built with the needs of a young family in mind. Left: Sophie Gagnon (left), marketing representative; Mathieu Fournier, president; and Melissa Fournier, general manager.

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position to assist me in day-to-day activities. She was my first official employee, two years ago, and has now become the general manager of something much greater than she ever expected. Melissa is a big part of the company's growth—she’s probably

the hardest worker I’ve ever met. She cares about my company as if it were her own, and she demands respect from everybody and anybody who deals with the company. My sales have more than quadrupled this year, and it’s due in large part to the people who work for Alltrim, like Brian Allain, my superstar site supervisor. It’s not down to just me—that’s for sure. My main order of business over the next five years is to build new commercial buildings in the right areas. In late fall, we’re scheduled to dig our first commercial strip mall. The future is in holdings and commercial leasing, or maybe some residential, but the market is a bit saturated right now in Moncton. We’re also launching Alltrim Earth, a green initiative aimed at promoting green activities and building more energy-efficient homes. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known my father to be the kind

of guy who would give the shirt off his back to help a friend. Values such as this are very important, and this is one that I’ve carried with me since I was child. I strongly believe that to be truly successful in business you must be in it as much to give as to receive. I strive to help people improve their quality of life, including my staff, clients, friends, family, and associates, without whom Alltrim would cease to exist. CBQ

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve known my father to be the kind of guy who would give the shirt off his back to help a friend. Values such as this are very important, and this is one that I’ve carried with me since I was child.” Mathieu fournier, president

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From Historic Halls Before: Centuries-old University of New Brunswick plays the part of a major resource consumer

to Green Installs After: A well-established sustainability program turns the campus green, resulting in substantial savings


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


Among the oldest public universities in North America, the University of New Brunswick (UNB) is spread over two campuses—a 152-acre campus in Fredericton, New Brunswick, founded in 1785, and a smaller campus in Saint John, New Brunswick, established in 1964. UNB launched a proactive sustainability program in 1996, and since that time, the school’s buildings have undergone substantial upgrades. Canadian Builders Quarterly recently caught up with the university’s energy manager, Paul Holt, to hear the story of UNB’s sustainable transformation.

UNB was moving toward green before it was popular. In 1996, UNB’s Board of

Governors decided to establish an Energy Management Program, which would promote a sustainable culture and reduce campus consumption of resources. [The board] established a $3.4 million fund to finance the program and began to identify viable energy-conservation measures. Literally anything that reduced consumption or increased conservation could be on the agenda. In the end, 65 measures were identified, including building automation, ventilation zoning, lighting, and heat-recovery projects.

Photo: Joy Cummings

as told to julie edwards

The timeline was ambitious—65 projects in

13 years. The funding was spread out over the period. To date, 47 projects have been fully completed, and 18 remain in their reconciliation periods. Most impressive, however, is the savings realized. Our tracking shows that the projects saved UNB more than $6.6 million and reduced carbon dioxide production by 25,000 tonnes. For our next approach, we wanted to go

“higher up the tree.” The second phase of UNB’s sustainability initiative, called Amendment 2, began in 2009 with an additional $7 million in funding. This time, UNB looked at greening whole buildings rather than systems within a building. By grouping buildings together, we also were


Opposite: A historic photo of Sir Howard Douglas Hall (above) and a modern shot of the Currie Centre show how far UNB has come. Left: The Long Hall in the Currie Centre.

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“Our tracking shows that the projects saved UNB more than $6.6 million and reduced carbon dioxide production by 25,000 tonnes.” Paul holt, energy manager

able to achieve more comprehensive conservation measures by averaging the payback across all the improvement measures. In the first two years, we completed 23 projects totaling $3.5 million, and over the winter of 2011/12, we will begin another 28 projects totaling $2.9 million.

was electrical conservation. We started by measuring a baseline of electrical usage in each residence hall before launching a five-week conservation period. UNB’s Aitken House came in first in the competition, but even more impressive was that the project showed an overall 27 percent reduction in electrical consumption across the residences that participated.

Projected savings are beyond extraordinary.

A cost avoidance of $1.5 million, energy savings of 106,696 gigajoules, and a 33 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (10,471 tonnes) per year are expected from the Energy Management Program and Amendment 2. The changes were mostly behind the scenes with no major alterations to the design or architecture of our campus buildings. Projects have included installing T8 fluorescent lighting throughout buildings; installing heat-recovery technology; adding building-automation systems that can be scheduled and operated remotely to monitor rooms for lighting, heating, and cooling; adding occupancy sensors for lighting in places such as corridors and bathrooms; and installing energy-efficient chilled-water and compressed-air systems. To be successful, however, we had to have buy-in from staff and students. After all, substantial energy

savings can be achieved through just turning off the lights and turning down the heat when a classroom is not in use. We held information and education meetings around campus to explain our initiatives and invested in signage to promote conservation. Above: UNB’s new chilled-water plant is just one of many features that have helped the university save more than $6.6 million.


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We found people began to politely police each other. Then, in 2010, eight of our residence halls

participated in a competition against other Maritime universities—sponsored by the Atlantic Universities & Colleges Sustainability Network, whose primary focus

New building gave us the opportunity to be green

from the beginning. When UNB began planning for the Currie Sports facility in 2008, we looked to LEED guidelines as the standard for design and construction. Completed in 2010, the state-of-the-art facility was built to the highest sustainable standards. The overall design maximizes the use of daylight and includes heat-recovery systems, full-building automation, low-flow water fittings, reflective roofing, low-energy fixtures, and smart electrical metering. Because it was a new construction, we included many of the upgrades on the front end that we’ve made in our existing buildings. CBQ A message from mcw maricor

MCW Maricor is a strategic energy-services partner for the University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus. We have provided the energy-planning, engineering-design, construction-management, and commissioning services to support UNB’s Energy Management Program since its inception. Our services include: energy audits and investment-grade feasibility studies; arranging incentives; supporting the preparation of business plans for board approval; analysis opportunities for biomass boiler renewal and cogeneration for CHP reinvestment strategy; engineering design services; construction-administration services; commissioning services; energy-program management; campus-utilities master planning; emission-savings calculations; and central plant and utility infrastructure engineering.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

A Sweet Renovation Then: A generic loft with no style

Now: A distinctive home and cool party pad


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


When a Toronto DJ wanted to remodel his loft in the historic Chocolate Company Lofts, he tapped the experts at BiglarKinyan Design Partnership (BKDP). Combining a creative flair and design-build prowess, BKDP transformed the generic unit into a vibrant home and übercool party space. Here, principal Fardid Biglar explains how the company pulled off the transformation. as told to jeff hampton The loft was very generic despite the rich history of the building as a chocolate factory. The unit is a 1,200-square-foot corner unit with 14-foot-high ceilings, exposed concrete, and exposed mechanical. The previous owners made makeshift upgrades that were poorly done as far as style, quality, and execution [are concerned], and the space wasn’t really proportioned to take advantage of the open character of the loft. The design intent for this space was to keep it chic and practical. We had to balance personal spaces with

social spaces, because the client, aside from being a professional, is a DJ on the side and hosts a lot of large parties. Stylistically, we wanted to make the space younger and more upscale. We had to work with a few limiting factors. The client’s budget was tight, so we had to be creative in how we addressed the project goals. Also, this unit is not going to be his home forever. We had to make sure that the design was universal and not so specific to his taste and lifestyle that nobody would want to purchase it from him.

“The design intent for this space was to keep it chic and practical. We had to balance personal spaces with social spaces, because the client, aside from being a professional, is a DJ on the side and hosts a lot of large parties.” fardid biglar, principal

We enlarged the kitchen so that people can gather to

hang out or to help cook. We also reoriented the space. Originally, the stove, sink, and prep space faced interior walls so that your back was turned to the room. We shifted that, so that when you’re standing at the sink, you’re facing the living spaces. We created a variety of seating types. A peninsula

was created with a form that widens as it extends out into the room to give you the option of sitting in any fashion that suits the activity taking place. We turned one of the closets into a DJ booth.

Fortunately, the condo had two large walk-in closets that were fairly excessive for the size of the unit and most people’s needs. The resultant DJ booth is recessed from the hallway but faces the main living spaces, so if you’re not using the space, it’s not intruding. This ensures that when you enter the unit, all of the sight lines remain very clean and well flowing. As for keeping the space universal, the DJ booth can easily be turned into a den or back into a closet. We reproportioned the bedroom to make up for some of


the closet space that was lost. We updated some of the doors to oversized doors, to keep with the open feel of the loft. In the kitchen, we used materials that are stylish yet cost effective. We used a line of cabinets from

Miralis that features a charcoal-coloured, wood-grain, European laminate that is extremely durable with a stylish high-end look. To create lightness, the uppers and tall cabinets are a contrasting colour from the base, which is a contemporary approach. This is in the same Miralis line but with an acrylic finish and glass-illusion edge, replicating the look of super-high-end import cabinets. Where we could, we value-engineered by utilizing

cost-effective products. We specified Caesarstone countertops, which is cost effective, high quality, and easy to live with. For the custom-made tapered bar top, we used a Formica product that looks like Macassar ebony. The accent walls in the bathrooms have handmade mosaics that are multicoloured. It was a distinctive product that happened to be on clearance. Beyond that, we selected unique light fixtures for added stylistic presence. CBQ

Opposite: The Chocolate Lofts’ revamped kitchen area uses cabinets that contrast with the dark base to create a sense of lightness.

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From Logs Before: Majestic timber from the Boreal Forest

to Dream Homes After: Stunning, sustainable, handcrafted log homes


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


Many log-home builders assemble logs, but Alberta-based M&H Wood Specialties Ltd. constructs the entire structure with precision and handcraftsmanship. Below, president Paul Murray tells us how his company—a full-service log-home builder that also sells logs for home accents, such as railings—turns logs into dream homes. as told to julie schaeffer

We get our logs from the northern Boreal Forest. The wood is typically spruce

or large-pole pine. The forestry operation that supplies us sorts the logs for us. To get a good log, we use about 10 percent of a superior block of timber. We go through about 35,000 lineal feet of logs per year. When the logs arrive in the yard, we have to peel them. Traditional hand peeling involves a labourer with a knife, and until four and a half years ago, that’s the way we did it. But in a labour market like Alberta, oil-field rates make it tough to get people to do a horrendously, physically demanding job. We found a company that duplicates the appearance of hand peeling via a hand-operated machine. So we refer to it as hand peeling, but it’s semimechanized. That’s eliminated about 70 staff turnovers per year.

M&H Wood Specialties preps every aspect of a home in its lumberyard before installing on-site.

We then cut and assemble the logs in our

yard. With log homes built by machine, all the logs have a uniform 10-inch dowel pattern. Our materials have natural contour, shape, and taper, so every log has to be fitted individually. We choose the logs, scribe them, then use a chain saw to cut them to the confirmation required by the home we’re building. We then assemble the log portion of the home. When everything fits, we number and tag the logs, dissemble them, and load them into trucks. We then transport the logs to the site

and assemble the home. While we’ve been doing the log work in our yard, we have people on-site pouring the foundation, installing the subfloor, and preframing. We assemble the log work, then move on to the roof framing, windows and doors, interior framing, rough-ins, etc. We're unique in that we often build the


entire house. Virtually no log-home builders do this; they just provide and assemble the logs. We believe in offering a comprehensive service so that the building envelope is built correctly and there’s accountability to one person rather than a series of people. That means the business has two distinctive parts: log-work operations and general contracting, which require different administration and skills. A lot of people have been deterred by that, because they’re drawn to the industry more for the artisanal lifestyle it offers than because it’s a business. But doing the entire home is more lucrative, because the log work is roughly 25 percent of the total home cost; someone has to make money on the other 75 percent. Sustainability is a big part of what we do. Wood sequesters a tremendous amount

of carbon, thereby preventing it from

leeching back into the atmosphere. [It] is energy efficient because it has thermal mass, and can be in use for hundreds of years. We also put a lot of work into improving performance. In 2012, Canada is imple-

menting a new energy-efficiency standard that rates homes on the same sort of broad EnerGuide scale that’s now applied to appliances. The new standard will require homes to be E80. To put that in perspective, an E100 home is net-zero, meaning that it produces as much energy as it consumes. The average conventional home that is 20–30 years old is anywhere from E60 to E70. E80 is a significant improvement, because the scale is logarithmic, meaning E80 has half the energy consumption of E70. We’ve already done a home that reached E89, thanks to a tight envelope and geothermal heating. CBQ

april/may/june 2012


PrimeTime Contracting Inc. Specializing in Insulated Concrete Foundations (ICF) for Log Homes Family owned & operated since 2005 Completing jobs all across Alberta

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780 297 2700 Cell • 780 419 3198 Fax primetime77@shaw.ca

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From a Derailed Depot

Photos: Shutter Studios Photography

Then: An abandoned railway station left in disrepair

to a Revived Railway Now: A restored, historic depot and community mainstay


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By housing modern amenities in the attic and below grade, the depot's restoration was able to stay true to the station's historic stylings.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly


Specialists in historic conservation, SJMA Architecture Inc. spearheaded the heritage master plan for the restoration of the Canada Southern Railway Station. As the architect of record for the project, the firm continues to guide the station’s dramatic journey. In his own words, Ed van der Maarel, principal architect and heritage consultant, shares SJMA’s role in rebuilding a landmark with the hopes of revitalizing more than just bricks and mortar. as told to julie edwards

The scope of the project was ambitious.

Completed in 1873, the station had undergone multiple owners, uses, and even fires through the years, and was abandoned in the 1990s in a state of total disrepair. The goal was to fully restore the 26,000-square-foot station as a mixed-used facility, with the hope that it would be the catalyst for others to recognize the importance of redeveloping St. Thomas’s downtown. Ownership was a small first step. We

began fundraising and developed a new nonprofit organization, the North America Railway Hall of Fame (NARHF), to guide the restoration efforts. NARHF’s board later requested that our firm become the project’s architect and heritage consultant, since we’d been involved in the project for years. Since that time, we’ve been involved in every aspect possible, from development of the heritage master plan to the design of the signage. As a result, we’ve been able to maintain the continuity of the design and restoration for the project.  Initial work was a painstaking process.

We began by recruiting volunteers to clean out the building so we could see the available palette of materials. We had to determine


what was preserved, what was recycled, or what plainly was of no use, such as 1970s-era suspended ceiling tiles and wood paneling. In 2008, the government agreed to provide infrastructure funding, which sped up the process to hire a construction manager, and launched a $3 million construction phase. Once funding occurred, restoration progressed quickly. We began construc-

tion and often found ourselves designing and applying for permits as work was happening, due to the schedule of the funding. First, the main systems—heating, life, and fire safety—were put in place. Then, we began the major design work and finishes. The central archway was filled in with full glass on both sides, to maintain the open feeling through the building, while the dining room was fully restored. This included replicating original lighting and the plaster-ceiling detailing. The men’s and women’s waiting areas were restored to show the cultural areas that once existed within the station, and now house the administrative offices of NARHF. Of course, there were challenges along the way. As the architect and heritage

consultant, our goal was to restore the building to what it looked and felt like in a target period of 1914–1925. While we incorporated new systems into an old building, we went to great lengths to hide equipment either in the attic space or basement. Dormers were reinstated, so we could use them as intake and exhaust vents, and special consideration was given to energy-efficient technologies, such as allowing solar panels for water heating and establishing an infrastructure below grade for rainwater collection for plumbing fixtures and landscape watering.

Photos: Shutter Studios Photography

The journey began a decade ago. As a community volunteer, I was part of a group called On Track, an organization started to bring together the various railway organizations in St. Thomas, Ontario, and develop the city into “the Railway Capital of Canada.” Two of us met with the Canadian National Railway to inquire about purchasing the Canada Southern Railway Station, which was approved. Acquiring the station was important because it played an integral part in the history and growth of St. Thomas.

Now the station is again a community cornerstone. In its heyday, the station

served as a halfway point between Chicago and New York City and, in turn, put St. Thomas on the map. Now, it serves as a community gathering point. The second floor has been adapted into office space, while the ground-floor dining hall is used for weddings, banquets, and other social, community functions. Future plans include adding retail space on the main floor and establishing a tourist train with a terminus at Port Stanley so tourists and locals can take day trips to the beach. CBQ A message from solidcad

SolidCAD is the largest Canadian-based provider of professional services and design technology to the architecture, building, and civil-engineering and construction sectors. We are pleased to support SJMA in its adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and congratulate them on successfully fulfilling their commitment to vision-based architectural solutions.

april/may/june 2012



New Style on the Residential Spectrum Then: A cookie-cutter design

Now: A home that evokes the resident’s deepest sense of style

An elegant front-entry foyer and formal living room are indicative of this custom home's style.

After more than a decade in the architecture world, Carolyn Stewart was ready to tackle the world of residential design. In 2007, she founded her own firm, Concept To Design Inc., which focused on taking a home from inception to completion. After nearly five years of relentless effort, Stewart has made a career breathing life into standard residential design. as told to seth putnam

I've always been intrigued by good use of space and

beautiful houses. I started my postsecondary schooling at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, thinking I would go on to study architecture at a university, but afterward I started working and really enjoyed the hands-on experience. Before founding Concept to Design in 2007, I worked

Photo: Raef Grohne Architectural Photography

for a decade in architecture and interior design. I feel blessed for those experiences; they helped me build strong relations and understand the design and construction industry. I realized I was a generalist in the field, and that it was fine. So now we embrace design from various angles (design, construction, development, city planning). My passion, however, has always been residential design, so I set it up in a way that allowed me to spend more time with individual clients on custom-home designs. Concept to Design is special because we are a boutique

company. We cater to individual needs and guide them


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: Andrew Doran


with professional expertise. Our level of service can vary from hourly consultations to full-design packages, to suit the client. The number of services we offer is also a benefit; we strive to work on projects where I can design the home, then continue on the interior as well. It creates a more cohesive, consistent product. And we work with everyone from private owners to multilot developers. Recently, we’ve become even more versatile through our work on a private school and a senior-housing facility.   When we're approaching a new project, it’s extremely important to see the client’s existing home so we can get a sense of their lifestyle. A well-designed home is not just pretty paint colours and new furniture; we like to go


deeper. The challenge: how can we make their home better reflect who they are? First we look at layout. The flow and practical elements have to work first. Then there’s the shell— things like window sizes, ceiling height, and decorative millwork. Then the finishing materials and colours. We can further reflect the client’s style—whether it be with casual, classic-honed limestone floor tile, or crisp, contemporary, polished porcelain tile. Even simple, inexpensive wall or floor tile can appear high-end when combined with some glass or natural-stone accents. The icing on the cake is the furnishings, window coverings, artwork, and accessories. We always have this final vision

Above: The custom show suite of the Blume Townhomes houses a striking, modern interior within its classic frame.

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Photos: Andrew Doran


Above: Concept To Design’s ability to balance the interior and exterior can be seen in this home, located in the Vantage subdivision at the Surrey Golf Course in Surrey, BC.


