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jump branding & design High-End Burger Joint p. 68

december 2012

cornerstone landscape & construction Summer Job Yields a Career p. 122 速

the information source for construction executiVes

The Ascension

december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

VancouVer island health authority A Holistic Overhaul p. 72

how the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto is giving the ivies a run for their money p. 96

volume 4 no. 34 CBQ34_cov.indd 1

9/13/12 5:04 PM

Savings by Design Helping you maximize the energy efficiency of your new buildings. With our comprehensive Savings by Design program, builders participate in an Enbridge Integrated Design Process (IDP). The IDP brings together experts in energy efficiency and sustainability to identify ways to maximize energy performance in your new construction buildings. In addition to covering the cost of the IDP, Enbridge also provides incentives to help you implement the IDP’s recommendations to achieve 25% or more above Ontario Building Code (2012). To qualify for the program, your project must be a minimum of 100,000 square feet.

At work with Canada’s business leaders



J U LY/A U G U S T/ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 12

O C T/ N O V/ D E C 2 0 12

+ Movies for Grown-ups Piers Handling, CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival, takes us inside a sleek and sophisticated cinema p. 96

What’s the Big Idea?





For Mercatus Technologies Inc.’s Sylvain Perrier, it’s creating a unique company culture bent on revolutionizing the consumer experience p. 42

+ Law of the Land Learn what it takes to succeed as the legal arm of a company, from some of Canada’s top general counsel and legal experts p. 71

The Business of Big Adventure Africa On Safari shows Canadians a different kind of vacation p. 14

The Animators VOLUME 2, NO. 9


Toon Boom takes its elite cartoon technology from the studio to the classroom p. 14

ROCK-STAR COVERAGE Shephard Ashmore > p. 24

MOBILE MAKERS Xtreme Labs Inc. > p. 52


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




Not Just Another Lawyer

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


Welcome to the “She-Suite”

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

At Your Service

p. 26

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

WINDS OF CHANGE Momentum Credit Union > p. 19

INTERNET COWBOYS Non-Linear Creations > p. 48

A GREENER PROVIDER Just Energy > p. 142

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A SLICE OF SUCCESS Boston Pizza > p. 18

SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING Aden Earthworks > p. 129

EXCELLENT EVENTS Spark Inc. > p. 144

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v o l u m e 2 , n o . 7, 2 0 12

at w o r k w i t h c a n a d a’ s b u s i n e s s l e a d e r s

Funny Business

at work with canada’s business leaders

C o m e se e w hy Advant age i s a must-read for any b u si nes s leader an d i n n ovator, no matter t he i nd u st ry. Vi s i t ad van tagem for you r f re e s u bs cri p ti on .


VOLUME 2, NO. 10

Melanie Jeannotte, CEO of Vital Benefits, and 10 other top women executives are shaking things up in Canada with exciting ideas and proven business acumen p. 60

Andy Nulman, president of Just For Laughs, brings jokes and good cheer to the masses, making for a standout international business p. 14

+ the jets are back How the business acumen of True North Sports & Entertainment brought the NHL back to Winnipeg p. 60

volume 2, no. 7, 2012

Join the conversation! @AdvantageCANADA

FIGHTING FAMINE World Vision Canada > p. 30 Advantage7_cov.indd 1

advantage january/february 2011

MILK MONEY Avalon Dairy > p. 81


WORKING IN EXTREMES Backside Tours Inc. > p. 102 9/16/11 2:27 PM

Feature Richard M. Sommer, dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty at the University of Toronto.

the ascension


A look at how the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto is shaping the designers of tomorrow and producing the elite practitioners of today (below).

102 bruce kuwabara

108 nelson kwong

112 monica adair & stephen kopp

116 david gillett

kpmb architects


acre architects

david gillett design

december 2012


Contents 12

Briefs 8 10 12 188 194


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

december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


Industry Insights

18 Merrick Architecture ltd. 22 Silver crest homes 24 Chandler associates architecture inc. 28 page + steele/ibi group architects 31 cibs construction 33 hilderman thomas frank cram 35 pegasus homes 37 buddy haegele enterprises ltd. 39 bth construction ltd. 42 reid homes 43 petrone architects 45 gorman-mazzon limited

Through The Years

16 48 70 94 120 166 192

humber college advance design & Construction Ltd. cohn construction ltd. morrison hershfield belyea bros. limited nelson architecture Caplevalti design

Project Showcase

50 54 57 60 63 65 68

ccm2 scÉno plus inc. open practice sUperkÜl inc. TS Williams Construction Ltd. thibodeau architecture + design jump branding & design inc.


72 76 80 84 87 90 92

vancouver island health authority the city of hamilton burnaby school district saskatoon public schools red seal builders jackson & associates inc. prince george civic centre

In Profile

122 126 128

Cornerstone landscape & construction beverly barrett design studio sander design

Photo: Peter Mengede


132 135 138 141 144

geoff hodgins architect alvin reinhard fritz architect inc. square root contracting ltd. Farrelly homes ltd. jm architecture inc.

Step by Step

147 150 153 155 157 160 162

durham district school board exhibition place s3 interior design inc. baptist housing kojin inc. tower interiors ltd. cape breton university

The Specialists

168 171 173 176 179 182 186

encana events centre executive millwork inc. k2 stone bergsma’s paint & décor beyond foam insulation plant group inc. total power

december 2012


Photo: Samantha Simmons

editor's note


ith 2012 officially in the rearview and a new year finally here, sometimes the best thing to do is look back and marvel at all of the things that have happened in the past 12 months. In 2012, we at CBQ have had the pleasure of featuring some of the finest builders and designers that the country has to offer. And this issue—with an ever-impressive gamut of industry professionals sharing their work and insight—is no different. One of our favourite stories this time around comes from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto (“The Ascension,” p. 96). We take a look at the academic implications of design, and we see how some of today’s top architects formulated their niche and design aesthetics through melding the classroom with the jobsite. As a premier architectural program in not only Canada but in North America, the the John H. Daniels Faculty promises to be an elite force for years to come, as it moulds young learners into sophisticated, erudite minds that will one day spark the designs of tomorrow. Join us as we speak with Dean Richard M. Sommer and graduate student Dave Freedman, who give us firsthand accounts of how and why the school is considered among the cream of the crop. Furthermore, we’ll take you inside the world of four firms whose partners are alumni of the University of Toronto’s architectural program. Profiling Bruce Kuwabara of KPMB Architects, Nelson Kwong of nkArchitect, Stephen Kopp and Monica Adair of Acre Architects, and David Gillett of David Gillett Design, we take you inside what it means to take the University of Toronto’s teachings and apply them to the real world. These diverse designers have all had different experiences. See how they are putting those experiences to the test in the subsequent pages. Other than that, there are great insights as always. From the successful green events of EnCana (p. 168) to the striking casino designs and hospitality designs of Scéno Plus (p. 54), this issue of CBQ is not only our largest to date, but it’s also our most ambitious. And so, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you our final issue of 2012. It will not disappoint.

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!

Michael Danaher

Senior Features Editor


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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december 2012


from the ground up

The Watercolour House

A colourful design for Vancouver’s North Shore The Watercolour House is North Vancouver's answer At a Glance Location: North Vancouver, BC Completed: 2011 Size: Less than 2,000 square feet Builder: Naikoon Contracting Ltd.


december 2012

to sustainability. Bolstered by a Built Green Gold designation, an Energy Guide rating of 80, and a Georgie Award, the project exemplifies the best in modern residential architecture and sustainable building practices. For instance, the exterior is insulated with Roxul Rockboard 80 insulation and lined with Tyvek home wrap, which affords the structure an exterior R-value of 31. Aided by this efficient envelope, the home also has an interior air-change-per-hour rating of 0.8963, saving on energy usage and expenditure. Meanwhile, a 900-gallon polyethylene tank on the property collects water runoff and redirects water back into the exterior irrigation

system and grey water toilets. Large low-E windows maximize daylighting potential, and the interior of the home has radiant heating, Energy Star appliances, a high-efficiency boiler, LED lighting, and low-VOC finishes throughout. Residents can also make use of the locally manufactured Valor H4 gas fireplace; a little bit of ambiance for the coldest west coast nights. The two-storey residence also utilizes reclaimed timber for its frame and energy-saving isolated concrete forms for the foundational walls. An independent basement suite with separate entrance allows for guests or renters, and a rooftop deck made of salvaged clear cedar boasts sweeping city views. —Benjamin van Loon

Canadian Builders Quarterly

december 2012


canadian spaces Project Details Location: Vancouver, BC Completed: 2011 Size: 19,000 square feet Architect: Perkins + Will Photography: Nic Lehoux

Prefabbed wood-glue laminated beams construct the magnificent roof and a dramatic vaulted ceiling.

A medallion imbedded in the floor uses a John Muir quote to remind visitors of the impact nature can have in our lives: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.�


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Like many public buildings in Vancouver (a city that recently unveiled its Greenest City 2020 Action Plan), the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s new Visitor Centre has captured the spirit of the green movement, showing Canadians and the world how sustainable structures can contribute to the community. Vancouver-based Perkins+Will started designing the 19,000-square-foot facility in 2007, seeking a natural union of architecture and environment. A flowing green roof created from flower-like 3-D forms sits atop walls of rammed earth and concrete. Vegetated planes connect the “flower petals” while welcoming— and not evicting—local wildlife. The centre is home to volunteer facilities, a library, a café, classroom spaces, a garden shop, and offices. Perkins+Will designed the building to surpass LEED’s Platinum requirements, and in May the structure was recognized as a 2012 Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia merit-level selection. —Zach Baliva

A NEW SHADE OF GREEN Architecture firm Perkins+Will maximized every possible opportunity to create an efficient structure on a sensitive landscape with minimal impact. Smart siting allows for the preservation of trees, shrubs, and plants in the garden, while the landscape and green roof feature species adapted to the local climate. Water use for facilities and landscaping comes from captured precipitation when possible, and blackwater and greywater are treated on-site. Solar hot-water tubes, PV panels, and a geoexchange system work together in a building constructed for annual net-zero energy usage. Moreover, the building uses healthy and natural materials, and focuses on creating a healthy interior environment enhanced by ample daylighting.

december 2012


canadian spaces

The Visitor Centre targets the Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum levels to meet sustainability commitments by both the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board.

Ample plant use, including the vegetated land ramps and living roofs, has helped the centre emerge as Vancouver’s first living building.

The building was oriented for summer sun to fall on dark surfaces to reduce or eliminate the need for air-conditioning, while a glass tower directs natural daylight to desired spaces.

The Visitor Centre is topped with an enlarged garden deck offering sweeping views of the unfolding landscapes flanking the structure.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

EDUCATING THE MASSES Opened in 1975, the VanDusen Botanical Garden has served as a resource of knowledge and education for the surrounding community for decades. Today, the garden contains more than 250,000 plants across 55 acres in the geographic centre of Vancouver. Now, with the visitor centre serving as the nucleus of the vibrant area, VanDusen Botanical Garden can spread even more knowledge to its patrons and visitors. Its green design creates a vibrant meeting place that demonstrates responsible and clever environmental stewardship. For instance, a centrally located library, exhibit spaces, and hands-on teaching facilities encourage lifelong learning in the community, while a Discovery Room features educational exhibits devoted to plants, plant conservation, and biodiversity. To aid this effort, 34 park board and staff members are on hand, with 1,600 volunteers to welcome more than 150,000 annual visitors. With initiatives like these in place, the new Visitor Centre is expected to double yearly visitor totals.

As the main building material, wood segregates enough carbon to reach neutral levels.

The innovative flower-petal design, taken from native orchids, meets the concept goal of providing design features intended for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit, and place.

december 2012


through the years

Humber College Humber College has been educating students since its first semester, in 1967. The polytechnic school currently spans across three campuses in and around Toronto, where more than 20,000 students in more than 150 various programs attend class, live, and work. With so much activity, Humber made a conscious decision to reduce its carbon footprint—something that is now a primary focus for the school. “I think it’s important for postsecondary institutions to show leadership in this area, both for the broader community and for the students we are teaching to see that these things can be done,” says Spencer Wood, associate director of maintenance and operations. “And they can save money and help the environment at the same time. It’s quite important.” —Jennifer Nunez

2005 Energy initiatives begin

Humber already had plans to upgrade some of its major equipment. The college goes a step further and decides to use state-of-the-art energysaving equipment. Wood says the inspiration came from a number of different things. Thus begins Humber’s sustainability initiatives, and the energy piece of the puzzle is a perfect fit.

Humber College Quad

2006 chiller plant installation

The first sustainability project for Humber is an ultraefficient Chiller Plant, an air-conditioning system for the school’s North Campus. The system saves more than 60 percent on energy, which amounts to $100,000 a year in electricity. At full load, the new chillers operate at approximately 0.6 kilowatts per ton, compared to the former chillers, which operated at about 1.1 kilowatts per ton. 2008 going for gold

The LEED Gold-certified Centre for Urban Ecology is Humber’s first LEED project. In place of air-conditioning, the building houses a fillmore chimney, which is an architectural feature in the centre of the building with fans above that open atop of the chimney. “The windows are computer controlled at the bottom and the top, creating a cross draft,” Wood says. “It acts like a chimney and pulls the heat out of the building.” Not only is the chimney excellent for the environment, there are zero operating costs as well. High-efficiency lighting and a wastewatercapture system are also present. 2009 cleaning up

Humber literally cleans things up around campus in 2009. Through a third-party cleaning crew, the school starts using less-toxic cleaning supplies, such as bathroom and kitchen cleaners.


2010 one light leads to 1,000+

2010 food-waste recycling

MR-16 LED spotlights make an appearance, and after a successful trial run, the school installs well over 1,000 of them. This move saves the school sufficient energy and costs, and can be seen in display cases, reception desks, and specialty areas throughout the three campuses.

As it has a culinary program, Humber generates a fair amount of organic waste. For this, the college implements green bins with a compostable liner where food waste is kept and taken to a compost facility. Those same bins appear in the cafeteria’s production kitchen. Through the success of the project, the bins are expanded into the student side of the cafeteria in 2011.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly


2012 continuing to improve

“There are always new technologies and things we are working on,” Wood says. Humber has future retrofits planned in its ventilation systems and more work for the recycling program. The school also plans to get the students involved on a creative basis, with signs and awareness efforts throughout the school. 2011 lakeshore building

Sustainable efforts are prominent in the Humber’s Lakeshore Campus’s new construction project, which was built to LEED Silver standards. High-efficiency lighting and motion censors cut down unnecessary lighting, and the HVAC system is low-energy, with variable air volume in all systems. “We have C02 censors in the rooms to provide the exact amount of ventilation that we need, a heat exchanger for cooling in the winter, and a green roof,” Wood says.

A Message from Enbridge Enbridge’s new Savings by Design program helps builders like DCL. When DCL Equity Partners set out to build Canada’s first sustainable healthcare facility, Enbridge Gas Distribution quickly came onboard. With its long-standing commitment to energy conservation and the new Savings by Design program—created to help commercial builders develop high-performance buildings—it was a natural fit. The DCL Stouffville Medical Centre was the first project to participate in the program, which starts with an integrated design process. The charrette brought together experts in design, engineering, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, to identify the optimal mix of smart design elements, processes, and advanced technologies. The results demonstrated that the facility has the potential to be 60 percent more energy efficient than the Ontario Building Code. And, in fact, a 75 percent target was achievable. For more about this program and available incentives, contact Mary Harinck at 416-753-6258 or e-mail her at

A Message from Taylor Hazell Architects Taylor Hazell Architects is one of the preeminent architectural conservation firms in Canada. As a 20-year leader in innovative design for complex heritage sites, we believe that a sustainable future must value and protect the exemplars of the past. We are very proud of our award-winning work for Humber College and wish it continued success in years to come!

is very proud of our 20-year association with Humber College. As the architects of record for the award-winning Robert A. Gordon Learning Centre...

...and the Humber Arboretum Centre for Urban Ecology, we wish Humber College continued success in building a world-class campus for generations to come.

333 Adelaide Street West , 5th Floor Toronto ON M5V 1R5

416.862.2694 december 2012



december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

Left: The LEED-ND Platinum-certified Village on False Creek has been described as the most sustainable community in the world.

Merrick Architecture Ltd. Silver Crest Homes Chandler Associates Architecture Inc. Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects CIBS Construction Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram Pegasus Homes Buddy Haegele Enterprises Ltd. BTH Construction Ltd. Reid Homes Petrone Architects Gorman-Mazzon Limited

18 22 24 28 31 33 35 37 39 42 43 45

Going Big in British Columbia A boutique mentality hardly prevents Merrick Architecture Ltd. from taking on some of the province’s biggest projects By Jeff Hampton

Photos: Merrick Architecture-Borowski Sakumoto Fligg Ltd.

Don't try to pigeonhole Merrick Architecture,

because there is little the firm hasn’t done and almost no project type it won’t try. But if you think that means it is a large mega-firm, you’re mistaken. With just 30 people, Merrick packs a lot of experience and know-how into a relatively small design studio. “We are a boutique firm that is also capable of doing large projects,” says Greg Borowski, one of the firm’s principals. “We’ve designed everything from single-family homes to Vancouver’s Olympic Village. We do not have a complex corporate hierarchy. We provide personalized service with all three principals involved. That kind of personal touch separates us from other firms.” Merrick’s portfolio spans almost every market sector: commercial, cultural, education, healthcare, heritage/ restoration, mixed use, recreation/resort, residential, and transportation. Within that, services range from master planning to full construction documentation, and from furniture design to LEED consulting. Still, architecture is at the heart of the firm’s business, and Borowski describes Merrick Architecture’s approach

as “humanistic—to accomplish the objective of building in a beautiful way. As architects, we don’t pursue a fashion statement, but rather a more enduring philosophy—a timelessness.” Founded in 1984 by Paul Merrick, the firm has undergone a transition in recent years that included Merrick shifting from owner to consultant, and shrinking the management team. “A six-member management body had become unwieldy,” Borowski says. “It’s been honed down to three, and it’s more effective in getting things done. “It’s easier to focus our energies that way. We like the notion of the boutique service and that approach to At a Glance practice. Interest and quality is what we want. We provide a very Location good service to the clients we Vancouver, BC build for rather than getting big Founded and just producing more and 1984 more.” This change has Employees 30 prompted the engagement of a

december 2012


industry insights

younger generation, including four associates who are registered architects. Among the principals, Borowski describes himself as primarily a designer; Mitch Sakumoto is a great organizer with superior designsensitive technical skills; and Graham Fligg “straddles both capabilities,” Borowski says. All three have networks of interest and involvement that help keep the firm connected to opportunities. For example, Borowski is chairman of the Vancouver Urban Design Panel. Merrick Architecture’s broad scope helped keep it going strong during the economic slump of 2009 and 2010. “I think the range of things we do allowed us to survive in an uncertain economy,” Borowski says. “Until recently, the most active sector has been multifamily housing, but we have returned to a more diverse mix of projects.”

“We’d be bored and would find it tedious to be working in a single sector.” greg borowski, principal

A cross-section of the firm’s current portfolio illustrates this. It is involved in several heritage and adaptive-reuse projects, as well as a planned shopping centre development in Victoria, British Columbia— where the firm maintains a thriving, second studio. In contrast, Merrick Architecture’s Vancouver studio is a member of EL Partners, one of three design-build finance teams that is developing proposals for the $1.4 billion Evergreen Transit Line. The 11-kilometre, six-station line will connect Vancouver to Coquitlam, British Columbia, starting at the Lougheed Station. “We were involved in the original Lougheed Station, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity of being involved in the new transit extension,” Borowski says. Within the transportation sector, the firm has also spearheaded the project team for the new Transportation Management Centre—a British Columbia government-services building in Coquitlam. And in the residential sector, Merrick Architecture is designing a 41-storey high-rise, currently known as 1265 Howe Street, which will encompass retail, residential, and office space. “It’s a pretty major-scale project for a 30-person firm, but is typical of our capabilities and the unique opportunities we pursue,” says Borowski of the project. “We’d be bored and would find it tedious to be working in a single sector.” CBQ


december 2012

featured project pennsylvania hotel Located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside district, the 103-year-old Pennsylvania Hotel today boasts 44 studio apartments operated by BC Housing, on-site support services for low-income residents, and ground-level retail. The heritage restoration and conversion preserved the building’s historic, brick-clad façade and modernized the interior spaces and building systems. Apartments average 250 square feet, equipped with full bathrooms and kitchenettes. In addition, 12 units are fully wheelchair accessible. The Pennsylvania Hotel is a model for a dozen or more hotel-transformation projects currently under consideration by BC Housing and Size: Five storeys with Partnerships BC in the 44 studio apartments Eastside district, an initiative for which Merrick Completed: 2009 Architecture is a potential Awards: City of Vancoucontributor. “It has be- ver Heritage Award come a beacon of hope in Key Feature: $14-million the neighbourhood,” says heritage restoration and principal Greg Borowski. conversion

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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industry insights

The Quality Controller At a Glance Location Mississauga, ON Founded 1993 Employees 5 Specialty High-end custom-home construction and renovation Annual Sales $3.5 million


december 2012

Ivano Della Torre, owner of Silver Crest Homes, believes a house is perfect when it is done, and a house is done when it is perfect By Benjamin van Loon

Equipped with two decades of solid construction

experience, and an upbringing illuminated by a family in the industry, Ivano Della Torre—owner and founder of Mississauga, Ontario’s Silver Crest Homes—believes that a job isn’t done until it’s perfect. And how does Della Torre know when a job is perfect? “I make sure to track and note the deficiencies of a home before the customer enters at the last stages of construction,” he says. “Appearance is integral for the customer.”            Like many others, Della Torre was born into the industry. His father and uncles were construction

workers and builders, and it was when Della Torre’s father started to get out of the home-building business that Della Torre began his venture into it. “I had just gotten my degree from university, and my dad was looking to begin retirement,” Della Torre says. “He had some empty lots, and the client who bought the lots was looking for a builder, and that’s when I started building.” The year was 1993, and Silver Crest Homes was born.            Della Torre worked cooperatively with his new partner for the first few years of the business but then ventured off on his own when the partnership was

Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

“I really enjoy teardowns because it puts something strong and new where something run-down used to be.” Ivano della torre, owner

dissolved. Della Torre has full ownership of the company, which now specializes in high-end custom-home construction, home renovation, and teardowns—the demolition of old homes and construction of new homes on urban lots. “I really enjoy teardowns because it puts something strong and new where something run-down used to be,” Della Torre says.            Much of Della Torre’s work and project ideas at Silver Crest stems from his take on gentrification. For urban dwellers, gentrification is generally perceived as a detriment to urban communities, though Della Torre sees urban-centrism as one of the primary ways to reduce particular—and universal—carbon footprints. For Della Torre, whose favourite work is teardowns, the movement into and rebuilding of dilapidated, old neighbourhoods allows extant infrastructural systems to be reutilized without the necessity of covering more acreage or further expanding urban layouts.             “In Ontario, and especially around Toronto, there is a huge problem with sprawl,” Della Torre says. “Because I’m a smaller custom builder, I prefer to look at projects within the city. By doing that, I’m not furthering burdening the infrastructure, and this is one of the biggest ways I reduce Silver Crest’s carbon footprint.”             When addressing carbon-footprint reduction for Silver Crest, Della Torre also advocates waste minimization, HVAC efficiency, building-envelope improvement, and the installation of low-emission lighting in project homes.             Above all else, Della Torre is committed to perfection. In addition to Silver Crest averaging 10 home renovations every year, Della Torre also oversees the construction of up to six new home builds annually, and on all of them, he is both the main point of contact and

featured project BUrlington bungalow Originally intended as a home renovation, this is a complete teardown project in Burlington, west of Toronto. The 1,900-square-foot home also includes featuring a 20” x 25” indoor, in-ground therapeutic pool. The pool utilizes a proprietary dual water-heating and -filtration system, and the entire exterior of the home is wrapped to meet Energy Star requirements. The clients chose new construction over a renovation because new Location: Burlington, ON construction carries a Size: 1,900 square feet longer, more substantial Completed: 2012 warranty, as well as allowing for more integrated, Key Feature: Indoor, in-ground therapeutic updated building materials and systems. pool

the primary quality-assurance resource. “I make sure to list and address all of the imperfections of a project before the customer occupies it,” Della Torre says.            A leader by nature, Della Torre is used to overseeing all of the aspects of his own business, though as Silver Crest nears its 20th anniversary, he’s learning to share responsibilities and refocus his professional priorities. “It’s taken me some time to find an ideal right-hand man, but now that I’ve got a good foreman, I can have a greater focus on perfecting the other jobs I have,” Della Torre says. “It’s important to me to have things done the way I want them to be done.” CBQ

december 2012


industry insights

A Blurring of the Lines Chandler Associates Architecture Inc. draws upon its diverse past to approach current projects where the disciplines have been combined By Ashley T. Kjos

At a Glance

Many architects recognize the importance of

Location Vancouver, BC Founded 1968 Employees 35 Specialties Residential, commercial, and large mixed-use developments

designing within and being cognizant of the community they work with. It is less common for an architect to have a hand in actually creating that sense of community. Over the past 15 years, Chandler Associates Architecture has been increasingly more involved with mixed-use developments that interface with the urban setting and create an area for people to shop, work, and live. “We are essentially creating the urban realm,” says Sheldon Chandler, principal and founder at Chandler Associates. “We are creating street fronts out of nothing, and it becomes extremely important to consider how pedestrians will interact with the project itself.”


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This illustrates a shift that Chandler Associates has seen in the approach that developers are taking with planning, and because of this, mixed-use design has become a much larger focus for the firm. These tenants are exemplified in the Uptown development in Saanich, British Columbia, one of the firm’s most recent and most notable projects to date. Diversity has always been a cornerstone of the firm’s practice. Sheldon Chandler founded the firm in Calgary, in 1968, and through the years grew it into the thirdlargest architectural firm in Canada. In 1989, Sheldon moved to Vancouver, in order to explore the vast architectural opportunities available in British Columbia.

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During the firm’s early years, it had been involved in a wide range of project types, serving many institutional clients. It completed work for the health-care and hospitality industries and also participated in publicsector projects such as convention centres, exhibition building, and theatres. That varied experience and background is benefiting the firm today as it sees the lines between different types of projects blurring. “We might be involved in an urban-centre project and find that we need to interface with a hotel, or the project might embrace a residential component that involves senior living,” Chandler says. “Our past has given us increased depth, and it’s paying off now that things seem to be merging together.” Another important aspect and asset to the firm’s practice is its expertise and willingness to incorporate sustainable elements into its projects. “What we design and create has an impact on the environment; acting responsibly is something we hold dear,” says Chris Block, a principal at Chandler Associates Architects, who joined the team in 1994. The firm has a number of LEED-certified projects in its portfolio, and considers designing green elements into all of its work. “It’s always great when a client comes to us looking for a way

“We are creating street fronts out of nothing, and it becomes extremely important to consider how pedestrians will interact with the project itself.” sheldon chandler, principal & founder

Opposite page: Rendering of the firm’s expansive mixed-use Yorkson Willoughby project. This page: Due to be completed in 2013, the Center of Newton project is seeking LEED Gold certification.

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featured project uptown Uptown is a large mixed-use and community-centre project that is eight years in the making. Architecturally, Chandler Associates Architects created a lifestyle centre that looked like it had evolved naturally and, over time, had an appearance incorporating a number of styles, seemingly built over a number of years. The styles range from very modernist, using materials such as metal and glass, to buildings in a more classic style, made of brick or stone. Set in Saanich, British Columbia, the site wasn’t near any large urban centre and had the potential to become an urban centre for the municipality of Saanich onto itself. For a project of this size, the site was relatively small, which led to design challenges such as how to deal with access, not only for cars and shoppers, but delivery trucks, and how to make it safe and Site: 19 acres efficient and work within Size: 1 million square feet the infrastructure. What evolved was a beautiful LEED Certification: Gold multistorey design to Key Features: Underground accommodate the structured parking to minimize square footage and the heat-island effect, Main maintain an enjoyable Street-oriented multilevel retail shopping environment area, proximity to public on the interior and the transportation, and pedestrian exterior. walkways.


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to create a LEED-targeted building and needed our help,” says Chandler. “But the key is how to design green for the developer that doesn’t necessarily embrace it—how to site a building, orient the project near public transportation; there are always things you can do.” Mixed-use developments are now an important part of Chandler Associates’ portfolio, and the firm has done a significant amount of work in the area. “Classically, they combine residential developments with retail and commercial spaces, but we’ve been doing a number of office-building mixed-use projects as well—it’s not just retail anymore,” Block says. The idea of having these projects be more than just a collection of static structures is integral to the design process. “The pedestrian realm has always been important,” Block continues, “but with a single building, you have only so much influence on that realm. With the larger lifestyle centres, the scale is much larger.” Today the firm has a continuing priority to create vibrant centres for residents and patrons alike, truly giving tangible shape to communities. CBQ

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Urban Updates Why Page + Steele IBI Group Architects is at the forefront of designing mixed-use projects By Christopher Cussat

At a Glance Locations Toronto, ON Founded 1926 Employees 130 Specialty Residential, hospitality, office, and retail design

Above: Unlike other condos, where the balconies are tacked onto the structure, the balconies at the firm’s Chaz project are an integral part of the design.


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Wisdom is not the only thing that comes with age.

There’s also quality, excellence, diversity, reliability, and the courage to expand while looking to the future. These aspects could easily describe the workings and history of Page + Steele IBI Group Architects (P+S IBI). Founded in 1926, the firm began as Page + Steele Architects—one of Toronto’s oldest and most reputed architectural firms. It is currently in its fourth generation of leadership, being led by Sol Wassermuhl, Brian Sickle, Tim Gorley, and Mansoor Kazerouni. In 2008, the firm merged with IBI Group Architects, a multidisciplinary practice with more than 75 offices worldwide, and is now known as its current incarnation. Currently the firm tends to work with private developers and corporations, as well as institutional clients. In fact, P+S IBI’s portfolio holds a wide variety of building types, including residential, hospitality, office, seniors’ residences (long-term care and assisting living), retail, and entertainment. The firm provides the entire

range of architectural services, from feasibility studies and concept design, to working drawings and contract administration. “With over a billion dollars worth of construction projects completed annually, we are abreast of the latest developments in the industry and participate actively in all aspects of the profession,” notes executive vice president Tim Gorley, M. Arch, OAA, MRAIC. According to president Sol Wassermuhl, OAA, FRAIC, P+S IBI’s belief in the importance of urban design to city building, as well as its in-depth knowledge in a variety of building types, has placed the firm in a unique position to successfully undertake mixed-use projects—which are reflective of Canada’s complex cities and have clearly emerged as the most sustainable form of urban development. “In order to do these effectively, you really need to understand each of the components and how they can be arranged in a synergistic manner, such that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” he explains. “We have done this successfully numerous times, as has

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been amply evidenced by our involvement in many of Toronto’s major mixed-use projects, including the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Residences, the Hazelton, the SOHO, Maple Leaf Square, Empress Plaza, and a host of other projects.” The firm is able to handle many different project types because each project is done under the direct supervision of one of its principals. “We are also team players and believe in the synergy of creative individuals working together under strong leadership,” notes executive vice president Brian Sickle, M. Arch, OAA, MRAIC. In addition, because P+S IBI is a strong proponent of urban design and does not subscribe to a particular trend or preconceived style of design, the firm’s design responses tend to stem from its context or a particular urban condition, which allows each project to be unique. “This is quite evident in the variety of design responses seen in our work,” Sickle adds. P+S IBI’s continuing goals have always been to excel in the projects that it designs and to retain the loyalty of its clients. “Architecture is an important part of city building, and our goal is to contribute in a positive and meaningful manner to the urban environment,” says executive vice president Mansoor Kazerouni, M. Arch, OAA, MRAIC. “We do this not only by designing great-looking buildings, but also by contributing our time, knowledge, and expertise to the industry through various forums, panels, and organizations that we are invited to participate in.” In addition, Wassermuhl is a past member of the City of Toronto’s and City of Mississauga’s urban-design advisory panels, and Kazerouni currently sits on the City of Mississauga’s and the City of Vaughan’s Urban Design Review Panel, while Gorley is actively involved with the Ontario Association of Architects. Kazerouni believes that architects play an important role in shaping the built environment and directly impacting the quality of life in our cities—and this is part and parcel to success. “Our best marketing tool is our work itself,” he says, “and the quality of our work directly impacts the quality of our cities and the success of our clients.” He notes that P+S IBI strongly believes that as long as it is consistent in the quality of design and service that the firm provides to clients, it will continue to be successful. “Our work is consistently recognized by our peers, the various municipalities we work in, and, most importantly, we are fortunate to have a long list of loyal repeat clients who are appreciative of our efforts and our contribution to the success of their projects,” he adds. The team members at P+S IBI love the work they do because each new project presents a fresh opportunity to express themselves and to articulate their responses to the built environment. “It also enables us to improve our skills and deliver projects that are more thoughtful, relevant, and interesting than the last one we completed,” Kazerouni adds. “This constant opportunity to hone our skills and enrich our cities is undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of our work.” Over the years, P+S IBI has learned the importance of the group effort and utilizing everyone’s gifts. “In any architectural project, there are many voices at the table, and we have found that it is very important to be good listeners and to see the challenges through the eyes of our clients,” says Sickle. Wassermuhl adds that architecture is definitely a team sport. “We have also learned that we are only as good as each member of our team,” he says, “and if a single team member drops the ball, it impacts the quality of our work.” He concludes that the team at P+S IBI has definitely learned the value of relationships and maintaining the loyalty of clients—which has gone a long way in ensuring the firm’s continued success. CBQ

featured project delta hotel and residences, toronto Located in the East Railway Lands, Delta Hotel is in the heart of a new, emerging neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. Fronting on Bremner Street between the CN Tower, MTCC, and Rogers Centre to the west, and Maple Leaf Square to the east, this exciting, new, mixed-use development will add to the vitality of what is becoming the city’s new sports and entertainment district. Soaring 175 metres and 50 storeys, this LEED Gold project is comprised of a new flagship hotel with 520 rooms that are complemented by full banquet and conference facilities. In addition, 153 residential units will offer an urbane lifestyle with dramatic views of the city skyline and lake. The project has been planned to form the signature tower in what will be a fully integrated, Size: 566 keys unified complex including two Expected Completion: office towers to the east. The 2014 two-storey podium, with its Key Features: Mixed-use urban forest roof, will extend the PATH system westward to link development and LEED Gold project up with the MTCC and Skywalk.

december 2012


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Working All Angles CIBS Construction’s successful plan-design-build approach results in notable projects throughout Québec and eastern Ontario By Julie Schaeffer

At a Glance Maylan Construction grew moderately from its

founding, in 1998, to 2001, when founder Daniel Landry realized it was time to evolve and partner with planning firm Le Groupe CIBS, to offer a range of “A-to-Z” services, delivering all aspects from architecture to construction. “In 2001, we were working on separate sides of the business,” says Luc Papin, president of Le Groupe CIBS. “My firm was planning projects, and Daniel’s firm was building them. We met when working on a project together and had a good connection.” Landry says that the connection was based, in part, on a unique view of the industry. “We realized that an all-encompassing approach was missing in the construction industry,” he says. “Clients wanted someone to work with them from the inside out.”

