JUL/19 V.64 N.07
What can architecture firms learn from the millennials who are starting to rise up into leadership roles?
mâMAWêYATITâN CENTRE, REGINA, P3A. Photo Patricia Holdsworth
Richardson Innovation Centre, Winnipeg, Number Ten Architectural Group
10 British Columbia
Norwood-McCauley Medical Centre, Edmonton, Avid Architecture. Photo Lindsay Reid
2102 Keith Drive, Vancouver, DIALOG
State of the Nation
Anthony Pak explains why the AEC sector needs to consider the embodied carbon of buildings.
Lawrence Bird reviews a catalogue of recent work by Public Studio. 15 Manitoba
80 ATLANTIC, TORONTO, Quadrangle St. Thomas Community Centre, Paradise, Newfoundland, Woodford Sheppard. Photo Julian Parkinson
Architect Roger Tallibert’s paintings and drawings are on display in Repentigny, Quebec.
Toronto’s RDH Architects celebrates its centenary this year. What does it take for a firm to last 100 years?
20 Quebec Woodland House, Whitehorse, Yukon, KZA. Photo Andrew Latreille
The Grand Marché opens in Quebec City; architects selected for BMO Centre in Calgary; winner of RAIC Architectural Firm Award announced.
Gare Viger expansion and revitalization, Montreal, Provencher_Roy
July 2019 03
ATTAbotics HQ in Calgary by Modern Office, COVER, clockwise from top
24 The North
rendering by mir.no; PARQ Vancouver by ACDF and Architecture49, photo by Ema Peter; Inuvik Singles Complex by KZA , photo by Andrew Latreille; 2450 Victoria Park in Toronto by gh3*; 98 Albert in Winnipeg by AtLRG. v.64 n.07
09 State of the nation
anadian Architect looks at the state of architecture across Canada, region C by region. TEXT Elsa Lam
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The National Review of Design and Practice / The Official Magazine of the RAIC
2019-07-10 12:43 PM
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GENERATION GAP This month’s issue reports on the state of architecture across Canada. It’s based on interviews with almost 50 architects, from firms of different sizes and areas of expertise. We asked: what’s the mood in the architectural community in your part of the country? What topics of discussion are coming up, and what innovative approaches are being taken to address these topics? Every region has its own challenges and opportunities. But some themes came up again and again, regardless of geography. Across the country, most architects who work in the public sector are struggling with procurement. P3s are still being used in several provinces, and RFPs are becoming increasingly demanding in their requirements for project-specific experience. Many RFPs are structured to select architects based on fee, encouraging an environment of low bids. More than one architect told me that in underpricing services, the industry has become its own worst enemy. The solution may partially lie in addressing another challenge: the lost generation of architects. During the recession of the early 1990s, virtually all public and private projects dried up, and many architects left the profession. Firms are still feeling the after-effects. Now that the market is more robust, it’s hard to find mid- to senior-level staff in the 45to-60-year-old range—people who know how to put a building and drawing package together, and who can take over from baby boomer owners eyeing retirement. A knockon effect has been a competitive market for young architects; in much of the country, top graduates have their pick of firms to join. Firms are under pressure to retain young staff and train them for future leadership roles, enabling eventual succession in the ownership of their firms. To attract and hold on to talent, they are being challenged to offer higher salaries, an attractive work culture, and reasonable prospects of work-life balance. While the demands of the millennial generation of under-40s may feel unreasonable to those who have weathered tougher economic cycles, they may ultimately be beneficial to the profession. To meet the expectations of younger staff, firm owners need, more than ever, to push for fair fees. This involves broader advocacy efforts, such as the development of the National Architecture Policy, to explain the
value of architecture and the relevance of architects to the general public. It also takes associations and individual architects willing to have frank discussions with clients about what they’re getting for their dollars—and why investing in architecture will ultimately benefit them. Bringing home a paycheck commensurate to effort expended is just one of the millennial generation’s priorities. Millennials are also interested in addressing the climate crisis and equity-related issues, and in seeing the positive impacts of their work. They want to make places that bring together communities, that help socially and economically marginalized people around the globe, and that contribute positively to the environment. As a generation, they hope to turn around the wrongs they see in the world. This energy is, potentially, the fuel that the profession needs to reassert the relevance of architecture. The idea of creating useful, beautiful, and enduring places dates back to Vitruvius, and is what continues to draw aspiring architects to the profession. It needs to return to being the core of what architects do. Canada is exceptionally well-positioned for this affirmation of architecture’s value. Collectively, its many regions harbour a wealth of knowledge and experience. British Columbia— and in particular, the City of Vancouver—is placing architecture in a key role for combatting the climate emergency. Architects in the Arctic and in the rural north of various provinces are cultivating collaborative relationships with Indigenous communities, based on authentic dialogue, as the basis for Indigenous placemaking. In several cities, architects are championing the use of mass timber and tall wood to create carbon-sequestering buildings. As a nation, we’ve largely resisted the lure of flashy, style-driven architecture. We take pride in embracing diverse cultures, and in being practical, reasonable and frugal. These are excellent assets to leverage for showcasing the value of design—and especially architecture—where an investment in quality pays off in the long term, from all perspectives. The built environment has the potential to be a powerful agent for social and environmental change. As a profession, we need to make good on that promise—for the sake of the present and future generations of architects. Elsa Lam