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brewing in our minds from the time the house plans are only hand-drawn sketches.   We recently completed a French provincial home, and we were able to design virtually every element. This home is a one-level rancher with a full basement. They wanted all their main living and sleeping areas on one level, with the basement reserved for the entertaining area (home theatre, custom wine cellar and bar, home gym, and guest bedrooms, as well as the impressive custom-paneled gentleman’s library-style home office). The client's theme was "fine dining in blue jeans."

It’s a very fitting phrase, as the whole house has a quiet

grandeur. We were able to capture formality in the trim details and light fixtures, but we kept it cozy and relaxed by using warm earth tones and simple ceiling details with dark wood beams; custom, wrought-iron stair railings; and oil-rubbed bronze lighting and hardware. The basement evokes a Tuscan villa, with its stonework and beams—perfect for relaxed entertaining. It also reflects the client’s passion for wine collecting. Ultimately, it's about capturing the client's desire.

By the time we get to the finishing details, we have been working so closely with the clients for so long that it has become a natural progression of shared vision based on what the client will love. That’s what’s important to us. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Homes On An Exceptional Scale Kliewer Bros. Construction Ltd., established in 1959, consults + manages all phases of design and construction. It is our belief that a high level of involvement is essential to ensure a consistent vision + seamless execution of design details. Working with our preferred contractors + suppliers, consideration is given to design sensibility, livability and quality construction in order to contribute to a lasting investment. Kliewer Bros. Construction Ltd. 604.764.7606 | www.kbcdevelopments.com

through the years

HR Pacific Construction Management 1994 HR Pacific is founded

Ever since he was a child, David Ratzlaff knew he wanted to build things; his first construction job was in high school, and he majored in civil-structural engineering at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. After working on a few civil-works projects after graduation, Ratzlaff started Eagle West Construction Ltd. in 1982, and in 1994 he opened HR Pacific. The firm specializes in residential and commercial construction, and is best known for its resort homes at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in British Columbia. It’s an area of focus that has continued for the company, which now is recognized as an expert general contractor for resort homes. With 20 years under its belt, HR Pacific has truly left an impression on many. —Thalia A-M Bruehl

With the goal of helping architects build their art, David Ratzlaff opens HR Pacific. Ratzlaff is interested in creating homes that stand as functional sculptures, and his rare perspective helps make HR Pacific successful right from the start.

1995 the first project is completed

HR Pacific’s first project is the construction of a residential property on Granville Street in Vancouver. The firm performs the framing and finishing for the 4,400-square-foot home and has the opportunity to meet general contractor Bob Gemmel, who will work with HR Pacific frequently in the future. “The Granville Street project led to numerous other projects that we did together with Bob Gemmel,” Ratzlaff says. “For many years, he would get the projects, and we would build them.”

2000 a long partnership blossoms

In early 2000, HR Pacific receives a call asking them to help with some work at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. “I grew up hitchhiking to Whistler to ski, and saw the start of that world-class ski hill,” Ratzlaff says. “With the close proximity to Calgary, I knew it was only a matter of time before Kicking Horse Mountain Resort would be a success.”


2003 work on the mp lighting factory begins

The 10,000-square-foot, tilt-up concrete lighting factory is the first four-storey, tilt-up structure in Vancouver. Designed by Oberto Oberti, it marks the second-largest tilt-up structure HR Pacific has constructed to date. “MP lighting is near the downtown area of Vancouver, so as we were on a tight lot, the logistics of the final tilt-up were very difficult,” Ratzlaff says. “The crane that lifted the panels came on 11 different truckloads and was assembled on-site.” In 2008, HR Pacific builds a 2,500-square-foot addition onto the factory.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2009 bridging the gap

“I come from a family that has always been involved in some sort of charity work. Bridges to Community is an extension of that.” david ratzlaff, owner

“I come from a family that has always been involved in some sort of charity work,” Ratzlaff says. “Bridges to Community is an extension of that.” In the spring of 2009, with the help of Bridges to Community, Ratzlaff decides that he would build a house in Nicaragua for every resort home he built in Canada. To date, HR Pacific has sent funds for five homes and some of its workers to help with the building process. 2011 green recognition

HR Pacific is named the winner of the Most Affordable Built Green award for its Vista Lofts project in British Columbia. The project— which has an Energy Star rating of 81—was built using local timber, efficient heating and ventilation systems, and low-flush toilets. It offered Ratzlaff the opportunity to incorporate the same level of attention to green issues as HR Pacific does in its multimillion-dollar homes. The firm also wins the Keystone Award for Best Affordable Project for the Central Interior of British Columbia. Both awards are awarded through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

2005 time to “show” off

Designed by Willms Design of Kamloops, British Columbia, a show home is the first of three homes that Karl Willms designs for HR Pacific’s clients. The home, a traditional timber frame, was created using a hammer-beam truss. The 24-foot ceilings and the upper loft for the master bedroom, reminiscent of a hayloft, complete the restored barn look and feel.


2011 wrapPing up a high-style resort home

Two years after work began on the 3,200-square-foot “cabin,” the Moller Residence is completed. The home was designed by Seattle-based BCJ Architects and features board-form concretefoundation walls, corten-steel siding, and clear-edge grain-cedar siding, as well as geothermal heating. “Both the interior and exterior finishings are done in a modern mountain style using glulam timbers,” Ratzlaff says. “We also used back-to-back channel steel, beach windows, and fir plywood with no visible fasteners, to give it a finished look while staying true to the cabin feel.”

Photo: Willms Design

2011 (Moller Residence)

A message from symphonic residential systems

Symphonic Residential Systems is a residential-design, integration, and installation company for the discriminating homeowner. We offer a wide range of products and installation options that include lighting, shading, environment, and access control, integrated with digital home-media control and automation. We have been serving valued clients in Western Canada for more than 15 years. Our team is made up of trained professionals who know what is required to achieve the end results our clients demand.


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Holding the Guinness World Record for Largest Chandelier, Reflective Flow glows with the power of 55,000 LED lights, spans 38 metres in length, and is more than 12 metres wide. Designed by one of the world’s most respected lighting and product designers, Beau McClellan, the chandelier adorns the Doha building in Doha, Qatar. Ambiances became involved in the project as a consultant and participated in the development of the LED system, also developing the interactive system and content for the video component. “The inspiration was a river flowing through a canyon,” says Martin Gagnon, the founder and principal of Ambiances. “We suggested using video content to recreate a smooth, organic, and flowing effect throughout the sculpture.”


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Illuminating Design From Québec to Qatar, Ambiances Design Productions Inc. proves itself a leader in innovative approaches to structural illuminations By Julie Edwards


eading the way in innovative approaches, Ambiances Design Productions has boldly established itself as a firm of note. From in-depth research on the effects of lighting in healthcare environments to expansive projects that have set world records, the young firm’s award-winning work is quickly impacting the field of lighting design. “Our firm’s vision emphasizes the fact that lighting is essential in a human’s perception of the surrounding environment, which is why our philosophy strongly promotes our role not only as a lighting designer but also as an experience designer,” says founder and principal Martin Gagnon. “From this perspective, we strongly believe that every project is a means of communicating a message through architecture and design, and we pride ourselves on finding those angles.” Ambiances was founded in 2006 by Gagnon and, in just a few short years, has made an enduring global mark in the lighting-design field. From a young age, Gagnon says he was playing with lights and control systems in order to create different moods in the basement of his family home. After studying at the University of Québec in Montréal, Gagnon started in the business as a lighting technician working with shows and tours, and then worked in the theatre field with artistic director Robert Lepage. In 2001, Gagnon cocreated a company called Photonic Dreams, which focused on lighting for museum exhibits. Then, in 2005, he left Photonic Dreams to start Ambiances with the purpose of developing lighting design in architectural projects. “In integrating light to modern environments, my task now is to fulfill technical and functional requirements through lasting aesthetics,” he says.


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Illuminating Design

Currently, the firm’s main focuses are in visual design and special-feature design, with a strong niche in hospitality and museum projects, as well as expertise in new technologies, controls, interactivity, and video-content production. This multidisciplinary experience allows the firm to realize large-scale projects around the globe. “Our true specialty, however, is in creating a custom masterpiece for every project we undertake,” Gagnon says. “What sets us apart is our innovative enhancements.” These enhancements stem from Ambiances’ ability to design with the customer experience in mind and to balance a sensible, artistic approach with a technical know-how in a practical manner. The approach effectively guarantees that the firm meets the objectives and guidelines of every project and client. In addition, Ambiances promotes a sustainable design philosophy, and values the implementation of energy-saving solutions. “We conduct extensive research and apply the latest approach and technologies in every design solution we bring to the table,” Gagnon says. “Our design approach is to understand the space, volume, users, forms, and materials used in a given project before even thinking about the visual and lighting effects.”


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Even though Ambiances’ overall approach is practical, the end results are anything but low-key. The firm has several impressive projects in its roster, including the set and lighting design and development for the opening and closing ceremonies at the fifth annual Dubai International Film Festival. Though this project is a testament to the firm’s success today, it was Ambiances’ initial projects that put it on such a path. One of the firm’s first projects of note was for Relais & Châteaux’s Auberge St. Antoine, a luxurious boutique hotel in Québec City’s Old Port district. “The owner’s idea was to create a boutique hotel with a museum twist, by creating an evolving environ-ment using the lighting system,” Gagnon says. “We provided the full design scope, including control systems and artifact-lighting design, which requires different techniques for artifact preservation, and indirect dimmable cove lighting.” Ambiances’ impressive portfolio also includes two projects that hold Guinness World Records. The first, Reflective Flow, is the world’s largest chandelier. Weighing it a 20,000 kilograms, the chandelier is an interactive LED sculpture that “talks to people,” Gagnon says. “It reacts to a person’s movement as they enter the building and displays a variety of organic video effects, such as a subliminal moon, lava, or lightning bolt.”

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Spanning 130 feet, the custom piece is suspended in the atrium of an office building on the Doha Corniche, a waterfront promenade in Doha, Qatar. The chandelier was conceptualized by infamous lighting designer Beau McClellan, who brought Ambiances on board as a partner in making the chandelier a reality. The piece is crafted from 2,300 individually hand-ground optical crystals, each shrouded on either side by pieces of concave glass, and is covered with a unique reflective coating. During the day, it is an art sculpture, but at night, it becomes an ever-changing lighting wonder. “McClellan’s inspiration was the idea of a river flowing through a canyon, and we suggested using video content in order to recreate a smooth effect through the sculpture rather than going with traditional DMX programming,” Gagnon says. “The structure is also extremely efficient since it uses LED bulbs.” Another project, Ambiances’ Aurora Borealis installation, is credited as the world’s largest architectural projection. Created in partnership with Robert Lepage, the display recreates the northern-lights phenomenon using artificial lighting. The project began in 2008, when Lepage was asked to create a multimedia show in honour of the 400th anniversary of Québec City. “Robert saw the opportunity to recreate the northern lights on a large-


A masterpiece in beauty and size, the Aurora Borealis installation simulates the northern lights using 600 LED light fixtures. Projected on the side of the Bunge Grain silos, which are located in Québec City’s Old Port district, the permanent architectural illumination spans 600 metres, making it the world’s largest architectural projection. “The lighting takes the viewer through five themes, composed of colourchange sequences, movements, and variations in intensity, like the real northern lights,” Gagnon says. “The result is truly phenomenal.”

“We strongly believe that every project is a means of communicating a message through architecture and design, and we pride ourselves on finding those angles.” —Martin Gagnon, Principal & Founder april/may/june 2012


Illuminating Design

Lighting the Way to Better Health In March 2011, Ambiances conducted a study to ascertain the effects of lighting in healthcare environments. The study confirmed many things, especially the general notion that light can have a transformative effect on human beings. The following represents other key findings:

• Light is a powerful force in preventive and therapeutic medicine • Light regulates and stabilizes human physiology and emotions • Light helps maintain our circadian rhythm • Light exerts considerable influence on specific biochemical processes within the human body and affects hormonal balance, especially mood • The three major benefits of light are increased visual acuity, greater productivity and concentration, and overall mental-health improvement

scale building and asked me to become his partner in creating the visual installation,” Gagnon says. Ambiances provided the complete lighting design, content design, and programming for the project, which measures 600 metres long and uses close to 600 LED light fixtures. “All the light fixtures are directly attached to the building,” Gagnon says. “Visitors don’t see the source of the light but feel the light’s effect on the concrete, creating the magic of the installation.” For Gagnon, while light defines space and creates atmosphere, it also evokes human emotions and effects physical wellness. In 2011, this belief pushed Gagnon to study the use and power of light in the healthcare industry, as he believed it could have a powerful effect on the human body. “I undertook the study to be well positioned in the market to pursue lighting projects in a healthcare environment,” he says. “A hospital environment must be addressed with a forward-thinking, customer-experience approach when it comes to lighting. It’s not just about functionality.” Findings from Ambiances’ study highlight everything from the effects of light on a patient’s appetite to the effects of light on recovery. For example, the study finds that windows providing natural daylight are a benefit in patient rooms; however, during acute illness


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or periods of recovery, darkened conditions that support rest or sleep are often required or preferred, even during the day. “The research confirmed our opinion that controlling illumination is paramount to the healing process, regardless of whether the source is from the sun or electrical lamps,” Gagnon says. “We also validated that different colours of light can impact or enhance a patient’s experience: cool tones are relaxing and make it feel as if time passes more quickly, whereas warm tones can stimulate appetite.” Currently, Ambiances is working on several new projects, including two multimedia-projection shows— one on the ruins of an old cathedral, another on a cliff—and a contemporary, multiuse salon at Place des Arts in Montréal. Gagnon is also establishing a new architectural design department within his associate business, EDP Lighting | Control. “Our skillful, multidisciplinary team possess backgrounds in architecture, engineering, visual design, and graphic design, as well as lighting and video programming,” Gagnon says. “We all have a common passion for art and visual ambiance. Our creativity and extended portfolio show no boundaries to the work we can produce.” CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Our attorneys counsel clients on U.S. construction projects large and small, including contract drafting and planning and all types of dispute resolution. Our broad experience includes the energy and energy performance contracting industries, as well as nearly 30 years as U.S. legal advisor to PCL.

For more information, contact Lowell Noteboom at 612.335.1573 or lowell.noteboom@leonard.com.

A Professional Association Law offices in Minneapolis, Mankato, St. Cloud, Bismarck, Washington, D.C. www.leonard.com canadianbuildersquarterly.ca

april/may/june 2012


PCL Constructors At a Glance Location Edmonton, AB Founded 1906 Employees 10,500+ Specialty Civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and building construction Annual Sales $5.2 billion Annual Projects 700+


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile PCL Constructors Inc. Jerilyn Wright & Associates Sander Design Refined By Design Bird Construction Company S. J. Lawrence Architect Incorporated BaAM Productions Frits de Vries Architect Ltd.

100 104 109 110 114 116 120 122

As a child, Doug Stollery often visited his father at one of Canada’s leading construction firms. Years later, he would find himself at the same company, serving as general counsel. Interview by Thalia A-M Bruehl

Doug Stollery does not come from a construction or engineering background. Instead, he has a résumé full of top law schools and prestigious law firms, and has served as a law clerk with the Supreme Court of Canada and as the president of the Alberta branch of the Canadian Bar Association. Five years ago, he received a call asking him to take a job as the general counsel for one of Canada’s leading construction firms, PCL Constructors Inc., a company he first visited while still in diapers and one with long family ties. He accepted the position and has been there ever since. Stollery recently spoke with Canadian Builders Quarterly about PCL’s legal team, its employee-ownership plan, and what’s required of a construction company’s general counsel.

Photos: Wild Rose Photography

CBQ: Your history at PCL Constructors goes beyond the five years you've served as its general counsel. When did your relationship with the company first begin?

Doug Stollery: I have had a personal connection with PCL all of my life. My father joined PCL in the late 1940s and continued with the company in various capacities, including CEO, board chair, and director emeritus until his death, in 2007. I took my first site tour of a PCL project at two months old, when my parents were unable to find a babysitter to care for me while they drove out to view a pulp mill under construction in western Alberta.


PCL is more than 100 years old, and you've been witness to its success for almost half of that. What do you think is PCL's secret?

From the day Ernie Poole started PCL, he focused on creating a culture of integrity and fair play that we see even to this day. But I also think our success has had to do with the employee-ownership plan, which was established in the mid-1970s, when senior management purchased the company from the Poole family. One hundred percent of the company’s shares are held by employees today, and more than 90 percent of employees choose to become shareholders.

Employee ownership has helped us to attract and maintain great employees. Ultimately, the success of any construction company rests with its employees. Tell me about the legal team at PCL.

There are five of us—three based in Edmonton, and two based in Denver, Colorado. We come from a variety of legal backgrounds, and one of the members of our team is both an engineer and a lawyer. We work hard to understand the business we are in and to help all of the PCL employees to understand the legal complexities involved. Our job is to

april/may/june 2012


in profile

further strengthen the PCL culture of ethical and legal compliance, to find ways of avoiding disputes, and to help find practical solutions to disputes.

avoid disputes by fostering a better understanding of statutory and contractual obligations, and by encouraging effective internal and external communication as concerns crop up.

What types of cases do you see?

All sorts, really. We do deal with legal issues that relate specifically to the process of construction, but, like any other business, we also need to deal with a much wider range of issues. These include employment, labour, human rights, banking, insurance, corporate, commercial, securities, taxes, and intellectual property. As internal counsel, we need to have at least a basic understanding of all of these areas of law, as they apply in all of the jurisdictions in which we do business. What is a typical day like for you at PCL?

There really is no typical day—every day brings new and interesting challenges. Being general counsel means both planning for the long term and dealing with day-to-day issues. I’m constantly learning about the business we are in, tracking the evolution of the laws that affect our business, and helping our employees to have an understanding of how those laws apply to them. When I’m not doing that, I’m providing advice, listening, managing internal and external counsel, and participating as a member of the senior management team. Above: Stollery (right) regularly consults with his in-house law team to meet PCL’s extensive legal needs.


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What goals do you have moving forward?

The goal of the PCL law department is to protect the key assets and enhance the long-term profitability of PCL through the effective use of legal services. We try to

And what about when these disputes arise?

In those circumstances, we seek to find fair and reasonable solutions to maintain and reinforce PCL’s strong relationships with owners, subtrades, suppliers, and consultants, so that we can focus on our core business of building. PCL is one of the leading contractors in North America, and when problems do arise, it’s our job to help keep them from affecting business overall. CBQ A message from leonard, street and deinard

PCL entered the US construction market in 1977 and began operations in Minneapolis a few years later, beginning a professional relationship with Leonard, Street and Deinard that continues to this day. Since 1983, our attorneys have had the privilege of advising PCL on dozens of construction projects across the United States. We are exceptionally proud of this long-term relationship, which has enabled us to observe closely the strategic decision-making that has propelled PCL to its position as one of North America’s construction giants. Owners and developers across North America and in Australia select PCL because of its visionary leadership, diversification within an industry, financial strength, and commitment to superior value— elements that, when combined, create unique opportunities for its partners. Fortunately for us, PCL’s strong sense of partnership has allowed us to continue to be its US legal counselors for more than a quarter century.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

“Employee ownership has also helped us to attract and maintain great employees. Ultimately, the success of any construction company rests with its employees.” doug stollery, general counsel


Applauding Doug Stollery of PCL Constructors, Inc. for Continued Recognition of Outstanding Excellence in Construction Law and Award-Winning Community Involvement ke, ’Brien, O’Rour Pickert & Dillon, L ye, O LP o M

MOOP&D Attorneys at Law

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Solving Problems in the Construction Industry for over 22 Years Attorneys at Law 800 South Orlando Avenue | Maitland, Florida 32751 Telephone: (407) 622-5250 canadianbuildersquarterly.ca

april/may/june 2012


Baytex's cafÂŽ is a punchy and efficient box of space that combines the copier and coffee facilities while adding a pop of colour and energy to the adjacent corridors.