That approach called for CIBS to get involved in the process before breaking ground. “Construction is only a small part of the whole process,” Landry says. “Before you build something, there are many things you have to do, and a lot of business owners aren’t aware of that process.” With a conventional process, a client has a plan in mind, meets with an architect, then sends completed drawings to tender. Companies such as Maylan Construction would bid, and the one with the best price was usually chosen. Unfortunately, projects often ended up over budget. Alleviating this problem ensures the success and satisfaction of all parties involved. Landry’s and Papin’s partnership—which operates under the brand name CIBS Construction—addresses that

Location Blainville, QC Founded 1998 Employees 35 Specialty Commercial designbuild construction services Above: Sixty percent of CIBS’s work is in car dealerships such as the Hawkesbury Mazda showroom seen here.

december 2012


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featured project bentley warehouse The Bentley Warehouse was a project right up CIBS Construction’s alley. The client, a luggage company, had restructured and was seeking to reduce its distribution costs. CIBS Construction’s answer was to develop a taller, rather than wider, facility. The firm purchased land for its client in August 2010, and by May 2011 it had developed drawings, arranged financing, and constructed the building. Site: 250,000 square feet “It was a fast-track project,” Cost: $13 million says Luc Papin, president Completed: 2011 of Le Groupe CIBS.


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problem by handling everything in-house. “Luc sits down with a client, goes over their needs and goals, and puts a project together,” Landry says. “We then have our staff draftsmen do some sketches, after which we create a budget and start construction. And we don’t go outside with our projects; we provide all the manpower necessary to complete every project, from soil engineers to architects.” Companies of all sizes are responding positively to the new system, although the majority of CIBS Construction’s clients are midsize enterprises, with between 10 and 100 employees and $30–100 million in annual sales. Sixty percent are car dealerships, although the company is doing more and more work in other industries, such as retail and the food market. Part of the success lies with the fact that CIBS Construction’s customers can clearly see the benefit of the business model. In just 10 years, the CIBS Construction partnership has grown from $1.5 million to $18 million in annual sales, most from repeat customers. “We follow the cycle of the client,” Papin says. “Business owners hire us, then hire us again 5 years later and then 10 years later.” “One of our first projects was for a Chrysler auto dealership client in 2001,” Landry says. “The client sold the business, and we’re now working with the new owners to fine-tune the facility, as well as [with] the former owner to launch his new business.” Within an industry that is always in flux, such steady growth bodes well for CIBS. And it also poses a new norm for the sector—one that ensures all parties come out on top. CBQ

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Navigating the complex nuances of North America's

Playing with History Landscape architecture firm Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram emphasizes collaboration, planning, and play for the new Variety Heritage Adventure Park at the Forks National Historic District By Mary J. Levine

prairies, forests, and tundra biomes, Winnipeg’s Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram (HTFC) has been shaping the landscape of the Prairies since 1969. As an award-winning interdisciplinary practice, powered by a seasoned 33-member team, HTFC has established itself as one of Western and Central Canada’s leading landscape architecture and planning firms. “We really pride ourselves on our collaborative process, and always work closely with our clients to ensure a project reaches its maximum potential,” says Monica Giesbrecht, who serves as principal at HTFC. “Every person in our office brings a different focus to our work. This results in really dynamic and responsive projects.” Most recently, HTFC has completed work on the $1.6 million, 4,100-square-metre Variety Heritage Adventure Park at the Forks National Historic Site. Located in downtown Winnipeg, the Forks marks the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and has been a public meeting place for more than 6,000 years. Designated as a National Historic Site in 1974, it is one of Winnipeg’s most loved public places and the province’s most popular tourism destination. In 2008, Variety, the Children’s

At a Glance Location Winnipeg, MB Founded 1969 Employees 33 Specialty Landscape design, regional planning, and community planning

Above: Aerial view of the Variety Heritage Adventure Park at the Forks National Historic Site.

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Charity of Manitoba, began developing a play area at the Forks in partnership with Parks Canada. Wayne Rogers, executive director of Variety, says, “We were looking to develop a playground at one of our city parks, and as the most visited site in Manitoba, with 3–4 million annual visitors, the Forks was ideal.” Barb Ford, manager of Visitor Experience for Parks Canada, says, “Because we don’t have a plethora of intact elements to showcase the history of the Forks, we see the park as a way to engage our primary demographic of young families and new immigrants with the history here.” HTFC incorporated the diverse history of the Forks and Variety’s imperative to serve children and families of all backgrounds and abilities in the firm’s winning design. “HTFC’s solution was selected because it brought history to life in a fun, distinct, and [immersing ] way,” Rogers says. HTFC really took the opportunity to develop a new play area that pushes the boundaries of interpretive play and connects to the overall experience of the Forks. The team considered everything from layout, pedestrian circulation and connections, integrated drainage, landforms, and rest areas, to the play elements, site lighting, detailed interpretive content, and prairie plantings in the forward-thinking design. The design is organized into interconnected play zones that tell the story of the Forks. The zones include the Red River Spray Park (a water play feature ideal for hot summer months), the French Quarter Musical Play Experience, the Bison Lookout Sliding Hill, the Settlers Farmstead Play Area for toddlers, the Fort Challenge Zone for 5- to 12-year-olds, the Train Station Adventure Zone, the South Point Traditional Skills Nature Play Area, and the Gateway Donor Plaza. HTFC quickly realized that standardized play structures weren’t going to be versatile enough to meet the one-of-a-kind design. Working with J&D Penner and Crozier Agencies, HTFC developed customized play elements ranging from bastions to bison sculptures engaging children in social, active, and imaginative play at every turn. The play elements are hand carved and rendered by local artisans with more traditional slides and climbers built right in. “The play structures are entirely unique and challenge the visitor to decipher mysteries such as Red River cart-construction technology,” Giesbrecht says. “Children and parents can enjoy the playground purely for play’s sake or look deeper each time they visit to discover a new fun fact about the past.” For those keen to learn more, Parks Canada already runs interpretive programs in the park, while the Children’s Museum, the Winnipeg Children’s Festival, and the Manitoba Theatre for Young People already have plans to host events there. Large expanses of the park are covered with a colourful, specialized poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing that is accessible to all. A portion of the river of rubber will be flooded in the winter for can-skate activities sponsored by the newly returned Winnipeg Jets. Other winter activities include tobogganing and youth programming during Festival Du Voyageur. HTFC and Parks Canada consulted aboriginal elders, métis leaders, teachers, children, and immigrant families extensively prior to commencing construction. “By making sure we talked and listened to our future users, we were able to ensure that the design was on the right track,” Giesbrecht says. “This project really challenged us at HTFC. Since its opening, the park is overrun with visitors of all ages. It is amazing to see the public enjoying the space in a way that is even more fun and exciting than we originally imagined! It has been a great collaboration, and we are very proud of the park’s success.” CBQ


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Hands-On Construction At a Glance Location Saskatoon, SK Founded 2003 Employees 2 Specialty Mid- to upscale custom and spec homes Annual Sales $1–2 million

Above: The custom kitchen seen here is the result of Pegasus Homes’ hands-on approach and attention to detail.

Why Pegasus Homes has a stronger appreciation and understanding of building houses By Christopher Cussat

Since 2003, Pegasus Homes has been listening to

clients and building homes exactly the way they want. Located primarily in Saskatoon, and helmed by president Peter Bue (who throughout his life has had a persistent desire to be self-employed), Pegasus has made a name for itself with its spec and custom-built homes. The firm’s competitive edge lies in its dedication to plain, old hard work, its hands-on approach to projects, and its personalized philosophy towards dealing with clientele. For a long time, Bue knew that he wanted to start his own company someday. “I came from a farming background in southwest Saskatchewan and was on my

way to working for myself in that industry,” he says, “so I always had the desire to be self-employed.” After earning his degree in computer science and mathematics, Bue’s life took a “slight detour” for 17 years when he worked for Graham Construction and Graham Industrial. “But when the opportunity finally came up to work on my own, I jumped right in,” he adds. “I love construction much more than I have any other job I have ever had.” Today, Pegasus is a smaller firm that specializes in building custom and spec homes, as well as occasional renovations. In general, Bue’s target market is mid- to

december 2012


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Above: Another custom kitchen by Pegasus.


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upscale residences. “Each home typically takes about six months to build, and Pegasus averages roughly four homes per year,” he says. In addition, Pegasus is an Energy Star-certified builder and member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Saskatchewan, as well as the Saskatoon & Region Home Builders’ Association. Bue believes that his hands-on approach and attention to detail gives Pegasus an advantage and separates the firm from its competitors. “My first build was intentionally done without any air tools,” he recalls. “Having to drive every single nail forces a much stronger appreciation and understanding of the purpose of every component that is used in constructing a house.” At various times, he has built every part of a house, with the exception of plumbing and electrical. “I don’t consider myself an expert at any of the trades, but the knowledge I gained by doing the work is a huge advantage in dealing with the trades—whether it’s inspecting the work or solving problems that arise,” Bue explains. “Customers carefully scrutinize examples of your attention to detail in the finishes of a home—so they must be done right.” Since Pegasus’s inception, Bue has cultivated the attitude with himself, as well as with his employees and subcontractors, that each house is being built on behalf of the new owners—and that the design, components, and finish choices are theirs to make. “I know it sounds obvious to allow homeowners to make decisions about

their new homes, but I find it appalling how many companies restrict the choices available to the new owners in the interest of simplifying purchasing and design for the builder.” Moving forward, Bue plans to continue building high-quality homes in the area and to increase Pegasus’s knowledge base regarding best practices for highefficiency homes. He has done this by adopting the Pretty Good House standards mentality. The real key to Pegasus’s success, however, has everything to do with the fact that Bue is very hands-on in all aspects of construction. “Our goal is to have a reputation as being a building company that does everything according to best practice—not necessarily for the best return or least cost.” Bue says he has learned that building a business is stressful, and there are always issues that must be resolved, often immediately. And to some degree, this is unavoidable. He suggests that surrounding yourself with quality employees and subcontractors is the best way to minimize the stress and to problem-solve most efficiently when problems do arise. “All of my subcontractors are highly competent, but they are also good people to work with, and they do not turn minor problems into major ones—they are also willing to work with me to solve major problems if they should crop up,” Bue says. “Surrounding yourself with great people makes my job much easier.” CBQ

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Beyond Belleville Headquartered in Belleville, Ontario, Buddy Haegele Enterprises Ltd. has never stopped itself at the city limits By Benjamin van Loon At a Glance Buddy Haegele doesn't like to brag. He prefers to

let his work to speak for itself. In 1979, he founded Buddy Haegele Enterprises, a full-service contracting company headquartered in Belleville, Ontario—190 kilometres due west of Toronto. Doing everything from timber- and log-frame homes to high-end commercial and government building work, the 25-member team at Buddy Haegele Enterprises is equipped for design, architecture, building, and finishes. Before getting into construction at the end of 1980, Buddy honed his expertise as an auto mechanic, and— like a good mechanic—he believes in owning all of his own tools and equipment. It helps him keep his rates competitive and boosts efficiency at the jobsite—two of the distinct features that he believes set his business apart from the competition. “We do a lot of speciality timberwork, preengineering building construction, and contracting,” Buddy says. “There isn’t much we shy away from.” Facing changes in the job market, and seeking a new challenge, Buddy began framing homes and cottages in the ’80s, soon using his skill and natural entrepreneurial skill to become independent in 1981. “At that time, I had my brothers working for me, and we spent the next few years building log homes in Ontario,” Buddy says. “The economy was still rough at the time, but log homes were booming.” Looking to expand, Buddy was offered a franchise opportunity for selling preengineered commercial and industrial buildings. Though he was resistant to the invitation at first, he began speaking with some of his subcontracting partners and soon entered into an agreement with the franchiser. “After the first preengineered building I sold through the franchise, I got

my fee back,” Buddy says. “So our preengineered work really started to take off.” Utilizing this new niche opportunity, in 1985, Buddy’s close friend Mike Schrieder entered into a full partnership with Buddy Haegele Enterprises. Complemented by Schrieder’s crane-operating expertise, Buddy was able to move beyond mere residential and diversify the company’s services—a trait he continues to foster into 2013. “As we continued with our preengineered buildings, we began bidding some bigger jobs,” Buddy says. “We bid

Location Belleville, ON Founded 1979 Employees 35 Specialty General contracting, design, architecture, finishing, commercial, governmental Annual Sales $10 million

“We do timberwork on industrial, commercial, church, and arena structures everywhere, from the Caribbean to the United States and Canada.” buddy haegle, founder

on jobs at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton and Kingston, and we got both jobs. That was our ‘in’ at the base, and we continue to work with them now.” In addition to its large-scale preengineering and general-contracting work, Buddy Haegele Enterprises

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also continues to specialize in timber installation, profitable and are seeking to establish permanent preservation, and restoration. “Timber has always storage structures. been a speciality of ours,” Buddy says. “It requires a lot “Between the farming work and all of the other of knowledge and work, and this is something we’ve projects we do, we never do any advertising,” Buddy says. done since the beginning.” Mike handles this part of “All of the work we get is by word of mouth. Sometimes it the business. almost seems like we get more work than we can handle. “We do timberwork on industrial, commercial, church, It’s a good problem to have.” CBQ and arena structures everywhere, from the Caribbean to the United States and Canada,” Buddy says. Buddy Haegele Enterprises moved into its Belleville location in 2005, but with business continuing to grow, Buddy is already making plans for expansion. “Things have gone very well for us,” he says. “In 2011, our sales were $20 million. It was our best year yet.” However, not totally unaffected by the economic depression in the United States, Buddy Haegele Enterprises also continues to diversify its offerings, making otherwise unexpected movements into the farming markets, as Canadian farmers become more

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Seaside Sustainability A new home by BTH Construction Ltd. establishes an eco-conscious precedent for a coastal community By Jennifer Nunez At a Glance Located on the quaint Saanich Peninsula, just

north of Victoria, British Columbia, 8010 Turgoose occupies 135 feet of beachfront property. The home marks an evolution for BTH Construction’s Signature Homes series. Two years ago, the company joined Built Green, and it is now incorporating sustainability into every aspect of its current projects. For 8010, this meant the stunning locale would be approached with unprecedented sensitivity and planning. Brant Hoff, president of BTH, acquired a Built Green score of 185 for the project, significantly exceeding the minimum Platinum requirement of 140. It’s a watermark for the builder, who’s been constructing homes for 24

years. “We’ve gone with the greenest technology that we could for this home and still stayed on budget,” Hoff says. The three-storey, 4,800-square-foot home uses an air-to-water heat pump for domestic and in-floor heating for a fraction of the cost when compared to electric or gas options. “Heat pumps couldn’t do it before, but now the technology is there,” Hoff explains. Located on the east side of the Saanich Peninsula, 8010 Turgoose is only one of five waterfront properties facing west, giving the owners a perfect sunset view over the bay. Because of this unique west-facing location, heat-sensitive blinds were installed that close when temperatures in the home go up.

Location Sidney, BC Founded 2003 Specialty High-end custom homes

Above: Forty-foot steel beams serve as the framework for this under-construction seaside home.

december 2012


industry insights

“The other problem with building I-beams and wood on a house is it is all piecework. You can’t rush on anything.” brant hoff, president

The home also strove for high EnerGuide ratings, which meant having minimal air leaks. This was a major undertaking, especially as the home featured 25-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. “On the exterior windward side of the house, we sprayed all the walls with two-pound polar-foam polyurethane spray-foam insulation, and it’s an excellent air barrier,” Hoff explains. “Usually on the windward side is where you will feel air leaks. We did that on all three floors. It costs more, but you have less air penetration, and that saves money.” A new practice BTH has adopted is using fiberglass windows, which Hoff says has a 20–40 percent better R-value and has a greater sheer strength than traditional windows. “The fiberglass virtually has no

expansion or contraction, which in turn resists glass-seal failure,” he says. For the home, BTH installed cabinetry and doors called Green Teak, which is a replenishing wood source grown on a plantation. “We aren’t taking any of the Teak out of the jungles,” Hoff says. “It’s very green—hence the name.” Other notable features of 8010 Turgoose include a 9’ x 5’ solid-fir entrance door with a stainless-steel insert on a pivot that opens with the touch of a finger; a 29-foot concrete feature wall that stretches from the basement to the top of the third floor; concrete floors that are ground down and finished in a terrazzo look throughout the home (including the main-floor deck); and 30 feet of folding doors that open to an oceanfacing deck. The spans in 8010 Turgoose required the use of steel beams instead of wood, which posed a significant challenge for both this home and many of the homes BTH builds today. “Steel expands and contracts differently than wood,” Hoff explains. “You have to be careful [that] you don’t have a lot of shrinkage on the wood, because steel isn’t going to shrink.” In order to ensure that shrinking problems didn’t arise in the future, BTH had to be sure the moisture content was down to 8–10 percent on all the wood. “The other problem with building I-beams and wood on a house is it is all piecework,” Hoff explains. “You can’t rush on anything. There’s a beam here and another column there, and you have to tie it all in and make it airtight. It’s complicated.” CBQ

featured project lockside properties 213 Always up for a challenge, BTH recently built four ocean-view luxury homes along Lochside Drive, all of which featured elevators for travel from one floor to the next. The homes were located on the side of a sandbank where an engineered 280-foot Completed: 2012 concrete REDI-Rock wall Key Features: Mixed-use system was built. The wall amenities and LEED started off at 8 feet and rose Gold certification up to 20 feet high. “House foundations and walls were as high as 22 feet,” says BTH president Brant Hoff. “It was a pretty insane project.”


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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industry insights

Customized Construction Nathan Reid of Reid Homes wants you to have your home, your way By Benjamin van Loon

At a Glance Location Cambridge, ON Founded 1947 Employees 45 Specialty Custom floor planning, home construction, prefinished basement promotion Annual Sales $1.5 million


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In 1947, Melville Reid wanted to build a home. Now, 65

years later—powered by three generations of builders— Reid Homes has overseen the construction of hundreds of residential projects throughout southeastern Ontario. Currently operated by Melville’s grandson, Nathan Reid, Reid Homes employs a team of 45 and utilizes the company’s long-standing reputation and multigenerational expertise to—as its slogan promises—build “your home, your way.” “My grandfather started building in 1947, and my father, Richard, followed in his footsteps,” says Reid, who serves as president of the company. “I did the same, and officially incorporated Reid Homes in 2000.” Reid Homes, which builds everything from singlefamily homes to townhomes and condominiums, serves the areas of Cambridge, Kitchener, Guelph, and London, Ontario, also offering comprehensive interior-design services for the homes it builds. But what really sets Reid Homes apart, Reid says, is its ability to offer collaborative floor-plan customization. “It’s important to help a customer make their home the way they want it built,” he says. “A lot of builders don’t do floor-plan changes, but this is integral for home construction.” This idea of customization is something Reid brought with him when he was introduced to the business at a young age. He considers himself adept at working with people, able to translate client preference into project actualization. “In simple words, I like working with and meeting new people, and this is how the business moves,” Reid says. As an extension of this, Reid Homes also offers a dynamic Meet the Builder program. “We pride ourselves on our flexibility,” Reid says. “One of main efforts we have is providing weekend availability with our Meet The Builder program, which is a nice touch for working folks who still want direct interaction with the company building their home.” Of the recent projects under construction at Reid Homes, including the construction of the new 80-home Noble Ridge subdivision in Rockwood, the 118-unit Carriage Condos are one of the company’s more

streamlined efforts. The two- and three-bedroom condos have an average of 1,300 square feet, and sell at a range of $212,000 each. And their location, at the edge of conservation lands, provides a backdrop that offers a unique and participatory amenity to the condo residents. Despite the Carriage Condos’ proximity to the conservation lands, sustainability is not always a boasted effort by Reid Homes. Rather, it is upheld as a commonsense goal for construction. “Baseline building standards have practically made sustainability standard,” Reid says. “What is important for us is giving the customer the house they want, not the house we want.” As an extension of his person-to-person interaction at Reid Homes, Reid also operates Nathan Reid Holdings, a rental company operating 80 homes throughout southeastern Ontario. “It keeps me busy, but it’s an

“What is important for us is giving the customer the house they want, not the house we want.” Nathan Reid, president

integral aspect of what I do in the business,” Reid says. Aside from continuing to close more sales and expand his range of work, Reid says one of his primary goals for Reid Homes is keeping things full steam ahead. “Having been in the business for so long,” he says, “what is still exciting to me is moving from subdivision to subdivision, seeing what you’ve accomplished over the years.” CBQ

A Message from Stantec Stantec provides professional consulting services in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management, and project economics for infrastructure and facilities projects. Our services are provided on projects around the world through approximately 12,000 employees operating out of more than 190 locations in North America and 4 locations internationally. A Message from Priority Mechanical Priority Mechanical is pleased to be associated with Reid Homes on its residential building projects as its HVAC contractor of choice. We look forward to growing our business along with Reid Homes and working with it on its many sites throughout southwestern Ontario.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photo: Olivier Gariepy

industry insights

If These Walls Could Speak Petrone Architectes blends innovative design with hard-core science to keep old buildings fresh By Julie Knudson

The way Mario Petrone sees it, every building has a

story to tell. As the principal of Petrone Architectes, he’s keen to keep that story flowing, even when a venerable old building goes under the knife. “We try to respect their age,” says Petrone, whose team is often called to work on aging buildings. Indeed, respect and a deep love for old structures drives much of the firm’s designs. “If we have to add a few square feet to a building, I want to keep the old signature

independent of the new,” Petrone says. “And in time—50 or 100 years from now—everyone will be able to read the story easily.” For an aging structure’s tale to endure, the building envelope must be maintained as time and weather take their toll. Petrone has become a go-to expert for projects that involve things like deteriorating roofs and leaky curtain walls, applying his love for ingenuity with his regard for the craftsmanship and design of yesterday. “Our real specialty is creativity mixed with buildingenvelope research,” he says. Instead of wide-scale replacements of components such as windows, Petrone prefers to leave as much of the original structure intact as possible. “For example, the wood frame may still be very good 200 years later, so we don’t want to change just to change,” he says. Through careful planning and an in-depth understanding of how a building’s many parts work together to form a cohesive whole, Petrone is able to renovate older structures to withstand many more decades of use without reducing their beauty or sense of belonging. No matter the building’s age, each of Petrone’s designs follows a path from concept to construction that is a lesson in patience and communication. Petrone believes in a strong connection between his clients and his team, which allows each project to become all it can be—and

At a Glance Locations Longueuil, QC Bromont, QC Founded 1978 Employees 9 Specialty Building envelope design Annual Projects 70+

Above: Petrone Architectes designed this home in Bromont, QC, to promote sustainable development, energy effectiveness, and originality of design.

december 2012


industry insights

sometimes that’s a lot more than the client initially assumes is possible. “Most clients don’t know about the technical aspect or science of their building,” Petrone says. As the relationship develops, each client “becomes near to me,” Petrone adds, and the client’s confidence in the team’s skill grows. By blending education with in-depth conversations, Petrone pushes the boundaries to deliver far more than the client’s original expectations. He is able to infuse more creativity in the final design, giving clients more than they originally hoped for. “Form, colour, concrete, glass, steel, and wood are the ingredients, and I like to work with all of them,” Petrone says. His affinity for vibrancy shows in much of the firm’s work. From the rich primary hues that clad the steel structures and capture the essence at Ski Bromont, to the panes of azure, rose, and lemon glass that welcome visitors to L’hôtel de ville de Longueuil, the team seems unable to design a structure that doesn’t catch the eye. “I try to express the optimist in every building, and I try to deliver this optimism in concordance with the function of the building,” Petrone says. And when a design goes beyond conventional, Petrone says, it’s likely that half of the people won’t like it. “This is the choice of the architect,” he says. “My choice is to push creativity a step ahead.” CBQ


december 2012

featured project maria-goretti park “Wow, that was fun to do!” says Mario Petrone, when asked about the recent project his firm completed at Maria-Goretti Park. Petrone’s team oversaw the architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture of a children’s services building with the first wheelchair-accessible outdoor pool in Montréal. Used only during the summer, the building was done in uninsulated concrete prefab panels, with a blue roof and brilliant red posts. The interior colour palette reflects each area’s use, and Size: 2,500 square feet incorporates pastel green, pink, blue, and Completed: 2011 yellow. Squeezed into a corner of the park, the building includes a courtyard inside the Key Feature: Ludic design and colours, prefab concrete, main entrance, where access can be blocked and efficient functionality with a large, yellow rolling door.

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

industry insights

While some builders merely talk about making

Building a Reputation Since 1984, Gorman-Mazzon Limited has built a network the old-fashioned way—by word of mouth By Benjamin van Loon

diverse client relationships, Lou Mazzon is actually out in the field, making connections. As the owner and president of Gorman-Mazzon, founded in 1984, Mazzon has made it his goal to bring Gorman-Mazzon into its third decade by keeping its options—and partnerships— diverse and unique. “I grew up in the business,” Mazzon says. “My father worked with a construction company, and I always went to work with him. From 13, I was cleaning up, working in the office, taking messages … After high school, I took a three-year course in architectural technology, and I’ve been in the business ever since.” After a stint with an interior-design firm, Mazzon returned to the business he had grown up with, later teaming with Earl Gorman to form Gorman-Mazzon Limited. Though Gorman is now pursuing other ventures, Mazzon still works in the field, cultivating long-standing relationships with a wide range of clientele. “Gorman and Anat Davidzon are still the driving partners in a lot of our

At a Glance Location Toronto, ON Founded 1984 Employees 6 Specialty Custom-home construction, offices, and restaurants Annual Sales $2.4 million

Above: Since 2006, Gorman-Mazzon has overseen the construction of 10 Aroma locations, with 8 more planned over the next year.

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industry insights

restaurant projects and partnerships,” Mazzon says. “We really like to let our work speak for itself. We don’t tender any of our projects, and we base our work on our reputation.” This reputation extends throughout Ontario, where GormanMazzon has overseen the construction of hundreds of homes throughout eastern Canada. However, through strategic partnerships, Gorman-Mazzon has become the main contractor for the Aroma Espresso Bar chain, which is headquartered in Israel—a partnership secured by Earl Gorman and Anat Davidzon. “Aroma has locations all over the world, but all of the drawings, designs, and details we get for our Toronto projects come straight from Israel,” Mazzon says. “We use a local architect on the projects here, and then we hire our own mechanical and structural engineers to build the shops here in Canada.” Negotiating time and language differences are a proprietary clause for international partnerships, but by maintaining flexibility and open lines of communication, Gorman-Mazzon has already overseen the construction of 10 Aroma locations since 2006, with eight more

“No matter who we’re working with, we work to provide quality service and let our work speak for itself.” lou mazzon, president

featured project majesty court With temperature regulated by nine air handlers, adjustable by touch-screen and remote technical controls, and other energy-efficient climate control amenities— such as in-floor heating, spray-foam insulation, a high-efficiency furnace, and remote monitors—this home sets a high standard for residences in the Toronto area. “We used a lot of natural, locally sourced wood and stone for the home,” Mazzon says. “There is nothing artificial in the materials for this home.” Majesty Court also features a central, modifiable bar area that can be transformed to an indoor or outdoor setting at the Location: Vaughan, ON push of a button. “Making a Size: 10,000 square feet home like this is about catering of finished area to a high standard of comfort, Completed: 2012 but also saving significant costs over an extended period of Key Feature: Alternate time,” Mazzon says. indoor-outdoor bar area


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shops planned for completion over the next 12 months. “This relationship has worked out really well,” Mazzon says. “It’s an upscale coffee shop, and the design is really cutting-edge for coffee shops in Toronto.” “There’s not a big difference taking our work between retail and residential projects,” Mazzon says. “Budgets really take precedence in our projects, and the challenges of working within a budget is almost universal across the building industry.” As construction continues to trend towards sustainability, keeping projects on budget is a welcome challenge. Mazzon prefers a hands-on approach to the building process, which allows him to leverage budgetary questions by offering customized service. “Generally, we work with clients a year prior to construction, two years during construction, and then a year after construction. It’s an ongoing relationship, and many of my clients have become friends,” Mazzon says. Gorman-Mazzon also works to incorporate green and sustainable elements in all of its projects, when the work allows. While often more costly on the front end, the cost savings of spray-foam insulation, radiant heating, multiple air handlers, LED lighting, and other energy-efficient features allows Gorman-Mazzon to bring a signature touch to every project. “No matter who we’re working with,” Mazzon says, “we work to provide quality service and let our work speak for itself.” CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly


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through the years

Advance Design & Construction Ltd. 1990 Friendship formed

It started with steel. In 1990, friends Patricia Basso, Jeff Sohn, and Clarence Briggs—founders and current principals of Advance Design & Construction (ADC)—all found themselves working in the same office at Mid-west Steel Products, selling steel products to various agricultural projects in the region. “Clarence started in 1982, and both Jeff and I started in 1989,” Basso says, “but when we were working together, things just seemed to gel, and we developed a cooperative sense of how to run things.” Throughout the following decade, the trio became proficient within the niche agricultural industry, so they began to drive the company to move their product into a broader, commercial arena. Weathering ownership transitions at Mid-west Steel Products and leveraging the compound range of their collective experience, the trio left their home company to found ADC in 2005. Specializing in design-build for commercial projects and renovations, and utilizing a blend of steel, wood frame, and brick-block for its custom-designed buildings, ADC continues to make a name for itself in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and beyond. —Benjamin van Loon

Patricia Basso is hired as the bookkeeper at Mid-west Steel Products, where both Jeff Sohn and Clarence Briggs have been hired as salespeople and estimators. “There were a few other people at the company at that time,” says Briggs, “but it was mostly just the three of us and the owner who were working out of the office.”


1991–2003 Moving into new arenas

While more than 90 percent of Mid-west Steel’s work was dedicated to agricultural projects, Sohn and Briggs begin seeking other opportunities in commercial markets as agricultural business begins to recede. “Commercial work was steadily increasing, so we started to hone our interest on those projects,” Basso says. With new projects coming in, the trio also introduces the company to computers—IBM PC XT 286es—which Sohn and Briggs purchase and integrate with the business on their own dime. 2005 ADC is formed

The owner of Mid-west Steel Products, who was in business with a few silent partners, began to transition out of the business. Basso, Sohn, and Briggs begin to assume more responsibility, and when the new partner assumed ownership of the company in 2003, the trio enacted plans to move on and begin a company of their own. “As new markets began to open up, we realized there was no better time than the present to start a business of our own,” Briggs says. In June 2005, Advance Design & Construction is officially incorporated.


december 2012


Canadian Builders Quarterly


2007 Award winners

“When we hit the ground running in 2005, business took off really quickly,” Sohn says. “We couldn’t find office space, so we were working out of our homes. The first major project for ADC was Keystone Plaza, which Clarence designed on his deck in the summer of 2005.” By 2007, ADC had already been presented with four notable recognitions: a Certificate of Recognition for Safety through Alberta Construction Safety Association and the 2006 Rookie of the Year, Outstanding Builder, and Million Dollar Builder awards, presented by Robertson Building Systems. ADC, which began leasing its offices at 23 Southwest Drive in 2005, also signs a mortgage for the purchase of the building in September 2007.