EDITOR ELSA LAM, FRAIC ART DIRECTOR ROY GAIOT CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ANNMARIE ADAMS, FRAIC ODILE HÉNAULT DOUGLAS MACLEOD, NCARB, MRAIC ONLINE EDITOR CHRISTIANE BEYA REGIONAL CORRESPONDENTS MONTREAL DAVID THEODORE CALGARY GRAHAM LIVESEY, MRAIC WINNIPEG LISA LANDRUM, MAA, AIA, MRAIC VANCOUVER ADELE WEDER, HON. MRAIC SUSTAINABILITY ADVISOR ANNE LISSETT, ARCHITECT AIBC, LEED BD+C VICE PRESIDENT & SENIOR PUBLISHER STEVE WILSON 416-441-2085 x105 SALES MANAGER FARIA AHMED 416-441-2085 x106 CUSTOMER SERVICE / PRODUCTION LAURA MOFFATT 416-441-2085 x104 CIRCULATION CIRCULATION@CANADIANARCHITECT.COM PRESIDENT OF IQ BUSINESS MEDIA INC. ALEX PAPANOU HEAD OFFICE 101 DUNCAN MILL ROAD, SUITE 302 TORONTO, ON M3B 1Z3 TELEPHONE 416-441-2085 E-MAIL email@example.com WEBSITE www.canadianarchitect.com Canadian Architect is published monthly by iQ Business Media Inc.. The editors have made every reasonable effort to provide accurate and authoritative information, but they assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the text, or its fitness for any particular purpose. Subscription Rates Canada: $54.95 plus applicable taxes for one year; $87.95 plus applicable taxes for two years (HST – #80456 2965 RT0001). Price per single copy: $15.00. USA: $135.95 USD for one year. International: $205.95 USD per year. Single copy for USA: $20.00 USD; International: $30.00 USD. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Canadian Architect, 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in part or in full without the consent of the copyright owner. From time to time we make our subscription list available to select companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us via one of the following methods: Telephone 416-441-2085 x104 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Mail Circulation, 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302, Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3 MEMBER OF THE CANADIAN BUSINESS PRESS MEMBER OF THE ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT #43096012 ISSN 1923-3353 (ONLINE) ISSN 0008-2872 (PRINT)
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PROJECTS The Grand Marché opens in Quebec City
BISSON associés and Atelier Pierre Thibault have transformed the almost century-old Pavillon du Commerce into the Grand Marché, a public market for Quebec City residents. The Pavillon du Commerce was originally designed by architect Adalbert Trudel, and was built to replace the Palais de l’Industrie, which hosted agricultural fairs organized by the Quebec Agricultural Society to promote best farming practices. The Grand Marché is a community-focused project that showcases built heritage by repurposing the existing structure. Mirroring the idea of a village, it adds small, building-like pavilions along an interior main street, sidestreets, alleys, and a central square. South-facing windows and several large skylights flood the interior with natural light. The project includes indoor and outdoor gardens, planted with species from the boreal region. “The complexity and subtlety of our work as architects is now embodied in a setting that combines heritage, functionality, light, visitor experience and sustainable development, all of which results from a carefully balanced approach,” said Jonathan Bisson, architectural project manager. The interiors and the bleachers that face the public square are finished in cross-laminated timber panels. The project is equipped with an on-site food waste management system that collects organic matter to be sent to Quebec City’s biomethanation plant. www.bissonassocies.com / www.pthibault.com
Architects selected for BMO Centre expansion in Calgary
The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and the Calgary Stampede have selected Stantec, Populous, and S2 Architecture as primary consultants for the $500-million BMO Centre expansion project. The expansion is part of a large-scale enhancement to Stampede Park and a catalyst for the development of Calgary’s emerging Culture and Entertainment District. Chosen for their involvement in convention centre design and global community projects, Stantec will act as the Calgary-based prime consultant and Architect of Record. Global architectural firm Populous will be the architectural design lead, and S2 will lead the construction administration team. Construction is scheduled to start in April 2021, and the facility will open in June 2024. www.calgarymlc.ca
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The Grand Marché transforms Quebec City’s century-old Pavillon du Commerce into a public market, by integrating new CLT structures within the heritage structure.
Red River College approaches completion of Skilled Trades and Technology Centre’s Smart Factory Expansion
Red River College has opened its Skilled Trades and Technology Centre and is approaching completion of the Smart Factory, an expansion that serves as a prototype for manufacturing spaces of the future. The designs came out of a collaboration between Winnipeg’s Number TEN Architectural Group and pico ARCHITECTURE. The 9,660-square-metre Skilled Trades and Technology Centre accommodates the training of over 1,000 students for high-demand trades. Learning spaces are arrayed along a skylit spine almost as long as two football fields. Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto workshops organized by trade discipline. Students constructed masonry mock-ups during the building process as well as their own workbenches, toolcribs and electrical panels used in the curriculum. Pliers, screwdrivers, and other implements were embedded in the concrete flooring, along with 27,215 kilograms of recycled shaved brass. On the building’s façades, patterns of longboard, aluminum composite panels, and solar shading evoke birchbark. The 560-square-metre Smart Factory will build on the college’s training and applied research programs in aerospace and manufacturing, providing a site where emerging technologies can be tested and demonstrated.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has announced the 2019 recipients of three annual awards. LGA Architectural Partners, based in Toronto, has won the RAIC Architectural Firm Award. The award recognizes the achievements of a firm for its quality of architecture, service to clients, and innovations in practice. UUfie, of Toronto, has won the Emerging Architectural Practice Award. It recognizes an emerging practice that has consistently produced distinguished architecture. Ken Borton of Winnipeg firm 5468796 and Jessie Andjelic of Calgary firm SPECTACLE Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism are joint winners of the RAIC Young Architect Award. The prize recognizes architects 40 years or younger for excellence in design, leadership and service to the profession. The awards will be presented at the RAIC Festival of Architecture in Toronto, taking place October 26 to 30, 2019.