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Interior Designers of Canada Member

Offices aren’t normally classified as areas of inspiration and tranquility. But the work of one design firm is going to change that. Interview by Lisa Ryan

Jerilyn Wright has emerged a visionary in the corporate interior-design field. With her Calgary-based firm, Jerilyn Wright & Associates, the president approaches each project with a high level of creativity and energy, transforming drab offices into inspiring spaces while fusing cutting-edge design and comfortable touches. Canadian Builders Quarterly spoke with Wright about her innovative approach, and her recent work with Baytex Energy—a project that recently earned an Interior Designers of Alberta Silver Award for design excellence—and the recently completed NAL Resources offices.

CBQ: How did you get into the design world?

Jerilyn Wright: My father was an established architect in Winnipeg, and my mother was an artist. At the end of my fourth year of university, I knew I didn’t want to work with any of my father’s friends, so I thought, “Maybe I’ll go west.” I went to the library and had enough money for 50 stamps. I wrote 50 letters to different cities to see who would hire me, and I ended up in Calgary. Why did you decide to start your own firm?

Jerilyn Wright & Associates At a Glance Location Calgary, AB Founded 1989 Employees 12 Specialty Corporate and residential interior design

I worked for an architectural firm for nine years, and at the time I was the president of the Interior Design Association in Alberta. One of the other members of the association was looking to start her own business, so I partnered with her. We worked together for five years until I bought her out, and the firm became Jerilyn Wright & Associates in 1989. Your firm has garnered notoriety for its work on corporate spaces. What sets you apart from other corporate designers?

Why do people prefer to be at home or at a coffee shop rather than the office? It’s not


april/may/june 2012


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We would like to congratulate Jerilyn Wright & Associates on their continued growth and are proud to be part of their success including the Baytex project.

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

just about being at work or not; it’s because the space gives them back their identity. When we do corporate work, we bring energy and creativity into the companies, and leave people with more comfort in their offices, to the point where they’d rather be at work than at home. I'd love to hear more about your approach. Can you tell us how you got involved with Baytex Energy?

There’s a great story to that. They have been our client for more than a quarter century, beginning with a small operation of 3,500 square feet. As [Baytex] changed, grew, and merged, we have developed many interiors for it through the years. Eventually, [Baytex] became one of our biggest clients, with offices covering more than 200,000 square feet. It’s really been a wonderful story of client loyalty. What did the recent Baytex project entail?

They asked us to relocate 108,000 square feet into Centennial Place, one of Calgary’s newest buildings. We worked with their visionary teams to understand how they saw themselves in a new space. The whole company is egalitarian in culture, and daylight and health were important. They wanted everybody to feel that they were part of the collective. We call it an “un-office” because it’s so different. What do you mean?

This office was developed using demountable partitions. Most space created in the genre tends to be very “Dilbertish,” in that every wall is identical, just like Dilbert’s cubes. The trick was to treat the office like a cityscape—all of the halls are different colours, and they really pop. It became something that was organic rather than a system. We also had to find a way to make the individual offices look larger. We floated partially glass walls on all sides of the offices to give the illusion of more space. We broke up the corridors with bold, coloured glass panels.


“Why do people prefer to be at home or at a coffee shop rather than the office? It’s not just about being at work or not; it’s because the space gives them back their identity.” jerilyn wright, president

And what did you do for NAL Resources?

NAL Resources was a growing company that wanted to refurbish its office space and create an executive floor. It’s also a green company and really wanted the space to reflect that. So for us, it was about giving them something fresh, vibrant, and refined. We decided that the whole space should have no colour other than cream, except for some very vibrant, coloured glass—sometimes green, sometimes blue. The energy that comes through the coloured glass is what gives the space its light. For the executive floor, we designed private lounge areas, with two executive offices adjacent on either side. That way, each executive is able to have this private space in the corner, which creates a wonderful enclave. In both cases, those were repeat clients. How are you able to maintain business?

We are about reflecting the client’s needs. To accomplish this, we listen to our clients and give them what they ask for, and I think that’s a big part of it—and so is great design. We’re not there to create space for our portfolio or ourselves; we’re a team of professionals—we’re here to enable our clients to meet their needs. CBQ

Above: Baytex’s internal staircase features glass walls and marble stairs. The result is a reflective, open, and somewhat industrial look that complements the elegant interiors.

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

As a young man, Sander Freedman was enchanted by the earth’s beauty. Little did he know, his career would later revolve around it. Interview by Seth Putnam

Sander Freedman was just a teenager when he discovered what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. His family’s home was on conservation land bordering a river in Toronto, and as a young boy, he would spend hours roaming the fields and learning the land like the back of his hand. “I really connected with the natural landscape,” Freedman remembers. The experience sparked an interest in landscape architecture, and soon Freedman was off to school, graduating in 1987 from the University of Guelph. After a career of experiences from theme-park design for Universal Studios to community master planning in China, he has found his calling and founded his own boutique design firm, Sander Design. Freedman sat down with Canadian Builders Quarterly to share the story of his journey.

Sander Design At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 2005 Employees 2–3 Specialty Landscape architecture Annual Projects 24

That seems to be a theme for many architects who are now in business for themselves—they got tired of doing someone else's drawings.

Yes. Creating a Disneyland-style space was interesting in many ways, but I didn’t see the meaning in it for me personally. So I went the other way and opened an eco-store with environmental and organic products. But I got tired of starving after a year, so I closed it down. What was the turning point?

I was involved in a lot of environmental organizations at the time, like the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society. I started seeing things a little differently. I also got involved with a neighbourhood project installing native plantings across 70 houses in downtown Toronto. It suited the urban ecosystem and built biodiversity. After that, I started to get different contracts here and there. You also spent some time in China from 2003 to 2005. How did that inform your design habits?

It was interesting because it was back into mega-development projects, but this time for residential suburbs. You have to please the developers. There’s a difficulty in grasping scale and detail, because everything is so massive, and I have a passion for detail. But I was also able to visit the emperors’ ancient gardens, and objects there have relationships to each other. Sometimes it’s just in the way you place a rock. You can see it and feel it, even if you don’t understand feng shui, but it’s there because it’s in their past. So some of those design elements become part of your sensibility. Is that the most important thing to you as a designer?

Not necessarily. How it affects the owner is important. It’s not just a garden—it’s an outdoor living space. You really have to be listening to who they are, because it has to reflect them.

CBQ: What made landscape architecture something you wanted to devote your life to?

Let's talk about some of your most recent projects. You transformed a rooftop space recently.

Sander Freedman: When I was about 15 or 16 years old, I started getting into gardening and loved it. I grew up next to a land reserve, and before it became a public conservation area, it was owned by an individual who had an amazing garden that had just become [overgrown]. So, I used to dig up the perennials and take them back home to save them. That was how I discovered landscape architecture. My mother was an interior designer, so I think I grew up with a sort of natural sense of designing space, as well.

It was fairly unredeeming when we started. Lots of cold-coloured tiles and air-conditioning units. It became a grid design with taupe, tan, and brown tiles, complemented by artificial turf in four small quads. We put in irrigated planter boxes with switch grass, climbing hydrangea, and weeping white pine. We installed glass walls to draw attention to its view of the lake. We were able to turn a utilitarian space into a “loungey” lifestyle environment.

What was your first gig out of school?

You also worked on a residence that felt "detached" from its property. How did you approach that?

First, I worked with interior landscapes using tropical plants. Then, shortly after that, I became a liaison between the designers and artists for the Universal Studios Florida project. I was dealing with a lot of details, and it was exciting to recreate environments. But then after a while, I got disillusioned with it, because taking many acres of agricultural land, turning it into a parking lot, and putting trees back in wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing.

It was a large house on a grass lot, and it wasn’t married well to the land. We gave it a sense of connection with the surrounding woods by paying special attention to the entry. We lined the driveway with columnar Hornbeam trees. We laid natural, dark stone at the entry landing, to match the interior hallway, and did some linear planning to pick up the lines of the house. It was really about bringing structure down to the ground and giving it bones. CBQ


april/may/june 2012


Refined By Design transformed a drab and dated '60s kitchen into this sophisticated, timeless space. The custom cabinetry was designed with simple, classic, clean lines, and every shelf and drawer was meticulously planned so the client could utilize every inch of space. Also, a custom-designed, integrated dining bench helps anchor the welcoming warm feel of the room.


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photo: Gordon Hawkins

in profile

Interior Designers of Canada Member

Toronto’s do-it-yourselfers risk extra costs and poor design when they plan without professionals. One woman is their solution. Interview by Rita Smith

“Trust” and “respect” should be the first words that come to mind when you think about construction and renovation. For interior designer Heather Hodgson, these words are the foundation of any successful project. Without trust and respect—for clients, tradespeople, and suppliers—any project may be on the road to failure. Canadian Builders Quarterly caught up with Hodgson to ask how she’s found success. She spoke with us from Refined By Design’s office in Toronto.

Refined By Design At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 2009 Specialty Interior design and home renovations Scope of Work Canada and the United States

CBQ: Was it always your goal to succeed as an interior designer?

Heather Hodgson: I was always an “artsy” kind of person, if that’s what you mean. In high school, a guidance counsellor suggested a few art-oriented career programs for me, and one of them was interior design. It sounded perfect. I studied at Ryerson University and then went straight to work as an intern. Has it turned out to be the career you imagined when you were in high school?

It is not as glamourous as I imagined in high school. As an “artsy,” I was surprised at how much construction, math, physics, and technical information I needed to know, as


well as the creative side. I am a very organized and detail-oriented person. These traits turned out to be just as important as the artistic aspects of design. For 15 years, your business has been built almost exclusively on referrals. Why do people recommend you so highly?

First and foremost, I listen. I listen to clients when they are telling me what they want; I listen to tradespeople when they tell me what can and cannot be done. I ask my trades for their ideas—they are enthused to be part of the vision. They love it, and clients love it too. In the past, working for other firms, I was dismayed at how often the client’s wishes or lifestyle were disregarded. In my own business, I endeavour not to push my personal preferences or my “signature” on a project, but rather have the final design be a collaborative effort between me and my client. The design, after all, must be tailored to say to something unique about the client— not about me. What is the biggest threat to success on the project?

Negativity! There are some trades- and

april/may/june 2012


in profile

salespeople who treat their job as if it is a hassle to overcome. I try to avoid working with those people. They generally are not the type of people who put forth their best effort or show pride in their work. I have built invaluable relationships with my trades. We get excited about working on a new project. We work as a team. When you listen to each other and treat each

other with trust and respect, the most amazing outcomes are possible. My trades and I often brainstorm ideas that create spectacular design solutions or simply solve a problem. Pride in your job is what I want to work toward, and a lack of enthusiasm or responsibility can make that impossible. What changes have you noticed since you started?

“Pride in your job is what I want to work toward, and a lack of enthusiasm or responsibility can make that impossible.” heather hodgson, owner

The explosion of “do it yourself” TV shows has led people to believe they can do anything themselves. They attempt projects without the training, ingenuity, or the tools to get the best job done. People undertake these projects believing they don’t need a designer—then are surprised to find at the end of the job that there are mistakes, that things don’t work well, or that they have been overcharged. As designers, we work to make sure that the job is done correctly in the most cost-effective manner. It’s not just about knowing where to shop. I act as an experienced liaison between my trades and my clients. I fear that the “do it yourself” attitude has also led to a loss of respect for experienced tradespeople. There is a reason they are called professionals! Repairing a poor design in the long run can cost more than doing it right the first time. Have your marketing methods changed over the years?

Not really—it’s still mostly word of mouth. One change I have made is to stop calling my initial meetings with potential clients “consultations.” That sounds like something you should charge for, and I’m never ready to do that at the first meeting. Now I call them “meet and greets.” There, I am introduced to the project, and the client is introduced to me and my process. Hopefully we make a great fit and together create an elegant, inviting space that is a reflection of my client’s desired style. CBQ

Photos: Lara Fishbein

Below: A small kitchen and dining room (left) were combined to create a rustic, contemporary entertainment kitchen (right). The client’s love of the outdoors is seen in the stone-fireplace-style hood fan. The project also features Shaker-style custom cabinets and quartz countertops.


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

A Leader in Infrastructure and Project Finance Our award-winning projects group is recognized as a market leader for legal services in Canada’s PPP/ infrastructure and project finance market. We provide timely, business-oriented advice on every aspect of the procurement process and transaction. For more information about our services, please contact: Andrew Burton Toronto | 416.365.3520 | aburton@davis.ca

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in profile

He doesn’t run the jobsite, but Charles Caza knows more about construction than you might think. Find out what makes this general counsel one of the best in the building industry. Interview by Julie Schaeffer

When Charles Caza left the construction industry to attend law school, he thought he was pursuing an entirely new career—but today, as general counsel of 91-year-old Bird Construction Company, he remains close to his construction roots. Canadian Builders Quarterly sat down and talked to Caza about his unlikely career trajectory, as he shares his unique perspective on the challenges facing the construction industry.

Bird Construction At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 1920 Employees 1,300 Specialty Industrial, commercial, institutional, and heavy construction Annual Revenue $1 billion


april/may/june 2012

CBQ: How do you go from owning a construction company to practicing law?

Charles Caza: It may have been fate. I obtained a civil-engineering degree from the University of Waterloo, then started a construction company. I later sold my interest in the company to my partners and went to work for a large national contractor as site engineer. A few years after graduating from Waterloo, I went back to school to study law, obtaining my law degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1990. Then I joined a law firm, practicing construction litigation before moving in-house. So here I am, still working in the construction industry 20 years later. What appealed to you about Bird Construction?

The company has a very interesting history. It was started by H. J. Bird 92 years ago in Saskatchewan. Interestingly, three of the largest construction companies in Canada originated in southern Saskatchewan. Today, Bird

Construction has $1 billion in revenue and is diversified in terms of sectors and geography. The company has a strong performance culture and is very well managed. It’s always exciting to be part of a successful team. What does general counsel provide a construction company?

It depends on the company. At Bird Construction, unlike many construction companies, there are not a lot of claims, which says a lot about the company’s overall management and its project-execution capabilities. My main focus is in risk management, including reviewing projects prebid and getting involved in the bid-submission process. Bird Construction is very active in the P3 [public-private partnership] market, and my team provides bid support and leads contract negotiations in relation to P3 projects. We also provide legal support as needed during the project execution phase. I also get involved in other risk-management and governance matters.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

For those of us who aren't legal eagles, can you explain what that involves?

Working with the Bird Construction team on prospective contracts, we negotiate deals that make commercial sense, where risk is appropriately allocated. It’s important to understand the real risks in our industry and who is best positioned to assume and manage them. What do you like about the job?

I have always enjoyed working in the construction industry, and I also like to put deals together. At Bird Construction, I have the opportunity to combine both. In addition, being in-house allows me to be in a business role, which I also enjoy. I think what I bring to the table is an ability to manage risk while helping the company achieve its business objectives. It’s about finding a way to go forward with the deal.

“I have always enjoyed working in the construction industry, and I also like to put deals together. At Bird Construction, I have the opportunity to do both.” charles caza, general counsel

Are there any challenges?

The construction industry is very competitive, particularly when we’re in a slow market, making competition one of the greatest challenges. Bird Construction, however, with its unique project-delivery systems, strong organization, and focus on customer and supplier relationships, is well positioned and able to meet these challenges. Does your engineering background help with those challenges?

I think so. If you were going to retain someone to represent you in a medical malpractice suit, would you want someone who has studied and worked in IT or medicine before becoming a lawyer? I think my engineering background and industry experience help me relate to and better understand the issues that arise and the business objectives. Do you ever wish you'd gone into another field?

No. I love construction and think it’s in my blood. Despite its challenges, I stay because I enjoy it. Do you ever wish you hadn't sold your construction firm?

Not really. It’s an exciting time at Bird Construction. We recently acquired H. J. O’Connell, which operates in the heavy construction, civil, and surface-mining sectors in a number of provinces, adding sector and geographic diversification to Bird Construction’s business. H. J. O’Connell adds an exciting new dimension to the company and my own role. The people at Bird Construction and H. J. O’Connell are leaders in their industries, and the acquisition is already proving to be a good fit. I’m fortunate to have an opportunity to be a part of that and to contribute to the company’s growth. CBQ


A message from davis llp

Davis LLP is proud to be a preferred legal advisor to Bird Construction, one of Canada’s leading national general contractors. We look forward to building on our strong relationship with Bird Construction and working together to enhance our communities. Davis LLP is a leading law firm in the area of infrastructure and project finance, and has offices across Canada and in Tokyo.

april/may/june 2012


The front foyer of a custom, contemporary, private home in the Rideau Forest development, in Manotick, ON.


april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Shawn Lawrence found success on his own by doing it backwards: instead of making a name for himself with homes, he got his start by designing schools. Interview by Rita Smith

Twenty-five years after launching his career as an architect, Shawn Lawrence is about to begin his 700th project. Business has never been better for his firm, S. J. Lawrence Architect Incorporated; he is surrounded by family, and his enthusiasm for constant improvement is unflagging. Lawrence, principal of the firm, took a few minutes to share with Canadian Builders Quarterly his best moments, biggest mistakes, and future hopes.

CBQ: How did you go about getting to where you are today?

Shawn Lawrence: My start was definitely not the way most architects start. After graduation, I started work with an established firm, which was great. When I went out on my own, my first bid was on a 30,000-square-foot school in eastern Ontario. We won the bid—I definitely had an advantage being the “local guy”—and for the next several years, I was busy building new schools.

Photo: Christian Lalonde

Are you still focused on schools?

Not really. About 15 years ago, we were asked to design our first retirement building. At the time, retirement homes had a very negative connotation: they were not places anybody wanted to go, or to which anyone would want to deliver a family member. They were perceived as private nursing homes, no matter the age or ability of the resident. Most were cramped, institutional-style buildings. How were your designs different?

We set out to make them places you’d want to go. We


designed them like fine hotels, with spacious two-storey lobbies, luxurious dining rooms, and spacious amenity areas. We believe residents and visiting family members should enjoy their time in the building. Retirement-building design has evolved radically since we began. Today, a building often offers multiple levels of care: independent living with an increasing amount of amenity space, assisted living for those who require some support, and a full-care option for individuals incapacitated or suffering [from] dementia or Alzheimer’s. Design must take into account whether an area is fully accessible to the building, segregated for some care, or completely secure. Have you perfected retirement-home design?