2012 2009 Growing fast

ADC completes its first major out-of-town project: the headquarters for Midfield Supply in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Darcy Heidinger, technical assistant and head of the drafting team, is added to the ADC roster. ADC also completes work on three new commercial and retail buildings in the Box Springs Business Park in northwest Medicine Hat. Briggs is awarded the 2009 Retail Building of the Year Award for the Westside Common Strip Mall. Basso is elected president of the Medicine Hat Construction Association and ranked 17 in Profit 100’s Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs. 2011 Oil boom

With developers tapping into oil reserves throughout the western provinces, ADC again expands its services and begins construction of buildings for Big Country Energy in Saskatchewan. ADC had done work for BCE in Medicine Hat, and BCE asked ADC to build a 9,600-square-foot office and warehouse for BCE’s development in Saskatchewan. “We have a lot of long-standing relationships with our clients, and we will to go wherever they want us to build,” Sohn says. 2012 Upward & outward

ADC completes work on the two-year, multimillion-dollar construction project for Southland Properties in Medicine Hat. The three-building development includes an 11-bay Retail Strip Mall, the Cheesecake Café, and Cyclepath & Boarding House. Sohn is awarded the 2011 Retail Building of the Year Award for North America by Roberson Building Systems for the Cyclepath & Boarding House building. “We really value the opportunities we have to work with our clients,” Basso says, “and we look forward to more growth as projects continue to come in.”

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december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase CCM2 Scéno Plus Inc. Open Practice Superkül Inc. TS Williams Construction Ltd. Thibodeau Architecture + Design Jump Branding & Design Inc.


50 54 57 60 63 65 68

By Laura Williams-Tracy

Over the course of four decades, Côté Cabot Morel Architectes has over evolved into a sophisticated design firm led by a father-and-son team increasingly focused on a broad array of projects. Founded in the mid-1970s in

1. The Exhibition Centre of Sherbrooke

Québec City as Côté Chabot Architectes, the firm underwent a transformation in 1987 when Pierre Morel joined the company to form Côté Chabot Morel Architects. In 1996, Pierre’s son, Mathieu, joined the firm. It now operates under the name CCM2, and the fatherand-son team pursue a diverse portfolio of projects both public and private. The firm has particular experience in

education facilities, halls of justice, exhibition centres, sports facilities, automobile dealerships, and housing projects. The firm includes 18 professionals and technicians. “We strongly believe that every building is an important part of the urbanscape, thus contributing to its quality,” Pierre says. “Every building should contribute to its user’s quality of life.”

1 The Exhibition Centre of Sherbrooke


Sherbrooke, QC Started 2010 Completed 2011 Size 103,000 square feet

Photos: Stephane Groleau

Building Type Exhibition hall

As an economic and cultural centre, as well as a hub for higher learning, the City of Sherbrooke serves as a trendsetter for the Province of Québec. CCM2, which has a long history of producing distinctive and original architectural concepts, conceived a large exhibition hall that would serve as a gathering place for the community to view the newest trends in the marketplace. The Exhibition Centre of Sherbrooke is a large glass hall flooded with natural light, located in the city’s commercial district. CCM2 was hired by the City of

december 2012


Photo: Stephane Groleau

project showcase 1

Sherbrooke to develop the building’s concept, conduct site analysis and create the site plan, design the performance specs, make materials selection, and create the preliminary drawings. CCM2 then oversaw construction by Guy Sebas Inc. (the general contractor) and work by Jean Mailhot Architect, Inc. (the executing architect), to ensure the concept maintained its original integrity through delivery. “The biggest challenge was to conceive a building that would carry a distinctive signature in a commercial area and contribute to the attractiveness of the area,” says Pierre, who serves president of CCM2. “The main structure of the building is a long-span steel frame, thus limiting the presence of columns and contributing to the flexibility of space design for the exhibitors,” Pierre says. The exhibitions planned are for large public shows, such as car shows, boat shows, trade shows, and for large private or public assemblies. The expansive project includes exhibition halls, meeting rooms, offices, a central hall, a ticket office, and a restaurant. Additionally, the main 60,000-square-foot exhibition hall can be divided into three areas when various events are taking place simultaneously. The exterior is mostly covered by glass and steel cladding, so visitors to the centre see a large glass hall that shows partially the internal activity and products on display. A pixels pattern on the exterior glass surface is created by a semitransparent film, which adds a light veil to the interior activities and subtle texture to the glass


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wall. Meanwhile, an angular shape rises from the outside to highlight the main entrance. Yan Laplante, a young and talented architect at CCM2, collaborated on the concept for the building envelope. Bright yellow punctuates the interior and exterior of the ultra-modern building. This colour sequence animates the façade and adds a festive character to the centre. Inside, a Dali lighting system provides flexibility for exhibitors. All of the building’s services, including water, electricity, phone, and Internet, are incorporated in the floor slab and organized to serve any 10’ x 10’ exhibition grid system. To keep within budget, the building’s floors are concrete slabs. Such design options enabled the project to be completed under budget while presenting a distinctive architectural image. The project is evidence that CCM2 employs the newest technology to execute its designs. For instance, the Exhibition Centre of Sherbooke was realized in 3-D imaging before construction. “The functional aspects of the building are clearly appreciated by the city, exhibitors, and the public,” Pierre says. CBQ A message from soprema

For the past several years, Soprema and CCM2 (Côté Chabot Morel) Architects have worked together on the development of major projects, allowing both firms to extend their limits and move forward. This close collaboration, developed over the years, now guarantees the success of both firms.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Scéno Plus Inc. Patrick Bergé’s passion for theatre began at the age of 13, when he began working as a production assistant. Observing that existing venues did not serve artists well, he obtained an architecture degree

1. Revel Resorts

By Julie Schaeffer

from the Laval University School of Architecture in 1981, and four years later launched the Montréal-based Scéno Plus. His goal: make a mark on the entertainment world by offering innovative design and original construction. Today, the team at Scéno Plus—which offers architecture, interior design, theatre design, specialized equipment design,

and multimedia immersion services under one roof—is responsible for some of the entertainment world’s most stunning venues, including the first two permanent Cirque du Soleil theatres in Las Vegas, the Colosseum for Celine Dion at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and the New Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, also in Las Vegas.

1 Revel Resorts Atlantic City, NJ Started 2007 Completed 2012 Size 6.2 million square feet Building Type Beachfront resort, entertainment venue, hotel, and casino

When Kevin DeSanctis, CEO of Revel Entertainment Group, originally contacted Montréal entertainment design firm Scéno Plus about the $2.4 billion, 6.2-millionsquare-foot Revel Resorts project in Atlantic City, New Jersey, he was only looking for the firm to design three theatres. Soon, however, that all changed. “After three weeks of working with Revel Resorts, it asked us to design the casino as well,” says Bergé, president of Scéno Plus. “When we explained that we didn’t do casinos, and if we did one we would bring our entertainment background and theatre expertise to it, Revel Resorts said that was fine, and we eventually ended up designing all of the resort and entertainment spaces—a total of 500,000 square feet.” At the heart of the complex is the 130,000-square-foot Revelry Casino, which, as the highlight of the project, was designed to provide a theatrical experience. “When you


walk into the casino, it’s like you’re walking on a large stage and you’re part of the show,” Bergé says. The casino’s design begins with a new kind of navigation. Most casinos have marble or wood pathways, and when you step off them onto a carpeted gaming area, you feel like a player, says Bergé. That structure, however, divides circulation from gaming, and Scéno Plus artistic director Valérie Pageau sought a different experience at Revelry Casino. “We created one single surface, not for the aesthetic, but because it forces everyone, gamblers and nongamblers alike, to walk through the casino and enjoy the vibe,” she says. Different zones, called “neighbourhoods,” have been designed to break any patterns and set different moods across the space. “We were careful to design the right environment for each game,” Pageau explains, noting that this was accomplished through a number of unusual design elements. Wooden canopies and ribbon kites, for example, are suspended from a high ceiling at different heights, delineating spaces. Scéno Plus also called in Montréal-based lightingdesign firm Lightemotion, which used Lycos theatrical projectors and lights to

december 2012


project showcase

illuminate the different areas of the casino as if they were different areas of a stage Other entertainment spaces, such as the Social and Ovation Hall, complement the casino. “The Social, a 700-capacity show bar in the middle of the casino, has all kinds of free shows, so people are encouraged to go in and go out,” Bergé says. “Ovation Hall, a 5,500-capacity multifunctional theatre one level above the casino, draws guests out into the casino when a show is over.” The gaming floor itself is quite the experience as well. “If I had to use one word to describe the Revelry gaming floor, it would be ‘unpredictable,’” Pageau says. “Not one square foot is same, and the ambiance is constantly changing. We didn’t want to create the impression in the casino that it’s midnight 24 hours a day. As the sun rises, for example, guests enjoy a view of the Atlantic Ocean with an abundance of natural light. As the evening approaches, the theatrical lighting intensifies, with dramatic, deeper shades that mimic a club, reflecting off the suspended design elements. And it’s not just the light that changes; it’s the whole ambiance, including the type and level of music. The space evolves as the day goes on.” Guests can view this spectacle from a theatrical catwalk on the mezzanine level. “People told us we couldn’t allow guests to peek down to the casino floor because they would see other guests’ cards and take pictures, but Kevin was supportive of our vision,” Bergé says. “He picked a firm that had never designed a casino because he wanted something really different, and he encouraged us to push the limits,” Pageau adds. “The fact that Scéno Plus had never designed a casino before was precisely one of the reasons they were selected for this project,” says Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis. “Revel was designed to be a very different resort experience, and with Scéno Plus we were able to create a gaming floor that had a theatrical, dramatic feel. It is a place you can use as a stage to be seen or simply explore what you see.” CBQ




A message from lightemotion

Lightemotion has an impressive portfolio of lighting design achievements in interior and exterior architectural projects, museum, cultural and commercial centers. They are a key player in several of the projects in Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal having just completed the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme of Place of Arts, the exterior lighting of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the architectural lighting of the facade of the Cinémathèque québécoise. Other important projects were in Turin and Barolo, the Ajax Experience in Amsterdam, the dramatic lighting design for the Canada Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, opening in 2012 and include the lighting design of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. They have just completed the architectural and scenic lighting design of the Revel Casino and many diverse public spaces throughout the Revel resort in Atlantic City, are designing the dynamic architectural lighting of Complexe Desjardins and several international museum projects.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Open Practice As the name might suggest, Open Practice takes a collaborative approach to architecture. After eight years of

1. 58 Upper Hillsborough

By Chris Allsop

practicing in Boston, principal Aaron Stavert founded the firm in 2008, when he returned to his home territory of Prince Edward Island. Currently a team of two, Open Practice works on a mix of residential design and smaller commercial work, and also offers furniture

design. “We form project-specific teams, identifying collaborators based on what’s specifically needed with each project,” Stavert says. “Quite often, we look beyond architects—at craftspeople, for example, and other consultants, to create a team appropriate for that job.”

1 58 Upper Hillsborough Charlottetown, PE Started 2011 Completed 2012 Size 2,350 square feet Building Type Residential

58 Upper Hillsborough began with a search by Aaron Stavert and his partner to find a place to build a family home. Realizing that he wasn’t going to find something on Prince Edward Island that conformed to the high energy-efficiency and sustainability standards that he was looking for, he decided to build the first home on the island province seeking LEED certification. 58 Upper Hillsborough was also the first LEED project to be undertaken by Open Practice, although Stavert did have experience with LEED from his time practicing in Boston. In keeping with his firm’s philosophy, Stavert began the project by implementing an integrated design process involving a mechanical engineer and a builder right at the start, prior to the formulation of any design ideas, an approach that Stavert describes as “invaluable.” The lot that Stavert and his partner eventually secured for their home was a relatively small urban lot, typical for the original downtown but significantly smaller than new subdivisions. A practical challenge that the team encountered early on was the lack of available data when it came to valuing the LEED-inclined house. “It was an education process to sit down with the appraiser and explain the benefits and higher resale value from lower operating costs, durable construction methods, improved indoor-air quality, etc.,” Stavert says. The contemporary design of the home was another



december 2012


project showcase 1

unusual aspect of the project that ran against the local grain in heritage-heavy Charlottetown. Despite the trailblazing nature of the project and a market that can sometimes make product sourcing a challenge, Stavert found that, as with anywhere, making the decisions early enough in the process meant that everything remained on schedule. “We had to work with some companies outside of Prince Edward Island, but challenges are also opportunities,” he says. “For example, the wood siding on the house was supplied by a local company that sources all of its wood in Atlantic Canada, and it uses a plant-based, natural stain. That was an opportunity that I may not have had if I was in another part of the country.” The use of expensive or possibly more-difficult-to-source technology was kept to a minimum through Open Practice’s application of a nonsystems approach to green building. The focus was on creating an airtight, well-insulated box, working around the principles of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” This straightforward philosophy was realized in the home’s orientation for passive solar, minimized north-facing windows, and its underground, 800-gallon rainwater-collection tank that was created from a recycled dairy tank. The wood siding on the home provided another opportunity for greenmindedness. “You’re building a traditional house with wood-beveled siding or drop siding on it, and nobody wants the four-foot lengths,” Stavert says. “We found that the wood manufacturer had stacks of these pieces of siding, which he was burning to heat his buildings. Working within a four-foot module, we developed a vertical batten detail to create a pattern that added texture to the house and allowed us to align the short lengths of siding. In working with a local manufacturer, we were able to identify an opportunity, and integrate into the design what, in this case, was a waste product.”


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Despite the small lot, or because of it, Stavert and his partner had a strong desire to maximize the outdoor space on the property. To this end, the house has a smaller first-floor plan than its second floor. The second floor is rotated 90 degrees to the first floor, which creates a second-floor roof deck protected from the weather, while the six-foot cantilever of the second floor, toward the street, creates covered outdoor space at the ground level. This connection to the outdoors is emphasized by the floor-to-ceiling glass skylights in the master bedroom and main bathroom, which open up the space and bring in daylight. An 18-foot entry wall divides the house from the car-parking area, creating some privacy for the front yard. Through this design origami, Stavert and his partner have successfully secured 3,100 square feet of outdoor space on a 3,800-square-foot lot—a real feat indeed.

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

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december 2012




december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

Superkül Inc.

By Benjamin van Loon

Superkül doesn’t pretend it’s anything that it’s not. Headquartered in Toronto and championing an essence of allayed modernism and efficient design, the 12-member architectural firm is

1. Split House

assertively cool. With no braggadocio beyond its diversity of expertise, Superkül does everything from design to master planning for small- and large-scale residential, commercial, and institutional projects. Founded by Andre D’Elia in 2002, the firm is currently headed by D’Elia’s partner and wife, Meg Graham, who joined Superkül in 2005

and currently splits her time between design work at the firm and professorial duties at the University of Toronto. “We focus almost exclusively on modern design, and gravitate towards projects that, in some way, break the mould,” says Graham. “We’re interested in ambitious projects, no matter the scale.” Super cool.

1 Split House


Toronto, ON Started 2005 Completed 2009 Size 3,000 square feet

Photos: Shai Gil

Building Type Residential

Located on the fringes of a historical district in Toronto, and responsive to the fabric of the surrounding residential context, the Split House gets its name from the literal split—in plan and section— running through the centre of the structure. The split is initially reflected and reinforced in the material and visual dichotomy on the frontal exterior of the home, and as it moves through the structure, it promotes a bilateral sense of privacy and transparency. “This project started out as a renovation, but the clients—a couple— wanted a home that was intimate for them but also appropriate for hosting up to 30 people,” Graham says. “It made more sense to start fresh.” Though the home isn’t located in the historic district per se, Superkül nonetheless ensured the home’s design was tied in proportionally and materially with the neighbouring properties. By

relating the dimensions of the Split House to the adjoining sites, it stands as an aesthetically distinct structure without being intrusive or presumptuous. The front of the home communicates a sense of privacy and partial opacity, whereas the rear remains open and transparent to the backyard, integrating itself with the pool area and exterior landscape.

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project showcase 1

“The transparency and openness towards the backyard is inspired by the client’s need for a social interior/exterior space,” Graham says. This transparency is further emphasized by the split in the home, which extends from stern to bow, and floor to ceiling, allowing for a thoroughgoing introduction of natural lighting and ventilation. Additionally, a bridge connects separate portions of the second floor, allowing for unique interaction with the interior space. “The home is designed to create comfortable intimate moments for the day-to-day life for the couple, though we built in a sense of spectacle to the home to allow for openness and the ability for the couple to host large groups of friends and family,” says Graham. The distinctiveness of the split “boxes” at the front of the home is reinforced by their material difference. Beige buff brick binds the garage half, and the entrance half is clad in dark ipe—a tropical wood that requires annual care but serves to introduce a natural warmth to the project. Ipe is also used on the deck and fencing in the back of the home, and is matched on the interior with kumaru flooring—another dark, tropical hardwood. The Boffi kitchen, Canadian limestone fireplace, and dark bronze-anodized-aluminum windows round out the material flourishes of the home. “With the Split House, as with all of our homes, we also bumped up the required amount of insulation to tighten the envelope, and we also incorporated other passively sustainable elements, such as slight roof overhangs and passive ventilation through the home,” Graham explains. Due in part to its “split,” the project has a greater sense of transparency between interior and exterior spaces than standard modern homes, which continues to work to the credit of the Split House. “We never have projects that look the same in terms of expression,” Graham says. “We have a lot of fun working with our clients, and I believe that is really reflected in this home.”


december 2012


Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase


TS Williams Construction Ltd. Taran Williams founded TS Williams Construction in 1997 with one goal in mind: to build stunning homes. Based in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, TS Williams Construction specializes in start-to-finish, high-end custom-home building throughout central Vancouver

1. Ronald Residence

1 Ronald Residence Nainamo, BC Started 2010 Completed 2011

Photos: Alec Watson

Size 7,500 square feet Building Type Residential Cost $3 million

Island. Fielding two to three projects a year, the firm offers services in everything from conventional- and timber-home construction to SIP enclosures, timberframe cutting, renovations, additions, roof systems, full working drawings, comprehensive engineering services, and 3-D imaging for project planning. “We focus much more on quality rather than quantity,” says Williams,

By Benjamin van Loon

president. “We spend a lot of time designing, so we’ve developed a reputation for building lasting high-end homes.” Winner of multiple awards, such as a SAM Award for Best Custom Home in 2009, the firm continues to incorporate new, sustainable, and advanced technological elements in all of its projects, setting a high standard for custom homes throughout Vancouver Island.

The Ronald Residence is a $3.5 million estate-style home built in a high-end mountaintop subdivision in Nainamo, British Columbia. Incorporating diverse sustainable elements—such as geothermal wells, maximized R-values, and sustainably sourced construction materials— the 7,500-square-foot residence also features dramatic mountain views overlooking the lakes and forests of Vancouver Island. Though construction on the residence began in September of 2010, planning for the project began much earlier. “We sometimes spend up to a year designing a home,” Williams says. “We prefer to build homes that we ourselves have designed because we want our work to reflect our style.” Built for a retired couple that was seeking to relocate to the West Coast, the Ronald Residence was conceived as a dream home for the residents. “The clients really wanted what they called ‘an awardwinning house,’ so they expected a lot of bells, whistles, and special features,” Williams says. While the clients were involved in the design process for the home, they gave Williams ample freedom to make independent design and engineering decisions, informed by the hobbies, tastes,

december 2012


project showcase

and expectations of the residents. “We give the customers a lot of options—and they give us a lot of input—so they know they’re getting the home they’re paying for,” Williams says. The theatre room, which includes 3-D viewing options, is connected to the rest of the house via a trestle-style bridge, inspired by old railroad architecture. In the main house, Williams designed the fourth floor of the home to double as a viewing gallery, which allows residents to view the sailboats and ferries connecting the island to the mainland. Four 300-foot geothermal wells are drilled into the property, providing sustainable heating and air-conditioning for the entire house. The residence also includes water-reclamation systems to capture rainwater from the roof to flush the toilets and provide irrigation for the landscaping. Aside from the standard high-end features, Williams also incorporated custom elements suited to the clients’ respective hobbies. “The husband is a HAM-radio enthusiast, so we built him a radio room and also put some radio towers on his property so he can stay connected,” Williams says. “His wife is a pottery enthusiast, so the home also includes a pottery room with a working kiln.” The main house also includes a climate-controlled wine room. The structure is primarily comprised of large, exposed timber features sourced from sustainable and responsible forests, and the interior is finished with low-VOC painting. Williams also incorporated low-flow plumbing, low-E windows and doors, and LED lighting throughout the home, to save on energy usage and costs. The kitchen, designed to be open and accessible, features energy-efficient


appliances from Sub-Zero/Wolf. Additionally, a Savant home-automation system, which can locally and remotely accessed by the owners from their mobile Apple devices, moderates all features and systems in the home. “Though it was a challenge building an estate-style property in a residential area, the finished property is really unique,” Williams says. “Ten years from now, your house should still be worth what you put into it to build it. Our focus is on long-term value, not short-term profit.”

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december 2012

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C O N S U LTAN T S O R VAL Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase


Thibodeau Architecture + Design Thibodeau Architecture + Design is a very creative and diverse, boutique-sized firm with company origins dating back to the 1920s. This award-winning designbuild firm has grown to produce three generations of architects and currently

1. Tristan 2. Mediagrif

maintains offices in both Montréal and Vancouver. The firm shares offices with Pan American Construction, its project-management division. Both divisions operate independently on their own tract and complete projects separately, but they often work together to implement design-build on the same projects when possible. Additionally, Thibodeau offers a

By Christopher Cussat

diverse range of project types, but most of its niche work is in the workspace, retail, and industrial areas. The firm’s consistent goal is to create spaces for clients that stimulate the senses and promote the well-being of occupants. Sustainability is also a strong focus, which is evident in the fact that half of the employees are LEED APs and that the firm is planning on doing bigger and greener projects for a viable future.

1 Tristan Québec City, QC Started 2011 Completed 2011

Building Type Retail

Photos: Ericka So

Size 7,300 square feet 1

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project showcase 1

According to Eve Morin, lead designer on the project, Tristan was ready to change its image, modernize, and make itself younger—while staying true to its loyal clientele. Company representatives approached Thibodeau at the end of 2010 to help it develop its new concept. “The task at hand was not small,” Morin recalls. “Two stores in Québec City were going to get renovated at the same time in the spring of 2011.” More importantly, one of these stores was Tristan’s flagship store—a 7,300-square-foot building located in the upscale Place Sainte-Foy shopping mall. “So the bar was set pretty high!” Morin says. One of the first goals of the new concept was to make the space more inviting. The second was to create a sense of conviviality throughout the store. Tristan also wanted to put forth some of its own values, which include the support of local talent and local artisans, as well as its concern for environmentally conscious choices. Working closely with Tristan’s team, the firm developed a luminous space where the barrier between customer and store was vanquished through the installation of a podium, which now stands at the entrance of the store, thus eliminating the need for display windows. Instead, the store’s mannequins come to life in front of customers, and integrated benches invite them to take ownership of the displays and to be a part of them. These podiums were also placed throughout the store to make the space even livelier. Moreover, the project was designed with sustainability in mind. “Environmentally speaking, we have worked with DAVA, a local enterprise that recuperates noble wood rejected by commercial sawmills,” Morin says. In addition, the work of local lamp artist Bruno Gérard can be found throughout the store. Three of his lamps are displayed in the store, and the rest of the Tristan collection is showcased on his storewide prints. The new concept was a complete success, leading Thibodeau to work on two new stores completed in 2011 and 2012 respectively.


december 2012

2 Mediagrif Longueuil, QC Started 2010 Completed 2010 Size 31,000 square feet Building Type Workspace

In 2010, Thibodeau conceived new offices for Mediagrif, a company in the e-commerce industry that is located in the city of Longueuil, Québec. The firm has managed this project from beginning to end— from prelocation studies to construction management. “We first realized Mediagrif’s preliminary needs study as well as its locations study, upon which the client was able to choose the location that best suited him,” says Eve Morin, lead designer on the project. “The new concept needed to ‘de-hierarchycise’ the work and help foster a strong corporate identity.” The project’s new, open-space layout was a big departure for the firm, even more so since the number of closed offices decreased from 36 to 15. The departmental branding was eliminated and replaced by corporate signalization throughout the three floors by means of intimacy films that spelled out “Mediagrif Technologies Interactives,” with each floor having its own word. “We also promoted a large,

Canadian Builders Quarterly


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well-designed cafeteria/playroom over smaller eating spaces on each floor, to foster interdepartmental encounters and relationships,” Morin says. Since Mediagrif’s workforce is relatively young, Thibodeau opted to give a distinctive and punchy colour to each of the floors. This was also another attempt to eliminate the hierarchy of the floors and have them referred to simply as the red, orange, and green floors. In addition, the letters that illuminated the former building’s exterior were retrofitted to LED lighting and can now be found as artefacts throughout the space. “One tangible result of the new design is that it has reinforced the corporate identity in a young and creative way—much like Mediagrif’s workforce,” Morin says.

december 2012


project showcase 1

Jump Branding & Design Inc. For nearly a decade, Jump Branding & Design has been jump-starting corporate identities and retail brands throughout Canada. Founded in 2004 by principals Eric Boulden, Jason Hemsworth, and Jerry Alfieri, Jump is based just east of downtown Toronto, and leverages its unique

1. South St. Burger Co.


december 2012

By Benjamin van Loon

urban environs to create award-winning branding and design initiatives. “We are constantly seeking ways to make branding and architectural design work together,” Boulden says. “We do everything from corporate identity to interior environmental and retail design.” In 2011, Jump—whose clients include Yogen Fruz, Elm Hill Cookies, Labatt, and many others—was retained to oversee the design of South St. Burger Co., a

premium burger franchise opening a new flagship store at the Bayview Village Shopping Centre in Toronto. The store, which is the first LEED-certified facility for South St. Burger Co. and Bayview Village, was also a major first for Jump, which used the project to learn—and inform—the meaning of sustainable branding and design: a speciality it will bring its clients as it moves into a new decade and a new era of design.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

project showcase

South St. Burger Co. Toronto, ON Started 2011 Completed 2011 Size 2,052 square feet Building Type Restaurant

Photos: David Whittaker


Located in the former North York neighbourhood in Toronto, the Bayview Village Shopping Centre is host to an affluent, fashion-forward independent and chain retailers, such as Andrews, Banana Republic, Chadwicks, and many others. When the South St. Burger Company targeted the development to house its 14th Canadian franchise, the company knew it would have to make its new branch more than just a burger joint. Jump Branding & Design, partnered with South St. since 2004, had already been a key player in the design and brand concept for the chain. “Our original partner in 2004 was New York Fries, [which] started at South Street Seaport in New York and had become a major brand in Canada,” Boulden says. “They wanted to move into the burger category, and we helped them develop this.” Jump’s first store with South St. in 2005 won an Outstanding Merit for Design from the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers, and used the recognition to propel further design initiative with the company. It weathered a building slump and worked to integrate sustainable solutions to its design concepts, earning a Special Recognition Award for Innovation in Energy by the Association for Retail Environments (A.R.E.) Sustainability Awards in 2011 for its work at the Shops at Don Mills South St. location. With a similar innovative goal in mind, Jump used the prestigious, fashion-inspired design standards established by the Bayview Village development to aim for LEED certification of the new 2,052-square footlocation. “As a high-end fashion mall, Bayview Village was initially concerned about putting just another burger concept in the mall, so they were very adamant that the design of the space be more sophisticated, unique, and respectful to the context,” Boulden says. “Based on our experience in sustainable design, and the standards set forth by Bayview Village, we really saw it as an opportunity to shoot for a high goal of sustainability,” Boulden says. “The situation gave us a good opportunity to validate our design decisions in everything from equipment to material choice.” Aside from the wood flourishes on the walls and ceilings, 85 percent of which were sourced from FSCcertified forests, the Bayview Village location utilized 38 percent of its construction materials from recycled sources, and 32 percent from regional manufacturers. The water systems use 70 percent less water than baseline standards established by the Energy Policy Act, and 93 percent of the kitchen equipment is Energy Star


rated. In the kitchen, four high-efficiency fryers reduce 18.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Attentive to the Bayview Village demographic, whom Boulden considers to be appreciative of sustainable design, the franchise—which has seating for 55 guests—is also licensed to serve beer and wine. “All of the finishes and elements of the architecture and design have to be integrated with the consumer experience, so that the brand can set itself apart from its competition,” Boulden says. Based on the efforts by Jump and South St., the A.R.E. awarded the Bayview Village location the 2012 Grand Prize Tenant Improvement and 2012 Sustainable Project of the Year awards, recognizing—and solidifying—Jump’s commitment to sustainable design. A message from franklin empire inc.

Franklin Empire Inc. is a family-owned electrical distributor. It supplies electrical components for new construction, renovation, and the maintenance of industrial plants, as well as residential and commercial buildings. It also specializes in automation systems for manufacturing processes. Its Product/ Service offering is unique among Canadian Electrical Distributors. Franklin Empire helps grow your business by becoming part of your team. With more than 14 areas of expertise, 17 branch locations, and a flexible organization, it easily adapts processes and systems to your unique needs. A message from bullfrog power

Bullfrog Power, Canada’s 100 percent green-energy provider, offers renewable-energy solutions that enable homes and businesses to reduce their environmental impact and help create a cleaner, healthier world. Choosing green power to reduce your environmental footprint can earn you up to three points toward LEED certification. Visit us at

december 2012


through the years

Cohn Construction Ltd. 1969 getting started

Frank Cohn got his start in construction when he was in his teens, by doing odd jobs in the neighbourhood. Forty-three years later, his company specializes in residential renovations throughout the Greater Toronto Area. The award-winning firm is known for taking a hands-on approach: every product is thoroughly researched, and Frank accompanies his clients when purchasing materials. He’s also appeared in several media outlets, including CBC Global News and HGTV. —Frederick Jerant

Despite being a mere teenager, Cohn starts his own construction company before he’s even graduated high school. The work consists largely of odd jobs around the neighbourhood, mainly landscaping or cutting someone’s grass. “I also helped build a cottage from the ground up,” Cohn says. “It was a good way to earn extra money. I did that all through high school and college, and managed to pay my own way through the University of Toronto, where I earned my BA.” 1975 getting managerial experience

A few years later, Cohn takes over management duties at Cooper’s Office Supply. “That’s when I learned about sales and marketing techniques,” he says. The family-owned company grows from C$300,000 in sales to C$1 million during his three-year tenure in the position.

1987 early user of durastone

While working on a home for Chuck Magwood, who built the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) in Toronto, Cohn becomes one of the first Canadian users of a new interlocking stone from Germany, and later influences its use. “We discovered a different and better way to install it,” he says. “Afterward, we told the company about our method, and they adopted it as their standard installation procedure.” 2000 launches “the home improvement show”

Frank Cohn hosts a one-hour call-in show on radio station Newstalk 1010 (formerly CFRB). He offers detailed information on relevant topics and answers callers’ questions about their own projects. He still does the show to this day. 2000 renovator of the year

Thanks to the firm’s outstanding work—particularly a kitchen renovation that replaced part of a dividing wall with a gorgeous six-foot antique stained-glass window—the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association presents the prestigious Renovator of the Year award to Frank Cohn and his crew. Cohn Construction would win again in 2007.


2000 investigations & rants

It’s an unfortunate truth that consumers sometimes get ripped off by building contractors. For a five-year period, Frank Cohn investigates major consumer complaints on behalf of the Ministry of Corporate and Consumer Affairs. During the same time, Frank Cohn writes “Frank’s Rant,” a featured column in Canadian Contractor magazine.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly



2001 a rockin’ home renovation

When musician Kim Mitchell (now a DJ on Q107 radio) redoes his 1,200-square-foot bungalow, he turns to Cohn Construction. “Mitchell wanted to have a big ‘wow’ factor for his visitors,” Cohn says. “We knocked out the walls and ceilings of the small, choppy rooms and created a huge living space, and then finished it off with a vaulted ceiling for great visual impact.” 2007 reinforcing a sagging house

After the owners of a much-modified home in Loren Park Estates (an exclusive community in Mississauga, Ontario) contract with Cohn Construction for interior renovations, a major structural defect emerges. “The foundation really wasn’t strong enough to support the house, so it sagged in the middle,” Cohn recalls. “Reinforcing it was tough, because two underground streams converge there. Our solution included sump pumps to keep the water at bay.” 2012 a historical revamp

Cohn Construction is called in to essentially gut the first floor of a 160-year-old building. “We installed a new interior, a large modern kitchen, luxury bathroom, hardwood floors, granite counters, the works,” Cohn recalls. The biggest challenge, however, is that the floors were three feet off level. “In some parts of the house, we poured concrete to attain a level surface,” Cohn says. “In others, we had to design around the problem.” For example, sanding, planing, and shimming the kitchen floor corrected only about an inch of deviation. “We put a massive island in the kitchen to redirect traffic,” Cohn says. “People now walk parallel to the slope and don’t notice it very much.” A message from let it rain ltd.