RAIC announces award winners
WHAT’S NEW Canadian Architect magazine wins best editorial in National Magazine Awards
Canadian Architect magazine has won a gold award for Best Editorial in the National
Magazine Awards’ inaugural B2B competition. The winning piece, by editor Elsa Lam, was entitled “Design Like a Mother,” and appeared in the magazine’s November 2018 issue. “This piece was written when I returned from maternity leave, and shares observations about the built environment from navigating the city with a small human for a year,” said Elsa Lam in accepting the award. “Diversity is important to all professions, including architecture, and this editorial points out some of the ways that different lived experiences can impact the way we design.” The gold and silver awards for the eighteen National Magazine Award’s B2B categories were presented on May 29th at an awards luncheon at One King West, Toronto, hosted by Peter McNeill. www.nmab2b.com
In Memoriam Eugenio Carelli
1. Amend the Architects Act and the Ontario Regulation to list using unpaid workers and unpaid overtime as professional misconduct, resulting in loss of license, penalties, or both. 2. Provide training in office management, staffing and effective project delivery to cut back on waste, instead of compensating by the use of unpaid and low-paid workers. Small practices are most lacking in this area, whereas large firms operate by better management practices. 3. Provide training in contract negotiation for architects so as not to leave money on the table, but to negotiate for a fair fee based on fair salaries and the actual cost of doing the work properly. 4. As for training in exchange for work, it might be mutually beneficial, but it has to be based on clear guidelines that the trainee will receive planned training, and not just be another office worker. Recognizing that there are actual costs (particularly to small firms), the Government should cover part of the cost for this kind of training. 5. Launch an international initiative to address this problem with other countries, if necessary.
canadian architect 07/19
Loghman Azar, AIBC, OAA
On May 8, 2019, the family of Eugenio Carelli marked the sudden, but peaceful, passing of the Montreal-based architect. Eugenio was a partner at Provencher_Roy, where he worked for over 25 years. He was appreciated by peers and colleagues who recognized his talent and admired his humility, integrity, generosity and sensitivity. Eugenio’s professional footprint is visible in Montreal’s urban landscape. He was the head of the Îlot Balmoral project, and also worked on designs including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel addition and the Casino de Montréal Phase II. www.provencherroy.ca
Memorandum Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence opens for entries Aug. 1
Canadian Architect’s annual, peer-juried competition for future and in-progress projects opens for entries on August 1. This year’s edition includes an architectural photography competition. Entries are due September 12. Winners will be published in a special December issue. www.canadianarchitect.com
Letters to the Editor Open Letter to Vancouver City Council
I want to thank Canadian Architect for supporting us in crafting an article about the state of architecture in Vancouver. The reaction to the article has been profound. We are now working with the highest levels of the Planning Department and the Mayor’s office to discuss the facilitating of permit processing and the coordination of Planning policy with Council mandates. Thank you again for being an agent of change!
SIMPLIFY YOUR WORKFLOW FROM SKETCH TO BIM
Gair Williamson, Vancouver
Though not condoning unpaid internships at all, I would not point the finger as much at the architects, as at the fee expectation of clients. Though Patrick Schumacher might have a hefty take-home pay, the generally poor pay for architectural interns and graduates is a function of low fees which often cannot cover the work, and definitely do not take into account the architect’s office as a place of training, nurturing and educating. Lisa Rapoport, OAA, FRAIC
Thanks for your viewpoint—it touches on a very old and important issue in our profession. I believe we live in a time that caters to the best ideals of humanity and hope that all agree not to practice in these archaic ways. They’re related when we deal with the problems of unpaid workers, unpaid overtime, low fees, low salaries, and poor management. The solution must be complicated. However, here are some practical suggestions that might be helpful to reduce the bad habits:
CA Jul 19.indd 7
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STATE OF THE NATION SAFE, STABLE CANADA HAS BEEN A HAVEN FOR GLOBAL CAPITAL IN THE RECENT ERA OF POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY. ITS ECONOMIC PROSPERITY AND CENTRIST POLITICS HAVE ALSO MADE FOR RELATIVELY CONSISTENT INVESTMENT IN PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE. THE RESULTS HAVE YIELDED RECORD CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY, BUT ON THE FLIP SIDE, IT’S ALSO LED TO A CRISIS IN HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IN MANY CITIES. MEANWHILE, THERE ARE REGIONAL CONCERNS TO CONTEND WITH, RANGING FROM THE CRASH IN OIL AND GAS PRICES TO INDIGENOUS RECONCILIATION. THE EFFECTS OF THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY ARE ALSO BEING FELT MORE STRONGLY EACH YEAR, WITH MELTING PERMAFROST IN THE NORTH, FOREST FIRES IN THE WEST, AND FLOODING IN EASTERN CANADA.
How do these trends affect architecture? What is on the minds of architects in different regions of Canada? To find out, Canadian Architect spoke to dozens of architects from coast to coast—to coast. Here’s the buzz. TEXT
Andrew Reeves, Anne Cormier, Anne Lissett, Ben Klumper, Bill Semple, Brent Bellamy, Charlene Kovacs, Christine Lolley, Chris Wiebe, Chris Woodford, Cynthia Dovell, Darryl Condon, Derek Kindrachuk, Dustin Couzens, Gavin Affleck, Jack Kobayashi, James Youck, Jeremy Bryant, Jim Anderson, Jim Siemens, Johanna Hurme, John Stephenson, Ksenia Eic, Lawrence Bird, Léo Lejeune, Lindsay Oster, Linus Murphy, Luc Bouliane, Marianne Amodio, Mark Ostry, Maxime Frappier, Monica Adair, Natasha Lebel, Pat Hanson, Peg MacDonald, Randy Cohen, Rayleen Hill, Richard Symonds, Richard Witt, Shafraaz Kaba, Stephen Kopp, Susan Fitzgerald, Ted Watson, Toon Dreessen, and Vivian Manasc
BASED ON INTERVIEWS WITH
The master plan for the Railside development, by 5468796 Architecture in partnership with Scatliff+Miller+Murray, sets a template for the transformation of a 12-acre portion of Winnipeg’s Forks district.