S. J. Lawrence Architect At a Glance Location Ottawa, ON Founded 1993 Employees 6+ Specialty Retirement homes, condominiums, homes, and large industrial

Oh, no, not at all. We continue to appreciate the growing intricacies of the field—it is a very compelling area. In fact, my daughter, who works with me, is writing her master’s thesis on architectural design for assisted living. The cohort of aging baby boomers is nowhere near finished. We see 10–15 years of continued growth and

april/may/june 2012


in profile


ARCHITECT INCORPORATED 18 Deakin Street, Suite 205 Tel: (613) 739-7770 Ottawa, Ont. K2E 8B7 Fax: (613) 739-7703 www.sjlarchitect.com The Hilson Avenue residence in Ottawa West offers an open, spacious design.

“Providing Fine Architectural Services Since 1993”

progress in the design and construction of assisted-living facilities. So your firm is something of a family affair?

My daughter, Amanda, completed her degree and works with me; my wife, Monique, runs our administrative department; and my son, Brandon, is in his second year studying architecture at Carleton University. While I appreciate the fantastic team of technologists and specification writers working with us at all times, Your Solution one of the things I am proudest of isComplete the fact that my for thesatisfaction Architectural Openings and Building family has joined me. I get great from this.


Specialty Products Industry

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What's a lesson you would pass on to young architects?

Architectural Openings and Building When I went outfor onthe my own and landed a new school to Specialty Products Industry design as my first project, I immersed myself into the project so deeply that I forgot to put on my “sales hat” and capture the next project. When the school was finished, I had nothing to do for a few months! I am happy to say that has never happened since, but it was a hard lesson at the time. I am a big believer in co-op education and getting young interns out onto the jobsite as soon as possible. That’s where they really learn how things go together. We have seen great strides in 3-D modeling and AutoCAD software over the last 15 years. Our clients are more sophisticated and expect us to keep up with this technology.

What's next?

We are still very busy with retirement buildings and are starting our 20th facility. Medium-sized condominium buildings (40–75 units) have become popular in Ottawa, and we have five on the board. Due to the City of Ottawa’s master-plan-promoting intensification, we are also busy designing multiple residential units on former singlefamily properties. Overall, we are thankful for the work we have, and look forward to many exciting years ahead. CBQ


Allmar is in proud partnership with SJ Lawrence and currently a supplier for the new Celestia Condominium project For information regarding our products, services and locations, please visit www.allmar.com or call us at (613) 228-7723

34 Capital Dr, Nepean, On K2G 0E9

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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in profile

Sports aren’t just for boys anymore. BaAM Productions’ president and the rest of her team create lively, large-scale sporting-event projects. Interview by Thalia A-M Bruehl

Annemarie Roe has spent more than 20 years working in the entertainment, sports, and culture industries. Her position as BaAM Productions’ president is the culmination of those experiences, as well as a childhood dream fulfilled. Given BaAM’s reputation as one of Canada’s leading event designers and organizers, Roe and the rest of her team have had the opportunity to work with some of today’s top sports teams and organizations. A recent highlight has been BaAM’s work on the NHL’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park, in Boston. Roe recently chatted with Canadian Business Quarterly about her career at BaAM and the company’s incredible success.

CBQ: What first drew you to event productions? BaAM Productions At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 2003 Employees 20 Specialty Design and event services for museums, sporting events, and touring shows Annual Projects 80


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Annemarie Roe: Early in my career, I worked as a stage manager, technical director, and production manager for different nationwide festivals, product launches, and theatrical productions. My work on those events led me to the exhibition world and allowed me to integrate entertainment into the world of physical design. There was also a customer experience I was drawn to—both in temporary exhibit spaces and permanent installations, like museums or tourist centres. As a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up, and how do you see that reflected in your current position?

I wanted to work in the entertainment business, but I didn’t really know what that meant. In almost every aspect of our work, we are providing entertainmentbased experiences for the visitor, customer, or fan. So I guess it worked out perfectly!

talented staff members come from a wide range of backgrounds so that we can give specialized focus to a project, whether it calls upon an engineer or graphic designer. However, one thing that BaAM is particularly good at is collaboration. And that’s key when we’re talking about the bigger picture. Whether starting from square one or jumping into the middle of project, our team knows how to work with a variety of stakeholders on any given project, to ensure that the creative vision is realized in its final form. And what's your specialty?

I would say that my specialty is my ability to be a part of that same collaboration and to connect the dots, in order to communicate all the hectic information that can come up in an easy-to-approach and easy-to-overcome way. I create an environment where everyone can focus on doing the best job possible.

What would you say is BaAM's area of specialty?

What is your day-to-day like? Do you travel often for work?

It’s hard to say what BaAM’s area of specialty is—our

You know, many of my days do involve travel, sometimes

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

to a project site or show site. I work closely with key people in our office on a wide variety of projects that are in various stages of development. I will say that no day is like the last. Who are some of your bigger clients?

BaAM’s clients include professional sports leagues like MLB, the NHL, and the NFL; professional teams such as the LA Kings, Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals; and other sports organizations. We also work with governments and municipalities, as well as cultural organizations as wide-ranging as Parks Canada, the Toronto Zoo, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and TO2015, Toronto’s Pan Am Organizing Committee. How do you go about gaining new clients?

We’re always on the lookout for our next project; we do our best to stay current and attend a lot of events ourselves. But the majority of our business is actually referral-based.

“Whether starting from square one or jumping into the middle of a project, our team knows how to work with a variety of stakeholders on any given project, to ensure that the creative vision is realized in its final form.” annemarie roe, president

What has been your favorite project to work on, and what made it so special?

Working on the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park was an amazing experience. Everyone was so excited about working on such a brilliant event, and that made the meetings and the site work that much more rewarding. The nostalgia of standing on the field at Fenway and being part of bringing such a great day together was a lot of fun. Had you worked with the NHL before?

The NHL was our client for both the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic projects. The Heritage Classic debuted in February 2011, and our role on the project was very similar to our scope of work for the NHL Winter Classic. For both projects, we acted as lead contractors, but we also provided overall project management and support.

As I mentioned before, we have a great depth of in-house experience as a result of our own varied backgrounds—everything from design to entertainment to architecture— but more importantly, we have worked to bring these skills together in a way that allows us to deliver exceptional work. We also work with a broad client base, and that allows us to use our diverse skill sets to create new projects and to stay current with the ever-changing technologies, materials, and approaches. CBQ


Photo: Tom Szczerbowski

BaAM works on an average of 80 projects per year. What makes the company so successful?

The diamond at the 20th Annual MLB All-Star FanFest, held in Anaheim, CA, in July 2010.

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Photo: Lucas Finlay Photography

in profile


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile Opposite: This single-family residence in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighbourhood was designed as both a home and a demonstration suite for the owner’s home-building and renovation company. The project is the first LEED Platinum home in Western Canada.

In Western Canada, homes call for more than just rustic vistas and panoramic views. Here’s how one firm’s highperforming homes are waking up design in Vancouver. Interview by Laura Williams-Tracy

Frits de Vries Architect Ltd. specializes in designing places where people want to be. That’s understandable, given that most of the firm’s projects are surrounded by the stunning scenery of Vancouver, named by Forbes as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Frits de Vries and his associates focus on designing one-of-a-kind homes, resorts, commercial interiors, and civic spaces, with an eye geared toward creating private retreats that capture the region’s picturesque views. Recently, Vries and associate Patrick Warren spoke with Canadian Builders Quarterly about highperformance designs that respect and enhance their beautiful surroundings.

CBQ: Your residential design occurs in such a beautiful backdrop, with magnificent trees and water views of Western Canada. How does the setting affect your designs?

Frits de Vries: We want to create something personal—a courtyard or enclosed garden—so that a home with beautiful views not only makes an impression but allows you to enjoy your private environment at the same time. Patrick Warren: Not all of the homes have panoramic views. For the homes that do, we ensure there’s a connection to the nearer landscape as well. There’s a culture here of indoor and outdoor living. There’s always a connection to the landscape throughout the year. That connection seems evident in the firm's aesthetic. How


did it inform your design of the first LEED Platinum home in Western Canada?

FV: Our client was a developer and owns Natural Balance Home Builders, so doing a LEED project enabled him to use his own home for marketing purposes—he likes the idea of building homes for a more demanding buyer. It was a good opportunity for both of us. It’s not so easy to convince every client to proceed with a LEED home, because they are concerned about it costing more money or the bureaucracy and paperwork. It takes time to explain the benefits. PW: We’ve found the term “high-performance home” useful in talking about sustainable homes. If you say it’s a green home, then it seems that it only benefits nature— it’s abstract. A high-performance home is more descrip-

Frits de Vries Architect At a Glance Location Vancouver, BC Founded 1985 Employees 8 Specialty High-performance custom homes Annual Sales $600,000

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in profile

tive, in that it performs for the owner and the environment. Clients understand the benefit. The firm has clearly found a lot of success. How did it get started?

FV: The economy in Vancouver has had many ups and downs, though it’s more diverse now. Architects used to migrate from Toronto to Calgary to Vancouver and back again looking for work. I immigrated to Vancouver from

“We work with clients and developers who are looking for a custom, innovative design solution rather than the repetition of the same design over and over.” frits de vries, principal

Holland. I worked for Expo ’86 and afterward stayed in Vancouver. The Sooke Harbour House hotel was my first project in Canada, and soon I had as much work as I could handle. For a long time, I was a one-man firm with help. Now we are a group of eight people who like to work together. What's the leadership breakdown?

PW: We have overlapping roles and a really collaborative environment. People are respected for their expertise rather than title. The work moves around the office quite a bit, and any given project will be on half the desks as it moves along. That gives us fresh eyes and a lot of different input on each project. Are you primarily known as a residential-design firm?

FV: The Internet may force architects to specialize, because your clientele selects a firm based on past projects they see on a website. If we do a single-family house that catches attention, that’s what they respond to. I think our name is established by single-family homes, but in the process we get other kinds of work. We do recreational work—such as the Mayne Island Resort—multifamily residential, planning, and commercial-retail interiors. What new tools are you using to create and communicate your designs, and how does it affect your work?

PW: 3-D design software, such as Google SketchUp, is increasingly important for us. It’s helpful from a design point of view and from a communications standpoint. We are able to see what the house is going to feel like, and for our clients, seeing the house in three dimensions helps them understand. We can start from a quick concept and develop it from there. Changes are easy. We can set it up as a fixed animation or navigate through the design with the client. Clients can more easily get onboard with ideas that are unfamiliar to them. It has changed the way we work quite a lot. What distinguishes a Frits de Vries Architect project?

FV: We have always had diversity in our work and typically do one-of-a-kind projects. We work with clients and developers who are looking for a custom, innovative design solution rather than the repetition of the same design over and over. Our clients have done a lot of research before they even step through our door. CBQ


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

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through the years

Burrard Group Burrard Group's philosophy goes something like this: if its destiny is to own and operate a real-estate and development company in British Columbia, it’s also responsible for developing properties and master-planned communities that make the most of the province’s breathtaking beauty and embrace its wide-ranging climates. By focusing on golf-oriented developments and creating residential communities within and around them, Burrard Group has fulfilled its destiny several times over and has set the bar quite high in the process. “We’re a long-term developer,” says development manager Jason Wexler. “We build [our properties] up slowly. We’re not looking to get out in three years’ time; rather, we build property value over several years as the community develops into a highly desirable enclave. We focus on sustainability and try to control a lot of the end design in our subdivisions. I think those things help set us apart from the others.” —Kelli Lawrence

1987 getting into golf

As it begins its operations in British Columbia, Burrard Group soon starts work on Arbutus Ridge, a highly picturesque golf course and collection of 650 seaside homes on Vancouver Island. With Arbutus Ridge, Burrard Group puts itself on the development map by building a haven for the community. Arbutus Ridge takes an early step towards sustainability, eventually becoming one of only five golf courses in Canada to have measured its carbon footprint.


1991 a legend lends a hand

Golf icon Jack Nicklaus contributes his first signature-designed course in Western Canada, the result of which will ultimately be known as Nicklaus North—the first golf course in the world to bear his name. Construction begins on the course in 1992, and the construction on the first phase of single-family lots begins in 1993. The signature course fortifies Burrard Group’s presence in the golf industry and attracts many golf icons in the years to come. 1992 canyon residences

From the Canyon Course, open since 1980, Burrard Group develops the master plan for what becomes known as the Village at Gallagher’s Canyon. “Gallagher’s Canyon is in Kelowna—which is fairly dry, almost desert-like in the summer, but still gets snowfall in the mild winter,” Wexler says. “Our single-family designs are indicative of that.” The development boasts tile roofs and low-slung, hipped rooflines. Deep overhangs provide shade in the summer.


1995 townhomes at the canyon

In 1995, Gallagher’s Court, the first townhome of many developments within Gallagher’s Canyon, is completed. With its picturesque location adjacent to a canyon and near Layercake Mountain, Gallagher’s Court overlooks the ninth fairway and provides unique inspiration for Burrard Group. The community and homes, which are built exclusively by Burrard Group, go on to win several gold and silver awards, including Builder of the Year, Best Townhouse Development, and Best Residential Development in the Thompson Okanagan region.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photo: Artin Ahmadi

Nicklaus North

2009 cypress place

2011 gallagher’s canyon is sold out

A select 39 families will one day occupy Cypress Place, which overlooks the fifth fairway on the west side of Nicklaus North. This exclusive community boasts numerous sustainable elements, including tree-preservation zones, an innovative stormwater-management system, and a geothermal heat source. The show home on lot one will feature triple-pane windows, waterconserving plumbing fixtures, geothermal heating and cooling, and energy-saving lighting and temperature-control systems. “We provide a credit for residents to put geothermal in,” Wexler says. “I don’t think any other developers are doing that.” Burrard Group is only doing the construction on one show home at Cypress Place; the community is open to other builders, providing they meet certain design guidelines.

“Gallagher’s Canyon selling the final townhome was pretty big,” Wexler says. The sale brings the total sold lots and townhomes in Gallagher’s Canyon up to 641 units. “About eight years ago, we were building in the range of 50 homes a year,” Wexler adds. “That’s when our construction company reached its peak volume. So this is a pretty big milestone.”

2005 the telus world skins game

Hosted at Nicklaus North, the second Skins game for the course features Nicklaus, Vijay Singh, John Daly, and Stephen Ames. The event is one of what will be several world-class golf events to take place at Nicklaus North.

“We focus on sustainability and try to control a lot of the end design in our subdivisions. I think those things help set us apart from the others.” jason wexler, development manager

1996 teeing off at nicklaus north

Jack Nicklaus himself has the first tee off on the now-completed Nicklaus North. The course is christened “Best New Golf Course in Canada” by Golf Digest magazine.


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step by step West Coast Log Homes André Ibghy Architectes Kettle River Timberworks Ltd. Howard Rideout Architect Inc. Resolutions Enterprises Ltd. S3 Interior Design Inc.

129 133 137 141 144 148

In log-home construction, a perfect log is hard to come by, so extra precaution is necessary for storage prior to construction.


Build the Perfect Log Home with West Coast Log Homes

The timber-frame home holds a unique position in the pantheon of North American architecture, possessing a distinct, rustic allure. Andy Koberwitz, president of Gibsons, British Columbia-based West Coast Log Homes, has made his career delivering the inimitable beauty of log and timber-frame homes to clients all over Canada. With more than a decade of experience, Koberwitz and his company have refined the timber-framing process, and they carry out each step with the highest level of care and precision. —Kelly O’Brien


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step by step

1. Practice smart, transparent design

3. Pick the best logs and timbers

While every West Coast Log Homes project is unique, the designs do follow the same set of principles. “A perfect design should have the bones of an efficient and supportive structure, with nicely laid-out functional spaces between and around structural members,” Koberwitz says. Each design also incorporates special features that add character to the home. The other half of step one—communication—is just as critical. Conferring extensively over design specifications helps prevent problems down the road.

Every log in a home must fulfill three requirements: load-bearing capacity, hosting capacity (it must be of an appropriate size and quality so that it can accommodate the mortises and other features called for in the design), and aesthetic quality, to enhance the overall character of the home. “Each log is picked with all three considerations in mind,” Koberwitz says. “If one aspect isn’t right, the log isn’t right.”

2. Know your joinery

4. Cut it right

Every joint in a log home must be designed to meet the specific needs of its location and materials. There are three factors, says Koberwitz, that a well-designed mortise-and-tenon joint needs to account for: structural strength, ease and efficiency of assembly, and the separation of interior spaces from the elements.

Precision in the cutting process is absolutely paramount to the success of a log home. Each timber has its own shape and layout that must be followed to the letter. The load-bearing surfaces in the joints, for example, “must be cut so that they mate perfectly,” Koberwitz says. “Undue stresses can be caused if a load-bearing joint is not cut evenly and all the force is focused at one small contact point instead of being evenly distributed over the entire surface.”


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

5. Protect the timber Between the cutting process and the assembly of the home, the lumber must be carefully stored. West Coast Log Homes uses large, open-ended tents to protect the lumber from UV rays and moisture, while allowing plenty of ventilation to aid in the air-drying process. Each log is carefully marked, to denote its identity and that of its adjoining pieces, before being stored.

7. Schedule shipping and plan delivery As the lumber gets carefully loaded onto trucks or into shipping containers, the jobsite needs to be prepped for its arrival. Checklists and coordinated schedules are key to ensure the setup will go as planned. “This is the stage where everything starts to come together,” Koberwitz says.

8. Assemble the home on-site Prior to their arrival, Koberwitz and his crew review photos of the site and foundation to minimize surprises. Once the team is on-site, assembly of the timber framing typically takes a week or less. The crane operator swings the logs into place in a predetermined order, and the West Coast Log Homes crew secures each piece. Careful planning early in the process means this step can come together quickly and smoothly.

6. Test the timber and fit Prior to shipping the lumber to the jobsite, West Coast Log Homes performs a thorough check. “The logs are spread out on decks to be double-checked and updated if necessary,” Koberwitz says. The process corrects for any changes in the design or changes in the shape or size of the wood that may have occurred during the drying process. For particularly technical sections, Koberwitz says, “We’ll do a test fit to ensure a smooth and efficient final assembly.”


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Photos: Linda Sabiston

9. Stay in touch to maintain the finished home West Coast Log Homes is careful to stay in close contact with the general contractor and the homeowner after assembly to address any questions that might arise as the logs settle, as the builder installs the roof and framing, and as the final finish coats are being applied to the timbers. “Our continued support ensures the homeowner is fully prepared to finish the home as they originally dreamed it,” Koberwitz says. “And it means we also get to be a part of their excitement when all is done and they finally move in.” CBQ

A message from streamline design

At Streamline Design, we understand that each home is a personal design with personal desires to suit individual lifestyle and living needs. Our job is to make your dream come alive and ensure it’s the experience of a lifetime. We pride ourselves in our level of customer service, attention to detail, and design abilities, and we work directly with you to ensure your dream home is everything you have imagined it to be.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

Interior rendering of the Shriners Hospital for Children.