We began working with Frank Cohn more than 10 years ago and have developed a relationship based on integrity and trust, and have been his “go-to” company ever since. Just like Frank, we take pride in providing premier customer service. For more than 20 years, we at Let It Rain Ltd. have been entrusted to diagnose and solve any and all roofing, insulation, and aluminum issues in the Mississauga, Toronto, and GTA areas for Frank. Congratulations, Frank!

december 2012


A Holistic Overhaul Then: With a limited budget in 2005, the Vancouver Island Health Authority began implementing strategic energy overhauls

Now: Two LEED Gold facilities help it mitigate costs and stay on budget


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

transformed Vancouver Island Health Authority The City of Hamilton Burnaby School District Saskatoon Public Schools Red Seal Builders Jackson & Associates Inc. Prince George Civic Centre

72 76 80 84 87 90 92

I started working as a facility manager for VIHA in 2002. At that time, our capital

investment in the South Island sites was around $2 million annually. That was used to identify urgent, base-building systems that needed to be replaced. There wasn’t yet a push to make things more energy efficient. With our limited budget, we did the best work we could with the equipment we had.

Photo: Claude Poirier

With 150 health-care facilities serving thousands across Vancouver Island, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) delivers health services through a network of hospitals, clinics, health-care centres, health units, and residential-care facilities. In 2010/11, VIHA had an operating budget of $1.8 billion. Below, facilities director Dean Anderson explains how the organization is working to transform its network to encourage energy reduction and promote increased health for the public—and the environment. as told to benjamin van loon

The swing towards energy efficiency started with our part-time energy manager. We had a part-time energy

manager who worked on the Central and North Island sites, installing building-automation controls. The controls were utilized as a means to operate the mechanical systems of the facilities more efficiently. This was throughout 2005 and 2006. We were also using our funding for lighting upgrades and voltage optimization at some of our larger sites. Our energy-savings programs really started to take off in 2007 and 2008. Our

part-time energy manager became the full-time energy manager, supported by BC Hydro, one of our energy-savings program partners. In the fall of 2008, we then hired a second full-time energy manager who would be overseeing the work at our South Island sites. We were able to start taking a hard look at our facilities [in] innovate, new ways to make energy savings.

Opposite: A rendering of VIHA’s LEED Gold expansion at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Left: The LEED Gold-certified Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC, features massive windows to help flood the Patient Care Centre atrium with natural light.

december 2012




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december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


In early 2009, we received a $2 million incentive for lighting retrofits. Some of our larger sites were due for

Our facilities department's Energy Team now has a seat at the design table. This allows us to support

lighting retrofits. This was work we had started a few years earlier. We completed this initial retrofitting project in 2010, and as a result of this work and other energy-savings initiatives, VIHA received a Big Gig Award from BC Hydro in 2010. This was a highlight for us because, as a result of the changes, we had saved 4.2 gigawatt hours of electricity, beating out thousands of other commercial users.

the design team in identifying energy-saving opportunities, and it provides us a way to take advantage of the rebate programs from BC Hydro and FortisBC. There is a huge demand for thermal energy to provide heat, hot water, and other services, especially at our large acute care sites. At Victoria General Hospital, for example, we anticipate that during the summer months, 80 percent of our domestic hot-water needs will be met by the solar-thermal and heat-recovery system. That’s huge, and we were able to introduce that option during the design stage. CBQ

Now we have an annual budget of $14 million for our base-building infrastructure. This decade of

transformation has been exciting for the health authority—and it has been a good investment of taxpayer dollars. At the end of fiscal year 2010, we had already saved over $300,000 in energy costs. We’ve gone from having a part-time energy manager in 2005 to a full energy team, which is supported by a sponsorship from BC Hydro and FortisBC. Not only are we improving base-building structures and systems, but we are also saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint. These improvements have allowed us to begin important new work. Last year, we completed a

38,000-square-metre inpatient care centre at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, a LEED Gold-certified building. We are also completing work on the $16 million LEED Gold Oceanside Health Centre, opening in 2013, and we are building a LEED Gold expansion on the emergency department at Nanaimo Regional Hospital, which treats more than 53,000 patients a year.

Above: Rendering of the LEED Gold Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s courtyard as viewed from the interior.

A message from southcoast electric

Southcoast Electric has been in operation for 16 years. Established as a service-based company specializing in electrical/telecommunications, maintenance, installations, and consulting services. Southcoast has extensive experience in the governmental, institutional, and private-sector markets, providing routine maintenance, repair, and installation of electrical, telecommunications, fire alarm, backup power, generators, and alternate-energy systems. A message from houle electric

VIHA chooses Houle Electric for its high level of customer service combined with their ability to integrate electrical, communications, security and building controls systems. To ensure best value for VIHA, and comfort and security for patients, Houle delivers project management expertise and value added design with their industry leading knowledge and experience. By seamlessly completing challenging projects and adding advanced security and controls technologies Houle helps VIHA meet operational and sustainable commitments across Vancouver Island.

december 2012



Syncing Up Hamilton

Photo: Randi Scott/Shutterstock

Then: The City of Hamilton misses efficiency opportunities as it juggles disparate systems and structures

Above: The City of Hamilton, ON, has committed itself to reducing its energy usage by 20% by the year 2020.

Now: An ambitious energy-intensity reduction plan ties together multiple systems for improved efficiency and significant cost savings


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


Launched in 2007, the City of Hamilton’s Corporate Energy Policy was the starting point for a range of projects aimed at cutting waste and boosting sustainability. Tom Chessman, the manager of the Office of Energy Initiatives, walks us through some of the efficiency efforts that will help the City achieve its goal—a 20 percent reduction in energy intensity by 2020. as told to julie knudson We've reduced our energy intensity by 14 percent as of year-end 2011, and we did that

through a lot of different initiatives. First of all, we needed a policy and a target. Secondly, we had a lot of collaboration with our internal staff in Water & Waste Water, Facilities, Recreation, and Fire, as well as with our local gas and electric utilities. Union Gas and Horizon Utilities are strong partners in this. As we hit our targets and move toward our overall goals, we are also helping them meet their targets, which relate to kilowatts saved of electricity and cubic metres saved of natural gas. One of our projects links several buildings to the district energy system

to achieve heating and cooling savings. We worked with our internal groups to look at 14 aging chillers in the downtown core—in the Central Library, Copps Coliseum, the Hamilton Convention Centre, and several corporate buildings. Those buildings had chillers that were aging. They were either at their end-of-life or very close to it, or required an upgrade to eliminate old, environmentally harmful refrigerant. We did a life-cycle analysis and determined we could reduce the number of chillers by connecting them and centrally managing them, while still providing redundancy, efficiency savings, and environmental benefits, too. We also had great success from our lighting and controls initiative. Lighting

is one of the larger controllable loads, and retrofitting those lighting systems can achieve some very good results. That’s exactly what we did. We grouped these projects into one larger

Above: The installation of energy-saving lighting fixtures and associated building-automation systems at Morgan Firestone Arena results in reducing energy while providing multilevel lighting.

initiative and secured funding from City Council for $1.3 million. It has driven our operating costs down by $334,000 annually. We also got a healthy incentive for that work from Horizon Utilities. That project was finished at the end of 2011, and with the operating savings and incentives, we’re looking at a 3.3-year payback. Two other projects involve the wastewater treatment plant and a high-lift pump station. We currently have a cogen unit

that’s taking biogas from the wastewater process at our Woodward Avenue location and burning it in a 1.6-megawatt plant, which

is producing electricity that we sell back to the province under contract. Two similar 1.6-megawatt cogen units are located at our Glanbrook Landfill, which similarly produce power under contract with the province. Separately, incremental biogas at Woodward is put through a purification unit, which takes biogas from about 60 percent methane and purifies it to up to 97 percent methane, which is the Union Gas spec. In addition, we replaced six dissimilar pumps at our high-lift pumping station with six pumps that are identical to each other, and four of these are connected to variable frequency drives, so we can modulate the speed. Through the new,

december 2012



high-efficiency pumps and drives, along with some operational changes at the site, we saved over 2,500 kilowatts and received an incentive check of more than $2.3 million from Horizon Utilities. We have internal and external groups that are very supportive of our initiatives. I think a number of years

Above: Tom Chessman (far left) takes a tour of the biogas facility in Hamilton, ON, with members of the Union Gas staff.


december 2012

ago there was some reluctance to adopt different ideas and to look for ways to do things a little differently. That certainly has not been the case recently. Several internal teams have been instrumental in our success, and our city council is incredibly supportive of these projects. The collaborations have yielded great results, and we certainly see no issues at this point in time. In any organization, whether it’s a municipality or a privatesector firm, ensuring the appropriate opportunity assessment is done requires an open mind and patience. You also need to listen [to] and study very carefully all the different options that are open and available to you. CBQ

A message from union gas

The City of Hamilton is well on its way to reaching its goal of reducing energy intensity by 20 percent before 2020. In addition to supporting projects like a district energy system and a biomethane project, Union Gas has partnered with Hamilton on a number of equipment upgrades. Hamilton has installed new energy-efficient equipment, such as condensing boilers and water heaters in community and recreation centres, as well as energy-efficient showerheads and aerators in social-assisted housing. These changes conserve fuel and reduce operating costs­—adding up to big savings and a positive environmental impact. The recent equipment installed adds up to a lifetime savings of approximately 3.5 million cubic metres of natural gas. This will save Hamilton over half a million dollars. Reducing the amount of gas used will also prevent more than 14 million pounds of carbon emissions— equivalent to removing 1,455 cars from our highways.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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december 2012



A Reduced Footprint Then: Waste and loss send costs soaring for the Burnaby School District

Above: Brantford Elementary's array of photovoltaic panels for solar harvesting.

Now: A sustainable agenda unites a diverse student culture 80

december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


When you think of the education field, rarely do recycling, sustainability, and carbon reduction come to mind. But in British Columbia’s Burnaby School District, sustainable initiatives have been at the forefront of more than two decades of renovations and retrofits. Russ Sales, the district’s manager of capital projects, explains how the school district became known for its reading, writing, and recycling. as told to julie edwards The greening of Burnaby started years ago, before

being environmentally friendly was in fashion. One of the first things we did was implement green cleaning techniques in all the schools, which meant the elimination of harsh chemicals in favour of microfibre cloths and other cleaning products that greatly reduce harmful fumes and waste. From there, the next stepsÑincluding a multilevel recycling programÑcame easily. The first recycling

programs were items that could be redeemed for cash, such as pop-top soda cans, and the monies were redirected back into the schools. Next [came] plastics and paper. Later, we established “green teams” of students, supported by staff, in each school to take a leadership role and educate their peers about the programs. The result was a positive, competitive environment where classes go head-to-head to see who can recycle the most.

The Greater Vancouver Regional District then upped the ante by limiting the amount of waste being trans-

ported to landfills. As a result, we had to find ways to recycle at an even higher level, so we implemented a food-waste program in which our schools’ recyclable table scraps are transported to the City of Burnaby’s composting site. This extra step in waste reduction means we now have trash pickup only twice a month rather than once a week at our schools. Then we became serious about sustainability. A few years ago, a seismic study showed we needed to rebuild Burnaby Central Secondary, and we also decided to add a new wing to Brantford Elementary and retrofit the existing building. Both projects included dimmable-lighting systems, occupancy sensors for lighting and HVAC, skylights for natural lighting, reflow ventilation, passive-air systems, low-flow toilets with auto flush, and

Below: The main entrance of Burnaby Central Secondary features a number of windows for natural daylighting harvesting. The school’s underground stormwater collection tanks were also integrated into its design.

december 2012



Above: Natural light is abundant in Burnaby Central Secondary’s library and multipurpose space.

low-flow taps, just to name a few improvements. LEED Gold status was our aim, and we are confident we will receive it on both projects.

because we installed a water meter. By adding solar panels to the roofs, we are not only saving energy—we actually return up to 300 kilowatts to the district during off-peak times.

The payoff was almost immediate. One of the reasons

we wanted to embrace sustainability was to lower our operating costs, and one of the easiest ways to lower costs is to reduce consumption. We started seeing efficiencies right away. For example, we used to pay water and sewage rates per student; now we only pay for the water we use

“In everything we do, we are always looking to reduce our footprint.” russ sales, manager of capital projects


december 2012

We expect the return to continue to grow. When it is completed later this year, Burnaby Central will also have a geothermal field that will provide greatly enhanced heating and cooling potential. We’ve achieved almost everything we committed to doing with both the Burnaby Central and Brantford projects, and [we] feel confident we will be able to back up the changes with significant numbers quantifying the improvements by next year. Of course, there were challenges along the way. We have a large immigrant population in our district—47 different languages are spoken in the elementary schools alone—so the communication process about our programs have had to bridge cultural differences. We were also unable to achieve some of our goals—including reducing our hard surface areas in the parking lot and using greywater for irrigation—because of existing local building codes. Everywhere we look, we continue to move toward sustainability. Future plans include community

gardens that can be used to support local food banks, a hybrid boiler system that will create even greater efficiency, and more lighting upgrades. In everything we do, we are always looking to reduce our footprint. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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december 2012



Academic Strategy Then: The Saskatoon Public School Division plots 21st-century solutions for its aging infrastructure

Above: Built in 1912, King George Community School is one of the oldest of Saskatoon’s Castle Schools. The school was recently upgraded as part of a system-wide comprehensive Energy Smart Program.


december 2012

Now: The Saskatoon Public School Division strategizes 21st-century solutions for its aging infrastructure Canadian Builders Quarterly


With 55 elementary and high schools serving nearly 22,000 students in Saskatoon, Saskatoon Public Schools (SPS) has a heavy-duty work order on hand for its goal of greening all of the schools in the Saskatoon Public School Division. We recently spoke to Stan Laba, superintendent of facilities for SPS, to learn about how—and why—it is time for the schools to become sustainable. as told to benjamin van loon

We have 55 public schools in SPS, some of

which were built at the turn of the 20th century. We’ve got quite a variety of buildings in our inventory, though the average age of the schools is approximately 55 years old— and they’re getting older. Our oldest schools, and even some of our more modern schools, built in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, need a lot of work. We have a large, deferred maintenance backlog in this regard. Recently, the provincial government took over the complete funding for education. Though they are still working

out the kinks, it is still true that there never seems to be enough money to do everything we need to do. What we’re working on instead is strategy; leveraging the public dollars we get from the province and the additional dollars we get from our trustees in order to make the biggest positive impact on school programming and infrastructure. In the early 2000s, Saskatoon had long-term projections reflecting a slow

but steady decline in student enrolment. However, around 2007, everything in the province started to change. There were many people immigrating, and the economy was booming, and we started to see huge jumps in enrolment. Long-term projections are now showing a 10–15 percent increase in enrolment over the next many years. We have a steadily

Above: The state-of-the-art Shaw Aquatic Centre in Blairmore serves two different high schools in Saskatoon.

december 2012



“Long-term projections are now showing a 10– 15 percent increase in enrolment over the next many years. We have a steadily increasing base, and that changes the complexion of how we strategize.” stan laba, Superintendant of facilities

increasing base, and that changes the complexion of how we strategize. Part of our strategy involves securing appropriate partnerships for the schools. We’ve partnered with

organizations that have coeducational mandates, like Montessori schools, day cares, colleges, and universities. These and other partners not only help us fill space in our existing buildings, but also allowed us to build two new collegiate schools in 2006 and 2007, including Centennial Collegiate, which is home to the Saskatoon Soccer Centre and the City of Saskatoon’s indoor walking/fitness track, and Tommy Douglas Collegiate, which is connected to the City of Saskatoon’s Shaw Aquatic Centre and Bethlehem Catholic High School. These joint-use projects are wonderful win-win partnerships for stakeholders and essential community assets. Because of the growing student population and new partnerships, space in our existing schools is sparse. We

thus have to be very strategic when the province approves the building of a new school, like the $20 million, 600-student Willowgrove Elementary School. That school has been in the works for nearly nine years, but it finally came about when it was realized as an integrated project, with a 50-space day-care centre, a number of City of Saskatoon multiuse community spaces, and the new Holy Family Catholic Elementary School, all under one roof. We formed a partnership with Johnson Controls in 2007 as part of a comprehensive Energy Smart program.

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december 2012

For this partnership, we invested over $10 million in our existing buildings to retrofit and renovate for energy savings and other capital improvements. We selectively replaced lighting, windows, and boilers, updated controls, prioritized envelope upgrades, and provided energy training for our building operators. Before this partnership, our utility bill totaled around $5 million a year, but now that these changes have been made, we’re saving around $1.4 million a year. In 2010, the province initiated a minimum LEED Silver standard for major renovations and all new buildings,

including schools. Willowgrove will easily meet this level, but how far we go with certification is determined by budget. We’ve been looking at LEED-EB [certification] for our existing schools, and our involvement in 2009 with a pilot program offered by the Canada Green Building Council gave us good input for what we need to do to bring our infrastructure to the next level. In terms of guidelines for how we do restoration and renovation, we are keeping in mind LEED-EB standards, knowing that it will eventually apply to every building in our system. The sustainability mandate is important to consider at the front end of everything we do, as it allows us to make the right cost/value decisions. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly


Making it Better Then: Cory Kloos started working on construction sites in high school

From left: Cory Kloos, owner; Fred Pujol, general foreman; and Sasha Vucic, lead carpenter.

Now: Now he runs his own general contracting firm

Cory Kloos got started young. In his teens, he signed on as a carpenter’s helper, and by 2007, before Kloos hit 30, he had already founded his own business, Red Seal Builders—a general-contracting and projectmanagement company that employs a full-time team of four, has an annual revenue nearing two million dollars, and is credentialed with seven different building and business organizations. Here, Kloos talks about transitioning from a young helper to a young business owner, and what it means for the future of Red Seal Builders. as told to benjamin van loon

When I was in high school, I started working in the construction industry part-time. I started as a helper

on construction job sites, cleaning up, gathering materials, and doing things like that. That evolved into an interest in carpentry, where I started learning the trade. After doing that for a while, I became the foreman for another construction company in Winnipeg, where I really started to develop as a builder and grow in my role managing jobs for that company. I first got into carpentry becauseÑreallyÑI was just looking for something to do. It was a job where I could

use my hands and change locations a lot. I was never really too interested in sitting in one place for a long time, and my focus wasn’t the greatest, so getting variety in my work helped me develop focus and spark interest in the industry.

december 2012



Above: Red Seal prides itself on having its foreman and lead carpenter always present at the jobsite.

Aside from learning carpentry, I also really enjoyed dealing with people and managing projects.

There seemed to be a lack of efficient management on some of the jobsites I was on, and while I don’t think it was any one particular person’s fault, organization didn’t seem like a strong suit for a lot of contractors. Additionally, I noticed that a lot of clients didn’t seem to have much trust in general contractors. That really bothered me. It seemed that the things going wrong were easy to control, and that’s when I started to realize that I could go into business for myself. When I was 24, I started Red Seal as an extension of my constant pursuit of making things more efficient. I started off with smaller jobs because people weren’t ready to trust a 24-year-old general contractor. It was different because I wasn’t actually used to doing small jobs. People didn’t know that I had been working 70-hour weeks for the past number of years; they just saw a young guy. I had to work hard to gain trust, but we worked hard, did a lot of small projects very quickly, and soon developed a reputation of trust among our clients, which gained us a lot of referrals. Now I like to seek out complex jobs. I really like playing with new building technologies. I like being trusted with large, complex projects because that’s


december 2012

where our expertise shines through. While I may be the face of Red Seal Builders, the expertise is really Fred, the foreman, and Sasha, the lead carpenter, who are always on the jobsites. For example, one of our recent, more-challenging projects, Morley, was an infill home we built in Winnipeg. There was only two feet between the houses on either side of the lot, so it was a tight build, and we had to squeeze a lot of square footage out of the house on a very small lot. We also had to turn the lower portion of the house into a rental suite, which meant we had to go through approval processes from the city-planning department. Plus, the construction was quite different from conventional new homes, so it was perfect for us. Fred and Sasha welcomed the challenge, too. I really enjoy the business and management side of things. I was able to grow a company and gain trust from

a lot of clients in a short period of time, so now my focus is strictly on growing the business with integrity. I use skilled people to handle the construction, and Red Seal is also active in the Manitoba Apprenticeship Program, where we train carpenters for their journeyman certification. All of this is to help the company grow to a point where we can still pay close attention to all of our projects and continue to build trust with all of the people involved. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly




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From Random Work Then: In the 1970s, Mark Jackson was working on everything from slate roofs to waterproofing

to a Focus on Renovation Now: Jackson sets the bar for industry professionals with his legacy of rehabilitation work


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


From labour work to landscaping to waterproofing to TV-show hosting, Mark Jackson has done it all. As the president and CEO of Jackson & Associates Inc., he is one of Toronto’s leading home-renovation professionals. Here, he tells Canadian Builders Quarterly about how his veteran knowledge allows him to do home additions, single-room renovations, large-scale rehab, and everything in between. as told to benjamin van loon I grew up in an era in the industry where

if you weren’t doing different kinds of work, you just didn’t go to work. That’s how I became a general contractor. When I was young, my best friend’s dad taught us the ins and outs of the business. We were doing everything, because that’s how he worked, and we were often on the road, going where there were jobs. I’ve always been a proponent of versatility in the business, but juggling different things can get tiring. My friend actually decided to become a specialist in waterproofing, but I’ve stayed with renovation. I’ve kept busy over the years by doing all sorts of different things. My philosophy is that, whether it's a $5,000 job or a $500,000 job, you don't

treat people differently. We’re a service industry, and a lot of the guys in the industry don’t understand that, and that’s why they fail. Having been in the business since the late ’70s, staying versatile has really helped us weather the ups and downs of the industry. For example, 2011 was the best year we’ve ever had, but then the first quarter of 2012 was one of the worst we’ve had for the past 15 or 20 years. Being an owner and CEO of a firm is a real balancing act. Design is one of my favourite things to do. Small projects, like roofs and chimneys,

are fairly straightforward, but when you’re dealing with a lot of different design aspects, the challenge is really engaging. Smaller projects require a constant velocity on a daily basis to keep that machinery moving at a steady pace. The bigger projects keep you stationary and let you create some really cool spaces.

Branksome Hall was one of these bigger projects. It’s a small private school,

The industry has been developing a whole new look. I’m involved in BILD

and its campus is located in the middle of downtown Toronto in a very exclusive neighbourhood. A lot of the original campus architecture integrates these gigantic homes that have been converted into dormitorystyle buildings, though a lot of the original construction has been kept in place. The project cost around $500,000.

[formerly Greater Toronto Homebuilders] and Renomark, which I helped found. A younger generation is coming into these organizations and looking to be a part of the industry. BILD is the third-largest organization of its kind in North America, but it’s the first for membership retention. Renomark, on the other hand, is an

“We worked with some really reliable and accommodating people for the project, which helped us deliver on time.” mark jackson, president & ceo

Our job there was to make sure that our renovations aligned with the original style of the development. However, because this school is for younger people, we also created some very modern-looking bathrooms. It was a big project with a very short timetable because the work could only be done while the school was closed. We only had the months of July and August to complete the project, because we had to be out before school started up again. We worked with some really reliable and accommodating people for the project, which helped us deliver on time.

organization formed to address smart business practices in the industry. The renovation sector has the highest failure rate in North America, and it’s because there’s a lack of education about what it means to run a good business. I let the versatility and quality of the

work at Jackson & Associates set an example for what it means to stay successful in the industry, even when times are tough. The key is staying informed about sensible business, fair pricing, building codes, and keeping communications open with clients. CBQ

december 2012



A Broader Swath of Green Then: The Prince George Civic Centre opens in 1994 and is an early adopter of energy efficiency

Now: A continued dedication to environmental responsibility keeps the events space a dominant player in the local economy

The Prince George Civic Centre in northern British Columbia hosts large and small conferences, meetings, consumer shows, seminars, and similar gatherings. In recent years, the facility has increased its sustainable practices—such as reducing electricity and water usage and improving its recycling and waste management. Myles Tycholis, manager of events and of the centre itself, brings us up to speed.

The economy of northern British Columbia has long centred on natural resources, such as timber

as told to frederick jerant

by patronizing our restaurants, hotels, and stores. We


december 2012

and lumber; lately, the province has begun diversifying into mines, minerals, and energy. But another economic driver for the region is the Prince George Civic Centre, in the heart of our downtown area. It was built in 1994, and offers about 60,000 square feet of easily divided multipurpose space, including an 18,000-square-foot auditorium. It’s a busy place, usually hosting more than 500 events a year, including sporting events, banquets, conferences, and trade shows. That brings as many as 200,000 people per year to our area, and they provide a significant economic boost

Canadian Builders Quarterly


expect to see even more when Prince George hosts the 2015 Canada Winter Games. When we built the Centre, it was as energy-efficient and environmentally friendly as we could make it.

But technology changes, and we began upgrading and improving the physical plant, as well as our own office practices, in 2007. It was a wise move, because the City of Prince George—which owns and operates our facility—formally adopted an integrated sustainability plan in 2010. We were coming into compliance with those measures well before City Council made them mandatory. Our small steps are relatively inexpensive, simple

to implement, and contribute to a better workplace environment. For example, sensors now automatically control much of our lighting. We put sensors on our water fixtures as well. When we repaint walls, we always use low-VOC paint with a built-in primer, as it’s better for the environment, and we need less paint. We even use vinegar and water for glass cleaning, instead of commercial products.

goods are donated to local charities. But all the programs in the world won’t work unless people are behind them. That’s why we remind our staffers to turn off unused lights, to lower thermostats whenever possible, and to discard recyclables properly. When we host events, we see them as a means to educate people about the importance of being good stewards. That’s why the civic centre provides a

green-event checklist that suggests using electronic communications instead of paper, points out the locations of our recycling bins, and offers many other eco-conscious tips. Good environmental stewardship is a growing trend. We’ve found that many corporations and

government bodies insist on green venues for their events. So, in the long run, our sustainable practices directly reduce our own costs and indirectly boost the local economy. CBQ

We're in the midst of some major green projects as well. The civic centre is one of only seven buildings that

are linked to the carbon-neutral Downtown District Energy System, which is fueled by waste from nearby paper mills. The resulting hot water is then piped into the centre. We replaced four gas-fired boiler systems with heat exchangers, and the benefits were immediate.

There are no service interruptions, we’ve reduced annual greenhouse gases by 300 gross tons, and we save about $25,000 per year on heat, maintenance, and other costs. We also installed an energy-efficient dishwasher in our food-prep facility last year. It earned a $13,000 rebate from BC Hydro’s Power Smart program. That appliance cut our electricity use by 34,000 kilowatt-hours per year and substantially reduced water costs. We've reduced our facility's waste by recycling glass, paper, metal cans, and plastics, and by properly disposing of batteries and toner cartridges. When we host events, we use locally sourced food, beverages, contractors, and other services to

reduce the event’s carbon footprint. Food scraps are diverted to a composting operation near the University of Northern British Columbia; the remainder goes to local farmers for their own use. And unused nonperishable

20 years worth celebrating! For over 20 years, FVB Energy Inc. Canada (FVB) has been a leader in reducing the strain on Canada’s resources. With expertise in District Heating and Cooling, Thermal Energy Storage, Combined Heat and Power, Biomass, and Heat Pumps, FVB offers a unique and comprehensive skill set that helps us meet our clients’ environmental and economic objectives. FVB has offices in Edmonton, AB, Toronto (GTA), ON and Vancouver, BC serving Canada from coast to coast to coast. Globally, the family of FVB companies has operations in Europe and North America working on projects around the world. Toronto


Edmonton december 2012


through the years

Morrison Hershfield With its first office planted in Toronto in 1946, employee-owned Morrison Hershfield has spent the past 67 years spreading its roots throughout Canada and into the United States. From consulting on buildings, transportation, and land-development initiatives to spearheading technology, energy, environmental, and water/wastewater projects, Morrison Hershfield has left an indelible mark on countless horizontal and vertical infrastructure projects. Now with 17 offices and more than 850 employees, Morrison Hershfield continues to expand its multidisciplinary faculties.

—Benjamin van Loon

1946–1950s Getting off the Ground

Carson Morrison (above, left), a civil-engineering professor at the University of Toronto, joins Charlie Hershfield (above, right), Joe Millman, and Mark Huggins—all engineers and consultants—and with an opening capital of $2,000, the agency is born. Headquartered in Toronto, the agency, called MHMH, offers practical and technical solutions to the booming postwar infrastructure industry. By 1956, MHMH has already completed 967 projects for 301 clients, the bulk of which come with the firm’s work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Bell Canada, as communication systems continue to expand across Canada.

2008–2009 (Kicking Horse Canyon Bridge)

1960–1968 branching out

MHMH continues to grow in kind, incorporating as a private company in 1960 and hiring engineers Jim Burgess and Art Johns. In 1968, a year after the firm’s participation at Canadian centennial Expo 67 with the Air Canada and Ontario Government pavilions, MHMH opens a second office in Edmonton. 1970 New partners, new work

With founder Joe Millman’s passing in 1966, Jim Burgess has since assumed much of his responsibilities. Recognizing these contributions, MHMH becomes Morrison, Hershfield, Burgess and Huggins Limited (MHBH), and Jim is made president, while Art Johns is promoted to chief engineer. Also, respondent to new “rain-screen principle” innovations being developed by the National Research Council, MHBH’s expertise in this area grows, and it becomes a leader in the field. “Morrison Hershfield is now well known across North America for our building science work, and continues to be a significant part of what we do,” says Loui Pappas, vice president of business development. 1976–1985 Transportation Infrastructure launched

MHBH officially becomes Morrison Hershfield Limited. Having performed various projects for GO Transit over this time—including Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street “flyunder” railway-under-railway grade separation tunnel to the major GO ALRT, a project to provide GO trains a separate railway track between Pickering and Ajax, Ontario—Morrison Hershfield consolidates its reputation in the area of design and construction field review of rail and track projects.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

2000–2011 Awards, mergers, expansion

2007–2011 Edmonton projects initiated

Morrison Hershfield opens new offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2000), Seattle, Washington (2001), San Francisco, California (2004), Burlington, Ontario (2004), Portland, Oregon (2005), Charlotte, North Carolina, and Victoria, British Columbia (2005). In 2002, company chairman Art Johns receives a gold medal from Professional Engineers Ontario, and in 2004 he receives the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers gold medal and is inducted into the University of Toronto’s Applied Science and Engineering Hall of Distinction. Morrison Hershfield also merges with Draycott Environmental Inc., Mitchell, Pound & Braddock, Ruys & Company, and Suncord Engineering. “We were very privileged to have some quality business associations come into fruition during the early 2000s,” Pappas says. “It was a fruitful time in Morrison Hershfield, further reinforcing its unique corporate culture.” Among the firm’s other project accomplishments, Morrison Hershfield acquires Jeffers Engineering Associates, becomes a minority equity partner in Sikon Inc., is joined by Structural Design Inc., and opens new offices in Winnipeg (2010), St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (2010), and Nanaimo, British Columbia (2011).

The Edmonton office begins its role with revitalization work at the Edmonton International Airport and on the South Edmonton Transit Facility’s “Centennial Garage” project.

2011 (Centennial Garage)

1990–1997 (Hibernia Gravity Base Structure)

1985–1998 Opens more offices, celebrates anniversary

Morrison Hershfield explores offshore oil-field engineering options on a 1985 visit to Norway, eventually translating this knowledge to work at the Gravity Base Structure for the Hibernia project. The company opens new offices in Ottawa (1985), Calgary (1990), and Vancouver (1992), and after the firm celebrates its 50th anniversary in 1996, it opens its first United States office in 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia. It then merges with Maunder Britnell in 1998.

Constr uction is ser ious business. CPI is a proud partner of Morrison Hershfield. Located in Edmonton, Alberta, CPI Construction Ltd. is a progressive general contractor specializing in commercial, retail and industrial construction. december 2012


Bird's-eye view of a thesis review taking place in the Eric Arthur Gallery. Each semester guest critics are invited to participate in thesis reviews. Students give presentations on their work and then answer questions from professors, scholars, and practicing architects as part of their review. These reviews are open to the public.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the ascension How the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto is giving the Ivies a run for their money By seth putnam

For being the oldest school of its kind in Canada, the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design shows not a trace of senility. Established at the University of Toronto in 1890, the venerable architecture and design school has made some pit stops on the way to its present success: In 1922, the Bachelor of Architecture was created. In 1933, the school added courses in urban development; the next year brought landscape architecture courses. By the late 1960s, the faculty added departments in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. At the same time, the city of Toronto was going through some growing pains as it figured out what to do with its downtown. It was the university’s faculty who led the way in shaping the city into what it is today: a vibrant architectural gem. Learning was booming. That is not to say there weren’t rough patches in the road. Through the 1980s and ’90s, the architecture faculty didn’t do so well. It felt less like a jet soaring above the clouds and more like a plane limping into the hangar. The university even considered shutting the faculty down.