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British Columbia is leading the charge on sustainability in Canada. Starting in 2017, the province’s Energy Step Code has provided an incremental approach to making buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032. The voluntary policy allows local governments to set incentives and bylaw requirements for builders to meet one or more steps. Forty-two local governments are currently referencing the code. In coordination with the step code, the City of Vancouver has developed its own zero-emissions energy plan, which aims for all new buildings to be zero emissions by 2030. Since last year, all projects applying for rezoning must be designed to meet Passive House requirements or, for non-residential buildings, LEED Gold BD+C or an alternate set of performance criteria. While it is still in use, most architects in Vancouver consider LEED passé because it does not deliver real-world energy efficiency. The conversation in Vancouver has moved forward to explore more ambitious and impactful sustainability measures, including Passive House, Net Zero Carbon, Life Cycle Assessment and Living Building Challenge. At a broader level, Vancouver is seeing a demand for sustainabilityoriented urban infrastructure, including district energy systems. The regional transit authority is extending an existing SkyTrain line with six new stations. BC Hydro already has one thousand electric vehicle (EV ) charging stations in its growing network. In Vancouver and Richmond, among other municipalities, all parking stalls in multi-unit residential buildings must be EV-ready. Incentives to build on transit lines have made transit-oriented developments (TOD s) an increasingly common typology. Beyond the new-build framework, homeowners receive rebates for installing EV charging stations in their homes. They’re also encouraged to make energy retrofits because of the province-wide carbon tax, considered the standard bearer for carbon taxation in the Western hemisphere. The tax was implemented in 2008 and is gradually increasing. The sustainability push in construction is also tied to the province’s strong forestry industry. British Columbia’s Wood First program, initiated in 2009, requires provincially funded projects to use wood as a primary construction material. (Quebec has a similar strategy, in which wood solutions are preferred even if they have a cost premium of up to five percent.) B.C. was the first province to permit six-storey wood frame residential buildings, and this spring has moved to allow 12-storey mass timber buildings, a year ahead of a similar anticipated change in the National Building Code. Meanwhile, several tall wood projects have already been completed after being presented as alternative solutions for compliance with code. The most notable is the 18-storey Brock Commons student residence for the University of British Columbia, led by Acton Ostry Architects. Its modest appearance is intentional: the building was designed with an economic, encapsulated mass timber hybrid structure that may be easily replicated by commercial developers. Still, says Mark Ostry, there remains a premium to building in mass timber. This barrier may
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soften with Katerra’s massive CLT factory in nearby Spokane, Washington, beginning production soon, and Kalesnikoff Lumber planning to build a plant in the Kootenays. In comparison to the private market, public projects have a clear sustainability mandate, says Darryl Condon of HCMA—and architects are pushing the envelope further. “As a firm, we’ve recognized that environmental and social sustainability are intertwined,” he says. “There’s not a triple bottom line, but a spectrum of impact. How do we adapt to the effects of climate change and the need for resilience? It requires a broader range of thinking.” On the whole, British Columbian firms are busy and thriving. But in the realm of high-profile projects, they are starting to come under pressure from outside competition. In Vancouver, there is an influx of European and Asian firms doing major projects—from Herzog & de Meuron’s proposal for the new Vancouver Art Gallery, to towers led by BIG, Kengo Kuma, Büro Ole Scheeren and Shigeru Ban. “It’s shaking things up, and on the other hand, local architects are being challenged to push higher,” says Condon. And then there’s the elephant in the room: affordability. It’s a pervasive, dominant topic that affects decisions at many levels, especially around Vancouver’s city planning policies. The city’s long approvals process is one barrier. “Permitting is especially challenging for afford-
ACTON OSTRY ARCHITECTS
HCMA’s Clayton Community Centre in Surrey is on-track to be the first facility of its kind to achieve Passive House certification in North America, and Canada’s largest Passive House facility to date. ABOVE RIGHT To revitalize Vancouver’s Jewish Community Centre, Acton Ostry Architects is constucting a new centre on an existing parking lot. The current complex will then be demolished to make way for non-market housing.
able housing,” says Charlene Kovacs of VIA A rchitecture, who notes that the level of required detail, energy considerations, and the consultations process are impacting the length of time it takes to get a project green-lighted. These delays have material consequences: the construction market is so active that trades are driving costs up, and by the time projects are approved, they may no longer be financially viable. The process can be so problematic that some developers and architects are seeking work in jurisdictions outside of the city. With a recent change in mayor, there is anticipation building around a new city planning process that is set to unfold in the coming years. But it’s not clear yet what the tenor of the new city council will be. In the meanwhile, says Condon, “architects need to be strong advocates for the potential of the city.” Meanwhile, innovative approaches to creating affordable housing are already emerging. BC Housing has launched an initiative called HousingHub, geared towards creating home rental and ownership opportunities for middle-income earners. One of its first projects is a partnership with the United Church to build rental housing and new church facilities on four of the Church’s existing sites. In a similar vein, Acton Ostry recently completed a rezoning for redevelopment of the city’s Jewish Community Centre as a stacked, nine-storey facility on a former parking lot; the existing centre will make way for
34,600-square-metres of below-market and market rental housing. It’s a strategy that other institutions—including Vancouver’s public and Catholic school boards—are considering as a way to renew their facilities, which were built in the post-war period. “More and more of these institutions are facing the end-of-life of their existing facilities, and they have extra land to leverage to replace them, while providing muchneeded affordable housing,” says Mark Ostry. Affordability-centred residences—including typologies such as laneway infill, co-housing, and multi-generational homes—are at the centre of architects Marianne Amodio and Harley Grusko’s portfolio. Working in the so-called “missing middle” between single-family homes and highrises, Amodio and Grusko have been active in researching the fine details of densification: the psychology of social density, and how spatial design affects interpersonal relationships. “We look at overarching principles, such as the appropriate cluster size that catalyzes community. Throughunits are important, as is widening corridors for space beyond the fire exit requirements, for small coffee tables and locking bikes,” says Amodio. Fortunately, it seems that the dialogue around density is shifting. “For a long time in Vancouver, there was a lot of opposition to densification, but that is starting to change,” says Amodio. “A lot of that was about people not being heard. Now, instead of saying ‘we don’t want it’, they’re saying ‘bring us into the conversation.’”