Design for the Healthcare Sector with AndrŽ Ibghy Architectes

A thesis on the design of healthcare facilities at the University of British Columbia has shaped the career of Montréal architect André Ibghy. For almost 30 years, Ibghy has endeavoured to translate medical officers’ clinical vision into a spatial plan. Ibghy and his design team at André Ibghy Architectes have developed an intimate understanding of how hospitals function, and the firm specializes in healthcare projects throughout Canada and beyond. —Laura Williams-Tracy


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step by step

From left: A nursing counter at the Jewish General Hospital, an exterior rendering of the Shriners Hospital for Children, and an exterior rendering of the Vendome Research Centre in Montréal are just a few of André Ibghy Architectes’ many healthcare projects.

Develop a vision A healthcare design project is preempted by the development of a clinical vision that specifies the nature of the service, its clinical objectives, and the operational model that will deliver the service. This process is driven by hospital management and clinical directors, but the designer is often involved in order to facilitate transition to design.


Refine the vision to a functional program The functional program identifies the services required and provides an inventory of all the spaces within the services. “With the functional program, master plan, and concept for the Montréal Children’s Hospital, part of a $1.5 billion project that relocates five facilities on two sites for the McGill University Health Centre, we started with the design

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criteria for a patient room,” Ibghy says. The firm looked at the nurse-to-patient ratios that would be most effective and efficient. It turned out that an efficient patient cluster was 12 patients per nursing team, so the team considered various ways to cluster 12 rooms around a support core. Ibghy and his team evaluated the organization of patient beds according to “U,” “L,” and parallel clusters facing one another, and considered various criteria—including the accessibility to the patient bed by staff and family, travel distance for nurses, patient privacy, and natural light. “We even considered the design of the ceiling, because patients are often lying on their back looking at the ceiling,” Ibghy adds.


Design an environment focused on healing “The design process in healthcare is distinguished from others in

that it is focused on the creation of an environment specifically directed towards healing and minimizing stress on patients,” Ibghy says. This perception of what constitutes a healing environment may be very different for each of the stakeholders of the healthcare institution. With the Shriners Hospital for Children, André Ibghy Architectes developed a consensus with the client as to the image of the institution and how it wished to project itself—both to the community and to its various visitors and patients. “As this is to be the Shriners’ only hospital in Canada, we developed a thematic for each floor that corresponds to a geographic area of Canada,” Ibghy says. “Each floor’s theme affected the pallet of colours and images, and seeks to create a soothing environment for the patient that he or she may identify with.”

Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

Control infection transmission Controlling infection is a vital factor in everything André Ibghy Architectes does. “What distinguishes healthcare projects from others is the expectation that a healthcare environment will be a healing one—and with that comes a responsibility,” Ibghy says. “When you walk into a hospital, you expect that you will be protected from getting sick or getting transmitted a disease or infection that will aggravate a condition.” André Ibghy Architectes has to facilitate this responsibility. And because risk management has become a huge part of the operational concerns of a healthcare institution, it has also become a huge concern for the firm. All decisions—down to where to locate a sink—have an impact on infectioncontrol strategies. “Whether [placing the sink] just inside or outside of a patient room



will have an impact on the frequency with which a clinical professional washes his or her hands,” Ibghy says.

Design facilities that are flexible and adaptable Treatment modalities are constantly changing, and so are the technologies to deliver those treatments. Therefore, designers of healthcare facilities must anticipate that spaces will need to respond to such changes over time. “For instance, the challenge for residences for the elderly is that the condition of the individual living within the residence devolves overtime as autonomy is challenged, yet the nature of the architecture does not,” Ibghy explains. “There is tension between the two. We have to think of ways the residence can respond to changing levels of its residents’ levels of autonomy.” CBQ


A message from labelle acoustic

Our task is to reduce noise everywhere that we can: in our workplaces, in our homes, and also, in our spare time. We have been working successfully since 1985, in order to provide the best quality of life to all. Our specialities are studios, architectural and mechanical sound controls, hospitals, institutions and classrooms, condos, and musical and television rooms. We are presently working with André Ibghy Architectes on the Shriners Hospital for Children. Congratulations to Mr. Ibghy for this new project. A message from novus

Working with the architectural community for over 30 years, our unique combination of inhouse fabrication and consultation allows us to sculpt lighting seamlessly into a project. Whether it be photometric studies, 3-D renderings, or mock-ups, NOVUS is able to provide a comprehensive tailored-to-budget program, adapting ourselves to the elements the architect needs and more.

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Novus wishes to congratulate André Ibghy for Study and recommendations to solve noise problems in mechanical and architectural systems for: institutional buildings(schools, hospitals), industrial noise, environmental noise, new condominiums,new recording studios (productions, mouvie studios), Commercial buildings and home theaters (THX-5.1). For: architects, engineers, building managers, contractors,owners of industrial and commercial buildings, gouverment. 1005 Périgny, Suite 201 Chambly, Québec, J3L 1W7, Canada

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the passion and devotion towards the realm of architecture. André Ibghy recognizes the importance of lighting in architecture. Our collaboration with André Ibghy has been fruitful and stimulating. All the best for the future!

Thank you for your trust and support all these years!

“Passionate and loyal to your achievements for over 30 years”

Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital Montreal, IBGHY NFOE LEMAY architect consortium

1179 Bleury, Suite 2 | Montréal, Québec Canada | H3B 3H9 tel 514.369.0005 | andre@ibghy.com | www.ibghy.co


Photo: Dom Koric

The covered deck on this remote timber-frame cabin provides an ample setting to enjoy the scenic surroundings.


Create the Perfect Timber-Frame Home with Kettle River Timberworks Ltd.

Kettle River Timberworks specializes in the design, fabrication, and installation of timber-frame homes and architectural timberwork. One specialty for the company is in rustic, traditional timber-frame buildings that utilize traditional mortise and tenon joinery with oak pegs to secure the joints. However, the company also builds modern, sleek structures that utilize glue-laminated beams precisely manufactured and assembled with modern steel hardware and fasteners. For each project, the firm provides detailed design, drawings, and engineering services. In addition, the company specializes in specifying and installing structural insulating panels (SIPs) to enclose and insulate its timber structures. The combination of prefabricated timberwork and prefabricated SIP panels allows Kettle River Timberworks’ team to deliver a highly accurate, architecturally stunning structure in a very short time frame. —Christopher Cussat


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step by step

Photo: Dave Petrina

1. Understand the process According to David Petrina, owner of Kettle River Timberworks, building the perfect timber-frame home starts with choosing the right team. “Because timber-frame homes are almost always prebuilt in the shop, they require a higher level of planning and coordination prior to construction in the field,” Petrina says. Unlike conventional residential construction, where changes in design are often made on the site, making changes to a timber frame is costly and sometimes prohibitive. The key members of the team are the timber framer, the architect or designer, the general contractor, and the structural engineer. Petrina lists what you need to consider when choosing your team members.

3. Know your architect or designer According to Petrina, the first question one should ask is, “Does the designer have experience designing timber frames?” He adds that a lack of experience by the designer can result in poorly proportioned frames and nonstandard, costly joinery. The designer should also have knowledge of 3-D CAD software, as it’s pretty much standard for timber-frame design and extremely valuable for visualizing proportions and avoiding timbers interfering with trim, windows, and headroom. “Fortunately, our firm and many timber-frame firms have on-staff designers,” Petrina says. “Also, there are many good architects and designers in Canada and the United States that specialize solely on timber-frame design.”

2. Pick the timber framer The timber framer should have a solid track record for executing projects on time and on budget. Petrina says it’s also important to consider whether they provide design and installation services. He explains that a recent trend for timber framers is to supply the frame only and rely on the general contractor to do the installation. “Unless the general contractor has installation experience and tools, this can be a disservice to the client,” Petrina says. It can also result in the frames not being installed up to the accuracy and fit for which they were designed—which can lead to a loss in accountability between the general contractor and the timber framer. Choosing the timber framer is a vital step, as they will usually have a network of prequalified designers, engineers, and general contractors.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

4. Conference with a general contractor “Ideally, one’s general contractor will have past experience working on timber-frame projects,” Petrina says. “Does he have the discipline to adhere to drawings so that the foundation he builds will match the frame when it arrives?” General contractors have to provide the proper level of care once the timber frame is installed, and the crew has to be active patching anything up.

Photo: Darren Bernaedt

6. Choose the wood

5. Work with the engineer Because timber-frame construction requires designing with wood joinery, there are a select few engineers with the expertise and experience to analyze and engineer timber frames. “Choosing an engineer without this expertise will result in the structure being overdesigned and therefore more costly,” Petrina says. He adds that timbers will also most likely be oversized, and joints will include unnecessary steel, which will detract from the aesthetics of the frame.

There are many variables to consider when specifying a timber frame—the most important are the species, grade, and dryness of the wood. “Although some of our potential clients think that timber frames are commodities that can be ‘shopped around’ for the best price, nothing could be further from the truth,” Petrina says. On the West Coast, Douglas fir and cedar are the best choices. On the East Coast, white pine and oak are the most common. “The wood should be kiln dried and specified as free-of-heart where possible,” Petrina says. Free-of-heart means the timbers are side cuts from the tree, lacking the pith. This results in a more stable timber that is far less likely to twist and crack. Another consideration is the drying process, where wood shrinks up to eight percent. “If timber frames are built with green wood instead of kiln-dried wood, joints will open up with time and gaps will form when drywall meets timber,” Petrina says. Large timbers should be specified as kiln dried to a minimum depth of three inches. This requires that the timbers are either dried for years in storage or that they are dried in a radio-frequency kiln.

7. Plan There are countless ways and styles of timber framing. Petrina suggests you do your research. “There are many great books on the market, particularly those by Tedd Benson [Timberframe, The Timber-Frame Home],” he says. “In addition, there are several good magazine publications.” Many timber framers offer tours of homes that they have built, and this is a great way to see a timber frame up close, to check out the required workmanship, and to meet past clients. “In our experience, the best projects are the ones where the client is fully engaged in the process and wants to discuss and consider the many details and options for timber frame,” Petrina says. CBQ A message from fraserwood

Photo: David Cane

Working with a variety of structural western wood species, FraserWood markets timbers of unrivaled visual appeal and structural capacity. From green to radiofrequency kiln-dried timbers, and from solid-sawn to specialty glulam timbers, FraserWood offers the broadest range of products in the industry. FraserWood combines its in-depth knowledge of timber with exceptional fabrication capabilities built on 3-D modeling and CNC manufacturing. As B2B specialists, FraserWood serves as a scalable production department, teaming with businesses like Kettle River Timberworks to take on any job, any challenge. Whether your project is commercial or residential, make FraserWood part of your team.


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step by step

For each project, Howard Rideout sketches out various design ideas. The results, hanging above his desk, are as much works of art as they are plans.


Bring a Cultural Centre to Life with Howard Rideout Architect Inc.

In 2000, Howard Rideout started his namesake firm, Howard Rideout Architect, in an effort to capitalize on his unique ability to illustrate ideas and convey intentions through hand-drawn designs and diagrams. “Instead of being an instrument for a larger firm, where I had none of my own direction, having my own firm allowed me to fully utilize this unique gift,” Rideout says. One client in particular, Reinhart Weber, has taken full advantage of Rideout’s talent, and after hiring him to design both his home and a local transitional-housing facility (with the help of IHD Design Build), Weber tasked him with creating the Midland Cultural Centre, a 30,000-square-foot arts institution and home to the Huronia Players community theatre. The project, which will be completed in May 2012, has been a labour of love for both client and architect. Rideout recently talked Canadian Builders Quarterly through the arduous yet enjoyable steps that go into making a successful cultural centre. —Thalia A-M Bruehl


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step by step

Above: Drawings and a panoramic view of the Midland Cultural Centre’s interior during the construction phase. Opposite: The in-progress exterior view of the Midland Cultural Centre.

Find the site In 2008, Weber and Rideout began the search for a location on which to place the Midland Cultural Centre; they looked at both vacant lots as well as available institutional spaces that could be renovated. The first site they found was a historic school on a huge, five-acre lot. “We spent a year planning a design around this Edwardian gem of a school, only to lose the site to a local factory expansion,” Rideout says. “We then had to go all the way back to the drawing board.” After an exhaustive search, Rideout and Weber finally found the site where the Midland Cultural Centre is being built today. The site, which is in a very prominent location across from the town library and the city’s most prominent church, also had all of the features they had been looking for—great visibility, close parking, and other nearby local businesses.


Work with end users The Huronia Players, who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2011, are one of Midland’s most beloved theatrical troupes and were the driving force behind the creation of the Midland Cultural Centre. “We began working with the stakeholders, which included the Huronia Players, in terms of what they needed,” Rideout says. “We came up with a design based on their requirements, and added other features, like a raised seating and lounge area, complete with balcony viewing from the second floor.

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This additional performance space will be the hub of the building.” The same work was done with Quest Art Gallery, another stakeholder in the centre. “For Quest, we wanted to maximize wall space, and designed strategic openings to provide diffused northern natural light, perfect for the creation of art.” It was also decided that Quest Art Gallery would be laid out over two floors, with open views from the lower areas up into the upper, principal gallery space. Rideout also opened up views into the two adjoining classroom spaces, to help animate the space with artistic activities throughout the day.

Develop the design


“For me, architecture is a creative challenge, but in the real world it’s about managing intangible aspects of the design process—making function and art work in harmony,” Rideout says. The major design goal of the Midland Cultural Centre was not just to have the space in use 24-7 but to make those uses—whether theatrical performances, galas, or gallery openings—visible from the outside. The design came down to one word for Rideout: permeable. The structure, which is built within one inch of the property line on all sides, was designed using large amounts of glass to fully open it up to the public. “The outside design is very taut and simple, but the inside is wonderfully complex,” Rideout says.

Draw, sketch, and outline Rideout is known for his detailed illustrations, and in creating the series of drawings for the Midland Cultural Centre, he turned the project from a concept into a reality. The client’s desires join Rideout’s own design ideas and interpretations for each sketch, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that Rideout’s drawings are as much a piece of art as the finished structures. “The ideas in my mind are transferred directly to paper, without the filter of an independent illustrator or computer-aided program,” Rideout says. “The drawing is the seed of everything.”


Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

Get the exterior in place Thanks to the hard work of IHD Design Build, who served as the project’s contractor, construction began on the Midland Cultural Centre shortly after the site was purchased. Rideout was still finishing up the exterior drawings when the slab was poured. From the day the site was purchased, Rideout knew he wanted a sheltering canopy and glass base that would draw attention to the building’s inner workings, highlighting its artistic heart. The wood canopy, which extends the length of the side street, is clad in locally sourced cedar planks. Rideout hopes this use of wood will also serve as a reminder of Midland’s logging heritage. Other exterior features include local limestone and manufactured stone, both of which will help the Midland Cultural Centre achieve LEED certification.


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Finalize the interior As soon as the exterior work was finished on the project, interior construction began. Rideout takes great pride in the interior spaces, which are anything but intimidating. “It’s meant to feel fresh, comfortable, and modern,” he says. “I see it as a living room for Midland, a public room for the town.” Rideout, who kept the “cultural class” in mind while designing the interior, is waiting to see what’s left in the budget before making any final decisions on the finishing touches. “I constantly look back at the illustrations as we proceed on the design, to ensure we keep the original vision,” he explains. The interior is on schedule to be completed in time for the Huronia Players’ 2012 spring season. CBQ


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

Opposite: A Built Green Platinum home can still include striking design elements, such as the 22.5-foot cathedral ceiling shown here.


Construct a Built Green Platinum Home with Resolutions Enterprises Ltd.

The spectacular, energy-efficient house that Nelson and Danielle Ruest built in the heart of Victoria, British Columbia, is more than just the couple’s dream home; it also represents the merging of all their knowledge and experience into a single, life-changing project. Resolutions Enterprises, the couple’s computer consultancy, has focused in recent years on green data centres. Nelson has early experience building houses with his father, and the Ruests have a penchant for do-it-yourself renovations. All of that provided the impetus to design and build a 2,200-square-foot Built Green Platinum showplace. Below, they walk us through the process. —Jeff Hampton

Develop a Built Green strategy

Select materials and suppliers

Every Built Green home must have a qualified energy advisor evaluate plans and determine the certification and EnerGuide rating. The advisor relies on a checklist covering every aspect of the project, including materials, jobsite practices, technology, and energy-efficiency elements. Each item has a numeric value, and the total amount of the items incorporated determines the certification. “Our initial rating was 83,” Nelson says. “For Platinum, it has to be more than 85, so we reviewed our plans and did more. We ended up with a rating of 86.”


Built Green emphasizes many specialized materials, such as lumber from sustainable sources, no-VOC cabinetry or plywood, certain levels of recycled content in materials, and high-tech system controls. Materials also must be sourced from within an 800-kilometre radius, to reduce transportation and fuel costs. This isn’t necessarily easy. “While it was easy for us to locate materials on the Internet, it was a challenge to find local suppliers,” Nelson says.


Hire a Built Green-certified contractor

Educate permit/inspection officials

The Ruests were determined to be their own general contractor and subcontractor on many parts of the project. That presented two challenges: The couple had to be certified as Built Green contractors, which required that they take a course and pass an exam. They also had to be members of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. For that, the Ruests were able to show that they were builders, even though most of their recent experience had been in renovations.

Built Green is a relatively new program, and it’s important to make sure local inspectors understand the process. “The inspectors were not all up to speed,” Nelson says. “We had to spend time showing and explaining some of the products we were using.” On the other hand, the district of Saanich, the largest municipality of Vancouver Island, supports the Built Green program, and the Ruests’ persistence was




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step by step

A 20-tube, solar hot-water preheat system is one of this Built Green Platinum home’s energy-saving features.

rewarded with a 35 percent credit on their permit fees. “We’re not the first house to use the Built Green process here, but we are definitely among the first,” Danielle says. “And there aren’t many at the Platinum level.”

Plan the building process The Ruests focused heavily on the seal of their home, which was achieved with spray-foam insulation in the walls and attic, and a 20-millilitre plastic barrier under the foundation. Because the insulation dries into a solid barrier, all electrical, plumbing, and technical systems must be planned and placed with precision. “We have an open floor plan and not a lot of interior walls, so we had to work closely with all the vendors to make sure everything was where we wanted it,” Nelson says. “However, we ran extra electrical conduits into the attic and the basement, in case we want to add something later.” Another item on the Built Green checklist is a clean jobsite. “We wanted it to be clean and safe, and our inspectors said we had one of the cleanest construction sites they had ever seen,” Nelson says.


Conduct a blower-door test

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The final determination of Built Green certification is a blower-door test, in which air is forced into the house and the pressure is monitored

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to see how airtight the structure is. “Normally, people throw a lot of technology into the home to get the rating,” Nelson says. “We focused on the building-envelope seal, and the advisor said our test was one of the best she had ever seen.”