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New Beginnings That all changed by 2008, when John and Myrna Daniels made a generous $14 million donation that would form the backbone of the school’s endowment (and give the Faculty its current name). From that moment, the vision shifted. The University of Toronto had already begun to implement an ambitious agenda for the whole institution: to become recognized internationally as a university unmatched in the depth and breadth of its research and curricular programs. The design faculty needed to take its place in this vision. The late 1990s and early 2000s were rebuilding years under the forward-looking deanships of Professors Emeriti Larry Wayne Richards and George Baird. Before the late 1990s , the John H. Daniels Faculty was a set of undergraduate professional programs. These were phased out and replaced with four new academic programs: an undergraduate major in architectural studies housed under the Faculty of Arts and Science, and three master’s programs in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The curriculum was essentially rebuilt from scratch, and Richards played a large role in proposing a new plan for the renewal of the school. More recently, the University of Toronto’s architectural resurgence was heralded by the 2009 appearance of a new dean: Richard M. Sommer. Sommer’s curriculum vitae is stunning. Prior to becoming the dean, he spent six years as Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design’s director of urban design, and was a professor of architecture at the school since 1998. His résumé is packed with other

accomplishments, including a visiting professorship to the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, where he had a hand in advising Belfast on how best to develop the city and surrounding area. Beyond those two distinctions, Sommer has been all over, accepting assignments in Belgium, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Iowa, among others. Given Sommer’s impressive pedigree, it’s no wonder his philosophy takes its cues from his experience. “My work in architecture and design has focused on what I call ‘contentious urban development,’” Sommer explains, alluding to his experience in post-Troubles Ireland. “It deals with the presence of a lot of different constituencies in a city, who all possess competing visions for the future of their city.” If the conversation gets a little abstract, it’s because Sommer is a “big picture” guy. He has a macro view of where architecture has come from and—more importantly—where it’s going. For him, the conundrum of what to do with modern architecture goes back to the era following World War II. At the end of the 19th century, the idea of city planning was conceived to “manage laissez-faire development.” But after the war, more visionary forms of urban renewal became a major focus all over the globe. Cities began to expand on a rapid scale. “Some things happened that were good, and some things happened that we regret,” Sommer says. A backlash against top-down planning and overly utopian forms of architecture created an environment where the planning process became highly democratized.

the state of architecture with Dean Richard M. Sommer

What do you think is the largest issue facing architecture today? There are so many competing stakeholders that it’s easy for architecture to sometimes fall through the cracks. In one sense, you could be working in the interests of the community, or you could be working for developers. That’s where contentiousness sets in, and with it a certain amount of dysfunction. How do you solve that? Design-based thinking can inform and change policy and challenge both disciplinary and bureaucratic silos.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the ascension

More and more citizens and interest groups started to have a say in—and fight over—how to build the city. But at the same time, the government began to recede from its funding and planning roles, and private development interests started building more and more of the city. “In a democracy, the private interests that are often building large parts of the cities, and the citizens who reside in those cities, often see their rights and responsibilities very differently,” Sommer says. That’s where architecture and the role of design “sometimes fell through the cracks,” says Sommer. With so many different stakeholders comes a certain amount of dysfunction. Still, all of these forces crashing together only gives Sommer a sense of purpose. “I’ve relished the opportunity to come to the University of Toronto,” he says. “It’s a school that’s figuring out where to go, now that the game has changed.”

A Rising Star Here’s something noteworthy: most of the architectural faculty members have been hired in roughly the past 10 years. “We have a very young, very international, very dynamic, high-achieving faculty,” Sommer says proudly. “They’ve built an incredible chassis, and I get to drive it.” Indeed, there’s more boosting the University of Toronto past the competition. Its architecture, landscape, and urban-design programs are situated in an independent division, which gives Sommer direct access to the provost and the president. Then there’s the

Then there’s the issue of what schools are doing and what how we can change industry. We need to begin making use of all sorts of technologies, whether that’s in the form of tools to visualize alternate futures for cities, or even develop and demonstrate techniques to build more sustainably. And architectural programs should work to handle this? That’s one way to address a lot of societal concerns and think of better ways to remake both the small and large parts of cities. I’m for schools looking at these bigger pictures and addressing the problems and questions that are difficult for people in practice to approach, because most of their work is fee-for-services, and they must do projects where it is difficult to innovate because the scope has already been framed.

“We have a very young, very international, very dynamic, high-achieving faculty. They’ve built an incredible chassis, and I get to drive it.” richard m. sommer, dean

$14 million from alumni John and Myrna Daniels, which gives the program the largest architectural endowment in Canada. Finally, there’s the fact that it’s in Toronto. Together, these elements provide an academic trifecta: a structural, financial, and geographic advantage. “Toronto is an incredible laboratory,” Sommer says. “There’s an incredible amount of high-rise and intensive forms of construction going on in the city, which is one major benefit. Our curriculum has a ‘super studio’ where students explore integrated, real-world applications across the disciplines of architecture, landscape, and urban design. This year, they’re examining ways to transform and improve social housing in the centre of Toronto.” This is the classic “place as text” approach to the very environment where learning takes place. And there’s an added benefit: “Our alumni have been fortunate because the market here is better than in the United States, currently,” Sommer says. That means the country doesn’t have to worry as much about other markets poaching its talent pool. Sommer makes a compelling case for the program’s scholastic excellence, too. There are plenty of good programs, he says, “but in

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the ascension

PICTURE-PERFECT SURROUNDINGS Third-year master's student Dave Freedman photographs a partner project between John H. Daniels and Tyler Kruspe for the second-year comprehensive studio. The project presented a biophilic approach for a commercial fitness centre located in the Toronto Junction neighbourhood. By incorporating natural elements into the building and allowing the building to spill out onto the north-facing landscape, the gym aims to take advantage of the positive health benefits gained when humans are encouraged to develop stronger ties to their natural surroundings.

"Research drives advancement. That’s where I see the future of architecture.” richard m. sommer, dean


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terms of having a combination of people doing technical and scholarly research, and being high-achievers in practice, we have no competition. “The University of Toronto is counted among the top 20 universities in the world—alongside Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard—and we’re doing it with a lot less funding,” Sommer adds. “Pound for pound, our performance rivals all of them.” At the University of Toronto, there is both a global network and a local focus, unlike the Ivies, where students can come from all over the globe but often take their knowledge back home with them. The benefits of this type of institution aren’t lost on the students. Dave Freedman, a third-year master’s student and the president of the Graduate Architecture Landscape and Design Students’ Union, explains that he’s been able to explore avenues at the University of Toronto that would

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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have been closed to him elsewhere. “I’m very interested in the way that the built environment impacts health,” he says. “I think you can have a better life through design, and the University of Toronto is unique because it allows you to explore those notions.” Freedman picked the university largely because of its focus on critical thinking and theory. Also, many of the school’s students have already been in the workplace before returning to higher education with a new bag of tricks and perspectives. That’s been clear to him during his school-related travels. “I visited the site of the 2012 Olympics in London and saw how a single architectural project can affect thousands of people,” Freedman says. “I also had a chance to travel to Argentina and work on a team to reenvision the layout of the Nueve de Julio, which is the widest road in the world. I wouldn’t have gotten those opportunities if I’d gone somewhere else.”

school’s out

Five eminent University of Toronto alumni showcase their firms, bent on upholding their alma mater’s teachings and guiding principles, and yielding renowned architecture and distinguished design

The Road Ahead The university’s push for excellence can also be seen in the awards garnered by the independent work of various faculty members in recent years. These include Governor General Awards for many of its faculty’s built projects, the Global Holcim Prize for Aziza Chaoni’s work in Morocco, and the North American Holcim Prize for Mason White’s project in the Canadian North. But despite its status as one of North America’s top design schools, there’s much ahead for the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty. “The powerful digital tools that have been created allow for a more integrated relationship between design and actual construction,” Sommer says. “That’s going to allow for greater degrees of craftsmanship. Thinking at the scale of the urban landscape and resource consumption, there is the need for a better-designed connection from the sink to the precinct to the watershed.” But even the most innovative tools come with their challenges. “The challenge is to find a way to coordinate everything: economics, technology, design, social life,” Sommer says. “Research drives advancement. That’s where I see the future of architecture.” If the past was focused on replicating best practices, the future will be finding new ways to see things. “The world is evolving,” Sommer says, “and we’ve got to stay ahead of that.” CBQ

bruce kuwabara

kpmb architects 102

nelson kwong

nkarchitect 108

monica adair & stephen kopp

acre architects 112

david gillett

david gillett design 116 december 2012


The clock tower and west elevation of KPMB's Vaughan City Hall in Vaughan, ON. The winning scheme in a design competition, Vaughan City Hall sets a tone for a civic-minded and environmentally responsible development in the 21st century.


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windows to the world KPMB’s Bruce Kuwabara became fascinated with architecture at a young age, but it was what he learned at the University of Toronto that has followed him for 40 years

Photo: Maris Mezulis

By seth putnam When he closes his eyes and returns to his childhood, it’s the stamp collection he remembers. For a boy growing up in Hamilton, Ontario, they were tiny windows to the world. Years later, Bruce Kuwabara would visit the buildings he saw through those windows: the British Parliament, the Pantheon, and the United Nations Headquarters. He would gaze in awe, and he would know that, one day, he’d become an architect. “Stamps are cultural portraits,” Kuwabara says now. “They celebrate events and memorialize people and places. The study of stamps is probably in the general ‘nerd’ category, but the fact is that they were and are fascinating to me. They’re representational ads for history.” The stamps were items of wonder and great curiosity for young Kuwabara. They held the secrets of colour and design in thumbnail form. He’d spend hours in Hamilton’s public library and devour every architectural text he could find. “I had no idea about high architecture, but I got drawn into it big time,” he says, remembering the first time he learned about the nuances of the Parthenon. “I was interested in its proportions and the entasis, the shaping and tapering of the columns to hold the correct perspective. The beauty of architecture is that it is a vehicle for understanding the world.” He still keeps those stamps tucked away in albums, ready to be pulled out when he wants to be inspired. “When I see them now, it’s amazing,” he says, explaining that “for many countries, stamps used to be the only thing citizens of other nations would see and know of them.”

Bruce kuwabara At A Glance Major: Architecture Graduated: 1972 Years in the industry: 40 Notable professor: George Baird Advice for students: “Take your hobbies and things you loved to do as a child, and channel that passion into your career. The themes in your play will be relevant to your work and give it greater purpose.”

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Now, as a respected architect at Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) Architects, Kuwabara brings the same kind of thoughtfulness to his work. In 1999, he was selected to design Canada’s embassy in Berlin, Germany. The site was to be on Leipziger Platz, which had been a no-man’s-land before the Berlin Wall came down. Though the wall is usually referred to singularly, there were actually two walls running in parallel at Potsdamer Platz, with sand between them. If a man scaled the barrier, soldiers in towers above could easily mow him down. The sand turned out to be a perfect medium for the ghastly business; it


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made running difficult, and it “caught the blood.” “You think you’ve escaped to freedom, but you’re trapped in the middle,” Kuwabara explains. “We wanted to reverse this and introduce the concept of openness for the new embassy.” To create that feeling of freedom, he designed a public passage that cuts through the building from Leipziger Platz to Potsdamer Platz, and on a day-to-day basis, people shuffle through the mixed-use development that houses not only the embassy but also commercial office spaces and 32 residential apartments.

“This idea of openness was unusual for any country—even Canada—to propose for a high-security building following the September 11th terrorist attacks. It was considered bold and imaginative by the Germans,” Kuwabara says. Part of the embassy’s allure for Canadians is that it is a patch of their country in a foreign setting. “You’re in the middle of Berlin, which is an absolutely incredible city, but we wanted to create a place in the building that allows people to connect to Canadian news and culture,” Kuwabara says. “On the second floor is a room called the Timber Hall, and it offers no views of Berlin—none. It has a fully glazed

Canadian Builders Quarterly

featured project

Photos: Tom Arban

vaughan city hall - vaughan, on In 2004, KPMB Architects won the design competition to design the new city hall for Vaughan, Ontario. What the company envisioned was a 325,000-square-foot civic campus that referenced the city’s agrarian roots, juxtaposed with its urban metamorphosis. (Since the 1980s, Vaughan has boomed and increased its population by more than 700 percent.) Bruce Kuwabara and his team developed a master plan for a civic campus with a minimally intrusive underground parking structure, leaving more

room for green parkland and landscaping. Meanwhile, the buildings express a subtle nod to farming and sustenance. “The campus is laid out according to a series of east-west bands that reference the linear pattern of land ownership and cultivation that once characterized the region,” Kuwabara explains. “The concept also draws from the tradition of the European square, or piazza, where architecture is used to define open, central spaces for meeting, demonstration, and celebration.”

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Rich in cultural context, KPMB's design for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, contains multiuse spaces for public and cultural functions, reflecting Canada's commitment to democracy.

Photo: Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc.

glass roof, so you can only see the sky. And the sky above is what Canada and Germany share.” If Kuwabara’s stamp collection provided the spark, it was his time at the University of Toronto’s School of Architecture (now named the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design) that gave him the tools he needed to take on international projects the size of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. There was one man in particular that shaped his time at the University. He was George Baird, a widely recognized theorist in the world of architecture, and the school’s dean from 2004 to 2009. “George was outstanding,” Kuwabara says. “He contributed to the education of generations of architects.” The idea that Baird introduced his students to was the understanding of architecture in a cultural context. Kuwabara remembers one assignment in particular—a case study—that explored the canonical house of modern architecture. Kuwabara’s team focused on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, in Chicago, and began unpacking its significance: How should you look at this house? How does this seminal work of Wright relate to architectural developments in America and Chicago? “George taught us to look beyond the specific building—to look at what was happening in the culture, politics, and economics of the city,” he recalls. “I thought that was refreshing, because many people looked at things clinically, as objects, without context.” After Kuwabara graduated, he worked for George Baird, and then for Barton Myers, from where he went on to found his own prestigious firm, KPMB Architects, in 1987. But more than 40 years later, Baird’s words and analysis still echo in Kuwabara’s mind. “George coedited Meaning in Architecture, which remains a seminal collection of essays that still stand up today,” Kuwabara says. “The book unpacked the ways architecture can be understood as language, and how meaning in architecture can be analyzed within a political, economic, and social context. My generation was looking for alternative ways to think about architecture, and thanks to George, our minds were opened to much larger ideas about the role of the architect in shaping cities and the public realm.” CBQ

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nkA's 150_W Residence melds interior space with exterior space, essentially doubling the amount of livable floor area.


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space players Nelson Kwong of nkArchitect challenges traditional notions of space maximization and brings intent back to design

Photos: Peter A. Sellar/Photoklik

By jennifer nunez

Toronto-based nkArchitect (nkA) is fully engaged and committed to every one of its many projects from conception to completion. The nkA workload includes architecture, interior, and landscape design. In one of its most recent endeavours—the 419_G residence, a 4,600-square-foot home in North Forest Hill, in Toronto—the firm was able to approach the venture holistically. The firm was involved throughout site selection, design, and construction, as well as the finishing stages of furniture selection and art placement. nkA principal Nelson Kwong launched the firm in 2008, just nine years after graduating from the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniel’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. And today, Kwong—along with nkA principal Neal Prabhu—is changing the way the public experiences architecture, both emotionally and visually. Earlier this year, nkA participated in its first exhibit, titled “Big Enough?” The show debuted at Harbourfront Centre and questioned standard notions of space needs. nkA has found that clients often look to get the most out of square footage by building the largest-possible house with elaborate features. By contrast, the firm’s method is to look at the qualitative rather than the quantitative. “It ends up being a process where maximizing square footage isn’t the ultimate goal, but it’s optimizing those experiences as you’re moving through by harnessing things like natural daylight and being able to employ passive strategies for cooling and heating the space, as well as views,” Prabhu explains. nkA’s portion of the exhibit featured three physical models: a traditional Toronto home with a pitch roof and punch windows, another with a courtyard and glazing,

nelson kwong At A Glance Major: Architecture Graduated: 1999 Years in the industry: 13 Notable professors: Bruce Kuwabara and Steven Fong

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and one with a courtyard and a roof terrace, optimizing the site. “It illustrated for people that it’s not about maximizing area; it’s questioning convention and optimizing the experience of the homes we’re living in,” Kwong says. The 150_W residence, a project in the Beaches district of Toronto, brought to light many of the issues nkA talked about in the exhibit. The site was located in a denser neighbourhood than the 419_G project, though the client had a double lot to build on. The initial instinct was to maximize the floor area and build as big of a house as possible. “We had to question that mind-set and


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[demonstrate that] there are other issues at play,” Kwong says. “Instead of looking at it in terms of how to maximize floor area, we looked at how to optimize the living experience with this given site. It meant some trade-offs: we carved away a bit of interior space and dedicated it to an outdoor space that would open entirely into the interior, doubling up the amount of livable floor area.” The firm also created a south-facing terrace, which is protected from winter winds by the house itself but remains open to the low winter sun. “It is a space that can be used year-round that most people in our

climate think isn’t possible,” Kwong says. “But we’ve shown that if you put a little forethought in how you place a building on a site, you can achieve quite a bit of usable outdoor space throughout the year.” nkA projects range from the colossal to the petite. On the latter end are projects like the Nadége Yonge Patisserie, which only spans 650 square feet. This smaller venture was given generous attention to detail and presentation, which can be seen in the way the industrial concrete floors and exposed brick walls mingle with the warmth evoked in floating walnut shelves and matching cabinetry. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

featured project

150_W - toronto, on Located in the Beaches district of Toronto, nkA’s 150_W residence addresses the constant challenges of maximizing southern exposure within an east-west-oriented midlot while simultaneously exploring myriad opportunities for extended outdoor living spaces designed for the Canadian climate. Kwong explains that nkA tried to “optimize the living experience.� The firm had to carve away portions of the interior space, dedicating it to an outdoor area that would be open entirely to the interior while also doubling the amount of livable floor space within the home. The firm

approached it by optimizing. The design plan of the 3,000-square-foot project revolves around a south-facing sideyard terrace that accomplishes an L-shaped cantilevered volume, which, ultimately, helps shelter it from the winter winds. But at the same time, it leaves it open to the warmth of the winter sun. This side terrace engages the site and home both spatially and environmentally, extending the interior living environment to a protected outdoor space for year-round use, while providing the framework for integrated passive-design strategies.

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the ascension

young guns Monica Adair and Stephen Kopp apply design prowess and passion to their firm, Acre Architects, bringing contemporary flair to New Brunswick

Photo: Mark Hemmings

By jennifer nunez

Stephen Kopp and Monica Adair have come a long way together since graduating from the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels School of Architecture in 2004. Throughout the journey, the now-married couple has shared the same career path. It began when Kopp and Adair competed against each other for a spot at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York City, the legendary firm that designed two of Chicago’s most recognizable structures: the John Hancock building and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). Instead of picking just one of the couple for the position, the firm hired both. At the firm, the duo spent a few years working on education projects before deciding to plant roots in New Brunswick. After a handful of years working for a local firm, designing hockey arenas and completing their Architecture Registration Exams, Kopp and Adair noticed an inherent need for contemporary architecture in the province. They founded Acre Architects in 2009. Adair and Kopp attribute their distinct design approach to their time at the University of Toronto. The school encouraged them to think differently and to not be too constrained in any one thought. “It made you think that anything was potentially possible,” Adair says. “It encouraged us to explore all different avenues and not be limited in any one kind of scope.” Kopp notes the school was rigorously challenging. “Some schools don’t have the same level of critique,” he says. “The school really taught us the model of iterations, to keep turning out multiple scenarios of design before you pick one and go with it.” Acre’s process mirrors this, in that it produces multiple schemes early in the design stage to show the client the various avenues they have available to them. “What we try to do is look at new ways the relationships between spaces can produce new outcomes; that’s where the risks can be taken,” Kopp says.

stephen kopp at a glance Major: Architecture Graduated: 2004 Years in the industry: 10 Notable professor: John Shnier Advice for students: “Design schools are built on critique sessions–let your ego down and you will be surprised at the pace of your learning.”

monica adair at a glance Major: Architecture Year graduated: 2004 Years in the industry: 7 Notable professors: John Shnier and An Te Liu Advice for students: “Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself.”

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the ascension

featured project

tinker’s orchard - kingston peninsula, NB Tinker’s Orchard, a family-owned “you-pick” apple orchard that also makes apple cider and hard apple cider, came to Acre with plans to build a small apple-cider shed with an area for serving coffee to guests and providing public washrooms. The owners were so pleased with what Acre presented that they decided to live there as well. The finished structure connects a long shed to the home with a semiprivate bottom floor that leads to the private loft upstairs. The second floor features massive windows that frame majestic views of Kingston Peninsula’s riverfront on one side and the lush orchard grounds on the other.


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“Part of the project was to work with the vernacular—but turn it on its head and show that contemporary architecture can really find a comfortable sighting in a rural setting,” says Acre principal Monica Adair. “It’s the surprise element. I think that’s something we try to capture in all our projects—a little unexpected surprise.” At first glance, the new cider house and shed looks like a typical farmhouse, but upon close inspection there’s the recognition of modern changes. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I am looking at something very familiar but through a new lens,’” Adair says.

Canadian Builders Quarterly


382 Rothesay Ave • Saint John, NB • (506) 657-4555 75 Cityview Ave • Fredericton, NB • (506) 472-4555

Every year, the team embarks upon nontraditional architecture in a conceptual project or competition to keep sharp. “They are a nice deviation in terms of thinking and design,” Kopp says. “You don’t necessarily have a list of client requirements or business restraints or home issues. You can dream up anything.” Twenty + Change named Acre as one of 21 emerging Canadian firms whose projects push and test ideas in architecture. In Transit, a public art project Acre completed for a Saint John bus stop, helped win Acre the award. The piece aims to bring to light the language of the road by utilizing transit signs in 85 unique aluminum panels, some of which are bent into simple waiting-area benches. The vibrant panels bring the landscape to life, even on the foggiest of days. “Part of creativity comes from constraints, so on a building project you can draw out creativity from the client vision, the site dynamics, or characteristics,” Kopp says. “In an art project, sometimes you have a site constraint, but other than that, it’s wide open. It’s a little easier to spin your wheels on an art project.” Kopp and Adair have chosen not to follow the conventional architectural career path by starting their own practice early in their careers, before most usually do. “We are the youngest practice in the province—that is a risk in and of itself,” Adair says. “It doesn’t always have to go the way it’s always been done.” CBQ

Photo by Mark Hemmings

Muskoka Retold

North Muskoka House Ltd.

North Muskoka House represents a full-service residential and commercial design firm featuring a 13,000 sq. ft. building on Fairy Lake encompassing a retail showroom, design offices and a full-service textile workroom.

T | 705-787-0330 F | 705-787-0869

365 Highway 60 Huntsville, ON P1H 1B9

december 2012


the ascension

there & back again After a stint in large-scale institutional design, David Gillett brought his big-city smarts and education back to rural Ontario. See how the University of Toronto alum learned that home truly is the place to be. By kelly o'brien

Take a look at the career of David Gillett and certain patterns will start to emerge: A love of drawing and illustrating that stretches back to early childhood. A fascination with country and waterfront architecture bolstered by years of study and travel. A well-developed, multifaceted understanding of the architectural profession as a whole. Today, Gillett levies these experiences daily as the principal architect of David Gillett Design, a residential-architecture firm based in rural Ontario. Gillett grew up in small-town Ontario, and when he was in school, his parents often took him to visit Toronto. His father was a contractor, and Gillett worked as part of his construction crew during the summers, so part of the agenda for the Gillett family vacation was a visit to several significant buildings that had just been constructed in the city. One was the Ontario Science Centre and the other Ontario Place, which at the time, says Gillett, “was groundbreaking as a waterfront complex.” Both buildings left an impression on the young Gillett. “That [trip] got me interested in what was possible in design and really widened my horizons as a farm boy,” he says. When it came time to apply for university, the University of Toronto topped Gillett’s list. He had visited the campus and toured the Architecture Faculty. “I was really excited and caught up in the whole studio setting there,” he says. “It was a really creative place. It had this buzz and hum of activity.” After a review of his drawing portfolio and an intimidating interview process, Gillett was accepted into the program.


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david gillett At A Glance Major: Architecture Graduated: 1983

Years in the industry: 29 Notable professors: Jeffrey Stinson & George Baird Advice for current students: “Try to balance your academic and theoretical education with some practical, hands-on [construction] experience.”

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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Good boathouse design relies squarely on the architect’s ability to craft a building that performs multiple functions simultaneously, adheres to the strict regulations governing shorefront construction, and hangs together as a cohesive, aesthetic whole. Gillett has mastered this boathouse balancing act, a fact attested to by the Buckles Family Boathouse on Lake Rosseau. The biggest challenge of the Buckles Boathouse was to reconcile the massive lower storey, comprising six large boat slips, with the comparatively tiny living area above. Gillett planned the second-storey space to take up a

full 650 square feet (the maximum living space permitted for a shorefront building), and designed an end-to-end roof gable that both masks the proportional disparity and aesthetically ties in the boathouse with the property’s main cottage. The second-storey interiors include a large sitting area, two small bedrooms, and a bathroom, while a fireplace, sundeck, and loads of timberframe details complete the cabin space. The boathouse is used both by guests and by the family’s teenage children, Gillett says. “It’s a pretty nice place to spend a weekend.”

Photos: Erin Monett

buckles family boathouse - muskoka, on

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Above: The firm's Roy Cottage project features a bathroom equipped with a large glassed-in steam shower.

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In total, he spent five years at the school, where one of its biggest advantages was the mix of faculty. “There was a real range of professors,” he says. “Some of them were very technically minded, and some were more design oriented—some very theoretical, some very practical.” No matter their focus, though, nearly all of the faculty members were actively practicing architects, which saved the program from the “ivory-tower situation,” Gillett says. Accordingly, the curriculum was very hands-on. Gillett was a quiet, reserved 18-year-old, which can be a hurdle when your career depends on your ability to present your designs and sell your clients on their merit. “I was forced to get up in front of people who were there basically to shred my ideas,” Gillett recalls. The architect still thinks back to those experiences regularly, nearly 30 years later. “It was really excellent preparation for the reality of the architectural profession,” he says. After graduation, Gillett went to work for George Wilson, a family friend, who specialized in large-scale institutional projects. Working for Wilson, Gillett learned the ropes of the design business, but it quickly became apparent that urban institutions were not where he wanted to spend his time. Both through his university studies and his travel experiences, Gillett had fostered a love for rural architecture, especially cottages, cabins, and boathouses. So when an opportunity arose to help renovate Windermere House, a historic lakefront resort in Muskoka, Ontario, Gillett jumped at the chance. The Windermere proved to be a turning point for him. The word spread about Gillett’s work, and calls started coming in for residential work at other historic lakefront properties in the region. Gillett’s reputation for cottages and boathouses began to grow, and in 1986, he decided to make a go of designing for cottage country full-time. “I haven’t looked back since,” he says. At 52, Gillett is a prominent figure in residential architecture in Ontario. He’s designed scores of cottages and vacation homes across the province—for a diverse clientele that includes media personalities and NHL stars—and he has mastered the art of boathouse design. To this day, for every new project that lands on his desk, Gillett uses his skills as an artist, his love of country design, and his training and experience as an architect to deliver unique spaces to every one of his clients. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: Erin Monett

the ascension


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through the years

Belyea Bros. Limited 1908 company is founded

In 1991, David Graeme was working as an engineer for British Airways when he heard that Belyea Bros., a Toronto heating-andcooling company founded in 1908, was up for sale. “A preeminent company with roots in the city was at risk of disappearing, and I thought that was rather sad,” Graeme says. A year later, he bought the company, which now serves the children and grandchildren of original customers as a factory-authorized dealer and servicer of many products, including NY Thermal, Baxi, Carrier, Mitsubishi, Trane, Upenor, and Viessmann. Here, Graeme walks us through the company’s history. —Julie Schaeffer

It begins as a heating-and-plumbing company operated by brothers Roy and Ross Belyea. “In those days, you didn’t need a lot of stuff to fix things, so they rode bikes around Toronto, carrying a bar of lead, a heat pack, and minimal parts in backpacks,” Graeme says. 1910 dominating the competition

A newspaper article calls Belyea Bros. “a pioneer in the industry” and claims it is “the largest heating-and-plumbing company in Toronto.”

1912 the first service truck

Belyea Bros. invests in one of the first Ford Model T vans and begins using it as a service truck. It is the first company in Canada to do so. “Doing that was outstanding in those days,” says Graeme. “You would never have imagined the foresight from two guys riding bicycles.” 1914 brother in, brother out

Another Belyea brother, Gord, joins as accountant, and Ross Belyea leaves the company.


Gord and Roy Belyea. 1919 shop on wheels

Belyea Bros. sells parts and solutions from its service truck, using the slogan “Shop on Wheels.” “In those days, there wasn’t a lot of equipment to carry, so they could fill the truck with pipes, valves, and fittings, go to your house, and make something to fit,” says Graeme. 1931 the company expands

Belyea Bros. purchases J. W. Oram, a kitchen-and-bath business, allowing the company to expand into the renovation and construction markets. 1941 the company serves the war

Belyea Bros., which has been operating out of two offices since 1940 (the first 1002 Bathurst Street, and the second at 109-111 Merton Street) is called upon to perform an important task. It starts manufacturing prefabricated hot-water heating systems for the Department of Transportation to use in Arctic Circle installations during World War II. 1946 the second generation joins the business

The company is Canada’s largest heating-and-plumbing company, and Everton Belyea, Roy Belyea’s’ son, joins the business.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

1949 the company innovates 1994

Belyea Bros. opens its third office, at 309-311 Jane Street, and installs the city’s first radiant in-floor heating system. “In the late ’40s and early ’50s, many companies installed radiant in-ceiling heating with copper pipes, but the company’s idea was unique,” says Graeme. 1953 Getting licensed

Belyea Bros. obtains the first plumbing-and-heating license issued by the City of Toronto. 1973 everton becomes president

Under Everton, the second generation of Belyeas is running the company, Gord Belyea having passed away in 1963, and Roy Belyea having passed away in 1973. 1991 graeme purchases the company

After Everton Belyea passes away in 1990, the company becomes subject to an estate sale, and Graeme takes advantage of the opportunity. Soon after, the company becomes an installing dealer for Upenor, which manufactures radiant-floor tubing, and a factory-authorized dealer for Mitsubishi, which manufactures ductless splits. “We don’t install equipment we don’t know about; we use high-end, locally represented products,” Graeme says. “We get just as much backup from the parts department as we do on the sales side, so we’re never let down, whether we’re buying a boiler or furnace, or a tiny part to fix it.”

David Graeme and the Belyea team. 1994 the attic pak comes out

Belyea Bros. introduces a low-velocity, atticbased air-conditioning system for older Toronto homes, and trademarks it as the Attic Pak. 2000 belyea bros. melts snow

Belyea Bros. does two exceptionally large projects for Go-Transit, Toronto’s public transit system. “We put a snow-melt system on a 20,000-square-foot railway platform and on a ramp to an underground parking area,” Graeme says. 2005 a shift in strategy

The company drops plumbing services, focusing on specialized heating and cooling in older Toronto homes and new homes built within the downtown core. “There are many companies that claim to do boiler work but don’t understand boilers, and we thought there was potential for growth in specialized hydronics and forced air,” Graeme says. 2013 the next chapter

Today, the company has a total of 26 employees, and prides itself on being a tight-knit team. Marketing itself through its website, various home shows, and flyers, Belyea Bros. averages 30-plus projects per year. But even with more recent efforts, the company prides itself on more than a century of good old-fashioned values and high-quality service.

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This project was a complete renovation of a typical 1950s bungalow. Cornerstone completed every stage of the project, from the design and drawing of the concept and layout, to the installation of the landscape, to the solid cut granite stairs that meet up with concrete walkways and new masonry walls.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile Cornerstone Landscape & Construction Group Ltd. Beverly Barrett Design Studio Sander Design Geoff Hodgins Architect Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc. Square Root Contracting Ltd. Farrelly Homes Ltd. JM Architecture Inc.

122 126 128 132 135 138 141 144

After a six-year stint in the military, Jason King decided to earn a business degree. But a summer job pointed him in a radically different direction. Interview by Frederick Jerant

Cornerstone Landscape & Construction Group Ltd. is a North Vancouver-based landscape installation and home-construction company. Formed by the merger of two complementary businesses, Cornerstone’s in-house expertise and strong relationships with outside trades provide a broad list of capabilities. Its residential and commercial projects span anything from new lawns, waterscapes, and sport courts, to interior/exterior home renovations, new construction, and architectural concrete. Employee certification is paramount—whether in carpentry, landscape construction, or horticulture—and Cornerstone’s staff keeps its professional skills sharp through continuing education and on-the-job training. We recently talked with president and project manager Jason King about his company and experiences.