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Alberta’s economy follows a boom-and-bust cycle, tracking energy prices. The crash of the oil market has been devastating for the private sector as well as the province’s coffers—and this has hit architecture firms in turn. “Calgary has been decimated in the last four years,” says Linus Murphy of S2 Architecture. “I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” In the private sector, Calgary currently has a 27% office vacancy rate—higher than it was during the recession of the 1980s. Fees have been driven down by firms competing for the remaining work. In the public sector, the province has continued with deficit spending, but in an erratic manner. Some major public projects that started before the downturn have been completed, such as the University of Lethbridge’s $220-million expansion, by KPMB and Stantec Architecture, but others have been holding at the tender stage until funding becomes available. One major project, the $590-million Alberta Health Services super lab in Edmonton, was under construction, but the work was abruptly suspended after the government changeover in April. Other projects seem to be stuck at the study phase. Several very large-scale projects have been pushing through—the $1.4-billion Calgary Cancer Centre (by Stantec in collaboration with DIALOG), for instance, and the $500-million BMO conference centre expansion (by Stantec, S2 Architecture, and Populous). But, according to Murphy, there has been a notable disappearance of mid-sized pro-
jects. As a result, a few firms lucky enough to land the mega-projects have prospered, while others have not. The mood is somewhat more positive in Edmonton. Cynthia Dovell of AVID Architecture says that there has been a steady supply of small projects, which have allowed her to build up from a solo practice to a fiveperson firm over the past few years. “Edmonton could support many more small firms,” she says. Vivian Manasc’s firm, Manasc Isaac, has also grown over the past few years, working mostly in Alberta and in the North. The organizational structures created by Alberta architects offer positive lessons for the rest of Canada. It’s one of only two provinces (along with Quebec) which splits the regulation of architecture and advocacy for the business interests of architects into separate mandates. The advocacy body, the Consulting Architects of Alberta (CAA), is made up of 38 member firms who represent 80% of Alberta architects. The CAA has been at the forefront of negotiating for fairer contracts and procurement methods. It has been working with government and major institutions to adjust standard contracts, so that architects aren’t being asked to assume undue liability or give up copyright, for instance. Recently, it worked with Alberta Infrastructure to release two pilot qualifications-based selection projects. The City of Calgary has also been using qualifications-based selection. “They’re on their third RFP with this model, and we’re quite optimistic about the opportunity for credentials and experience to drive team selections—not low fees,” says Léo Lejeune of Stantec’s Calgary office. “This should result in better and better design in our community.” The f lagship of design-first procurement in Alberta is the City of Edmonton. Under City Architect Carol Belanger, Edmonton has developed a QBS-based system that pegs payment to the CAA fee schedule, taking fees out of the equation for selection. The city also maintains a standing offer list of emerging firms for smaller city projects, and held an open, anonymous design competition for a series of park pavilions. Another Alberta innovation worth watching is Athabasca University. The institution started as a traditional campus-based university in 1970, but then pivoted to offering distance education courses, and now is at the forefront of online learning. Its purview includes architecture:
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DIALOG / STANTEC OPPOSITE Modern Office for Design + Architecture’s scheme for the headquarters of Calgary-based robotics company ATTAbotics takes on a wedge shape that responds to flight-path height restrictions and maximizes southern light for employees. ABOVE DIALOG and Stantec are leading the design of the Calgary Cancer Centre, which is anticipated to open in 2023.
for the past few years, it’s provided the academic courses for the RAIC Syllabus program. While the RAIC offers face-to-face studios for Syllabus students in major cities across Canada, Athabasca provides virtual design studios as part of its Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Although the idea of virtual studio courses rankles many professionals, Cynthia Dovell, who teaches in the online program, says that it is one way of encouraging people from a greater diversity of economic backgrounds to enter the profession. “Students in the Athabasca program often have financial challenges in going to a traditional school, because they need to work at the same time, and can’t move cities,” she says. With the almost complete replacement of drafting boards with laptops at offices and architecture schools, it’s increasingly plausible that online learning will be important in the future of design education. On the sustainability front, Alberta never adopted the 2015 National Energy Code for Buildings, but recently leapfrogged to adopt the 2017 version, making it the first province to do so. When Alberta had a carbon tax, there were budgets allocated to photovoltaics on buildings as well, notes Vivian Manasc, although she adds, “now that our carbon tax has been repealed, it will be interesting to see whether these strategies will still work.” There are other bright spots. There seems to be plenty of work in rural Alberta, in the form of a patchwork of small projects. And although Alberta has a younger population compared to other provinces, the private sector is looking to bring progressive care and seniors’ facilities to market. The City of Calgary has supported the development of creative mixed-use facilities—for instance, combining a fire hall station or local library with affordable housing—pushing
the envelope on pairing different typologies. Edmonton’s recent Missing Middle competition solicited design-led proposals for developing affordable housing on five city-owned lots. Dustin Couzens of Calgary-based Modern Office for Design + Architecture compares Calgary to Detroit: the economic downturn, he says, has forced individuals who were laid off to reinvent themselves and their industries. For instance, robotics technology startup ATTAbotics, founded by unemployed engineers, has quickly scaled up to a 200-person company. Modern Office completed an interior retrofit for the company, and now they’ve been commissioned to design a new standalone building. “Calgary on the whole has a conservative outlook on architecture,” says Couzens. “Thankfully, we’re finding individuals who are interested in looking for solutions that are out of the box.” The slowdown has also led some architects to reinvent themselves. Shafraaz Kaba, formerly a partner at Manasc Isaac, recently founded a design consultancy called ASK for a Better World, which trains designers, constructors and clients on net-zero energy building techniques and processes. “Cities like Edmonton are making bold climate plans, but it takes all hands on deck to get people to a space where they can think that net-zero energy or zero-carbon buildings are possible,” he says. “I hope I can help energize our industry about how architects can make a difference in our built environment.” Adds Ben Klumper of Modern Office, “An economic slowdown affords an opportunity to take stock and appreciate what good design can do in city-building. I hope we can come out of this with an attitude of going beyond asking ‘what’s the fastest and cheapest way to build?’, and instead asking ‘what’s the best way to do this?’”