Enjoy the results The Ruests moved into their home 13 months after breaking ground. “We won’t know for a couple of years what the overall energy savings will be, but we do know that the inside air quality is outstanding,” Nelson says. Danielle and Nelson hope that others will follow their lead and enjoy the process as


much as the results. “It was the best experience of our life,” Danielle says. “It was exciting and very rewarding.” CBQ A message from island energy

“With rising household energy costs, we often search for new, cost-effective heating systems to save the day. Unfortunately, our homes need upgraded windows, wall insulation, and improved draft control first. Improving your building envelope will increase comfort and reduce the size and operating cost of any heating system you install. Compare your summer and winter energy bills to determine what you spend on heating to help calculate the cost effectiveness of your investment.” —Robert Barry, applied science technologist and operator of Island Energy Inc.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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step by step

One S3 staffer works on computer drawings while two select the final finishes for an interior.

Establish a need


Revive an Interior with S3 Interior Design Inc.

What’s in a name? In the case of S3 Interior Design, it’s the foundational elements of creating liveable, workable environments—spaces, surfaces, swatches. Led by principal Tracy Dyck, S3 partners with homeowners and commercial developers to create new interiors and revive existing spaces. “It works best when the client knows what they like but then allows us to use our expertise,” Dyck says. In the current economy, S3 Interior Design focuses on residential renovations, using a process that engages the client and integrates function, aesthetic, and environmental considerations. “A beautiful-looking space that doesn’t work functionally will quickly stop being beautiful,” Dyck says. Canadian Builders Quarterly sat down with Dyck to walk through a recent project in Breezy Bend Estates, near Winnipeg, to get a better feel for S3’s design process. —Jeff Hampton


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Many circumstances prompt a homeowner’s decision to remodel a room or an entire house. “They’ve outgrown their space, it is outdated, they’ve had life changes, or they’re just not enjoying it anymore,” Dyck says. Several of these factors were present at Breezy Bend, but the main impetus was the need for more space, as the family has two children, who are only getting older.

Make lists of needs and wishes Dyck advises homeowners to sit down and make two lists, one of absolute needs and one of wishes. The owners at Breezy Bend needed more room for their children, but they also wanted more space to entertain friends, and a laundry room that would function as a scrapbooking/ craft area.


Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

Create a palette “Based on descriptions and images that the client provides, we put together preliminary palettes,” Dyck says. This usually includes two options, although S3 has an extensive library of samples if the client wants to see more. The family at Breezy Bend wanted splashes of colour with a neutral backdrop. “We accomplished this with shots of vibrant green in the bar backsplash tile, the accent cabinets in the office, and the tile detailing in the bathroom,” Dyck says.


Make final selections Material styles and finishes is another area where budgets can expand, but even if a client has a “must have” item on his or her list, a designer can help find alternative materials to achieve the same effect. At Breezy Bend Estates, the budget had


to be met, and compromise was key. “We selected higher-end finishes in the main family area and the bathroom—quartz countertops; ceramic and glass tile; custom, stained millwork; and accent lighting,” Dyck says. “In the laundry room and office, we used laminate countertops, more basic cabinetry, and basic lighting.”

Plan construction While S3 does not supervise construction contractors, it has referrals that its knows and trusts. “During construction, we are there to collaborate to make sure everything is going smoothly,” Dyck says. “We consider the project finished when construction wraps up and the client is ready to move in.” There are times, however, when a client will postpone construction for months or even years, “and we’ll come back to the project if they want us to,” Dyck says. CBQ


Create a workable, affordable solution A designer’s knowledge of construction costs and complexity can help clients establish a plan that meets their needs and fits their budget. “We try to minimize changing structural and mechanical elements, such as plumbing, because that can eat up a lot of the budget,” Dyck says. “Part of our job is to say, ‘This is realistic,’ or, ‘This is unrealistic.’” At Breezy Bend, the solution was to transform a partially finished basement to include a family TV and bar area, a spare bedroom, a bath, the laundry/crafts room with storage space, and an office/gaming area where each family member has a desk.


Visualize the new space


Through conversation and looking at pictures, S3 and its client visualize the redesigned space together. “We start with images online or in magazines so we’re in each other’s heads,” Dyck says. The sharing of ideas leads to CAD drawings and 3-D images that include examples of preliminary finishes. “Many people can’t envision 3-D space on a 2-D image,” Dyck says. “The 3-D drawings help in that regard, and they also help clarify the plans for builders.”


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through the years

Freyssinet Canada Limitée 1943 eugÈne freyssinet’s work with stup continues

It is hard to imagine that Eugéne Freyssinet knew the type of lasting impact his work would have on the design and production of bridges, tunnels, stadiums, monuments, and industrial facilities when he first began experimenting with prestressing in the 1920s. “When Freyssinet patented prestressed concrete, it was basically the starting point of using concrete in construction on a large scale,” says Franck Chavent, operations manager at Freyssinet Canada. “Before that, concrete had limited use in construction.” Freyssinet, which is now a part of VINCI Group, averages $50 billion in annual revenue and is considered the specialized civil-engineering arm of VINCI. “In the last few years, Freyssinet has been able to move into markets where very few companies can perform the type of work locally,” Chavent explains. “We’re now permanently established in [India, South Korea, and Indonesia], and are helping to bring value and new techniques that can make this type of work faster and less expensive.” Freyssinet’s 70-year history includes work on five continents and has made it a leader in prestressing, cablestayed structures, and the structural repair, reinforcement, and maintenance of structures. Canadian Builders Quarterly recently explored Freyssinet’s history and the path that led to the formation of Freyssinet Canada. —Thalia A-M Bruehl

STUP, the Société Technique pour l’Utilisation de la Précontrainte (which translates into the “engineering company for the use of prestressing”), is started by Edme Campenon, chairman of Entreprises Campenon Bernard. Prestressing appeared for the first time a few years earlier, after Freyssinet patented the prestressing system. Freyssinet’s discovery is first seen in the Le Havre shipping terminal, located on the French north coast, the same year STUP is founded. STUP will later be renamed Freyssinet International in 1976. 1990 freyssinet incorporates in canada

Freyssinet International decides to incorporate out of Montréal. The firm is set up to run the large Canadian projects Freyssinet International is hired for, but the unfortunate temporary status of the business means that Freyssinet International would have to bring over a whole team from overseas for every project. “It was only possible for large projects where there was enough time to deploy our crew,” Chavent says. It isn’t long before Freyssinet headquarters begins seeing the importance of having a permanent local team in Canada.

2004 work on the golden ears bridge begins

“We have an enormous sense of pride over our participation in the Golden Ears Bridge,” says Chavent of the Vancouver attraction. “It is the landmark of the city and a great feat for us.” Freyssinet’s work on the project includes fabrication supply and installation of the stays, and post-tensioning work for the cables that support the weight of the bridge. Freyssinet uses sophisticated equipment to erect and tension the long stays. 2007 freyssinet canada goes green

For years, Freyssinet has been restoring everything from landmarks and stadiums to bridges and monuments. But in 2007, the firm makes a commitment to go beyond its previous green pledge to “reuse, restore, and reclaim,” by launching a new action plan, which includes a dedication to sustainable technologies and products. The plan launches at Freyssinet’s global seminar in Madrid. Freyssinet makes a commitment to design firms and asset owners to continue using advanced techniques to repair structures, reducing the use of concrete, steel, water, and other valuable resources.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2010 third international fib congress

2011 on the rise

Freyssinet attends the FIB Congress in Washington, DC, alongside more than 65 exhibitors and thousands of attendees. The firm has a 600-square-foot booth and participates in various conferences and lectures. Hosted by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI), the 2010 International FIB Congress and the PCI Annual Convention/Exhibition promotes sustainable work, state-of-the-art techniques and technologies, and innovative products for the global marketplace.

Following a two-year cooperation with Russian designer Vladivostok, Freyssinet wins the contract to design, manufacture, and install the stay cables of the Russky Island Bridge. The main bridge has a total length of 1,872 metres and will feature the longest cable-stayed span in the world, with 1,104 metres between pylons. While general contractors USK Most and Mostovik are currently completing the pylons and erecting the main span’s cantilevers, Freyssinet is working on the installation of the stay cables. Completion is scheduled for the first semester of 2012, before the APEC Summit held on Russky Island. Russky Island Bridge is the second contract secured in far-east Russia by Freyssinet, which had also been appointed in 2009, by TMK, to design, manufacture, and install the stay cables of the Golden Horn Bay Bridge in downtown Vladivostok. With a span of 737 metres, it will be one of the 10 longest cablestayed bridges in the world.

2011 (Russky Island Bridge)


2008 work starts on the canaport LNG tanks

In 2008, Freyssinet supplies and installs the post-tensioning elements of four massive tanks made to hold liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the city of Saint John, New Brunswick. “The LNG market is extremely important, and we’re lucky to have these natural resources in our country,” Chavent says. Each tank stands at approximately 40 metres high and 80 metres in diameter. “Without a doubt, the LNG tanks are a master feat of engineering [and] extremely important for the region,” Chavent says, estimating the tanks will help bring business and value to the region for the next 30 years.


“In other parts of the world, people don’t take down and rebuild things; instead, they maintain structures and have a much higher rate of keeping their assets.” franck chavent, operations manager

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april/may/june 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists Cricket Design Company Inc. Aecon Group Inc. Back Country Log Homes Cambria Canada Stevens Burgess Architects Ltd. Brenmar Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. Dutchie Dirt Moving Ltd. Vinylbilt Inc. WSI Sign Systems Ltd.

152 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170

Interior Designers of Canada Member

The Restaurant Revivers

Cricket Design Company Inc. brings new life to historic restaurants with thoughtful interior-design philosophies

Photos: Greg Fess

The Charcoal Group's Library Lounge found itself

in quite a predicament in the late ’90s. A fixture in the Kitchener-Waterloo community for many years, the much-loved place was in need of a face-lift. From the dark and dreary interiors to the carpeting that smelled of cigarettes long gone by, the restaurant owners were looking to focus more on food, but they couldn’t effectively succeed without changing the look of the interior. “It was a typical scenario of a place that desperately needed to connect design and function,” says Chris Hannah, principal of Toronto-based Cricket Design Company. “There are so many places out there that develop a real tunnel vision and, frankly, lose sight of what the public wants. The resulting restaurant, which is now known as Martini’s, [is] a huge success.” Years later, in 2009, Cricket’s most recent collaboration with the Charcoal Group opened: the Bauer Kitchen, located in a former factory near the downtown core of Waterloo. The hip, urban eatery draws its design inspiration from the loft-like setting, which features brick walls, a steel structure, and a solid-wood deck above. Soft materials, including upholstered chairs, benches, drapery, and industrial-felt walls, add a layer of comfort to the restaurant, as well as a connection with the past, since the former Bauer Felt Company previously occupied the space. Creating this connection between design and function is something Hannah has been doing his entire


life. As a child growing up in suburban Ontario, he would sit enamoured by the rich colours utilized in the interior of his family’s favourite local Chinese restaurant. “Those interiors were so exotic to me at the time,” Hannah says. “They transported me to a whole new place. It was a magical experience.” As he got older, Hannah admits that he could often be found climbing under tables, discovering how things were made and why they worked. “My interest in design certainly came from the art classes I was taking prior to university,” he says. “I was drawn to the excitement of something being drawn on paper and then built within the realness of space. These days, this excitement continues: I love finding the dialogue that can play within food, design, menus, and the built environment.” With the creation of the current Cricket Design Company in 1998, Hannah and his team have effectively found a creative outlet and freedom within the restaurant industry, working on multiple eateries throughout the southern Ontario region. “This industry has allowed us to get heavily involved in the details,” Hannah says. “On many projects, we have acted as much more than a designer. We have been able to help link the operations of the restaurant to its overall concept and design. One can easily see when a place doesn’t look like its menu and the disconnection it can cause with the customers.” Another recent project venture had Cricket Design working with the local Johnny Rocco’s in St. Catharines,

At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 1988 Employees 11 Specialty Restaurant interiors

Opposite: In keeping with the Bauer Kitchen’s structure, steel I-beams are used as the main components of the back bar. Soft back lighting creates a subtle glow of light, which frames the wine selection. The Enomatic wine system allows for 30 wines to be served by the glass.

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the specialists

Above: At the Bauer Bakery, the kitchen is at both exposed and visually protected from the dining room. A variety of different glass textures offer a limited view while still highlighting the activities beyond.

Top 5 Keys to Restaurant Design 1 Keep the Story Clean: Don’t confuse your customer. Make sure everything within the restaurant connects— from the menu to the price points to the interior design. 2 Look for the Good in Any Site: Sometimes the best thing you can do to something is nothing. When working on a site, look for elements such as a stone wall or roof deck that you can build around. 3 Learn to Work Within Your Budget: Commercial design has to make financial sense at the end, which is different with what one might find within the retail or residential industry. 4 Reuse Materials Whenever Possible: Design around the simple details that will ultimately make the place unique within itself. 5 Pay Homage to the Past: Respect the past, and use it to develop the interiors of the space.


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Ontario. Housed in a stone, industrial, turn-of-the-century building, Hannah had long hoped to work in the space. “Matthew Chong, who led both the Bauer and Johnny Rocco’s projects, worked hard to expose and celebrate the great architecture, and ultimately provide a space that people love,” Hannah says. The future holds a number of new projects for the company, including more work within student cafeterias, fine-dining restaurants, and small-kiosk designs throughout Canada. “I love the beauty of what we are doing today,” Hannah says. “I love that what we work on now can start, and you can see it through in a span of 6–8 months. I feel wonderful about where we are right at this very moment.” —Tricia Despres A message from hsquared

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Canadian Builders Quarterly



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Fogler, Rubinoff LLP

Fogler Rubinoff LLP congratulates Brian Swartz and our client Aecon Group for being recognized by Canadian Builders Quarterly. At Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, we take a very personal interest in the success of each one of our clients. The matters you entrust us with impact you, your business and your family, today and in the future.

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2:05 PM

the specialists

The New Constructionists

How the Aecon Group Inc. is becoming the go-to developer for projects that matter Ever since Brian Swartz was a teenager, he had a

At a Glance Locations Toronto, ON Calgary, AB Founded 1877 Specialty Construction and infrastructure development Subsidiaries 31

Above: The Cross Israel Toll Road was Israel’s first public-private partnership. It runs north of Tel Aviv to Hadera.


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plan: become an attorney and practice corporate and commercial law. But what the plan didn’t include, at least not so specifically, was serving as senior vice president for legal and commercial services at a multibillion-dollar construction and infrastructure developer. But that’s exactly where Swartz, now 54, happily finds himself. The company, Aecon Group, has 31 subsidiaries and projects worth $3 billion currently underway all around the world. It’s an organization that didn’t get to where it is today by hiring employees who were less than the best. Back in the early 1990s, Swartz worked as the lead lawyer for Ontario’s provincial government on the 407 Express Toll Route, one of the first P3 highway initiatives in the world. His job was to develop the legislative framework for the procurement process, the contracts, and the legal ins and outs. The project actually performed so well at ameliorating the province’s traffic woes that the subsequent government privatized the highway.

“I got to develop the process from cradle to grave,” Swartz says. “And when the first phase opened, the company I had been working with on the other side of the table for all those years asked me to join them.” That company was Aecon. Over the past 15 years, Swartz has been involved in everything from a toll road in Israel, to hydroelectric-dam construction in northern India, to airport development in Ecuador, and complex projects in the Alberta Oil Sands. At its heart, Swartz’s job is about calculating and managing risk. But behind those few simple words is a staggeringly complex world of subcommittees, policy manuals, and, in some cases, relationships with national governments. “There are always unexpected changes,” Swartz says. “How you manage those changes through the course of a construction project can be the difference between making your budget and blowing your brains out. It’s the biggest challenge in our business.” Factor in clients who are reluctant to accept

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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responsibility for design-side changes, and there’s a diplomatic nightmare in the making. Given the amount of projects Aecon undertakes—thousands a year, some in excess of $1 billion—it takes an eagle-eyed team to watch out for the company’s interests. “We look at the bid margins, the costs, the contingencies, and the contracts,” Swartz explains. “In many cases, the clients try to put less risk on themselves and more on the contractors, and we have to be alert for that.” Considering the size and power of the many different stakeholders, it can quickly turn into a high-octane job. “Our appetite for risk depends on the competitive environment,” Swartz says. “We’re always looking for a good return.” Swartz’s skill at navigating the often-bumpy road of corporate litigation has been recognized by others, too: he’s the past chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s construction law section; he’s currently on the board of directors of the Canadian Employer’s Council (as appointed by the Canadian Construction Association);


and he’s also part of the editorial board for the International In-House Counsel Journal. But despite an active work life, he says he wouldn’t trade it. “The work-life balance is always a challenge,” he says, laughing. “You have to love what you do, and I do. I look forward and enjoy going to work every morning, and I don’t know many people who can say that and really believe it. “Our vision is to be the first company that people go to for building things that matter, and that’s exactly what we do. I think it’s an admirable vision—one that we take to heart—and it’s working.” —Seth Putnam

Above: The New Quito International Airport project is a US$500 million airport development project in Quito, Ecuador.

A message from fogler, rubinoff LLP

Fogler Rubinoff has enjoyed its long-standing relationship working with Brian and his legal department and business unit at Aecon Group, and wishes both Brian and Aecon Group every success in their ongoing endeavours. Fogler, Rubinoff LLP is a full-service law firm providing legal services and advice to established and emerging businesses and individuals. We have offices in downtown Toronto and Ottawa, with more than 100 professionals.

april/may/june 2012


the specialists

The Woodsman

One-man outfit Back Country Log Homes brings log living to the Saskatchewan prairie Just as every tree and log is unique, every handAt a Glance Location Saskatoon, SK Founded 2003 Employees 1 Specialty Log homes and cabins Below: The Barton House at Outlook utilizes gorgeous timber trusses to accent its various covered decks.

crafted cabin built by Back Country Log Homes exudes the singular style that nature intended. President Jeff Esau started the business in 2003 after working in conventional frame construction of ready-to-move homes. Esau was ready for a change and was drawn to the handcrafted nature of log homes. “The first log project I ever completed was a set of log beds I built when I was 14,” he says. Esau built on this tradition, and the rest, as they say, is history. He augmented his passion by joining with professional log builders and working in their yards to hone his craft. Esau’s first professional project was a small cabin measuring 26’ x 34’ with a loft. Esau ordered a load of spruce logs and went to work building, thinking he’d keep

the cabin for himself. He advertised it and sold it quickly to a buyer from Alberta looking for a vacation getaway. “From there, we haven’t built another spec since,” Esau says. “Everything has sold before we started it.” Unlike most conventional on-site building, log homes are built in yards where large loads of logs—typically spruce, fir, or cedar—are peeled, scribed, cut, and assembled. It takes about 70,000 pounds of logs to build a 1,000-square-foot cabin. Upon completion, the logs are numbered, disassembled, shipped to site, and reerected. When logs are set one on top of the other, a foam gasket is used to insulate the lateral grooves. There are certainly cheaper forms of housing, Esau says. Log homes require more wood, glass, and stone. But log homes tend to be energy efficient, as they stay cool in the summer and hold in heat during the winter.