Photos: Peter Mengede

CBQ: Although you started pursuing a degree in business, you took a sharp left turn and studied horticulture. How did that happen?

Jason King: I had spent six years in the Canadian Navy. Following my discharge, my wife and I moved to Vancouver, where I enrolled in Capilano University. After my first year, I took the summer off and worked with a friend who had a small landscape construction company. I had done that sort of thing prior to my military service and really enjoyed it. During that summer job, I realized I was more passionate about plants than business. What happened next?

I put my business studies on hold and entered the landscaping and horticulture certification program at

Cornerstone At a Glance Location North Vancouver, BC Founded 2005 Employees 20 Specialty Landscape installation; residential and commercial construction Annual sales $2.5 million

december 2012


in profile

Capilano. Ten months later, I was a certified landscaper and horticulturist. I started Cornerstone in 2005. Tell us a bit about the early days.

My first years were exclusively in landscaping. But in 2006, I realized that I could expand my company by providing complementary services. In 2007, I merged with Gordon Green, who was operating a home-construction company, and Cornerstone took its present form. Sounds like a great idea.

It was. At the time, it seemed that there were landscapers, and there were renovation/construction firms, but no one was offering those services as a package. So I jumped at the opportunity to do just that, and it was a great decision. As president, are you in charge of the entire operation?

Above: Cornerstone installed a new landscape on top of an engineered 25-foot-tall SierraScape wall. The property required environmental development due to erosion issues.


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How about the rest of your staff?

We have a core group of 20 people, but our total employment depends on our workload, of course. In the summer, we often take on high-school and university students.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photos: Peter Mengede

Gord and I have a pretty good division of labour. He’s a ticketed carpenter and handles most of the day-to-day operations; he’s usually on-site for our builds. I tend to concentrate on business development and administration. We share project-management duties. It works well for us. If you have two guys “in charge” on a site, it’s easy to butt heads. This way, we capitalize on each other’s strengths while helping the other’s weaknesses.

in profile

“Cornerstone is willing to take on different types of projects, and that attitude helped us to grow even during the last recession.”

flowPAINTING I n t e r i o r & E x t e r i o r P a i n t i n g i n Va n c o u v e r, B C


jason king, president

Do you experience a lot of turnover?

Actually, we don’t. Many of our people have been with us for a good length of time. And we encourage them to seek accreditation. That’s a big plus for them, and for the business. There are many approaches to running a business successfully. What's yours?

For us, adaptability and mutability is essential. Obviously, we started as a landscape and gardening company, and moved into a different market. Cornerstone is willing to take on different types of projects, and that attitude helped us to grow even during the last recession.

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What types of projects are those?

We were hired to do a complex home renovation on Taylor Drive in West Vancouver. It’s a 4,000-square-foot home, nestled on a 70 percent gradient cliff ledge. It was a two-phase project: the first part needed just a basic building permit, but to complete the second stage, I needed a variance permit. It took about 14 months to prepare the drawings, meet with district planners, and convince them the project was a benefit to the community. I’d never done that before.


Sounds like a lot of effort. Was it worth it?

Yes, it was. The completed house will be spectacular, and we’ve taken on three more form-to-finish projects since then.

DARTMOUTH OFFICE 714 Windmill Road, Unit 1 Dartmouth, NS B3B 1C2 t 902-429-1511 f 902-429-1478

So it sounds like you're a hands-on kind of guy.

Yes, in the sense that I’m involved in just about everything. I guide our clients through variance applications and other paperwork; coordinate the efforts of architects and designers, structural and geotechnical engineers, and other specialists; pull together the various trades; and stay available to my staff. Although Gord is in charge of the actual projects, I often drop by the sites to be sure of what’s going on. The more that everybody knows, the better. Communication is the key. CBQ

RIVERVIEW OFFICE 26 Trites Rd Riverview, NB E1B 2V6 t 506-857-4041 f 506-884-8854

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in profile

With nearly 30 years of interior-design experience, Beverly Barrett knows what rules to follow … and what rules to break. Interview by Benjamin Van Loon

Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery. After considering possibilities for her future life and career in New Brunswick, Beverly Barrett visited Boston in 1979. Inspired by the new wall-hanging and interiordesign options she saw showcased in the city, Barrett returned to home to open her own storefront. After culling a clientele and diversifying her services, she founded Beverly Barrett Design Studio in 1984. Beginning with high-end custom-home designs, she has branched into the corporate, hospitality, and retail sectors—and now, as she nears her 30th anniversary, Barrett focuses almost exclusively on commercial work. Canadian Builders Quarterly recently sat down with Barrett to learn more about her ideas of design, inspiration, and aspiration. CBQ: What originally drove you to become an interior designer?

Beverly Barrett: Before I got into design, I originally wanted to work in the restaurant business, but I couldn’t get a job because I couldn’t speak French. Then, in 1979, I was on vacation in Boston and that’s when I first saw what was then called “international printworks.” They were large and inexpensive screen-printed tapestries, and could be hung to cover walls in homes or offices. When I got home, I found out where you could buy these wholesale, and opened a shop on Main Street in Moncton. People were buying them, but also asking if I could visit their offices and homes to help them pick out hangings. After a few years, I closed the store and moved to an office in 1984, focusing strictly on interior design, which I’ve been doing ever since. What were some of the challenges you encountered when you moved that direction?

Early on, the challenge was to stay afloat and pay rent. I was also taking drafting courses so I could learn how to do layout plans, though at the


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

same time, I was working and doing everything myself, so it was a juggling act trying to get my name out there. For a few years, I was teaching decorating classes two nights a week, which helped business immensely. The students, mostly adults, were talking about me, and even though they were in my course, they still hired me to help them. It helped me build a clientele.

because it let me do something more contemporary. The windows are large, the lighting is really clean, and the colour scheme goes with that. I chose white-leather furniture and forewent the standard, cold, slippery examination tables for tables with a no-slip, seamless surface from Mannington Commercial, and I was able to design the millwork for the tables.

Have you always done everything yourself?

What inspires your design decisions for a project like CullenWebb?

I actually prefer working alone. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. A few years after I got my office in ’84, I hired a summer student, and it was really nice working with her, though after she graduated she ended up taking a job in Halifax. I later hired another assistant in the ’90s, but that was right before I took a four-year sabbatical to work as an event coordinator for a different company, where I did a lot of global travelling. Otherwise, I sometimes hire an architectural technician as a subcontractor to do the drawings for some of my larger projects, but I pretty much do everything on my own.

In the best cases, the client inspires me, because some clients really have a vision, and I get a lot of satisfaction putting that vision together for them. With CullennWebb, for example, I came across a painting in a newsletter I received. I loved the colour scheme in it, so I e-mailed the painting to the client, and they really liked it, too. I modeled the colour decisions after that painting, and it came out really refined. I like to make the design reflect who the client is, so they can feel like this design is their own.

Beverly Barrett Design Studio At a Glance Location Moncton, NB Founded 1984 Employees 1 Specialty Interior design for offices, restaurants, bars, condominiums Annual Sales $250,000

Are there still things you want to accomplish?

Photos: Daniel St. Louis

What have you been working on recently?

Among other things, I was recently involved in a new project for the CullenWebb animal clinic. It’s a specialized clinic led by two partners: a neurologist and an ophthalmologist. They wanted a sophisticated-looking clinic, because it’s a higher-end, specialized office. They wanted it to reflect their specialties, but they also wanted the space to be friendly. I really enjoyed the project

I feel like I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I am comfortable doing a bit less work for a bit more compensation. I’ve worked hard, and I feel my projects are of a certain quality. I don’t take on every job that comes along—I only do the jobs I like. Otherwise, I’d love to design a boutique hotel, because I’ve never done that, but outside of that, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of what I’ve wanted to do. It’s a good feeling. CBQ

Above: The lobby and reception area of the CullenWebb Animal Neurology & Ophthalmology Centre features floor-to-ceiling windows to bring in exceptional light and warmth.

december 2012


The Queen's Quay Rooftop Terrace project features outdoor rooms created by arranging deck chairs on square segments of turf, further separated by planters with tall grasses running north-south and coloured flooring defining the spaces.


december 2012

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.

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

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. What was your first gig out of school?

Photo: Eugene Choi

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.

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 themselvesÑthey got tired of doing someone else's drawings.

Yes. Creating a Disneyland-style space was interesting in many

december 2012


in profile

Above: The rooftop features deck chairs at the north end, greenery throughout, tall bar-style tables and chairs arranged by an outdoor open kitchen at the south end of the roof, and glass barriers surrounding the area for unrestricted views of the city.

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 megadevelopment 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.


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

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

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

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Creating Places to Inspire Sustainable Lives 1 Sherbrooke St E


Perth, Ontario K7H 1A1


(613) 267-2954

| december 2012


in profile

George Hodgins planned a career as a painter, chose a career as an architect, and defined himself in the Arctic. There, he gained an interest in community development. Interview by Julie Schaeffer

“In many ways, working in the Arctic demonstrated the link between architecture and the space we survive in—not just the urban form, but also the social structure that we inhabit,” says Geoff Hodgins, who now brings those ideas to life as the principal of his own firm, Geoff Hodgins Architect. Here, Hodgins walks us through his architectural journey from Baffin Island to Perth, Ontario, and tells us what he learned along the way about sustainable design.

CBQ: How did you get into architecture?

Geoff Hodgins: I initially studied fine art at Queens University, starting with painting and eventually moving into sculpture. By my final year, my sculpture was getting large enough that you could crawl through some of it. After, I took a year off to reassess. I decided I wanted to be an architect, so I applied to the master’s of architecture program at what was then called the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS)—now part of Dalhousie. Why did architecture appeal to you?

It’s a way of taking the arts in a direction that is more socially interactive. I’ve always had a very strong social conscience, so it seemed like a good fit. How did you end up working in the Arctic?

For my final two years studying architecture, I was awarded a scholarship from the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation to investigate my thesis, entitled “Towards a Responsive Arctic Architecture.” As well, the TUNS program was a co-op program, and I managed to secure a work term with an architecture firm on Baffin Island. That further spurred my interest in the link between architecture and community development by shining a poor light on it. It was obvious that the local architecture of the time was not servicing the community well. The Inuit were migrating to the city, and you could see the disconnection between their culture and the physical form they were being forced to inhabit. Did that tie in with your interest in sustainability?

I think so, because I take a broad view of sustainability.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Environmental performance is only one part of it. In the Arctic, insulation values need to be high, of course. But there’s also a social side, and this was highlighted by my experience there. If we’re talking about sustainable architecture, I think we need buildings that respect the environment but also support healthy and sustainable patterns of life. Is that why you founded your own firm?

It was more about timing. I came back to Ontario in the early 1990s, when not a lot of building was happening, and joined a firm that did multidisciplinary work. I was doing as much exhibit design as architecture. After five years, the economy had turned around, so I decided it was time to focus on architecture again, and it seemed like founding my own firm was the right thing.

themselves and try to think about how the architecture fits into both the environmental and social structure around it. When possible, we pursue projects that allow us to think beyond four walls, to help design neighbourhoods and communities. It is an exciting time to be an architect. Work may not be as plentiful as it was a decade ago, but society is reexamining what it means to build towns and cities, and architects have a pivotal role to play in this process. We are committed to designing contemporary, energy-efficient buildings, but we often look to the past for inspiration, to times when buildings were, for the most part, more oriented towards people. We aim to create full environments that support healthy sustainable lifestyles.

As your firm evolved, what came to define your work?

Is there a recent project you've worked on that exemplifies your style?

I like to look beyond the limits of the buildings

The Town of Perth hired us to create a strategy to

Geoff Hodgins Architect At a Glance Location Perth, ON Founded 1997 Employees 3 Specialty Architecture Annual Projects 50–60 Above: The Algonquin College SmartHome, the first prototype built by students at PerthWorks.

december 2012


in profile

“If we’re talking about sustainable architecture, I think we need buildings that respect the environment but also support healthy and sustainable patterns of life.” geoff hodgins, principal

backyard green space. It seemed like a good recipe for low-tech, affordable sustainability. It’s about 20 percent complete. Did the project involve the community?

Yes. We worked with the town to create site-specific zoning, ran a one-day design charrette that involved local representation and outside environmental and design professionals, held a public meeting with the immediate neighbours, and finally brought in Algonquin College, which offers an advanced housing program locally that specializes in sustainable technologies for housing, to build a few prototypes. What are you working on now?

Above: A streetscape study for the 278-unit Parry Sound project.


december 2012

develop a small (2.3-acre) municipally owned brownfield site into a demonstration project for sustainable development. When built out, PerthWorks, as it is called, will only have 30 or 35 residential units, but its intention is to show the local development community that there are alternatives to suburbantype residential developments. The inspiration for the eventual form of the project came not from any specific architectural presidents but from a desire to create a family-friendly environment that would allow children to play freely in sight of their own home, surrounded by other familiar faces and also the desire to allow residents to age in place, maintaining their membership in the small community. The result is a mix of passive-solar singles, townhouses, and small apartment-style condominiums connected by a shared

We’re working on a 278-unit residential complex in Parry Sound on Georgian Bay. It’s in the conceptual development stage, but it would represent a substantial portion of the town’s population—about seven percent— so we’re focusing on how to keep the scale down and on how the project would integrate with the community. We don’t want it to be an isolated development on the edge of town. We’re focusing on making it walkable, streetoriented, and incorporating a substantial public waterfront component. Is it easier or harder to be sustainable in a small town such as Perth?

There are some advantages to sustainable development in a small town; they tend to be walkable, with strong street grids and proximity to mixed-use amenities and access to green space. But for a contemporary sustainable development, there’s very little precedent in a small-town setting. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Some people like to draw a hard line between a building and the environment. Architect Alvin Fritz is making it his business to blur it. Interview by Benjamin van Loon

Alvin Fritz has building in his blood. When he founded Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc. in 1989, he was fulfilling a lifelong dream fostered since his childhood, when he began to learn about building from his father, a masonry contractor. From a young age, Fritz was able to recognize that the best buildings are those that work with—not against—the surrounding environment. His firm has since built a reputation from Ontario to British Columbia, and his 365,000-square-foot Sanderson Ridge at Fish Creek Park condominiums received the coveted Calgary SAM award. Canadian Builders Quarterly caught up with Fritz to learn more about environmental integration, biophilia, and how healthy buildings make for healthy living in the 21st century.

A view of Timber Gables, close to the entry at Sanderson Ridge on Fish Creek Park.

CBQ: When did you first realize that you wanted to be an architect?

Alvin Fritz: As a child, I loved architecture, and my father also had a masonry firm, so I spent my summers going with him to jobsites. I began summer work at 12 years of age and enjoyed it. I learned a lot from this, but then in sixth grade I took an aptitude test, and architecture was at the top of my results list. It confirmed what I already knew, but it was good to have the aptitude test confirm that passion, and I’ve pursued architecture since then. How did this genesis play into the founding of your firm in 1989?

I would again credit some the inspiration to what I observed in my father. He owned his own business and had a lot of freedom with it, and I wanted the same thing. It was a lot of work for him, and he would sometimes do work at home in the evenings, and I gleaned a certain ethic from that. I wanted that kind of interested independence in my own work. Earlier in my own career, I did work for other firms, but at the back of my mind I had plans to go independent after I got inducted in the Architectural Association. I even got an offer to be partnered with a local firm around the time of my induction in ’88, but I wanted to be an independent practitioner.

december 2012


in profile

Extendicare Fairmont Park is a two-storey facility located in Lethbridge, AB, featuring 140 beds of varying care regimes linked to the central “Main Street,” which includes various amenity facilities and administration areas for the building.

Was it hard to find work when you first started? Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect At a Glance Location Lethbridge, AB Founded 1989 Employees 12 Specialty Senior accommodations, medical offices, condos, and churches Annual projects 24


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I was actually very fortunate from early on in my career. One of my first projects was the design of the Jennie Emery Elementary School in Coaldale. It was a substantive commission, and it has performed really well. Since then, the school division recently approached me about some renovations for the school. Other schools have been built in Coaldale since then, but Jennie Emery is still considered the flagship. It’s been great to see the longevity of this decision. Since then, we’ve gotten work from Ontario to British Columbia, and I’m registered for work in all of the western provinces—so it was a good start for the firm. Can you tell me more about some of your recent work?

One project I really enjoyed was the Sanderson Ridge at Fish Creek Park. We won a 2010 SAM Award in three categories for the project: Best Community, Best Apartment Building, and Best Multifamily Residence. The project itself has a beautiful setting, atop the escarpment overlooking Fish Creek Park. We chose to

follow a sawtooth resort-style architecture that allows all of the residents to see out to the park. We also had some pressure to terrace the building away from the park, so we made these exaggerated balconies, and that technique has become a signature style for us: blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces with these heavily landscaped decks. What's the concept driving this indoor-outdoor integration?

At the firm, we’ve recently been gaining interest in the architectural concept of biophilia—love of nature. There are empirical studies demonstrating that people are able to heal faster if they are closer to nature. At hospitals, doctors will actually prescribe windows to critical patients, who are more likely to survive being placed in this way. I think if this is true in medical environments, it can be true in other ways, like in schools, where children learn better if they physically or visually access more natural surroundings. Out of this, we really aspire to integrate the natural landscape with the architecture. My

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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The stepped façade of Harbourview Landing creates more privacy for resident balconies.

“We really aspire to integrate the natural landscape with the architecture. My goal for the next few decades is to make this ‘blur’ a signature style.” alvin fritz, owner & president



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goal for the next few decades is to make this “blur” a signature style. Where do you see this signature style taking you in the future?

I think biophilia will become more integral—and expected—as we continue to progress. Technology plays a big part in this, too. There’s a certain satisfaction we can derive from being able to access the world at a touch of a button, but nothing beats sitting under a tree and listening to the birds. A building integrated with the natural landscape can really transform our relationship with technology—and the earth. CBQ

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in profile

In a turgid economy, diversification is key. How a new moulding and millwork acquisition bolsters a contractor’s competitiveness. Interview by Christopher Cussat

Michael Twack feels lucky that construction comes naturally to him. In fact, the president of Square Root Contracting Ltd. found his calling at an early age, when Twack found himself following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a carpenter and builder. And the next generation is already getting onboard. “My eight-year-old daughter, Anneka, also seems to have caught the same thing!” Twack says.

For more than a decade, after founding Square Root in 2000, Twack and his CFO, Wendy Van Donkelaar, continue to grow the company’s size and success. Square Root’s typical customers are people who understand and appreciate high-quality and that you get what you pay for. Below, Canadian Builders Quarterly talks with Twack to discuss the present and future of his company, as well as his recent purchase of one of Western Canada’s largest stain-grade moulding shops.

CBQ: What makes Square Root unique?

Michael Twack: My carpenters. I look for people who are A-type personalities, like myself, who want to push the envelope a little bit more. They understand that it requires a certain person to take our work to the higher notes that we try and hit. In addition, I recently bought a millwork and moulding company, so now I can help clients with various designs from the very beginning. Tell us more about your millwork and moulding company acquisition. How will this change the business?

[The moulding company] was a 25-year-old company that fell on hard times. So we brought its focus back on the moulding aspect, to be a manufacturer and to start making things that can separate us from the competition. For this reason, we’ve added a millwork concept as well. Named Kettle Valley Moulding and Millwork, we can now produce custom, high-end millwork components for our clients and deliver products much quicker with our two companies operating as one.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Square Root’s Northwood Place project epitomizes the quality craftsmanship that the company has become synonymous with.

Photos: Sterling Lawrence

Can you tell us about your recently completed Diamond View Estates project?

This 9600-square-foot house was a really interesting and complex project because it was built on a cliff and had lots of structural and geotechnical challenges. The view is to die for, with three floors overlooking the whole city of Kelowna [British Columbia]. There’s also a custom pool built on one end, which was very technically difficult to achieve due to the home’s cliff location; it required a significant amount of rebar and concrete. The structure also includes a number of suspended-slab-steel and concrete Q-decked systems, which allow the residents to have living space underneath the garage. This 14-month build was completed in April 2012, and the clients just recently moved in. They’re absolutely in love with it!

What other homes have you finished recently?

I recently finished my own house, which is spectacular in its own right. In fact, I’ve already received many nice comments about it. It’s more of a French provincial or chateau style—it’s very elegant-looking with that French kind of mansion quality. In addition, the home is clad in travertine, so it’s a very unique European design with concrete windowsills. Again, it was built with the European concept and tradition of longevity in mind. I am pleased to think that my home will be a house that stands the test of time. What are your business goals for the immediate future?

I’d like to get more into city-planning concepts, because I think I have good opinions. If I’m eventually allowed as a developer to put forth ideas about neighbourhood

Square Root At a Glance Location Kelowna, BC Founded 2000 Employees 5 full-time carpenters Specialty High-end home and custom moulding/ millwork products

december 2012


Interior view of the Northwood Place project.

Photo: Sterling Lawrence

in profile

“Anyone can start projects, but not many people can finish them while simultaneously keeping quality at the forefront.” michael twack, president

designs, I have solid suggestions about how neighbourhoods can work better and exist more harmoniously with the homes built inside them. What's a key characteristic for a small, nimble companies like your own?

You have to be dedicated and you must be a good closer. When you’re self-employed and have a small company, you really have to keep your finger on execution every day, and not ever let a couple days—or even a couple hours—slip by. Time is money, and you have to constantly perform at high efficiency. We live and die by our efforts. How do you stay ahead of the curve?

10 years of extensive knowledge and applications in projects ranging from high rise & heavy concrete buildings to extravagant custom house framing

I try really hard to make sure that I keep reinventing myself so we don’t turn into some stale thing. We always have to keep up with changes. That’s why I think the moulding company I bought fell apart—because there was no one there adjusting and [recalibrating] the system and doing things that were new. I tend to be a bit of an innovator, and that comes naturally to me. What keeps you motivated?

Brandon Lowe 250.869.5586 | 140

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It’s fun to see the excitement in people, and for me, it’s the same kind of feeling. Even though there are a lot of hard parts, when you start to see the structure coming together, you really feel excited. Then when it’s all done, you are very proud. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to experience that kind of tingle, and it sure is nice to see the pleased expressions on clients’ faces and feel their admiration. CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Rob Farrelly started out as a computer programmer. But after building his own home, he discovered what he truly enjoyed. Interview by Benjamin van Loon

Specializing in custom-home construction and renovation since 2005, Alberta’s Farrelly Homes Ltd. represents the best of what can happen when a business stays in the family. Informed by his father’s background in cabinetry and custom woodwork, Rob Farrelly decided to move out of his background in computer programming and team up with his wife to form Farrelly Homes. Now, Farrelly Homes—a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Built Green, and Moisture Smart—is bustling, managing diverse, high-end renovation and new-construction projects throughout the region. Canadian Builders Quarterly recently sat down with Farrelly to learn more about running a family business, recently completed projects, and projects he wants to accomplish.

CBQ: How did Farrelly Homes get its start?

Rob Farrelly: We incorporated in 2005, but we got started in 2001. I was a computer programmer and living in northern Alberta at the time, and when I got married, I built a house with my wife and ended up really enjoying the process. We built at a good time in the industry, and things were going well. We sold the home within the first year and built another home right away, doing everything from the frame to the hardwood floors to the finishing. I enjoy the details and thinking through how a project will look when it’s done. Why did you choose High River for your relocation?

We moved to High River because that’s where my family is, and I had a lot of connections to people in the area through my father, who was a cabinetmaker and finishing carpenter in the area since 1974. Because of his connections, it was pretty easy for us to get started, and we certainly had to do some spec projects, but we were able to gather up a lot of work based on the name my dad made for himself. Farrelly Homes builds each project to cater to its clients’ needs.

What criteria do you use when selecting a new project?

When I first got started, I pretty much took on any project,

december 2012


in profile

Farrelly Homes At a Glance Location High River, AB Founded 1974 Employees 2 Specialty Custom-home construction and renovation


december 2012

but lately I’ve been able to be pickier with what I choose. I’m mostly looking to work with people in my own demographic—people who are looking to build homes for their families; people who plan on staying in their home for a long time; people who have lived in one or two homes before and know what they’re looking for in a custom home. I’m always looking to work on a variety of different projects. Almost every house I’ve built is unique, and we also do renovations—from bathrooms to more substantial overhauls. I like building something new every time.

the whole project engaging. They were able to voice their concerns and stay up-to-date on the project—and the home itself is in a fabulous location, just outside of Calgary. It has an international flavour, because the clients like to travel, and it uses a lot of different contemporary and recycled materials. For example, we put in a 200-pound kitchen sink the client found at a garage sale, and set it into an antique wrought-iron table.

What are some renovations or new projects you've worked on recently?

We’ve been using a lot of ICFs for our projects. Mostly we use them in basements, but some of our projects utilize ICFs throughout the home. Recently, we did a 2,400square-foot, two-storey home for a family, and the basement of that home uses ICFs. We don’t always seek out green materials like this, but it’s definitely the way

Recently we did a renovation for a client who was out for nearly nine months during the process, and it was interesting project because the clients sought me out for it. I knew them from when I was younger, and that made

Are there materials or strategies that are standard for your projects?

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Opposite: Every project that Farrelly Homes builds or renovates is unique, focusing on quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.

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“Cost of living is going up, so if we can limit the amount spent on heating or cooling a home, that helps out the client.” robert farrelly, owner

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the market is going. Cost of living is going up, so if we can limit the amount spent on heating or cooling a home, that helps out the client. Mid-Rise Residential – Surrev, BC

What are you looking forward to with Farrelly Homes in the coming months and years?

We’re definitely at a growth spot in our business. The industry was slow over the past couple of years, but we were able to keep finding projects and putting our name out there, and now we’re working on getting more established. We don’t have a huge staff, so when you need to see Farrelly Homes on-site, it’s me that you’re seeing. In 2012, we really started to see the benefit of that accessibility. Every meeting we have is face to face, and this is starting to separate us [from the competition]. People like the fact that there’s some accountability in this. CBQ

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in profile

It’s not easy working in multiple sectors. See how one firm’s understanding of industry needs is making its clients’ lives easier. Interview by Christopher Cussat

JM Architecture Inc. (JMA) is a sole proprietorship that provides architecture, planning, and interior-design services. According to principal Joe Minten, his firm has consistently grown in proportion to the growth of his clients’ needs. “As the economy ebbs and flows, so too do we,” he says. “However, we are still focused on the hospitality industry, as well as other residential-related projects. A good description might be that we are a housing-centric firm specializing in all forms of residential-type projects: market housing, seniors independent and/or assisted living, care facilities, and, of course, hospitality.” We recently spoke with Minten to discuss the resurgence of wood construction, the importance of customer service, and much more.

CBQ: What unique services does JMA provide?

Joe Minten: In all cases, we provide a comprehensive design service that starts anywhere from site planning and can end with the selection of furniture fabrics—and everything in between. JMA tries to make life for our clients as easy as possible. I believe clients come to our firm expecting professional expertise wrapped in strong personal commitment and guided by valued ethics—and we deliver just that. What separates the firm from its competitors?

JMA is one of a very few architect firms that serves exclusively the hospitality/residential marketplace for both architecture and interior design. We have a broad understanding of the industry’s needs and, in particular, the process, which includes developer, hospitality, and government agencies. Many firms offer these services in general, but we tend to provide them for a dedicated and narrow client base. Did you have a specific project early on that helped establish the firm?

PHI Hospitality Group was our first client in the hospitality industry, and it remains one of our strongest supporters. In fact, as they have grown, so too have we—to serve their needs. I believe Mr. Rai, the president of the company, was looking for a consultant that was willing to provide value-added service and, in some manner of speaking, would be more than a phone number in his directory. So there was room for growth from both sides, and having the desire to become more fluent to the needs of the industry also meant that I could provide a more holistic service.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

in profile

Can you tell me your library project?

The library project is truly an exciting project to be part of. This is the first mid-rise (up to six storeys) woodframe residential building in British Columbia—and most likely in Canada. Our client was a local developer named Mr. Casey VanDongen of Total Concept Developments. He came to us requesting design service for a mixed-use project that included a community library, commercial retail uses, and residential dwellings. The need came directly from the Thompson Nicola Regional District Library System, as a call to developers to provide a strong sustainability-minded development and more comprehensive use of the land for an urban site in North Kamloops. Thus was born this development, which now contains 151 market-housing units, several thousand square feet of commercial retail use, and a 20,500-square-foot community library. How have your business relationships progressed over the years?

The challenges are clearly present in these days of slow economic growth. But for our small firm, we know that as long as we give the best service possible and try to find those solutions that provide increased value to our clients’ needs, we can stay the course. “Slow and steady as she goes” is the best philosophy to adopt right now. The firm also works with wood interiors. Can you tell me a little about that?

Wood is a British Columbia-grown material that, more

and more, we see as the pride of our province. We realize it is the foundation of our economy. Whenever possible, I believe we should bring the warmth of this material to the forefront, and one of my personal goals is to introduce it more heavily into hospitality interiors. The natural beauty and calming features of wood offer a vast array of opportunity that we have just begun to harness in our design process. Although many projects in British Columbia feature wood, little of it has yet to see the light of day on hospitality projects. But the times, they are changing—I hope! What goals do you have for the company?

We discussed this topic as a group not too long ago and clearly one of our goals is to find a stronger presence in the local developer community. We see an evident need to become more prominent players in the local scene so that JMA can build upon the foundations it has set, and so that its staff and future employees can find a home upon which to build their own lives. This is extremely important to me, so in the coming years—the five-year plan, so to speak—the firm should be open to expansion from within. In building this business and team, what have been your most important learning experiences?

Stay humble, interested, flexible, and motivated—but most of all, stay tuned in to what the needs of your clients are. Without them, you’re selling hot dogs at the intersection of hope and despair. CBQ

JM Architecture At a Glance Location Surrey, BC Founded 1999 Employees 6 Specialty Hospitality and residential projects

Above: JMA’s Library Square project, in North Kamloops, BC, includes 151 market-housing units, several thousand feet of retail space, and a 20,500-square-foot community library.

december 2012


Established in 1993 Ellard-Willson is proud to be working with the Durham District School Board to design the mechanical and electrical

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systems for their schools. Our goal has been to help provide a comfortable and workable environment for the staff and students, to help optimize the educational experience. Our partners and staff would like to congratulate the DDSB on being recognized by the Canadian Builders Magazine and look forward to many more years of collaboration with the Board. Mechanical & Electrical


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Percon Construction Inc. is a full service contractor/builder with the capability, knowledge and expertise to take on mid- to large-size industrial, commercial, and institutional projects. Percon Construction Inc. aims to build facilities that serve the general public and the communities in which they stand by maintaining the highest possible industry standards. Percon Construction Inc. | 20 Airview Road | Toronto, Ontario M9W 4P2 tel: 416-744-9967 | fax: 416-744-8863 | Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step Durham District School Board Exhibition Place S3 Interior Design Inc. Baptist Housing KOJIN Inc. Tower Interiors Ltd. Cape Breton University

Brenda Coward, manager of facilities design and construction, outside of Whitby Shores Public School in Whitby, ON.

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Green an Entire School District

Photo: Jim Edwards

with the Durham District School Board

Rapid growth has defined the Durham District School Board in recent years, providing ample opportunity for the district of 70,189 students and 135 schools to build and renovate facilities with a nod toward sustainability. That track record includes eight new schools in the past five years. The district—in southern Ontario, east of Toronto and on the shores of Lake Ontario—experiences cold winters and hot summers, and the temperature swings mean the district must take the proper steps to manage energy use. —Laura Willaims-Tracy

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Let the outdoors work for you

Julie Payette Public School, a French immersion elementary school for 633 students, designed by Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, features a 750-square-foot green roof planted with succulents and sedum near the science classroom. The roof is an experiment for future buildings, and serves as a teaching tool for students who regularly visit the roof to see how the project is progressing. The school is sited to take advantage of mature trees, which cool the un-air-conditioned facility during shoulder months. The canopy of trees along the south-facing row of classrooms provides shade in hotter months. When the leaves fall in autumn, the southerly sun’s rays warm the building in colder months.


Don’t undervalue natural light

“Natural light provides warmth to a facility, resulting in a positive atmosphere for the learning environment,” says Brenda Coward, manager of facilities design and construction. “It also helps us in energy conservation because when there’s natural light, there’s less need for artificial light.” In bigger schools, the district has included clerestory windows in common areas.


Nix buses

At the new Whitby Shores Public School, designed by Moffet & Duncan Architects, Inc., the student body comes from the surrounding neighbourhood, eliminating the need for buses. Since all 525 students walk to school, there’s no need for a

Above: Outdoor plantings help shade Whitby Shores while also providing an outdoor learning area. Below: Brenda Coward stands with Bob Ferkul of Moffet & Duncan Architects Inc., who served as architect on the Whitby Shores project.

bus loop, which reduces the amount of nonpermeable asphalt on-site and reduces heat absorption by the blacktop. “Not having a bus loop really provides a wonderful sense of community,” Coward says. “There’s continual activity in the front of the school.” The school makes use of that outside space with an outdoor classroom that’s shaded by trees.