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Ten years ago, the thriving market in oil, gas and potash led to a “Saskaboom,” which brought along plenty of work for architects. The economy has declined significantly since then. But with relatively few architects in the province—about 110 in all—there is still enough work to go around. “Firms seem to be adapting to the new normal, where the work is slow but steady,” says James Youck of Regina-based P3Architecture Partnership (P3A). For a small community of practice, Saskatchewan architects are behind some impressively progressive ideas. Indigeneity has been a topic of conversation in the provincial association’s last three annual conferences. It’s a pressing matter in a province where sixteen percent of the population identifies as Aboriginal. The Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, designed by Douglas Cardinal to provide resources to Indigenous students and opened in 2016, occupies a prime spot on the main academic quadrangle. Moreover, “firms are looking at how truth and reconciliation can affect not just aesthetics, but the process by which projects are delivered,” says Youck. “How do you work in that space of reconciliation, without being yourself Indigenous?” asks Jim Siemens of Oxbow Architecture, who is also the current SAA president. The answer: very carefully. “There are many practitioners here carrying on and striving to do just that,” he says. One manifestation of this approach might be seen at the mâmawêyatitân centre in Regina, by P3A. Indigenous community members were engaged as part of an in-depth local consultation process. Named with a Cree word meaning “let’s all be together,” the building is a shared use facility, jointly funded by the city, the library, and the local school board. It includes a high school, daycare, community policing centre, and recreational complex, among other functions. But instead of each group having its own entrance and perhaps sharing hallways, the centre is more deeply integrated—at the programming level as well as from a service and delivery perspective. “70 percent of the Centre’s spaces are shared between groups, while only 30 percent of the space is dedicated to a single group,” says James Youck. There has also been an ongoing discussion with the University of Saskatchewan about starting a school of architecture; Indigenous placemaking could well be one focus of such an institution. But the process has stalled out, and a timeline for reviving it isn’t clear. Still, local architects feel that having an architecture school would give a significant boost to the design culture of the province. A cando attitude, grounded in the region’s pioneer history, can sometimes result in a good-enough mentality among clients, says Youck. “If all you need is a roof over your head, you may feel a pre-engineered building is enough—why would you look to push a design further?” Adds Derek Kindrachuk, of Saskatoon’s Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture, “A school of architecture would be huge for our city and province—it would go a long ways in fostering appreciation for what architecture can be.”
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In the meanwhile, local firms are working in increments to demonstrate architecture’s potential for creating transformative private and public places. The residential component of Oxbow’s practice, for instance, stemmed in part from a commission for a Kinsmen lottery house, to be raffled off for the charity. “People in Saskatoon love touring lottery homes,” says Jim Siemens, describing how as a Friday night excursion, a couple might opt to visit an open house at a lottery home, rather than going to the movies. In contrast to the typical suburban houses offered as prizes by the charity, Oxbow worked on an urban infill site to create a modern house that respected traditional massing and alignments. The result has garnered many positive reactions. “People innately understand architecture,” says Siemens, “In some way, things like lottery houses give them access to that.” Regional building typologies are also at the heart of a project by Kindrachuk Agrey which is bound to have instant, intuitive appeal. They’re designing an aging-in-place wellness community modelled on the De Hogeweyk dementia care village in the Netherlands. The forward-thinking environment located in the Village at Crossmount will support residents in a safe, non-institutional environment that includes outdoor plazas and a grocery store, library, restaurant, theatre and other amenities, including a daycare supporting intergenerational care. Residents will have private bedrooms in small-scale group homes, with like-minded peers. “There will be all the things you need to carry on with regular daily activities, supported by caregivers,” says Derek Kindrachuk. “There’s nothing like this around in North America.” The Dutch complex on which De Hogeweyk at Crossmount is based opened in 2009 and has seen residents with advanced dementia who are more active and at ease than at typical nursing homes. The founders of De Hogeweyk have endorsed the Saskatchewan project and are supporting its development team. At a larger scale, the recently opened Remai Modern gallery, designed by KPMB Architects, provides an important civic space for Saskatoon. There is discussion over new central libraries in Regina and Saskatoon. A convention centre and downtown arena may also be in the works for Saskatoon, when funding becomes available. Perhaps the most frequented public space in the province is a building that’s not architecturally distinguished: the new stadium in Regina. The immensely popular Roughriders are known for their loud, proud and loyal fan base. Siemens wonders if it might be possible to cultivate a similar sentiment for the province’s arts and architecture. “If we were that proud of our symphony, our gallery, imagine the increased impact that the arts and design could have in our community.”