How to Get into the Log-Home Trade 1 Meet Like-Minded Builders: Join the International Log Builders Association, based in British Columbia, to gain access to courses and educational materials. 2 Equip Yourself: Purchase the right tools. Log-home builders need a crane, a saw mill, a chain saw, and other small hand tools. 3 Get Educated: Fewer people are learning this type of building, so those who know the craft are often willing to pass along their knowledge. Participate in an apprenticeship. 4 Follow the Rules: To build a high-quality log home, you need to meet or exceed the Log Building Standards. 5 Stay Motivated: It takes a strong desire to be successful in the trade. It requires more commitment than conventional building.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly


“The thrill is seeing a load of logs turned into a beautiful home.� jeff esau, president

¡ Specializing in Log Home & Timber Frame Design. Drafting Services also available for Conventional Construction. ¡ European Training with 19 years of drafting experience, in business since 2004. ¡ Working closely with the client, log home & timber frame builder and contractor involved in each project.

Though log homes are abundant in Canada’s westernmost provinces—areas sprinkled with towering Douglas firs—Esau’s work with Back Country Log Homes has helped to bring the time-honoured style to the prairies of Saskatchewan, where farmers and ranchers can also enjoy it. Esau has teamed with veteran log-home builder Pete Doucette, from Log & Timber Works in British Columbia, to offer both timber-framed homes and homes with post-and-beam timber-frame work, such as timbers in the main living areas, which brings more mass appeal. “It’s fun finding someone with the same passion,� Doucette says of the partnership. For Esau, the joy of log-home construction is in the care that it takes to construct each house. Unlike conventional construction, which is often valued for the speed with which the house is constructed, Esau likes that log homes take time to achieve the right fit and feel. In that respect, building a log home is like assembling a puzzle, and each log has a role to fill in the structure. “You get to know every log, and every log has a name before you are done,� Esau says. “The thrill is seeing a load of logs turned into a beautiful home.� —Laura Williams-Tracy

Phone: (250) 675-2424 Fax: (250) 675-2438

E-mail: info@ankedesign.ca Website: www.ankedesign.ca

                        ! !  "Borderline Lumber Service  ""               

A message from anke design

Our office is located in Sorrento, BC, the heartland of log-home and timber-frame builders. All of our homes are custom designed, taking into consideration the location of each home and, most important, the homeowner’s lifestyle. We value the close working relationship with Back Country Log Homes.


email: borderline.lumber@gmail.com www.borderlinelumber.com april/may/june 2012


the specialists

The Coloured-Quartz Creators

Cambria Canada’s close work with designers has helped change North America’s colour palette In an interesting turn of events, Canada is now being

At a Glance Location Bolton, ON Founded 2001 Specialty Engineered quartz surfaces in a wide range of colours and patterns

Right: The Aberdeen (above) and Bellingham quartz styles are just two of Cambria’s 96 colour options.


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seen as a “land of opportunity” by some American manufacturers. One such company is Cambria. “Cambria expanded into Ontario four years ago, just as the economy turned down,” says Sara Rooney, the district manager for Cambria Canada. “Our product has been accepted extremely well in the Canadian marketplace, and we have grown every year, including right through the recession.” Cambria’s product is engineered quartz: a beautiful, durable, and versatile product that is composed of 93 percent natural quartz and 7 percent resin and pigments, which can be shaded or tinted in a seemingly endless range of colours. The launch of 12 new colours this season brings the company’s offerings to 96 varieties. “Colour selection and innovation is a key differentiator for us,” says Rooney, who notes that Cambria Canada stays ahead of colour trends because it works so closely with designers. All quartz slabs are produced in Cambria’s manufacturing plant in La Sueur, Minnesota. Slabs are fabricated to design specifications and shipped within 24 hours of being ordered. In southern Ontario, all fabrication is done in Cambria’s Bolton operation, while in Eastern and Western Canada, Cambria works with local fabricating partners. “Cambria’s success is based on quality,” Rooney says. “The quality of our product, our fabricators, and our installers; we call them our Cambria Installation Associates, and we work very closely with them.” Cambria itself is a privately held family business, and Installation Associates must have “certain commonalities,” Rooney says. “They tend to be family run, with a business philosophy that complements Cambria’s, including a desire to grow their business.” Installation Associates attend Cambria University in Minnesota, where they receive training in computer-aided design, installation, sales and marketing, and business-tobusiness communication. “Training in advance works very well,” Rooney says. “It prevents hiccups and provides consistency in installation in every community. We have an ongoing relationship with our Installation Associates and provide continuous

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

training, as well as significant sales-and-marketing support.” Cambria also provides education on quartz surfaces to interior designers, who can earn continuing-education credits through Cambria’s tour programs and seminars. These educational opportunities are seen by Cambria as part of its overall quality initiative. “Basically, we brought regulation to an unregulated industry,” Rooney says. “It is the consumer who wins in the end.” Cambria products are environmentally friendly, and installation generates one LEED point for buildings that use products. In Toronto, designers, installers, and consumers will all have an opportunity to learn about Cambria products at the company’s new, 5,000-square-foot facility, located at King and Parliament, which opened late last year. “It is not a salesroom,” Rooney explains. “It is a studio with exhibits and information, which will allow interested individuals to see our vision and how we are different.” Institutional uses for the products are enormous, and Rooney expects this will be a significant growth area for the firm in years ahead. Cambria was launched in 1999 by the Davis family of St. Peter, Minnesota, which has been manufacturing cheese for more than 60 years. Davisco Foods International produces 330 million pounds of cheese annually and is one of the largest suppliers to Kraft Foods. “Our core competency is manufacturing,” Rooney points out. “At Cambria, things like the quality of our raw materials, the precision of our processes, and the cleanliness of our plant are all based on the expertise gained over decades of excellence in food manufacturing. The philosophy is the same.” —Rita Smith

A message from elegant solutions

At Elegant Solutions, we are proud to be celebrating 20 years in the kitchen-and-bath industry. We are also proud to be offering Cambria quartz surfaces. Cambria offers superior support from its employees, and they are committed to manufacturing an environmental surface that is GREENGUARD certified. We are proud to offer such an innovative product to our consumers, and back it with a lifetime warranty. Come meet our design team at Elegant Solutions, and visit our magnificent showroom. We feature seven Cambria collections and 96 colour options. We guarantee you will find the perfect quartz surface for your home.


“Training in advance works very well. It prevents hiccups and provides consistency in installation in every community.” sara rooney, district manager

Insuring Canada with Honesty & Integrety Since 1979 Providing our insurance clients with impartial risk management and insurance counseling is our primary concern. The personnel in our office take pride in utilizing a team approach with all of our clients to maintain a high level of service.

personal • The Best Possible Insurance Protection aviation • Private, Business & Pleasure commercial • Overall Risk Management Strategies professional • Errors & Omissions Insurance

1-800-663-2242 sheppardinsurance.com april/may/june 2012


the specialists

The Historical Conservationists

Stevens Burgess Architects Ltd. helps preserve architectural history throughout southern Ontario When Jane Burgess and Karl Stevens began Stevens At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 1978 Employees 14 Specialty Heritage conservation, interiors, and institutional work Below: Reassembly of the historic Gore Park Fountain, which was installed in 1860.

Burgess Architects in 1978, the partnership combined Stevens’ large-scale urban-design skills with Burgess’ smaller-scale residential and historical-conservation training. The partnership, intended to cover “the whole gamut,” as Burgess puts it, has proved effective, with the multidisciplinary firm garnering numerous awards for its work. Burgess was attracted to historical conservation while attending the University of Toronto, where she was under the tutelage of architectural notables Marion McCrae and Bill Goulding. She says that the rigours of practicing historical conservation can be “very painful.” A recent project involved Gore Park Fountain in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. The ornate metal fountain, originally installed in 1860, had by 1960 been declared unsafe and was dismantled. In 1990, the fountain was

restored; but without conservation expertise, the restored fountain’s coatings and workings quickly failed. In 2009, Stevens Burgess Architects was called in. The firm dismantled the fountain, realizing that it would have to redo all the base elements and recoat the structure. The difficulty was in finding a metal conservator capable of dealing with the massive, heavy fountain. Eventually, the firm located McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, in Ohio. After the metalwork restoration was completed, the fountain was brought back and reinstalled successfully in Gore Park. “Finding people with the skills and equipment to deal with something of this magnitude was the true challenge,” Burgess says. Locating the right craftsmen for the job was also an important part of the McDonald College conservation at the University of Guelph. Stevens Burgess Architects was called in to renovate the highly ornate Italianate building. Originally built in 1906, the structure’s conservation included reviving the original parapets, ornamental eyebrows, ceremonial switchback stairs, and the terra-cotta portico and balustrade—all while ushering the building’s lecture halls into the modern age. Burgess says that every conservation project has some unique elements, and while this building seems to have more than its fair share, the terra-cotta portico was preeminent. “The portico was made up of 46 different shapes of terra cotta,” she explains. “Originally, they had poured concrete into the void around untreated, structural-steel elements. Steel expands to 10 times its size when it corrodes, and all the terra cotta was broken, cracked, or forced open.”

“Historical conservation is a disciplined process. You’re always treading that line: frozen in time versus being a continued value to society.” jaNe burgess, Founding Partner


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

Top 5 Tips for Historical Conservation 1 Don't Touch: Amateur interference, while well intended, could create further problems. Wait for the experts. 2 Understand the Process: Know what you’re dealing with and how it works before you change any piece of the building envelope. 3 Know the Materials: Ensure that you know what materials your project is made of. Correctly identifying the materials involved will change how you respond. 4 Select the Specialists: Just as you need knowledgeable consultants to tell you what to do, you need craftsmen to implement those plans correctly. 5 Don't Give Up on the Heritage Fabric: It is the most sustainable building envelope possible. With enough work and ingenuity, you can bring all these elements up to an acceptable level.

The firm found the right craftsmen to make the new terra-cotta blocks: Boston Valley Terra Cotta, in Buffalo, New York. One of each of the terra-cotta shapes were shipped to the manufacturer, whose artisans created all new casts and remanufactured each piece. The completed project won an award from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) in 2010. The firm won another CAHP award in 2011 for its work on the Memorial Hall, a church-cum-recreationhall built in 1914 at the Muskoka Free Sanitarium for Consumptives. The structure has since been converted into a lecture hall for the Ontario Fire College and has all of its original interiors. One of the main challenges of the project was the UFFI insulation that had been used. The firm remediated the hazardous materials by taking off all of the roof sheeting, thus maintaining the integrity of the original interior. The conservation also involved a new cedar roof (positioned above the original lumber sheeting), restored dormers, and replaced copper flashings. Finally, skillful carpenters were called in to repair the ornate wooden columns, while the siding had to be remilled to its original profile. “Historical conservation is a disciplined process,” Burgess says. “In order to preserve and conserve the old buildings, you have to ensure that they have a continued use and value. You’re always treading that line: frozen in time versus being a continued value to society.” —Chris Allsop

Conservation: Scott Hall, Gravenhurst, ON.

Adaptive Reuse: McDonald Institute, Guelph, ON.

Commercial: Ravine Winery, St. Davids, ON.

Institutional: Ajax Multi-Use School Facility, Ajax, ON. Web: www.sba.on.ca

Stevens Burgess Architects Ltd. 40 St. Clair Ave. E., Ste. 301, Toronto, ON. M4T 1M9 T: 416-961-5690 E-mail: office@sba.on.ca


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the specialists

The Heating & Cooling Experts

Brenmar Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. thrives on the demands of Ontario residents looking for comfort within their homes Backed by just four employees in 1999, Brenmar At a Glance Location Mississauga, ON Founded 1999 Employees 60 Specialty Heating and airconditioning services Annual Sales $14 million Below: Brenmar provides extensive services for heating and cooling.


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Heating & Air Conditioning began under the leadership of two partners who saw a need within a market and were ready to capitalize on the demand in the thriving community of Mississauga, Ontario. Alongside business partner Lou Martellacci, Brenmar founder Bob O’Brien bought a truck and began to service the air-conditioning and heating needs of the community. While O’Brien has now passed, Brenmar’s employees continue their focus on customer service. Take Brenmar’s marketing manager, John Lo Parco, who learned much about business and customer service as a child while watching his mom work as a chef. “My mother was a pioneer in the catering industry, and at a tender age I began to understand what it meant to provide unsurpassed customer service,” he says.

“Whether it was a wedding or anniversary, my mother always greeted the customer with a smile.” Whether dealing with a customer whose air-conditioning has gone out on a sweltering summer day or whose house is deathly cold in the middle of winter, Brenmar’s team knows how to work with homeowners whose moods have been tested by problems with their heating or cooling systems. As a member of the New Home Builders Association, the company takes this service seriously. “Our service department is by far one of our greatest strengths,” says Joe Krebs, general manager. “You just learn to handle those kinds of situations. You find ways to not take it personally. It’s not easy as a customer who has their 90-year-old mother inside and who can’t take the heat. We try to respond to everyone’s needs as soon as possible, whether in person or over the phone.” Specializing in a wide range of heating and air-conditioning services—and offering a 24-hour emergency service for customers without heat—Brenmar has worked hard in recent years to cover all bases in the industry. Whether installing an air-conditioning unit or repairing a broken furnace, Lo Parco says he has seen firsthand the importance of maintaining strong relationships with the local business community and local residents. Averaging 2,400 projects each year, the Brenmar team also recognizes another key to its success: organization within the company. “We watch scheduling very carefully, along with making sure we are using all of our people to their fullest potential,” Lo Parco says. “It’s about being proficient and efficient at the same time. Get it right the first time. Don’t compromise your integrity. If you do this while maintaining good communication with both your employees and customers, you are going to accomplish your goals.” These details have been especially important during the recent, turbulent economic times, which Brenmar has been able to weather. “This year was tough for everyone,” Krebs says. “People are being very careful with their money. When we get a lead and call on a prospective customer, it’s essential these days that we have a real reason as to why we are the best people for the job. Of course, we are always looking at the bottom line, but the market is much more saturated than it was in 1999. In order to succeed, you must follow up and communicate. You have to be on all aspects of your game.” —Tricia Despres

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists






Smart is saving money. Without sacrificing comfort. The Infinity® 98 Modulating Gas Furnace Carrier adaptable-speed modulating furnace fluidly adjusts for tight temperature control when paired with the Infinity® Control. Supports zoning for custom homes.

High-efficiency heating Infinity® furnaces offers up to 97.4% efficiencies, meaning up to 97.4¢ of every dollar spent on gas goes directly to heating the home.

Precision heating technology Operates at a gentle, low capacity the majority of the time for quieter, more energy-efficient and more comfortable operation.

Year-round humidity control The right humidity levels can make you feel more comfortable at a higher temperature setting in the summer and a lower one in the winter.



Scan the code with your smartphone to learn more.

1-3135 Unity Drive, Mississauga, ON L5L 4L4

905-608-9330 • www.brenmar.ca

the specialists

The Earth Movers

Dutchie Dirt Moving Ltd. tames the soil, providing essential services to the county of Lethbridge, Alberta’s farming community The name conjures visions of sabot-wearing workAt a Glance

Location Turin, AB Founded 2001 Employees 10+ Specialty Earth moving and forming Annual Sales $3 million

Below: Dutchie Dirt Moving clears the way and provides final grading prior to the construction of a building pad.

men hauling wheelbarrows full of soil from one spot to another, but Dutchie Dirt Moving is a family-owned operation that harnesses some of the world’s most advanced excavation equipment. The Turin, Albertabased company specializes in lagoons, dugouts, building pads, field drainage, land leveling, drainage ditches, and other major irrigation work that’s essential to the well-being of the county of Lethbridge’s booming agricultural community. “Although southeastern Alberta has a huge agriculture industry, it wasn’t always that way,” say Henric Sikkens, who co-owns Dutchie Dirt Moving along with his wife, Heidi. “At one time, it was practically a desert. I’ve heard that in the 1930s, homes were actually buried by windblown dirt. But major irrigation projects led to reclaiming a lot of acreage.” Henric’s unusual background makes him an excellent fit for this type of work. Years ago, he set out to be a farmer, and later he worked for a local excavation company that provided services to the farming community. When it folded, the Sikkenses jumped to fill the gap. “Our customers like the work we do, especially because I have an agriculture background and can appreciate their special needs,” Henric says.

The company’s niche means that every job is customized. “For city projects, engineers provide us with plans,” Henric says. “For farms, we make up effective plans as we go along. That’s one of our strengths.” For most people, dugouts evoke baseball, and lagoons are bodies of saltwater. Yet for Dutchie Dirt Moving, they mean so much more. “A dugout—in our usage—is a key part of water supply,” Henric says. “It’s a kind of water reservoir used to store water, and we build them in 1 million–10 million-gallon capacities.” These dugouts are crucial to the community, because farmers in the area rely on water from snowmelt in British Columbia. Canals bring water to the various farms, where it is stored in a dugout for pumping to the house and fields. “When the winter freeze is pending, the local irrigation authority shuts off distribution—so the [farm] producer must store enough to last until spring,” Henric says. “Our company also cleans out sludge and other buildup from the dugouts.” Though similar to a dugout, a lagoon is lined with an engineered clay liner. “It’s a holding place for animal waste,” Henric says. “The liner prevents it from seeping into the groundwater.” The contents of lagoons are later pumped onto fields in carefully regulated amounts to fertilize crops and encourage topsoil formation.

“For farms, we make up effective plans as we go along. That’s one of our strengths.”

Photo: Tony Kok

henric Sikkens, co-owner


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

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Another of Dutchie Dirt Moving’s specialties, feedlots, are self-explanatory and used for the region’s intensive feeding operations. To construct them, the company clears a lot and grades it to encourage proper runoff. “Currently, we’re doing a lot of renovation and expansion work, as well as building new lots,” Henric says. A smaller portion of Dutchie Dirt Moving’s business relates to creating channels for pipeline placement, reshaping golf courses and soccer fields, and preparing building sites for subdivisions throughout Lethbridge. The Sikkenses currently have no plans to extend their market reach, but they have begun exploring other avenues of income. “We recently started a manure-hauling business,” Henric says. “And our gravel pit can provide material for rural roads, farmyards, feedlots, and other applications.” The company also benefits from a strong community. “Our customers have lots of ambition,” Henric says. “They’re motivated to constantly improve things. They want successful operations, and they’re not afraid to spend the necessary money.” —Frederick Jerant

A message from mo-tires ltd.

Mo-Tires Ltd. is a Canadian, family-owned tire distributor based in Lethbridge, AB. Mo-Tires has been serving all types of tire needs for 74 years. With five acres of inventory, the company has one of the largest selections of industrial, commercial, and agricultural tires available—including many tough-to-find sizes. A message from Western tractor company inc.

Western Tractor Company Inc. of southern Alberta retails the number-one brand of agriculture, turf, and commercial equipment in the world: John Deere. Western Tractor provides solutions to our customers, who supply food to a worldwide marketplace. Southern Alberta is considered one of the most progressive and diverse agricultural markets in North America. Irrigation allows for the production of row crops. We are home to “feedlot alley,” the largest livestock area in Canada and known for its Alberta beef. Forage crops and cereal grains are grown in abundance. Western Tractor embraces new technologies within the Industry. We are an industry leader in GPS guidance, machine optimization, and telematics, and we are now entering into agronomics. These technologies are designed to provide more value to our customer’s operations. We assist them in producing more from the same land mass while managing operational inputs. Please visit our website at www.WesternTractor.ca.