Use LEED principles even if you don’t certify

Durham District does not certify buildings with the Canada Green Building Council as LEED because of the expense of the certification process. Still,

Durham District hires consultants who are LEED-accredited professionals, who can guide the school district on the best practices for energy efficiency and sustainable materials. “To have a plaque on the wall doesn’t mean as much as having a building be energy efficient,” Coward says.


Become a certified EcoSchool

Since 2005, Durham District has certified 95 of its schools and sites as Ontario EcoSchools. This is an environmental education and certification program for grades K–12 that helps school communities develop both ecological literacy and environmental practices. For Durham District, school-ground greening has been a priority, including providing shaded areas for students for learning and recreation. Trees are planted to provide shade, while rocks and other natural structures provide seating.


Manage energy

All of Durham Districts schools have energy-management systems that control when heating systems turn on and off and when lights are on. For example, corridor lights are reduced when kids are in class or at lunch, and come on when students flood the hallways. Stairways and some classrooms have daylight sensors that turn off lights on sunny days or turn them on at overcast times. “We are not relying on people to turn off lights,” Coward


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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says. “Ultimately, it’s all for the comfort of the students and staff.” Utility-manager systems alert administrators to problems within the system when electricity or water bills suddenly spike.


Pursue grants


Work as a team

At the new Whitby Shores Public School, Durham District received a Ministry of Education grant for a solar-powered hot-water tank. The system provides all of the hot water for the school. Coward says the school system often pursues grants from the government or local utilities to try new, cutting-edge technology in schools.

The superintendents and school board recognize that facility costs are not limited to the capital budget but are impacted throughout the year by operational costs. That common view is supported by a team approach to facilities, and departments meet regularly to share information about new products or projects. For example, a new flooring material called Marmoleum, an eco-friendly linoleum, won rave reviews from the custodial staff. The product doesn’t require chemicals to clean, which reduces cost. “All of the departments work well together and meet on a regular basis,” Coward says. “It’s a team effort.” CBQ

Leaders in the design and implementation of educational buildings, libraries, long-term care facilities, religious institutions and community centres.

Whitby Shores’ solar-panel system provides all of the hot water for the school.

Photos: Jim Edwards

mc architects

december 2012


Photo: Bill Conway

step by step

Renovation required removing the existing roof structure and replacing it with a long-span steel joist system, the longest in Canadian steel history.


Create a Green-Friendly Event Space with Exhibition Place

Little about the exterior of Automotive Building suggests the overhaul recently completed behind its heritage walls. One of many historic buildings of Exhibition Place—a 192-acre park in downtown Toronto that was founded in 1879—the building had fallen into disrepair as the more popular Direct Energy Centre housed the major trade shows. However, with Exhibition Place desiring to make itself more eco-friendly and pressing demands for a new venue, the Automotive Building was the perfect place to house what would become Exhibition Place’s 160,000-square-foot statement to sustainability: the Allstream Centre. Here, we detail the steps taken to create what’s billed as “Canada’s Greenest Conference Centre,” which incorporates some of today’s most innovative sustainable technologies while remaining respectful of the historical aspects of its predecessor. —Julie Schaeffer


december 2012


Define the goal

Dianne Young, CEO of Exhibition Place, realized she needed a meeting centre in 1997, when Direct Energy Centre, a one-million-square-foot trade-show venue, first opened. At the time the centre was designed, there wasn’t significant demand for meeting space, so the ratio of meeting rooms to flat-floor exhibit space was just 1.9 percent. By the time the centre opened, however, the industry had changed. “When associations began producing trade shows, demand for meeting space increased, because they wanted to hold their meetings at the same time,” Young says. “As a result, 1.9 percent was extremely low for the industry, which ranged from 1.7 percent to 32 percent.”


Consider all options

Converting some of Direct Energy Centre’s exhibit space into meeting rooms wasn’t an option, as it had been successfully marketed at the ninth-

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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largest trade-show venue in North America and was competitive with US trade facilities. When a feasibility study showed that building a freestanding convention centre attached to a hotel wasn’t financially possible, Young began looking at other buildings on the site.


Choose the location

The Automotive Building—an exhibition space connected to Direct Energy Centre via an underground tunnel—was first planned to house overflow from Direct Energy Centre. Clients, however, didn’t find splitting their shows between the two venues appealing, so the Automotive Building served as a self-contained exhibit hall. It also needed significant repairs. “We figured, since the building wasn’t being fully used and we needed to work on it anyway, we could easily turn it into a conference centre, maintaining the underground connection to Direct Energy Centre,” Young says.


Get financing


Get bids


Approve plans

When feasibility and cost studies showed the new conference centre would cost $50 million with a payback period of just 10 years, Young knew she had a winner. She took her proposal to Toronto City Council and requested a $35.6 million loan to supplement the capital funds held by Exhibition Place. It was approved.

was intended to showcase all things new and beautiful. The Automotive Building itself was originally designed to showcase the Canadian auto industry and to introduce the new models of the year. “Because it’s a heritage building, we had to get a number of approvals,” Young says. “There were a lot of things we just couldn’t touch.”



Construction ultimately began in 2007, and focused on maintaining the historic nature of the building while functionally bringing it into the modern era. One major effort involved the restoration of the building’s original entrance, which had been enclosed by a vestibule. “It involved more than replacing the original terrazzo and historic lights; the entire sidewalk elevation had to be changed to even it out with the lobby and make it accessible,” Young says. “Using well-planned design, the building has been returned to its former glory.”


Market the facility

Early in the building process, Exhibition Place decided it would find a naming partner. With the help of a consultant, Wakeham & Associates, it

canvassed hundreds of companies, ultimately choosing MTS Allstream, one of Canada’s leading communications providers. It was a great partnership, in part because MTS Allstream’s image and skill set supported the centre’s goal of being high tech. With a name in place—Allstream Centre—the conference centre’s team was able to start selling. “We did a lot of site tours with hard hats, and by our first year of building, we were already out of the gates and booking meetings and conventions,” Young says.


Continue supportive efforts

Exhibition Place continues efforts to nurture Allstream Centre’s ongoing success. Case in point: HK Hotels is in the process of building a 400-room hotel across the street on the site of an 1840 army barracks called New Fort York. “Having a hotel across from conference centre is fabulous in and of itself,” Young says. “But HK Hotels also plans to restore the existing building on the site, which was used as the officer’s quarters, and to uncover the remains of the enlisted men’s barracks and incorporate and interpret it as part of the hotel complex.” CBQ

Noted architectural firm NORR was chosen, but getting the plans approved wasn’t easy, because Exhibition Place is a collection of historically significant buildings. It began as a land holding in 1879, as the Industrial Fair, which

Photo: Gary Porter

The next step, Young explains, was getting a construction manager and architect lined up—and that required a public request for proposals (RFP). Clearly defined in the RFP were the three goals of the new conference centre: First, it had to maintain the heritage aspects of the Automotive Building, which was erected in 1929. Second, it had to be sustainable, as the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place had adopted a comprehensive environmental plan in 2004. Finally, “We wanted a wow factor,” Young says.

Exhibition Place’s ballroom incorporates T5 florescent lighting, LED lighting, and low-VOC paint, stain, and varnish, among other eco-minded features.

december 2012


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View of S3’s work for its 8 Doral Way project.


Revive an Interior

Photos: Classic Displays

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 and workable environments—spaces, surfaces, swatches. Led by principal Tracy Dyck, S3 partners with homeowners and commercial developers to create new interiors and revive existing space. “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


Establish the need

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 getting older.


Make a list of needs and wants

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.

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step by step

The family room and bar area of 8 Doral Way.


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 the client visualize the redesigned space. “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


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drawings and 3-D images that include examples of preliminary finishes. “Many people can’t envision 3-D space on a 2-D image. The 3-D drawings help in that regard, and they also help clarify the plans for builders,” Dyck says.


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.”


Begin the construction process

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

Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

Photo: Arnold Lim Photography

Exterior view of Baptist Housing’s Shannon Oaks project, an independent-living community for seniors, located in Vancouver.


Design for the SeniorHousing Sector with Baptist Housing

With an aim to help seniors live well in a variety of housing types, Baptist Housing invites people of all faiths to call the nonprofit’s communities home. Opening this summer, Carey Place is the latest of Baptist’s 16 project sites that combine affordable senior housing with state-of-the art design and sustainability. Baptist shares the steps necessary in bringing such a place to life. —Julie Knudson


Conduct a needs assessment

“Look where the needs are,” says Dayle Krahn, Baptist Housing’s vice president of property maintenance and development. In some cases, such as with Carey Place, government incentives may also be a primary factor. “There was federal stimulus money that came out about two years ago, and part of that money was to develop seniors’ housing,” Krahn says. Baptist Housing evaluated the program’s parameters and put together a proposal to develop affordable housing that matched the region’s needs.


Identify demand levels

Baptist Housing conducts market studies to determine how much demand actually exists in a given area. “We look at the number of seniors in the community, and then the demographics and income levels,” Krahn says, adding that if the need is high but supply is low, there is often enough demand to move forward. “And when

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step by step

“We try to put a whole design team together in advance of making proposals so that we have accurate numbers when we go to submit the funding.” dayle krahn, vice president of property maintenance & development

it comes to affordable seniors housing, the demand is doing nothing but going up,” he says.


Select the right location

Once the needs and estimated market demand are known, it’s time to find the right site. “With Carey Place, we’d been working on that piece of land for about seven years trying to develop a residential care parcel,” Krahn says. “So we already had that location in mind when we were looking at doing an affordable seniors housing project.” Rezoning or other considerations are sometimes factors, so Krahn suggests having a working knowledge of potential sites as far in advance as possible.


Assemble the team

Now it’s time to get the team—which includes architects and general contractors—organized, Krahn says. Pulling together the right mix of experience and expertise is important, especially in the senior-housing market. Baptist Housing is a member of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing, and other collaborators bring significant experience in the senior-housing sector, too. “Our architects are EDAC-certified,” Krahn says. “It’s important to design based on the client you have.”


Prepare the budget

Krahn prefers to have solid cost information available before unveiling the project. “We try to put a whole design team together in advance of making proposals so that we have accurate numbers when we go to submit the funding,” he says. For the Carey Place project, the government had budgeted $149,000 for each unit. Krahn’s team worked backwards from that figure to determine per-square-foot costs and, ultimately, the size of unit they could build while staying within budget.

6 Carey Place, an affordable seniors rental building opening June 1, 2012

Building today with designs for tomorrow. Baptist Housing provides housing and care to over 2,000 seniors living in British Columbia. Our communities are built and designed to meet the evolving needs of seniors.

Incorporate sustainability features

Concurrent with preparing budget figures, Krahn’s team looked at the sustainability requirements the provincial government had in place to determine what its construction costs could support. “Our goal is to be as sustainable as possible, but it has to be within reason,” Krahn says. Baptist Housing looks for a maximum five-year payback on any energy-efficiency initiatives. “With a lot of these things, by the time you get your payback, they’re already out of date,” Krahn says.


Plan for tomorrow

Even if today’s budget doesn’t allow for all the energy-efficiency upgrades Krahn prefers, he’s keen to plan for increased sustainability down the road. “An example at Carey Place was to put in electric baseboard heaters, with the idea that in 5 or 10 years—when photovoltaic cells become more efficient, both cost-wise and delivery-wise—we can always put an array on the roof and wire it back down to the system to help generate electricity for the building.” CBQ

Baptist Housing | Enhanced Seniors Living | Since 1964


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step

KOJIN’s smaller, brighter, and eco-friendly T5 bulb is compared to a bulkier, dimmer, energy-draining T12 bulb.


Upgrade to More Efficient Lighting with KOJIN Inc.

In Japanese mythology, Kojin is the god of fire. He harnesses the violent forces of nature and transforms them for the good of mankind. Taking cues from his mythological legacy, KOJIN Inc.— founded in 2005—is an Ontario-based lighting solutions provider, harnessing the power of electricity and transforming it for good. As a member of the Canada and US Green Building Councils, KOJIN founder and president Ijen Huang is committed to doing away with energy-draining lighting systems and replacing them with new lighting alternatives, including large-scale T5 and LED systems, throughout North America. Canadian Builders Quarterly recently sat down with Huang to hear the steps she is taking to transform the lighting industry—for good. —Benjamin van Loon

december 2012


step by step


Build momentum

Huang, who has an academic background in physics and a professional background in software development, has a knack for entrepreneurship. Riding on the success and momentum of her software business, she was looking for new business endeavours, and accepted an invitation to travel to China—where she had never been—to look at the latest in lighting solutions and begin brainstorming a way to bring the products into the North American market. “I thought it was an interesting thing to do,” Huang says. “They thought that I might be able to use my consulting ability to bring these solutions into a new market. I came away with a great appreciation for the advances in innovation and development in energy-saving solutions for the lighting industry.”


Expand knowledge

“Initially, I was new to the lighting market,” Huang says. “But as I started to learn more about it, I saw that North America was years behind the rest of the world with regards to energysaving solutions.” Huang found that the major North American industrial and commercial markets predominately utilize one-inch-diameter T12 fluorescent bulbs and ballasts, which have been in production since the 1940s. Though they have been proven inefficient, the T12 bulbs continue to be utilized because they are cheap—though according to Huang, the cost saved on the bulbs doesn’t exceed the cost of operating T12 lighting systems, which have an aggregate energy drain of 55 watts per bulb.


Find alternatives

T8 lighting—with a reduced diameter of 0.75 of an inch—was introduced to the market in 1981, and has been steadily accepted as a fluorescent solution, incorporating an energy-saving electronic ballast system over the more sluggish magnetic ballast utilized by T12 systems. Additionally, the system ousts the familiar electric hum and prevents bulb flickering. However, Huang sees the newer T5 lighting as a continuation of the technology innovated by the T8 solution. Huang says, “T5 has an even smaller diameter of 0.42 inches and reduced energy use of only 29 watts per bulb, versus 55 watts per T12 bulb.” Of course, with the fast advances in LED and inductance technologies, other alternatives are becoming available to the marketplace. KOJIN’s engineers are charged with the mission of staying ahead of the latest technologies, to develop more-energyefficient products.


A project outfitted with KOJIN’s energy-saving lighting.


december 2012

Innovate solutions

Even though T12 and T8 bulbs generate 360 degrees of light, most fluorescent light fixtures require 120 degrees of working radiance. KOJIN has a system for adapting higher-efficiency T5 bulbs in existing T12 and T8 lighting fixtures, and has also provided a solution for increasing radiance, to compensate for the relative smaller diameter of the T5 tubes, within the fixtures. “We utilized raw materials from Germany and worked with a Japanese engineering company to produce a nonmetallic, reflective mineral film that fits

onto all of our lighting products. The result is a patented reflector that maximizes brightness for fluorescent lights and fixtures,” Huang says. “The reflectivity increases the lumens up to 58 percent and makes a T5 just as bright as a T12.”


Save cost


Set standards


Look ahead

“One of the challenges for this solution involved coming up with a way to replace these old systems that would make sense from a budgetary standpoint,” Huang says. “We were able to make what we call a ‘self-ballasted kit,’ which takes a T5 lamp and incorporates our reflector and a ballast within the unit.” The end product, Huang says, is a T5 system that anyone who can change a lightbulb can easily replace T12 bulbs. The unique design of the integrated kits addresses the labour costs of retrofitting older systems, while producing better quality of light with less energy consumption.

“When we first developed these products for the North American market and brought these bulbs to UL [Underwriter Laboratories] for safety certification,” Huang says, “they said they had never seen this product before, so they had to create a new standard for these self-ballasted kits.” Utilizing the new certification and their innovative solutions, KOJIN began meeting with vendors, making trade-show appearances and shopping its products to those who can benefit best: the end user.

In addition to the self-ballasted T5 lighting solutions, Huang is also finding ways to work with lighting automation systems and LED alternatives to reduce energy costs. “As with all new products, some of the users were dubious at first,” Huang says. “But after a demonstration and breakdown of the costs and energy savings, people are wondering why nobody else has thought of this solution. “It’s really exciting to be at the cusp of something new. More importantly, this is a very rewarding time for consumers because the new technologies allows for significant cost and energy savings. In addition, the US and Canadian governments offer attractive rebate programs to incentivize changes to save energy.” CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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Design for Multiple Sectors with Tower Interiors Ltd.

A keen focus on functionally designed spaces has kept design firm Tower Interiors in high demand throughout Halifax for more than 15 years. Founder and principal Pam Tower and her design team work in both the residential and commercial sectors, gaining satisfaction from what each offers in the design phase as well as the final outcome. The firm has completed countless projects for hair salons and spas, condominiums, and office spaces, while continuing to keep a broad spectrum with residential homes, restaurants, and even animal hospitals. Although Tower successfully completes tasks in various sectors and fields, the firm’s process is consistent across the board, giving the designers a firm starting point, allowing for creative time at the drawing board. —Jennifer Nunez


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

step by step Opposite: Trillium on South Park’s curved patterns in the floor tiles are mirrored in the ceiling details, while glossy finishes and sparkling lights add visual interest. Below: An effective floor plan, lighting, and shiny finishes draw the consumer into the Head Shoppe, a modern salon.


Gather information

The first priority for any project is gathering client requests, parameters in which the work needs to be done, and space measurements. “It’s like putting a puzzle together,” says Tower. “We gather information from the client and they tell you 20 things they want, and those 20 things don’t all go together; it’s your challenge to put them together.” Tower has been working with the Head Shoppe hair salon for more than 10 years, building the brand through the look and feel of each space. Even though the design evolves slightly with each location, a recently completed flagship location needed that extra “umph” to help it stand out from nearby boutiques and salons. “Each time we do one, it evolves with new materials or new ways of building things that are more effective or more functional for the end user,” she says. The initial sit-down with the client and his business partners included hashing out details like new retail lines, which would determine features like shelving and lighting.


Shoppe has been keeping the same look, using black, royal blue, and white as its signature colour scheme. With this location, it rebranded again with a slightly different look that’s a little bit more edgy and high-end. “They really wanted to draw the client in from the mall so you couldn’t possibly walk past without coming in to have a look,” Tower explains. “The owner wanted things shiny and sparkly.” The firm adorned the space with exceptional lighting within the retail space and glass and high-gloss finish shelving, creating a clean, contemporary look.


Oversee construction

The construction phase is when communication needs to be clear for all parties involved, the interior designer, the client, and the construction partners. “You have to keep everyone on the same page,” says Tower. “It is challenging to keep everything rolling and getting everything done on time.”


Reap the rewards

The finished product is rewarding for Tower Interiors, no matter what. Commercial projects are where they can really let their creative energy out. The owner just wants the project to be successful, so they let the experts do what they feel is going to get results. “In commercial work, we feel that we get to be more trendy and there’s more responsibility on us to know what is new and hot and what is going to drive customers in and make the client successful,” Tower says. For residential projects, it’s much more personal for the client. “We have to work within that client’s tastes and opinions, and they’re not always congruent with what is current and good design, so then we have to take their tastes and opinions and try and combine them into a great functional design,” Tower notes. “The reward in the end, when we have been successful at making a design that they love, is that they think we are wonderful and refer us to everyone.” CBQ

Offer conceptual designs

The firm begins creating conceptual designs, usually offering up a few so the client can see all of the available options. This was a long process for Tower’s Trillium on South Park condominium project, which included designing the main lobby, elevator areas, and hallways on each floor, as well as individual units. The firm designed colour boards with different colour schemes and finishes, which were selected by buyers and used in the suites. Also during this stage, Tower and her team created detailed renderings of what the lobby would look like upon completion, including the penthouse suite, which then were turned into 3-D images for prospective buyers to view online.

Photos: Arnie Conrad


Create working drawings

For the Head Shoppe, and any other project, Tower creates drawings in which everything being built will be based on. Things like deciding between five more feet of retail space versus an additional styling station are solidified. “There is always a trade-off,” Tower says. “So then you have to go back to the client with options and start plotting preliminary layouts.” The Head

december 2012


step by step


Green a Campus and Community with Cape Breton University

The island of Nova Scotia that is home to Cape Breton University (CBU) has a legacy of industrial pollution. The Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Ovens that remain today in close proximity to residential and commercial areas are vestiges of the area’s past prominence in mining submarine coal. CBU, which came to prominence in the era of local mining and benefited from the economic power of a local steel plant, is now part of a solution to find new technologies for environmental remediation. Here we take a step-bystep look at how the school has helped reverse the damage. —Laura Williams-Tracy


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

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Find leadership

President John Harker, who assumed leadership of CBU in 2003, has brought a level of enthusiasm to the school in its efforts to develop new solutions for environmental remediation of the island’s industrial cleanup sites. “When the president doesn’t need convincing, it makes a huge difference,” says Donnie MacIsaac, director of facilities management for CBU. Harker has pursued a policy of high-level research into environmental remediation but also pushed CBU to be energy efficient and self-sufficient. Harker’s stated goal is that CBU will be North America’s first self-sufficient campus in terms of energy use.

“When the president doesn’t need convincing, it makes a huge difference.” donnie macisaac, director of facilities management

Opposite: CBU’s Living Wall is a garden of tropical plants that grows inside the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. Above: Exterior view of the Verschuren Centre.

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step by step

Above: Aerial shot of Cape Breton University’s campus.


Focus on issues with local connection

The region surrounding CBU is immersed in a massive industrial cleanup. Over the next 10 years, the Government of Canada has plans to spend $3.5 billion in remediation and risk management of federally owned contaminated sites. CBU has positioned itself to contribute to this effort with the development and opening of the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (CSEE).


Develop a centre based on ideals

In 2009, the university began seeking funding for a building and endowed chairs for the Verschuren CSEE. In November 2011, CBU opened the $31.7 million centre as an environmental research facility with four focus areas: clean carbon energy, environmental remediation, mine-water management, and renewable energy. The centre is established to not only develop new means of environmental management but to commercialize those practices.


Ensure the building maintains the integrity of the mission

The Verschuren CSEE is pursuing LEED Gold certification. The building includes such features as a geothermal system for heating and cooling, small-scale wind turbines, and solar heating for water. A greywater system recovers water from the roof to be used in toilets. Passive ventilation enables natural cooling to happen in


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temperate weather. “We went above and beyond with this building,” MacIsaac says. “I’ve had more questions about the wind turbines than anything we’ve ever done. People find it interesting that we’re doing these things.”


Try new options

CBU has partnered with corporate partner Lockheed Martin to find additional ways to make the university energy self-sufficient. To reduce the university’s dependence on coal as an energy source, CBU is considering converting to biomass. To test the conversion, the university purchased a farm and is growing willow as a biomass test crop to see if it can be grown quickly, harvested, and burned for energy. “That would be a big step in energy self-sufficiency if we can grow our own crop to use for biomass,” MacIsaac says.


Take calculated risks

CBU is building three wind turbines off campus that will go online in the fall of 2012. It’s a $20 million investment to see if the university can support the creation of a new energy source that will provide power to the campus but also to the surrounding community. CBU would use revenue from the sale of the energy to pay off the investment but also fund innovation. “Initially, you have to spend some money and take some risks,” MacIsaac says, “but the revenue could be used to fund additional sustainability projects on campus.” CBQ

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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through the years

Nelson Architecture 1995 company reforms

In the angler's paradise of Kenora, Ontario, there are scant few architects. Before him, David Nelson’s father filled the role of designer for the region’s schools, commercial developers, and institutions. Today, Nelson operates the only design firm between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. As one of the only design firms in a 500-mile radius, Nelson Architecture offers comprehensive architecture and planning services and has expertise in a range of project types, from a few high-end vacation homes to large industrial facilities, institutional buildings, commercial spaces, and education and cultural projects. —Laura Williams-Tracy

David Nelson’s father, Earl A. Nelson, was an architect who practiced in Kenora for many years. Upon his father’s retirement at age 75, Nelson returns to his hometown after a decade of doing commercial and institutional projects for firms in Boston and Toronto. “We enjoyed the big city, but there was always something in the back of our minds that we would come back here,” Nelson says. 1995 first major jobs

In the transition from Toronto to Kenora, Nelson assumes responsibility for contract administration during construction of a school that his former employer had designed. That, along with the design of Portage Youth Centre, a temporary home for young people experiencing trouble, Nelson Architecture designs two prominent projects in Kenora.

1995 (Portage Youth Centre)

1996 schools become mainstay

Nelson Architecture becomes the architect of record for two schools in the northern Ontario reserves, areas of the province so remote that they are accessible only by airplane. These First Nations schools—Bearskin Lake School and Muskrat Dam School—are the firm’s first large projects. The schools’ remote locations and harsh climates present design and construction challenges, as materials must be ordered in time to be delivered during a short two-month period when semitrucks can pass over the ice and reach the communities. “The North places some interesting restrictions on building,” Nelson says. Both buildings were designed as a kit of parts using structural timber and factory-fabricated steel, with special emphasis on the building envelope and heating system. 1999 little firm designs big factory

The City of Kenora attracts wood-products giant Weyerhaeuser’s Trus Joist division to open a 300,000-square-foot factory in Kenora. The firm is responsible for the life safety of the factory and architecturally in charge of all the “people places” in the factory—the offices, shipping areas, and control room. Nelson Architecture spearheads an effort to use Trus Joists’ own wood products for the building’s structure instead of steel. “We pushed for the use of their material that they were actually going to be building in the factory to construct the offices, the floor assemblies, and the walls in the factory,” Nelson says. “They were very happy to have their product used.”


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


2001 most public project to date

Nelson Architecture designs the renovation and expansion of a 30-year-old public pool and ice hockey rink. “It was the most public building we had done in the town that we practice in, so it was a bit of a milestone for us,” Nelson says. The large renovation includes two saltwater swimming pools and the addition of fitness and roller-skating facilities.


2010 new emergency centre

Nelson Architecture is selected to design a new Kenora Fire & Emergency Centre, an 18,000-square-foot emergency-services building. The building includes a roof that collects rainwater in a 10,000-gallon cistern to fill truck tanks. The roof is estimated to collect 130,000 gallons annually, with a corresponding off-load to the city water system. “I think design and construction is really coming back to some basic techniques to create buildings that are sustainable,” Nelson says.

2011 signature tourist centres

The successful Canada Build Program, brought about to fuel public building during a recession, provides funding for two regional cultural centres, and Nelson Architecture is selected to design both. The Northern Ontario Sport Fishing Centre in Sioux Narrows is a 5,000-square-foot interpretive centre with a curved roof to resemble a falling leaf and a solar array to generate power sold to the local power company to offset operating costs. The Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre is a 6,000-square-foot tourist information centre designed to show off the secondlargest inland lake in Ontario, with 105,000 kilometres of shoreline and 14,000 islands. The Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre wins a 2011 Wood Works! Ontario award. “Kenora certainly used to be a wood-based economy, but that has collapsed due to competition in other parts of the world,” Nelson says. “The use of wood in both buildings was an acknowledgement of our past and a bit of hope for those industries in the future.”

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists 168 171 173 176 179 182 186

EnCana Events Centre Executive Millwork Inc. K2 Stone Bergsma’s Paint & Décor Beyond Foam Insulation Plant Group Inc. Total Power

The Event Greeners

The EnCana Events Centre makes the sell as the area’s prime venue, thanks to its cutting-edge initiatives

Photo: Kurtis Nguyen

The new golden rule states that whoever has the gold

makes the rules. But as more and more Canadian event planners focus on environmentally friendly venues, one could easily say that whichever is the greenest gets the business. The EnCana Events Centre, located in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, has made a specialty out of being green. In fact, sustainability was one of the key considerations of its design and construction. It began when Dawson Creek’s government agreed on an initiative to “help lead the green revolution,” says Andrew Nash, assistant general manager and director of operations at EnCana. “This was in 2004 or 2005, when such initiatives were just emerging.” Every possible aspect of the then-embryonic events centre—from lighting equipment, to toilet paper, to the cleaning products used daily—had to be environmentally friendly. Today, the arena lighting system eschews the usual halogen lamps in favor of T5 fluorescents, which draw less energy while providing equivalent output. Although motion sensors already offer some remote control (lights go out after two minutes of stillness) and all switches are tied into a DDC system, Nash says the centre is poised to install a computerized program that will fully automate the process.

“We’ll be able to adjust all lighting patterns to suit our specific day-to-day needs from a single location,” he says, noting that the control system will also indicate which locations are drawing power. “Essentially, it will prevent the needless use of electricity.” Nash hastens to point out that the pending control system is not a retrofit. “It’s more of a ‘finishing touch,’” he says. “The groundwork for it was laid during the design-construction process.” EnCana Events Centre is a three-building complex and includes a 4,500-fixed-seat, 185,000-square-foot ice arena; a 40,000-square-foot aquatic centre with pool and wave pool; and a 66,000-square-foot agriplex with 110 horse stalls. However, a single feed for electricity, gas, and water supplies all the facilities, making it hard to pinpoint inefficiencies. “We have a good general sense of our utilities consumption, but we can’t gauge the performance of each building,” Nash says. “We’re in a position now to split the feeds and monitor them individually. Then we’ll know which specific areas might need improvement.” Even the EnCana Events Centre’s bathrooms toe the line. All toilets and urinals are low-flush units—just 0.4 gallons per flush, rather than the usual 1.5—enabling the centre to have double the number specified by building codes, but with less than half of the expected water usage.

At a Glance Location Dawson Creek, BC Year opened 2008 Employees 25 full-time; up to 120 part-time Market region 250-mile radius of Dawson Creek Specialty Major-events space

Opposite: EnCana hosts all types of events. Here, a sold-out crowd watches rock band KISS perform in 2011.

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the specialists

In addition, 78 hand dryers are being replaced with low-power, cold-air Dyson Airblade dryers. “They’ll have a significant impact on our electricity usage,” Nash says. “The original dryers—which were top notch at the time— draw three amps. Our new ones will pull only 0.5 amps, only to run the motors.” And all paper products are made from 100-percent-recycled materials. Dawson Creek recently hired an energy manager to evaluate all facilities in the city; only one change was recommended for the centre. “There’s an abundance of hay in our area, and we’re investigating its use as a fuel,” Nash says. The facility’s boilers and burners would be converted to burn hay and reclaim the generated heat, reducing the use of natural gas by up to 60 percent. “The hay is a renewable resource, and it’s another good way to lessen our carbon footprint,” Nash adds. In a world where going green often means hitting static benchmarks and then retreating to the status quo, Nash’s dedication suggests that the EnCana Events Centre will truly remain the best, most eco-conscious choice. “We always look at new initiatives,” Nash concludes. “That’s how we’ll maintain our position as a leader in sustainability.” —Frederick Jerant

Fast Five: The Top Green Technologies in the EnCana Events Centre 1 Central, Computerized Control: The entire venue’s low-energy lighting system is closely monitored. Automated scheduling capability allows precise creation of lighting patterns based on planned events. 2 Smarter Drying: Replacing nearly 80 high-amp, hot-air hand dryers in bathrooms with cold-air units that draw half an amp each has reduced corresponding energy consumption by a factor of six. 3 Individual Metering: A smarter metering system more easily measures the gas, water, and electricity consumption used by each of the facility’s three buildings, helping pinpoint areas for improvement. 4 Ultra-Low-Flush Plumbing Fixtures: EnCana is able to have double the number of fixtures required by code, with only half of the usual water usage. 5 Retrofit Boiler/Burner Program: Locally grown hay has the potential to be a fuel source for heating, saving an estimated 60 percent on natural-gas consumption.

Custom Woodwork with Distinction

Executive Millwork Inc. #5, 1212 - 38 Ave. N.E. Calgary, Alberta T2E 6N2

For the TELUS project, Executive Millwork Inc. supplied and installed the ticketing desk, counters, acoustical wall paneling, cabinets,

(780) 532-3690 • #100 Windsor Court • 9835 101 Ave • Grande Prairie AB. T8V 5V4 170

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doors and other work throughout the centre.

P (403) 291-0400 F (403) 250-3932 E Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

The Millwork Masters

Executive Millwork Inc. maintains rigid quality standards by keeping all operations in-house In the quest for ever-more-robust bottom lines, it's

increasingly common for companies to outsource jobs—anything from customer service to manufacturing. But Executive Millwork, a manufacturer of architectural woodwork in Calgary, has not only kept its production and installation facilities in Canada, it has actually hired overseas craftsmen to work at its facility. “To maintain our high-quality standards, we need to hire the best people,” says Stephanie Roll, vice president of administration. “Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of skilled cabinetmakers throughout Canada.” “It’s a result of demographic changes,” adds Rodney Roll, president and founder. “Many of Canada’s skilled cabinetmakers are on the verge of retirement, and although we work hard to entice younger people to learn the trade, they have many other choices.” Executive Millwork supplements the human factor with an array of sophisticated production machinery in its 33,000-square-foot facility. This is aided by AutoCAD

and CAM software, which assists with all engineering and shop drawings. “Our manufacturing processes are continually under review as we strive to be as efficient as possible,” Rodney says. The company also stresses employee safety, and considers its exemplary record as a factor in its success. In fact, the company has earned a prestigious Certificate of Recognition from the Partnerships in Safety Program administered by the provincial government. It’s recognized by the Manufacturer’s Health & Safety Association and Alberta Workplace Health & Safety. Artisanal skills, computerized equipment, and a dedicated staff enable Executive Millwork to take on large-scale projects with ease. Just look at the company’s work on TELUS Spark, Canada’s first purpose-built science centre in more than 25 years. The 153,000square-foot facility, used by many elementary and secondary schools, combines sound scientific principles with a heavy dose of fun. Executive Millwork is extremely

At a Glance Location Calgary, AB Founded 1987 Employees 50+ Specialty Custom architectural woodwork Annual Sales $7 million+

Above: Executive Millwork’s acoustical wall paneling for its TELUS Spark project.