De Hogeweyk at Crossmount is an aging-in-place community near Saskatoon being designed by Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture. MIDDLE P3A’s mâmawêyatitân centre in Regina is a mixed-use facility that shares space, programming, and services between community partners. BOTTOM A contemporary infill residence in Saskatoon was designed by Oxbow Architecture for the 2018 Kinsmen Home Lottery. TOP
Over the past two decades, Winnipeg has gone through a cultural and commercial renaissance, with residents returning to live and work in the urban core, and a revaluation of the city’s historic Exchange District. As a result, a number of high-profile projects are in design or underway downtown. Here, as in other cities, firms from outside the city are often taking the lead role, as in the redevelopment of the Market Lands by Daoust Lestage, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre addition by Michael Maltzan with Cibinel, and True North Square by Perkins+Will with Architecture49. It’s a trend that is a challenge for local firms. “Clients are more often looking for firms to have a significant number of very similar buildings in their portfolio, which often means partnering with a firm that specializes in each building type. This is even beginning to creep into smaller, less specialized projects,” says Brent Bellamy of Number TEN Architectural Group. “The opportunity for a local architect to design a significant project in their own city is diminishing.” On the other hand, an approach centred on Winnipeg firms prevails at the Railside at The Forks residential development. Previously a surface parking lot, the twelve-acre property sits between the central train station and the Museum for Human Rights. The development has been masterplanned by 5468796 Architecture in partnership with Scatliff+Miller+Murray, and the individual mixed-use buildings are being developed and designed by a variety of local firms. (The land will remain under the ownership of The Forks.) Over the next 15 to 20 years, the area is expected to take shape as a pedestrian-centric zone with mid-rise, medium-density buildings and closely spaced storefronts at ground level. “It will be unlike any development Winnipeg has seen in its history—focusing on human scale, eschewing the automobile, clustering around public plazas, and striving to create a richly diverse community in the heart of the city,” says Chris Wiebe of AtLRG, which is designing one of Railside’s mixed-use projects. In a way, the village-feel of Railside will echo the social tightness of Winnipeg’s design community. Architects and allied design professionals have made tremendous efforts to nurture a local design culture, often on tiny budgets. The city boasts two significant architectural organizations—StorefrontMB and the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation—both of which maintain an impressive output of public events, advocacy efforts and publications. Yearly highlights in the design calendar include the Architecture and Design Film Festival, Winnipeg Design Festival and Table for 1200. Architects are also active in tactical urbanism projects. Last summer, BridgmanCollaborative built a pop-up public toilet pavilion, addressing the need for accessible washrooms downtown. It remains in use, relocating from one part of the downtown to another, carrying with it its message about social inclusion. The annual Warming Huts and Cool Gardens competitions have yielded a wealth of installations, several of which have been grounds for serious research into materials, fabrication techniques and form-making.
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The energy from these discussions, however, often remains within the urban bubble. One of the biggest current challenges, says architect Lawrence Bird of pico ARCHITECTURE , is “convincing the general population—rather than an informed group of designers, journalists, and some business people—that design is worth spending money on, especially design of public spaces and places.” He says that the divide was laid bare in the plebiscite over revamping the iconic intersection of Portage and Main. As part of the municipal election ballot last October, Winnipeggers weighed in on a proposal to reopen the intersection, which has been closed to pedestrian traffic since 1979. The design community actively promoted the reopening as an important part of revitalizing downtown. But 65 percent of voters, a group that included suburban as well as urban residents, turned it down. “Decision makers tend to believe that the core areas have received enough help, and shouldn’t receive assistance anymore,” says Johanna Hurme of 5468796, who chaired the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce in 2018. The situation is exacerbated by the city’s relatively low land values, which make suburban development attractive. “What’s frustrating is that we’re not looking at the larger city issues—for instance, the city is still approving greenfield developments. On the macro scale, we just keep doing the wrong thing.” Still, private development is a busy sector, and the City of Winnipeg is preparing new guidelines for infill development. “Architects, owners, and developers all want clearer rules, or at least a clearer process, for gaining approval for these projects,” says Chris Wiebe of AtLRG. “Quite often these projects involve rezoning, conditional use, and multiple variance applications—which tend to snowball when pushing the boundaries of design possibilities. A lot of time and money can be spent proposing a design that can be suddenly denied in the late stages of the approval process.” Another frustration has been the province’s fiscal austerity measures, which have, in the three years of the current regime, resulted in a sharp decline in funding for new projects and delays to many projects that were already underway. “Firms that work in the institutional and educational sectors have been impacted,” says Brent Bellamy. On the other hand, some significant projects have been spurred by federal investment, including infrastructural work and post-secondary projects, such as expansions at Red River College’s Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses. When the opportunity arises, firms are doing their best to act nimbly and add value to projects. The residential market is shifting from condos to rentals, meaning a longer-term investment for developers—incentivizing them to invest in good design. Educational buildings also provide the opportunity to raise the awareness of design in the general community: the Red River Innovation Centre (Diamond Schmitt and Number TEN Architectural Group), for instance, will feature sleek, large-panelled building-integrated photovoltaics on its façades. In tandem with a raised awareness of design, architects are aiming to put sustainability on the public agenda. Lindsay Oster of Prairie Archi-
tects says she hopes for a time when, in Manitoba, “social and environmental sustainability, liveability and human health will no longer compete with short-sighted budgets.” She envisages a future where “longterm operational savings, life-cycle analysis, resiliency, community health and prosperity, and circular economies will become the metrics of success and the baseline for our discussions. It won’t be a question about whether or not we are making something ‘green’, rather about making it better and improving the everyday quality of life for people.” “Relevance is an important discussion in local circles. How do we retain our ability to be agents of change and innovation?” asks Bellamy. “What can we do as architects to raise the value of design with clients and policy makers, increasing the demand for quality architecture to be a vital component of realizing overall project goals?” Located at the geographic mid-point of Canada, Winnipeg seems well-positioned to ask these questions—and cities bigger and smaller are watching to see the answers that emerge.