Excellent self cleaning property. Higher non-skid depth to give extra life. Wide foot print area suitable for oatation and soft conditions. Aggressive shoulder area. canadianbuildersquarterly.ca

april/may/june 2012


the specialists

The Window Makers

Vinylbilt Inc. brings natural daylight into homes with its series of cutting-edge vinyl windows Few things turn a house into a home like windows. At a Glance Location Vaughan, ON Founded 1997 Employees 350 Specialty Custom-made vinyl windows

Above: Vinylbilt’s windows are built to the contractor’s measurements, ensuring a perfect fit.


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They add style and flare to the exterior while drawing natural light inside to illuminate great rooms and galleries, cabinets and countertops. It is at this nexus of transformation that Vinylbilt is making its mark. Based in Vaughan, Ontario, Vinylbilt manufactures vinyl windows for the replacement-contracting market. “We don’t keep windows in inventory, nor do we sell directly to the homeowner,” says Pat Serrao, vice president of sales and marketing. “We manufacture windows for specific installations with high standards of quality, and no back orders.” Although the majority of products are for the replacement-windows market, Vinylbilt also pays close attention to the custom-home-builder market. “We specialize in customized windows and offer an extensive range of grills, jamb extensions, and wrap options for inside and out,” Serrao says. Vinylbilt’s lineage goes back to 1974, when the first

generation of the De Marco family began manufacturing aluminum windows. In 1982, their company was one of the first in Canada to offer vinyl windows. The company was sold in 1989, and 10 years later the next generation of De Marcos started Vinylbilt. While based in Ontario, Vinylbilt has distributors and dealers nationwide, to provide greater geographic coverage. From British Columbia to the Maritimes, Vinylbilt delivers windows for home installations with its own fleet of trucks. Effective communication with customers and prompt delivery sets Vinylbilt apart from the competition. “Customers are well informed regarding processing stages and order status,” Serrao says. “If there are any inquiries or concerns, we provide a prompt response with a solution.” Listening is a key component for any company that manufactures products based on specific customer needs. Vinylbilt keeps its ear to the ground for emerging trends,

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

Vinylbilt’s Top 5 Products 1 Casement Windows: Casements can open to the left or right with a crank handle to provide superior ventilation. 2 Double-Hung Windows: Two sashes move up and down, and both tilt inward for easy cleaning. 3 Slider Windows: A contemporary gliding design makes sliders ideal for high-traffic areas because they don’t project in or out. 4 Custom-Shaped Windows: Vinylbilt manufactures windows in a variety of shapes and angles to create unique, artistic designs. 5 Bay & Bow Windows: These add architectural style to the exterior while creating opportunities for window seats, breakfast nooks, and plant ledges indoors.

to ensure the company can offer its clients whatever they need. For example, Vinylbilt offers five types of low-E glass to address climate variations. Most of the company’s competitors only offer two. “Another hot trend is design and style,” Serrao says. “Customers are demanding more styles to match the aesthetics of their homes, so we custom paint and bend different-shaped windows in-house to give our customers a variety of colour products and more design choices based on their needs.” Vinylbilt has been able to leverage technology and industry advances to improve product quality and enhance customer satisfaction. Recent developments include three- and four-millimetre windows; decorative windows called Blackout Glass, which are located in front of roof trusses and other structural elements; and Slim Reinforcement Couplers, a mulled unit that adds significant strength to window units and enables a larger glass surface. Other new products include new construction windows, wood windows, and premium PH Tech patio doors. At the heart of Vinylbilt’s success is the product fit and finish. Every window is built to exacting standards for the contractor’s specifications, and an intense qualitycontrol program ensures there are zero defects. “We are one of the only window manufacturers that produce everything in-house,” Serrao says. “That includes every aspect of the manufacturing process, including glass production, bending, and painting.” Vinylbilt’s research-and-development department is constantly working on the next generation of product. “As the consumer becomes more demanding, we’ll continue to offer more options and higher energy-efficiency ratings,” Serrao says. “When it comes to innovations, we want to stay at the forefront.” With such a philosophy, the future of Vinybilt— much like the light streaming through its windows— looks bright. —Jeff Hampton


Proud to Partner with Vinylbilt

enhanceyourhome Sunview Patio Doors LTD 500 Zenway Blvd. Woodbridge, ON L4H 0S7 ph 905-851-1006 fx 905-851-9933


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the specialists

The Sign Guys

WSI Sign Systems Ltd. fabricates signage for high-profile companies across North America Signs are a vital component to society, whether At a Glance Location Bolton, ON Founded 1988 Employees 85 Specialty Architectural signage Annual Sales $12 million


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they’re informational or directional, LED or static. They tell us where to go (or not go), and provide us with any necessary data specific to a certain site. WSI Sign Systems has emerged as Ontario’s top architecturalsignage company, providing signs to high-profile clients across the province—and even in the United States. Founded in 1988, WSI began as a small company, bringing in approximately $1 million in annual sales. It carried on that way until 1994, when new partners came in and the company grew substantially. In February 1996, the company acquired Display Signs, which at the time employed Peter Weber, who now serves as WSI’s president. “Our first full year together—1997—the two businesses managed to bring in $4.3 million,” Weber says. “It was a great acquisition.” That same year, the company decided to go after larger projects. It was awarded a coveted contract—with Entro Communications as a design partner—to design and build all of the signage for the Air Canada Centre, which at the time was the home of the Toronto Raptors. When the Toronto Maple Leafs bought the property shortly thereafter, the organization asked WSI to upgrade all of the signs in the project. It took the team nine months to design, build, and install what turned out to be $2.2 million worth of signs, just in time for the centre’s grand opening in February 1999. “That was a key point for the company,” Weber says. “The contract was much larger than anything we had done before. They were very happy with the work, and our reputation grew in the industry.” In 2002, WSI won a $3 million contract for the signage of the new Terminal 1 at the Lester B. Pearson International Airport, in Toronto. “Again, we came to a new level,” Weber says. In 2005, WSI also acquired another company that had a particular significance to Weber—the architectural division of King. “That company happens to be where I started my career,” he says. Over 15 years, WSI has grown into a $12-million-peryear operation, continuing to work with heavily soughtafter, high-profile signage projects. The company

recently manufactured all of the interior signage for Google’s Eighth Avenue offices in New York City. “It was a nice job, and quite innovative signage,” Weber says. “It was a lot of fun, and we’re still working on some things with them.” The company spent much of 2011 creating signage for Mississauga Civic Square, a large, public gathering space adjacent to the Mississauga City Hall and Living Arts Centre. WSI utilized several freestanding pylons with LED signs, in addition to static signs used as directional components, throughout the space to keep visitors informed of their surroundings. WSI also worked on the signage of a large parking facility close to the square. Weber attributes the company’s success to its attention to detail and ability to manage several different components of a project at once. “We make sure the messages are correct and approved by the customer,” he says. “It takes a lot of project management, which is one of our strengths.” —Lisa Ryan

WSI’s Top 5 Signage Technologies 1 LED: A fantastic replacement for neon or fluorescent tubes, LED lights can be used in sign boxes, channel letters, and logos. 2 Cutting-Edge Equipment: Newer technologies, including water-jets and lasers, are far more precise than previous instruments, providing designers with crisp, sharp corners. 3 Digital Directories: Sleek touch screens make directories far more user friendly than before and are available with much better technology at lower prices. 4 Digital Printing Machines: Flatbed printers can replicate the work that screen printers or painters would previously complete through manual processes. 5 Specialty Hardware & Materials: With so many products available in an international market, designers have much greater freedom of expression, and fabricators are better able to produce the designer’s concepts with quality finishes and detailing.

Canadian Builders Quarterly


www.wsisign.com www.kingarchitecturalproducts.com

ADP Interior Inc. specializes in all aspects of the Drywall Commercial building needs for the fast growing city of Calgary. Throughout the city we have helped create many new office spaces along with upgrading existing workspaces. Innovative knowledge for a scheduled completion, we aim to develop an outstanding relationship with all of our clients. GENERAL SERVICES • Acoustic Ceilings • Steel Stud Framing • Insulation Meeting Job Specifications • Drywall Installation • Drywall Finishing

Turning visions

into realities.

ADP Interior Inc. Suite #334, 300-8120 Beddington Blvd NW T3K 2A8 Calgary, Alberta Phone 403-226-5151 Fax 888-627-7413 adpinteriorinc.com

Alpine Glass would like to congratulate Tribuild on over 30 years of success!

» Aluminum Curtain Wall

Alpine Glass Inc. has been the glass and entryway contractor of choice for construction companies in the Calgary region since 1962.

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We are the industry leader in the supply and installation of tempered indoor glass walls and entrances, back painted glass, glass balustrades, mirrors, retail mall fronts and other specialty glass.

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Alpine Glass Inc. 2288 – 18 Avenue NE Calgary, AB T2E 8R1 Phone 403-291-2205 Fax 403-291-2124 www.alpineglass.ca

» Aluminum Entry Doors » Aluminum Skylights » Aluminum Storefronts » Automated Pedestrian Doors » Architectural Etch Film » Glass Balustrades » Glass Walls » Mirrors » Retail Mall Fronts » Specialty Glass » Tempered Entrances » Tempered Glass Walls » Commercial Door/ Window Service & Repair

through the years

TriBuild Contracting (Calgary) Ltd. 1982 tribuild contracting ltd. is founded

The economic hard times of recent years hit Canada's construction industry with exceptional force—but to look at Calgary’s TriBuild Contracting, one might wonder if the whole crisis was a bit overblown. Now, with nearly 30 years in business and several employees on board for most of the journey, TriBuild’s diverse and loyal client base has kept the business growing even when others were forced into a holding pattern. But then again, it was a troubled economy that launched TriBuild to begin with. “For the first few years, I don’t think we thought of doing more [than interior construction],” says TriBuild president Fred Baxter. “But it was only 5–10 years later that we looked at expanding and going into different directions.” —Kelli Lawrence

1986 starting from the ground up

“From 1982 to ’85, we basically went from job to job, doing the work on-site to make money for wages,” Baxter recalls. “Those first three years were quite tough.” But TriBuild gets its first from-the-ground-up assignment when the Calgary Women’s Shelter needs a new facility in 1986.

Fred Baxter, John Leskow, and Hans Kreuz had worked together at an interior-construction company for three years when the economic recession of the early 1980s left all three of them unemployed. Armed with a winning assortment of skills—Baxter as an estimator and general manager, Kreuz with trades knowledge, and Leskow as a carpenter and on-site foreman—the three decide it’s best to go into business together. “We had a project for Canadian Hunter [an oil-and-gas exploration company], through our previous company, that was lined up, and we were supposed to start soon,” Baxter explains. “So when the other company closed down, we just went to the designer and the client and said, ‘Three of us are here that were going to do that project anyway—and we’d still like to do it, but through TriBuild instead.’” It became the company’s first project.

“Our goal was to work the office-renovation market, since that’s what we’d been doing. But over the years, I think we’ve done a lot more than we expected when we started.” fred baxter, president


1987 the first major multifloor development

An 11-storey construction/renovation project for Mobil Oil marks TriBuild’s first multifloor development of repute. The project leads to more work within the industry, including for Shell Canada. By 1988, TriBuild’s days of being housed in a small, rented industrial bay are numbered; Baxter, Leskow, and Kreuz complete an all-new facility that TriBuild moves into the following year.

2001 the calgary data centre

Following solid growth and diversification in the 1990s (TriBuild renovated the medical facilities of Crossbow Auxiliary Hospital and easily rebuilt restaurant chains for KFC), the company finds a new niche in data centres, the first of which is for TELUS.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2008 first leed gold project

Photo: Kerri Singh

2011 (The Shaw Café for Shaw Cable)

As devastating as the 2008 economic nosedive is for much of the construction industry, TriBuild manages to find a silver lining when the merging companies of Suncor and Petrol Canada require TriBuild’s renovation services for a LEED-certified project. “We’re doing 59 floors for them—it’s just over a million square feet,” Baxter says. “We work on 6–10 floors at a time; they vacate and shuffle people’s offices around in order for us to get it finished. It’s been a major, ongoing project for us [and is] a whole lot of work, which fortunately came at a very good time.”

2011 nearing a 30-year anniversary

2006 hans kreuz retires

“He was very good with people, with communications, well organized—just a very likeable person,” Baxter says of Kreuz, who began fazing himself out of TriBuild in 2003. Remaining partners Baxter and Leskow make four additional employees shareholders of the company, paving the way for TriBuild to continue flourishing.

With TELUS, Suncor, Shaw Cable, and the Calgary Board of Education among its wide span of current customers, Baxter takes pride in the company he helped create. “Our goal was to work the office-renovation market, since that’s what we had been doing,” he says. “But over the years, I think we’ve done a lot more than we expected when we started.”

2011 (Taradale School for the Calgary Board of Education)

2003 data centres on the rise

By 2003, TriBuild has completed 28 power and A/C upgrades to TELUS facilities throughout southern Alberta. “You’re constantly working in a ‘live’ environment,” says Baxter of the around-the-clock operation of most data centres. “You can’t just turn things off to work on them. And the centres are also extremely sensitive to dust and temperature changes. There are a lot of factors involved, and it takes several years of experience to have guys in there that know what to look out for.”


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At work with Canada’s business leaders


A P R I L / M AY/J U N E 2 0 12



Not just Another Lawyer


The founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? looks to revolutionize the painting industry with his latest venture p. 74

Helen Fotinos, general counsel at Kia Canada Inc., shows how she is shaping up her company’s mindset

At Your Service

p. 26

How Sodexo provides solutions to the world’s largest companies p. 80


A SLICE OF SUCCESS Boston Pizza > p. 18

Advantage8_cov.indd 1

SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING Aden Earthworks > p. 129

EXCELLENT EVENTS Spark Inc. > p. 144 1/19/12 10:11 AM


canadian homes

Sculpted by the Sun & Earth Despite its immense size, KB Design’s Armada House settles naturally into the landscape and surroundings of British Columbia The Armada House isn’t sailing anywhere fast. The 5,299-square-foot, modern, post-and-beam home is located in Victoria, British Columbia’s Ten Mile Point/Wedgewood Estates neighbourhood. The home was sculpted into its surroundings by Keith Baker, principal designer of KB Design, and built by Abstract Developments. The home’s owners, a couple who likes to entertain, gave Baker an unrestrictive brief at the outset of the project. “They had imagined that the building would have three storeys, and 1,000 square feet for the master suite—and for that to be on the top level,” he recalls. “Otherwise, very little criteria.” Completed in 2007, the finished product went on to win numerous awards, including the 2008 SAM Awards’ Best New Single-Detached Home over 4,000 square feet.


CBQ: How did you come up with this unique, curvy design? Keith Baker: We wanted to take advantage of the light and the views—east towards Mount Baker and south towards the Olympic Mountains—so the orientation did not turn out to be just three storeys stacked up simplistically. What we discovered was, that to make the flows work, it was better to have four levels. It’s not a traditional side split, but it is a side split that doesn’t look like one. When you come up to the front door and

Above: Rather than opt for a standard, boxy design, Keith Baker implemented a tiered system that helps mould the home into its natural environment.

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canadian homes Project Details Location: Victoria, BC Completed: 2008 Size: 5,299 square feet Architect: KB Design Builder: Abstract Developments

Modern, spacious, and airy, the Armada House’s master bathroom is a testament to Keith Baker’s meticulousness. The wood finishes are a motif throughout the home, and the white fixtures help capture light to illuminate the most private room in the house.

main entryway, there’s a generous foyer that is part of a >> large atrium, which is attached to the curved roof that


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you see. It divides the house into two parts.

backward slant and then following that line down to the front. In many ways, it’s a “feel” thing as you move through the process.

CBQ: And it curves to take advantage of the light? KB: Correct. We rotated the living space southeast, so the

CBQ: What was the most challenging aspect? KB: The clients wanted to entertain, to [have an outdoor

bedroom wing is facing almost due east. That opened up the central area and the shape of the lot, to a degree, but it was mostly to splay the house open. The idea was to follow the light around the path of the sun, and that balcony extending out from the dining and kitchen area is oriented south/southwest, making it a daylight-filled space all of the time.

living space], and this is a sloped, rocky piece of land. It’s a hillside, basically. There’s no obvious place for a patio. The challenges were in the complexity of melting something into the land rather than just plunking a box onto a piece of flat land—to make sense of the seamless integration into the environment while realizing the opportunities for flows and spaces.

CBQ: Did you draw on any inspiration for the design? KB: It really derived from the land itself and the

CBQ: What do you find most satisfying about this house? KB: It’s “holistic-ness,” if that’s a word! It became a

orientations. Sculpting the space created this form, and we worked with that form to allow light to come into its central area. A square looked a little abrupt, so we tilted it back underneath that curve, putting windows on a

unified entity, with a unified personality, and all the parts work together. It presents a very contented disposition on the land—it feels right, there. When you’re inside, it feels the same way. —Chris Allsop

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Above: The patio, requested by the clients as a way to entertain guests, was a challenge, as the house is located on a sloping, rocky hillside. Below: There is a sense of porousness to the Armada House, as expansive glass allows the home to track the sun’s movement and pull in natural light.


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Photo: Cory Dawson


Wall Outlets The traditional wall outlet has long been in need of an upgrade. Next time you refurbish a room, consider one of these options instead of the bland, cream face plates of yesteryear. More than just a stylistic flourish, each crafts a new, functional possibility and a truly shocking result.

22 / Bocci / bocci.ca /

Photo: Jacom Stephens

The 22 from Bocci cleans up any wall’s surface. The outlet sits flush in drywall or millwork, and the line also features connectors for telephone cords, coaxial cables, and more.

Duplex Outlet / 360electrical / 360electrical.com / A convenient solution with a classic look, the Duplex Outlet provides a means to get even the most bulky adapters into the same outlet. Just plug and turn, with uninterrupted power regardless of angle.

Leviton Receptacle / TRUFIG / trufig.com / Since their inception, wall outlets have been uniformly on the wall. The Leviton Receptacle places them in it. On top of that, it can be incorporated with any wallpaper or paint colour.

Wall Cleat / Boiler Design Office / oboiler.com / The travails of storing an extension cord just got a lot less messy with the wall cleat. Though it isn’t in production at the time of writing, it’s bound to shore up loose ends soon.


Your budget does more when your facility consumes less. Siemens can help your facility become smarter, more efficient and green. usa.siemens.com/efficient

Operations can account for 60% of the life cycle cost of a building, so managing energy and operational efficiency is critical to maintaining your facility’s overall value. And it gets harder with age. Siemens experts can help your facility do more for less. We take the time to understand your operations and longterm business requirements. We then provide answers

tailored to meet your specific needs and budget constraints. With strategies, systems, services and financing options designed to maximize building performance, we can help your building reach peak efficiency at any stage in its life cycle. Greater efficiency means less waste, an improved environmental impact and more for your bottom line.

Answers for infrastructure.

Profile for Guerrero

Canadian Builders Quarterly  

The information source for construction executives

Canadian Builders Quarterly  

The information source for construction executives