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Photo: Jason Ness Photography

Below: The TELUS Spark’s main atrium features 10,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 700 students at one time.

proud of the project. The company handled the manufacturing and installation of the ticketing desk, counters, acoustical wall paneling, cabinets, and other work throughout the centre. The structure provided Executive Millwork with several unique situations. For example, the TELUS Spark building includes student studios and labs and soundsensitive exhibits. But the main atrium—10,000 square feet of open floor space, 38 feet high, and able to accommodate up to 700 boisterous students—features

terrazzo floors and huge expanses of window glass. With such a wide area, the designers and engineers also had to manage the noise. This situation was ameliorated when Executive Millwork installed complex acoustic wall panels that evoke Dagwood sandwiches. The floor-to-ceiling paneling is comprised of maple veneer with horizontal kerfs; a layer of medium-density fibreboard; embedded insulation; and a backing panel. “These panels run throughout the atrium and have reduced the noise level significantly,” Rodney says. In addition, the ticketing counter features a 30-footlong solid acrylic top, with precisely inlaid multipurpose touch-screen monitors and aluminum accents. TELUS Spark also afforded an avenue for some “out-of-thewooden-box” thinking. “We were called on to add an aesthetic dimension to several exposed structural steel columns that support the building,” Roll says. The solution: “We took 30-inch PVC piping—which is not a material we typically use—and machined long ‘half-pipe’ sections,” Rodney says. “The sections were reassembled around the on-site steel columns. After that, we filled in the seams and applied a high-end paint finish. They now look like solid, one-piece columns.” Rodney adds that Executive Millwork is always ready to collaborate with designers to achieve the desired results. “We’re creative and versatile, and have the capacity to translate concepts into reality,” he says. —Frederick Jerant

Fast Five: Top Notable Millwork Installs 1 TELUS Spark (Calgary): Executive Millwork installed the ticketing desk, counters, wall paneling, cabinets, and miscellaneous millwork for this purpose-built science centre. 2 South Health Campus (Calgary): Executive Millwork provided architectural paneling and specialty millwork throughout the hospital. 3 Heritage Park Historical Village (Calgary): Executive Millwork designed and installed custom millwork in the corporate offices, historical museum, retail centres, antique-car museum, the Founder’s Lounge, and other locations throughout this public attraction. 4 Hudson News (Canada and the United States): Executive Millwork manufactured and installed retail fixtures, cash counters, wall fixtures, and other aspects of this retail book and gift operation. 5 Corporate Offices for Bonavista Medical Clinic (Calgary): All millwork for physicians and administrative offices, examination rooms, the reception desk, display cases, and more was handled by Executive Millwork.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

The Rock Cutters

K2 Stone uses new North American quarries to cut into larger markets Mount Kitchener is the stalwart ruler of the

Canadian Rockies. At 3,505 metres high, it towers over the forests of Jasper National Park. Its strength is its stone, whose bedrock roots stretch deep across the continent. Culling inspiration from Mount Kitchener itself, K2 Stone continues to expand its quarry holdings to provide stone options to an even wider range of commercial and residential clientele. With four new quarry acquisitions in Montana—including three rentals and one full purchase—K2 Stone has tripled its product offering. Part of what inspired the quarry expansion, says K2 Stone general manager Rob Broekhuizen, is buyer demand. Despite the economic crisis of 2008 having a detrimental impact on the North American stone industry, Canadian business for K2 was consistently increasing. “We needed to widen our product options for our customers,” Broekhuizen says. “They wanted more styles and colours.”

In 2009, K2 Stone started to seek out new stone throughout British Columbia, beginning its search in the area around its Nanaimo headquarters. It made sense to find and produce stone in the area central to the company’s stake, but nothing was turning up in K2’s search. Around the same time, the strength of the Canadian dollar began to inflate. US stone producers—specifically those from Montana—were moving into K2’s territory and going after its customers. “We were looking for brownstone and a lot of Montana brownstone was coming up to us, especially in Alberta,” Broekhuizen says. “In the spring of 2010, we were talking to every supplier and quarrier in Montana that we possibly could.” After more legwork, K2 Stone came across the Montana company Stanton Stone, which owned one quarry and leased three others from Plum Creek. The holdings were all situated in western Montana near Glacier National Park. “Stanton Stone had its own saw

At a Glance Location Nanaimo, BC Founded 2003 Employees 95 Specialty Stone-cutting, stone quarrying, green quarrying practices Quarries 6

Above: K2 Stone gathers materials at the Vancouver Island Quarry.

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the specialists

shop and yard, and had owners that were willing to open discussions on selling,” Broekhuizen says. “It was a perfect, strategic fit for us. In order to better serve our customers, we needed to expand our thin stone-product offering.” K2’s pride has always rested confidently on its ability to produce building, masonry, and decorative stone of the highest quality. Thus, K2 knew it had the practical skill set to use these new assets to its advantage, and the results have been fruitful: the Perma Gold quarry, which K2 now wholly owns, has added two new hues of stone to the company’s diverse collection—Autumn Flame and Autumn Gold. Today, business is bustling at the K2 Stone franchises and third-party US affiliates. The retail stores in Nanaimo, Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna, British Columbia, as well as in Calgary and Edmonton, showcase the range of K2’s offerings. And the new store in Kalispell, Montana, epitomizes the strategy behind the expansion. K2 Stone also takes special care to emphasize the importance of utilizing sustainable and green practices during the entirety of the production process. “As a member of Build Green and the Canada Green Building Council, K2 practices ongoing quarry restoration in all of its quarries,” Broekhuizen says. The company also repurposes production waste for crush, road base, and other building materials. Broekhuizen cites longevity and the beauty of the Canadian Rockies as an example of the advantages natural stone has over artificial stone. “We try to make people aware of the benefits of using natural stone over manufactured stone,” he says. “It has a much smaller carbon footprint … Natural stone is just better.” —Benjamin van Loon

Fast Five: Top Ways Stone Quarrying Stays Eco-Conscious 1 Innovative Stone Extraction Techniques: Explosives can compromise the integrity of the stone and the environment. Companies like K2 Stone work hard to minimize the use of explosives, in order to better preserve the stone and the surrounding ecologies. 2 Sustainable Quarry Restoration: As in forest restoration, quarry restoration reuses topsoil and replants flora after stone extraction. 3 High-Yield Stone Excavation: By minimizing lost and discarded stone during the extraction process, high-yield excavation practices reduce waste while increasing volume. 4 Repurposed By-products: Water and debris waste can be reused as crush, road base, and other building materials. 5 Keeping it Local: Encouraging buyers to purchase locally produced stone products minimizes larger carbon footprints caused by long-distance stone transportation.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

The Home-Décor Retailers

Bergsma’s Paint & Décor utilizes its small-business model to deliver big-time customer service Milton, Ontario, is growing fast. In 2006, the city

had a population of 53,939, and in 2011, the population swelled to 84,362—an increase of 56.5 percent. Even in the midst of an economic slump, Milton stood tall, and for Jeff Bergsma, owner and president of Bergsma’s Paint & Décor (BPD), business couldn’t be better. “As the city has grown, the services and competition have grown as well,” Bergsma says. “But our unique services continue to propel us ahead of our competition.” Bergsma’s was originally founded in 1968 by brothers George and Walter Bergsma, in Georgetown, Ontario. In 1985, the Milton store opened and is now operated by George’s sons, Jeff and Pete. The store, a 7,200-squarefoot historic building on Milton’s main street, is a community stronghold for home décor, even with the area’s tremendous growth over the past decade. Today, the store is a destination for designer and architect solutions, serving as Milton’s one-stop paint and décor retailer, offering commercial, industrial, and residential paint, as well as stain options, window treatments, lighting, furniture, and design services hosted by an experienced, knowledgeable staff. “The majority of our customer base continues to return because of our values, service, and the relationship we have,” Bergsma says. “When people come into our store, we work to build an experience revolving around unique decorating solutions you simply cannot get from the big-box or national chain retailers.” As part of this experience, BPD maintains a comprehensive client database that tracks and maintains customer purchase history. “This service allows us to streamline the purchasing process for when people are looking to touch up or expand rooms

without interrupting their themes,” Bergsma says. Custom stain matches for home builders also provide a service clients travel for. “The Sansin stain line has been a fantastic addition to our product mix, offering Canadian-made interior and exterior wood protection— environmentally friendly in any colour on any surface,” Bergsma says. Another large contributor to Bergsma’s success has been C2 Paint, manufactured by The Coatings Alliance. “For 12 years, BPD has been a member of The Coatings Alliance, which has been responsible for a lot of the innovation in the architectural-coatings industry today,” Bergsma says. “Other national brands simply do not have the independent dealers’ best interest in mind. This unique co-op model of like-minded entrepreneurs has brought large paint samples, luxurious handcrafted colour, paint chips with real paint, and a colour pallet designers crave. With our unique European pigment system, we will be launching our incredible full spectrum colour palette, propelling us again into the role of industry leader in colour technology.” BDP is also delighted to partner with Pittsburgh Paint and the Sikkens stain line, to complete the store’s coatings options. “We continue to look for brands that will partner with us, to best serve our customer needs,” Bergsma says. BPD also specializes in window treatments, with options from Hunter Douglas and FAAB soft designs: occasional furniture pieces, custom sofas and chairs, and dining-room tables and chairs—all sourced from Canadian suppliers such as Leathercraft, Universal, and Brentwood.

At a Glance Location Milton, ON Founded 1968 Employees 10 Specialty Paint, window treatments, lighting, furniture

Opposite: Owner and president Jeff Bergsma with his wife, Sara.

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Photo: Tom Cahill

the specialists

The company specializes in unique design and décor solutions.

Fast Five: Top Ways Bergsma’s Paint & Décor does In-Home Design 1 Colour: Consultation on providing colour schemes and providing the right colour tools is a significant component to a successful project. 2 Window Treatments: Determining the right window fashions, such as blinds and shades, is necessary for natural-light control and a complete look. 3 Drapery: Selecting soft-covering window treatments, including drapery and curtains, should be assessed against the colour scheme and hard-covering choices. 4 Lighting: Main Street Lighting, a section of BPD, provides dynamic examples and solutions of diverse lighting solutions. 5 Contractor Referrals: Partnering with the right professionals to supply all aspects of in-room design, from surface jobs to complete renovations.


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Lighting is the other category BPD excels in for its clientele. Sourced from suppliers around the world, Dainolite, Quorum, Corbett, Hubbardton Forge, and others, provide unique fixtures not commonly seen elsewhere. “We have also responded to the tremendous growth in LED lighting technology, hosting information sessions on new lighting advancements for builders, architects, and designers,” Bergsma says. “Bringing in industry leaders to teach specifiers fits right along with our customer-service goals.” As BPD draws near to its 30-year anniversary, Milton continues to grow, as does the need for the city’s quality home-décor services. “We think of ourselves as a valuable part of the décor community,” Bergsma says, “and we’re excited about where the future is taking us.” —Mary J. Levine A message from hunter douglas

Beauty and practicality live together at Hunter Douglas in designs that create exceptionally attractive, enjoyable spaces while ensuring privacy, precise light control, energy efficiency and UV protection for your furnishings. For us, dressing windows is more than just another item on your decorating checklist. It’s an essential and inspiring way of letting light and beauty into your life. Our longstanding commitment to quality and innovation means you’ll enjoy choices at Hunter Douglas that you won’t find anywhere else. For those who want truly exceptional - and truly customizable - window fashions, Hunter Douglas is the ideal choice. Visit www. for more information.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

Beyond Foam conducts an exterior spray-foam insulation for a water-treatment plant outside of Calgary.

The Green Insulators

Beyond Foam Insulation keeps air in with an environmentally friendly product Airtight. That is the element of success for the

At a Glance Location Rockyview, AB Founded 2006 Employees 7 Specialty Custom-insulation services

home-insulation industry. Creating an airtight seal so that air infiltration and exfiltration are nonexistent is the measure of a job well done for the spray-foam insulators at Beyond Foam Insulation. Spray foam is an eco-friendly alternative to conventional fibreglass insulation and although the upfront cost is high, the overall energy savings of 50–60 percent is well worth the choice. “It is a ‘pay now and save later’ product,” explains Curt Janzen, co-owner of Beyond Foam Insulation. Other benefits include outside-noise reduction and allergen removal. Janzen worked as a general contractor prior to launching Beyond Foam Insulation, in 2006, with partner Kevin Boschee. “I found that there was a niche market where the service part of it wasn’t being met

properly,” he notes. “That led me into a great product that we found worked really well for clients.” Beyond Foam’s business is primarily residential, but the company often works on commercial buildings such as fire halls, schools, and warehouses, as well as skid foam projects, where foam is sprayed on the underside of oil-and-gas skids. With four pumps on the road, the company can work up to seven jobs in one day, or one project over a seven-day period, if it is larger in size. Janzen attributes the company’s success to its support system, which encompasses everything from how people discover the company, to how the employees are trained, to how they maintain equipment, to the follow-up checks. “People are paying a premium for this product over normal insulation, so the standards have to be pretty high as far as the quality of workmanship and the parts that we are

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the specialists

Above: Beyond Foam sprays WALLTITE ECO inside the beams on a residential project.


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installing,” Janzen says. Additionally, every job is postchecked to ensure the work is up to standards and the client is pleased with the job done. Beyond Foam is very particular on the workers it hires, focusing on attitude and the ability to learn. “As much as you can have the best management and the best-run company in the world, if the guys on the ground aren’t doing it properly, that makes or breaks a company,” Janzen says. “We feel that our success comes from the guys we have working for us.” Janzen and his team are currently working on a project for Wableton Development in Calgary called the Spiral Project. The architect took custom home to a new level; there is not one wall in that house that is 90 degrees to another wall. “The beauty of our product in a situation like that is we don’t care if things aren’t conventional,” Janzen says. “We can spray foam around corners and angles; our foam will stick to pretty much anything and never go away.” And he really means it will stick to almost anything—as long as the surface isn’t wet or greasy, the spray foam insulation will stick tight. Such efforts have helped Beyond Foam become one of only five FoamMasters in Western Canada officially endorsed by Mike Holmes, of the popular HGTV series

Holmes on Homes. “It’s great for our customers who recognize Mike Holmes and realize that if we are accredited by him, we do things the right way and that we will back our product 100 percent,” Janzen says. —Jennifer Nunez

Fast Five: The Top Benefits of Spray-Foam Insulation 1 High R-Value: Spray foam has a high R-value per inch, which means Beyond Foam Insulation can achieve new construction standards in a two-by-four cavity. 2 It's Airtight. Air will not pass through it like conventional insulation, which reduces monthly heating and cooling bills. 3 It's Green: It is an environmentally friendly product with recycled content and renewable resources. 4 Quick to Install: Beyond Foam can install three times quicker than the conventional batt and poly insulation. 5 Quality is Guaranteed: The Beyond Foam spray foam is backed by BASF Quality Assurance Program and Beyond Foam’s Support Program.

Canadian Builders Quarterly

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The Vineyards Toll Plaza in Jamaica is one of the projects included in the Highway 2000 initiative.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

The Efficiency Finders

How Plant Group Inc. is making infrastructure projects faster, stronger, and better, within and beyond North American shores

Photo: William Richards

Although Plant Group is headquartered in Markham,

Ontario, you can see its influence everywhere from Jamaica to Nigeria to Ukraine to the United States, and dozens of countries in between. Jeffrey Plant, president of Plant Group, has worked in engineering and project management for more than 30 years. “We’re a small, boutique firm, and though we only have two full-time employees, we work with a large network of international consultants, helping our clients to boost productivity and improve their competitiveness,” Plant says. Plant Group, which has been involved in the strategy, management, and execution of more than 20 infrastructure projects throughout the world, has recently participated in projects such as the $800 million Highway 2000 project in Jamaica, the $652 million Port of Miami Tunnel project, and many more. “Our core work is focused on horizontal infrastructure—roads, highways, railways, water services, and some airports and institutional building projects,” Plant says. “But we’re also really focused on solutions, and our value-engineering experience allows us to test the functions of a project to evaluate potential cost savings and deliver more value for money.” According to Plant, value engineering, which has driven innovation in the construction industry for the past few decades and is extensively applied in the United States, is becoming a new standard for infrastructure project development in Canada. “There is only a handful of certified value specialists in Canada, and Plant Group is one of the few firms offering this unique service,” Plant says. As part of its productivity services, Plant Group is also a reseller of Meridian’s Prolog construction-management software, which centralizes project documentation and allows it to be accessed via a wide range of devices. “Our work with Prolog gives us a practical way to help our

At a Glance Location Markham, ON Founded 1996 Employees 2 Specialty Value engineering and horizontal infrastructure Annual Sales $1 million

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the specialists

Jamaica’s Portmore Toll Plaza composes another leg of the Highway 2000 project.

Plant Group’s industry prowess helps yield highways of great magnitude and importance.


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Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

Fast Five: The Top Ways Prolog Bolsters Construction Management

Tools for Construction

1 By the Pros, for the Pros: Because industry professionals have developed the software, it’s equipped for immediate application. 2 Total Project Oversight: The software provides steps and resources for every step of the construction-management process. 3 BIM-Compatible: As BIM tools become standardized for planning and development, Prolog can be integrated with various BIM programs to allow for concentrated project data storage and access. 4 Universal Access: Prolog can be accessed and administrated via a wide variety of devices, including computers, tablets, and mobile devices. 5 Global Solutions: The growing international user base allows for efficient communications, the homogenization of data, and effective software development.

Complete Construction Project Management Prolog® construction project management software from Meridian Systems provides AEC firms with unparalleled visibility and control over projects by delivering true construction management functionality from the field to the back office. The Meridian partner network is helping global Prolog users to expand, manage and improve their businesses with in-depth construction industry experience. Contact Plant Group, your local Meridian reseller, to learn more about Prolog, customized training and implementation solutions in your local area.

Photos: William Richards

. erved © Copyrig ht 2012 Meridian Systems. All rights res

clients simplify the flow of information, improve projectteam collaboration, and control cost on large-scale projects,” Plant says. Plant Group’s wide range of project management and international expertise brought the firm, even in its nascence, to Jamaica in 1999, where Plant was the chief technical advisor to the Jamaican government for its 230-kilometre Highway 2000 project: the largest privatepublic partnership project in the Caribbean at the time. “Jamaica wanted to celebrate the new millennium by building a multilane, limited-access highway that would link Kingston to Montego Bay and Jamaica’s North Coast,” Plant says. “With a team of international lawyers, economists, and experts, we managed to put together a very successful competition.” (Plant returned to the project as an independent engineer in 2002, aiding in the completion of more than $600 million worth of work.) The Plant Group, which worked with Bouygues, a French contractor, on the Highway 2000 project, also worked with it again on the $652 million Port of Miami Tunnel project. “This is the largest project of its kind in North America,” Plant says. “It consists of two 1.3-kilometre-long tunnels being bored by a 12.5-metre-diameter earth-pressure balance tunnelling machine. The tunnels will open in 2014 and connect the Port of Miami to the interstate highway system.” While the past two decades have seen substantial changes for high-end infrastructure bidding in North America, Plant takes pride in his firm’s special ability to work across diverse networks. “We’ve learned how to help European contractors successfully compete in the North American markets,” he says. “Now we’re also working with our North American clients to help them increase productivity and be innovative with their means and methods of construction.” —Jennifer Nunez

(855) 220 5501

A critical component of any emergency or standby power system.

Eaton’s Automatic Transfer Switches provide unmatched performance, reliability and versatility for critical standby power applications.

Breaker / Manual Transfer Switch

Contractor Bypass Transfer Switch december 2012


the specialists At this location in southwestern Ontario, Total Power has placed five 600-kW units used to back up a repairand-research facility for handheld PDAs.

The Backup Crew

Total Power discusses why multiple generator units increase reliability and ensure security In 2003, a blackout created devastating chaos to At a Glance Location Mississauga, ON Founded 1959 Employees 92 Specialty Generator sales, service, manufacturing, and parts Annual Sales $30 million


december 2012

residents and businesses throughout Ontario, as well as the US Northeast and Midwest, with widespread power outages. Those who were without a backup power supply were frantically searching for solutions to keep businesses running. “We were getting calls from people saying, ‘If we don’t get a rental generator here, we will lose a million dollars’— because their product is cold storage, and the product would heat up and go bad,” says Tom Henderson, director of product support operations at Total Power, a company specializing in the supply and service of powergeneration systems. “That triggered a lot of generator sales.” The blackout proved something that Total Power has known for years: if businesses set up backup power

generators, it will greatly reduce the risk of losing product, sales, or business. In another instance, Total Power had gone out to a site where a hotel had lost its standby generator due to a fire in the generator room, and the fire marshal threatened to evacuate. The hotel would have had to find alternative accommodations and reimburse their guests. In an effort to avoid a monumental financial loss and inconveniencing its guests, Total Power provided a rental until the generator could be fixed or replaced. It’s instances like these where a backup power source shows its true value. Total Power provides power solutions to a large variety of clients, such as high-rise buildings, critical process manufacturing (for example, pharmaceutical

Canadian Builders Quarterly

the specialists

companies), data centres, cold-storage facilities, hospitals, and first responders/government facilities, among others. “We can’t guarantee power, but we can help reduce the risk of not having power so that when power does go out there is a backup source,” says Mike August, manager of technical services. “Then we can increase reliability through additional redundancies in the system; we have generators backing up backup generators. They call it N+1 redundancy.” A single generator backup system has a power reliability level of 98 percent. If there is a redundant generator to that backup generator, it increases to 99.96 percent. Then, if there’s an additional generator in the mix backing up the other two, the level of reliability then bumps up to 99.999 percent, and so on. “The more you add as backups, the closer you get to perfect reliability,” August says. Maintenance and upkeep is a key factor in insuring that a generator and backup generators are working properly and can supply the power needed. Generators should be checked weekly and be run for an hour once a month with building load. A licensed or trained technician should check the machines every six months, and the checks should include an oil change and load bank test. The industry calls for a strict set of standards. In Canada, specifically, you’re required under the CSA C282-09 to do a two-hour load bank test at 100 percent load annually on all safety applications. “One of the biggest challenges we face is design of the system in the building,” August says. “In a lot of cases, the location of the generator hampers proper service.” In order to service systems that are in hard-toreach areas, such as top floors of a high-rise, it requires more time, more equipment, and more money. “We’d like to see cables run down permanently into the building to make our testing more convenient,” August says. “Think of it like a giant hair dryer,” says Henderson of the load bank test. It has heating elements and a fan, simulating a load equivalent to the full capacity of that unit. A load bank of 300 kilowatts requires transporting a 300-pound unit or three 100-pound units up to the roof. Running cables down the building would save hundreds of dollars each test and thousands over the life of the unit. “I’d love a forum where I could talk to engineers and let them know how valuable this would be,” Henderson says. —Jennifer Nunez

Top 3 Entities that need Unmitigated Power 1 Data Centres: Banks and other financial institutions, for example, need constant power to keep transactions flowing. If there is a failure of power, generators ensure that business can go on normally. Banks have the highest standards when it comes to power, according to the company. They set the bar high and are 99.99% secure in almost every case. They have generators backing up their generators. 2 High-rises. The building needs a generator for fire safety. It manages the elevator, fire pump, fire-alarm system, and smoke control in the stairwell. It ensures safe evacuation. 3 First Responders: The police department, fire department, and ambulance services require secure power constantly. They must be available throughout any instance of power outage to ensure the safety of the people they serve.

Total Power on location to service some generators required for the emergency power supply for the Absolute World Condominiums in Mississagua, ON.

december 2012



december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

canadian homes Left: Exterior view of the Beachaus. Below: The dining area, located on the second floor, is a product of the home’s reverse floor plan.

Prefabulous Pb Elemental designs a sleek, modern, and eco-conscious prefab home in British Columbia Since 2004, Seattle’s Pb Elemental Design has been challenging the traditional US Pacific Northwest aesthetic by designing homes that are more modern and timeless but still use natural materials that relate to the region. Likewise, the firm is countering the notion that a home must be huge to be livable with the amenities and functions that homeowners desire. Cofounder Chris Pardo recently talked to Canadian Builders Quarterly about the practices and strategies employed in the firm’s two Beachaus homes in White Rock, British Columbia. CBQ: What was the primary goal of your client, Inhaus Development, for this project? Chris Pardo: They’ve done sustainable remodels, but this was their first new construction. They wanted to show that bigger is not always better, and that technology combined with standard practices and smart decisions could result in a better home. In this case, we’ve built two homes that are about 2,000 square feet each and are LEED Platinum certified, which was a goal from day one. CBQ: What are the standout features of these homes? CP: The main driver of the design is a reverse floor

plan. The houses are on a busy street where you’d tend to have your drapes drawn all the time and not have any natural light in a downstairs living area. By

>> december 2012


canadian homes Project Details Location: White Rock, BC Completed: 2011 Size: 2,000 square feet Architect: Pb Elemental Contractor: Method Homes Client: InHaus Development Ltd. Photography: SeeVirtual

bringing the living areas to the second >> floor, you still have privacy but also all the natural light and views that you don’t need in the bedrooms on the first floor. We did a roof deck, too, and it made sense for it to be connected directly to the kitchen. CBQ: On what segments of the LEED process did you focus? CP: Typically, we focus on one of the segments, but on these homes we did a large number of strategies from each segment. We integrated a lot of technology with wiring for solar panels, a smarthome-automation system, an HRV air-exchange system, and electrical vehicle charging in the garage. The houses are sited to maximize daylighting and natural ventilation. All of the flooring, cabinets, and some exterior walls use sustainable wood. CBQ: What are the “wow factors” of these homes? CP: The main wow factor is the way the living area flows from the great room into the

kitchen with a phenomenal amount of light and open space, all connected by an open-riser staircase. Another wow factor is that the houses were prefabricated. The company we work with, Method Homes, in Seattle, builds houses in modules that max out at 16 feet wide and 12 feet tall. The modules are shipped out with the inside 95 percent done, including the appliances, and the outside about 20 percent done. CBQ: What are the advantages of prefab? CP: It’s a controlled environment, so

there’s 70 percent less waste than at a typical construction site. Plus there is less damage to vegetation at the site. You get LEED points for all of that. And there’s a huge time advantage. Instead of taking 9–10 months, these homes were built in about two and a half months, installed in less than five hours, and then it takes about three weeks to button it up. The cost is comparable to traditional construction. —Jeff Hampton

The master bedroom on the second floor takes advantage of the design’s use of abundant natural light.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly


The Wood Pile is a division of “Fusion Woodworks Inc.” that handcrafts kitchen cabinets for residential projects since 1985. We have been

Luxury custom area carpets for the residential and hospitality sectors. DIURNE




fortunate in working together with Caplevalti Design as their plans are SALARI FINE CARPET COLLECTIONS 2033 WEST 41ST AVE VANCOUVER BC 604-261-3555 SALARI.COM




always innovative, creative and detailed.

Fusion is a commercial

manufacturer of Hospitality case goods since 2001.

pcooper Renovations and Project Management

Al Schick Construction Ltd. A general contractor providing a hands on approach for residential and commercial renovations.

Proud to work with Caplevalti. pcooper Renovations and Project Management specializes in custom, high end kitchen and bath renovations and project management. We work closely with the client to customize the finished product to meet both their expectations and needs. Customer satisfaction is our mission.

Pat Cooper Journeyman Carpenter 3324 Victoria Ave Regina, Saskatchewan S4T 1L6 phone 306-586-1290 cell 306-533-5575 email

Office (306) 789-7909 | Fax (306) 789-7959 | Cell (306) 529-8085 Email | 3351 E. Tanager Cr., Regina, SK S4Z 1A3

december 2012


through the years

Caplevalti Design 1981 a foot in the door

Brian Runge is a jack-of-all-trades. Drawing on more than 30 years of architectural and interior-design experience and entrepreneurship—and complementing his historical design training, gardening and horticultural expertise, and active community involvement—Runge founded Caplevalti Design in 1998 to respond to the growing demand for boutique, high-end architectural design in and beyond Regina, Saskatchewan.

Fresh out of high school, Runge begins interning with Joseph Pettick, “who was really encouraging of my career in architecture even before I went to high school,” Runge says. As something of a protégé, Runge uses his time with Pettick (who passed in 2010) to begin building a portfolio of expertise.

—Benjamin van Loon

1986–1998 a design coordinator is born

Runge studies architecture at the University of Manitoba and, upon graduating in 1986, works briefly in Winnipeg. In 1988, he begins work as the design coordinator for Gordon Arnott, where he works to develop and implement a style influenced by modern interior and architectural design principals. In 1994, Runge becomes the in-house designer for Castle Furniture. “It seems that a lot of my success has been based on the way I’ve made the right connections at the right time,” he says. 1998 going solo

After his four-year stint with Castle Furniture, Runge founds Caplevalti Design. “I started my own business, continuing to do the work I was already doing: decorating, minor renovation, and interior design,” he says. “As with any new business, it was a slow start, but utilizing my connections and letting my work represent me, things really started to move.”

2012 (Everrest)

2012 (Everest)

2002–2006 forging new relationships

Runge develops a new business relationship with Al Schick Construction, working on major renovation, and with whom Runge has been working since 2002. “It’s key to my success as a designer to form these relationships that are mutually beneficial,” Runge says. In 2004, Runge also partners with FIX Building Products and begins working on larger-scale architectural-design projects, such as Partridge & Davies. In the same year, he partners with Artisan Woodworking—another long-standing contracting partner.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

2007 project diversification

In addition to the relationships Runge established during Caplevalti’s formative years, he forms a strong contracting relationship with Pat Cooper, who is involved on renovation projects from Preston & Dawson, Kevin & Diane Ell, the Jamison residence, and many others. “It’s one thing to be the designer working on the front end with the client,” Runge says, “but it’s also really important to work with contractors who can help deliver this end product.”

“It seems that a lot of my success has been based on the way I’ve made the right connections at the right time.” brian runge, president

2010 transition into outdoor architecture

Utilizing his expertise and knowledge of gardening and landscaping, Runge completes a landscape architecture on the Fix & Beug Residence. “This was a highlight project for me because I was already creating a lot of outdoor rooms and entertainment spaces for people, but this was on a much larger scale,” Runge says. The project includes an outdoor kitchen and entertainment area, and a terraced landscape leading into a covered pergola housing a large dining area.

2012 (Everest)

2011 new style flourishes

Though Runge is committed to delivering on client expectations, he is also cognizant of sensible back-end design innovations that can heighten the space and function of a room. “I like to study human behaviour, and come up with solutions suited to this behaviour.” In his bathroom work, such as the Colleen Stueck project, Runge designs bathroom counters to sit higher and shallower than standard bathroom fixtures, which eases access and movement within personal vanity space.

2012 working for the client

“I’ve developed a reputation on working on projects that reflect the client rather than the designer,” Runge says. He cites his work at Everest Homes as an example of this practice, which includes a spa-style bathroom modeled after the client’s idea of a spa rather than his own definition. “You can have a spa feel that is luxurious, sensual, and rich without imposing your own standards on the space,” Runge says. “As a designer, the biggest accomplishment for me is when I design something that suits the client rather than the designer.”

december 2012


Jupiter Chandelier / Z Gallerie, Inc. /


At 8 inches high and 19.75 inches in diameter, and characterized by clear acrylic orbs around a polished nickel frame, it’s a bold fixture, but it can add texture to an otherwise flat room.

Much like the device, the word “chandelier” is descended from the French “chandelabre,” which means a candlestick or candelabrum. Originally suited for the halls and homes of the wealthy, chandeliers have since become a standard fixture for interior public and private spaces, serving functions both practical and aesthetic. Informed by years of art and innovation, and aided by the development of new lighting technologies, designers—like those featured here—are creating new ways of using chandeliers to bring light to a room.

Constantin Series / Andrea Clare Studios / / Balanced mobile-style on brushed-nickel and brass frames with bamboo veneer for the shades, these artistic chandeliers bring a sense of unique playfulness to the lighting concept.

Bamboo Cloud Chandelier / RianRae Interiors / / Informed by a distinct and nontraditional Thai bamboo weaving aesthetic, these lamps—which come in low and tall formulations—can also be hung in groups.

RGB Light / Fabian Nehne / / Blending minimalist German and Swiss design, product designers Fabian Nehne and Martin Meier manage to simplify, colourize, and dramatize the hanging light fixture.


december 2012

Canadian Builders Quarterly

Photo: Tom Koto Photography


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Canadian Builders Quarterly  
Canadian Builders Quarterly  

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