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NUMBER TEN ARCHITECTURAL GROUP
NUMBER TEN ARCHITECTURAL GROUP
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LEFT Facing Winnipeg’s Old Market Square, AtLRG is designing a mixeduse building with a restaurant below and residential units above. BOTTOM LEFT David Penner and H5 Architecture’s Windsor Park Library exemplifies a sensitive approach to building in existing communities. BELOW; TOP TO BOTTOM The downtown Richardson Innovation Centre is designed by Number TEN Architectural Group; the same firm worked in association with pico ARCHITECTURE (formerly Ager Little Architects) on Red River College’s Skilled Trades and Technology Centre.
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Procurement is a big issue for architects across the country, including for Ontario architects who work in the institutional sector. Publicprivate partnerships—a model that made its Canadian debut in Ontario—are still being used to deliver major healthcare, justice and transit projects across the province. The auditor general of Ontario, among others, has called into question the value of this procurement model, determining that it costs more and takes longer than projects that are directly government-funded. From the perspective of architects involved, design quality is notoriously difficult to maintain under the pressure to minimize costs. Meanwhile, the requirements for the RFPs through which most projects are procured are stringent about previous experience, making it nearly impossible for small and even mid-sized firms to break into new markets. The situation is made even more difficult when local firms are competing against the large portfolios of national-scale firms (all of which have a Toronto presence). RFPs are demanding an increasing number of specialists, cutting into the architect’s bottom line. There’s a standing concern about larger firms coming in low on fees, as a business strategy to build up new areas of work. “Design fees are so little in comparison to the life-cycle costs of a project,” says Ted Watson of MJMA. “It’s far better to seek out fees that are based on an awareness and capability to deliver on longer-term values.” For Ottawa architect and former OAA president Toon Dreessen, standing offer lists with crown corporations also seem to be unfair, rewarding firms who submit unreasonably low hourly rates as the basis of selection, and municipal sector procurement remains a challenge. Much of the work that is distributed from federal, provincial and municipal governments is relatively small in scale, but uses the same top-heavy RFP process as larger projects. The level of effort required to issue, manage and respond to a conventional RFP is enormous for both client and architect—often vastly out of proportion to the value of the contract. These procurement processes are especially problematic in smallto mid-sized cities. Says former OAA president John Stephenson of Form Studio, “The biggest challenge we all face—but it’s especially acute in remote centres such as Thunder Bay—is a procurement process that is biased in favour of the very large practices and those who are prepared to participate in a fee lottery in order to get work. A procurement model that has been inspired by a political desire to avoid risk and an attitude that equates best value with lowest price is stifling innovation. It’s punishing small firms who can’t afford to compete on this level and who don’t have the required deep portfolios of project-specific experience.” (Outside of Ontario, the situation is particularly tough in small centres in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, where the New West Partnership Trade Agreement means that most public construction projects above a $200K threshold—or $100K for provincial projects—must be put out to tender across all three provinces.) Conversations around procurement may be starting to change in Ottawa, partly from public concern over the bare-bones design of the
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city’s new LRT stations. The $2.1-billion line, which is set to open more than a year behind schedule this summer, was procured through a P3 process; the same procurement model was used for the $4.66-billion second phase, which was approved this spring in an expedited manner that left little time for public consultation. “I hope that the conversations around procurement will have an effect and result in a rethink,” says Toon Dreessen. “Public Services and Procurement Canada has already started slowly moving in this direction, but it’s tough when the test projects are at the $150-million scale.” The OAA has been active in advocating for quality-based selection, which it argues is fully compatible with the province’s broader public service procurement directive for government-funded projects. The education sector is leading on this front: the University of Toronto is shortlisting in a way that prioritizes design excellence, and its affiliated Trinity College recently put out an RFP based on the RAIC fee guidelines. “In the last year or two, we’ve seen more f lexibility in the evaluation process in certain RFPs,” says Natasha Lebel of Toronto’s Lebel & Bouliane, who notes that, in some cases, lowest price is no longer the inevitable determining factor. “The public sector is very concerned about getting terrible buildings.” Post-secondary institutions are also taking a leadership role in sustainability. The University of Toronto and George Brown College each have design underway for a mass timber academic facility. A Vancouver-Toronto partnership is behind both buildings: U of T’s Academic Wood Tower is being designed by Patkau Architects with MJMA, while George Brown’s Arbour is by Moriyama & Teshima with Acton Ostry. Several mass timber office buildings are also in the works, in both Toronto and Ottawa—the first of these across the finish line will be Quadrangle’s soon-to-open 80 Atlantic, in Toronto’s Liberty Village. “Toronto is now seeing opportunity to lead the way in mass timber and sustainability, and to match contributions from the West Coast to lead the world in this realm,” says Ted Watson. The provincial government that came into power last fall, led by Doug Ford, is anticipated to have impacts in several spheres. There are concerns that post-secondary institutions across the province may start to put projects on hold, in the wake of provincial funding cuts announced in the April budget. One area that’s already being affected is student centres. These projects are usually decided by referendum and funded through student levees, but students can now choose to opt out from these fees. The government is also pushing through changes to the heritage act, opening up the iconic Ontario Place for redevelopment, and restoring the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincially appointed tribunal for resolving municipal planning disputes. These changes may be encouraging for accelerating development, but have been seemingly made in haste with little stakeholder consultation. In contrast, the federal government has been quietly unfolding a progressive series of architectural projects over the past years. The redevelopment of Ottawa’s Parliamentary Precinct has resulted in several major adaptive reuse projects, and the upcoming restoration of the Centre Block will be the country’s largest heritage conservation project. The government has also declared its intention to have a carbonneutral building portfolio by 2030. Pilot projects in this effort include deep retrofits of the Arthur Meighen Building in Toronto (led by DIALOG), Les Terrasses de la Chaudière in Gatineau (Provencher_ Roy and NORR), and the West Memorial Building in Ottawa (Moriyama & Teshima with Kasian). “A zero-carbon retrofit isn’t easy to achieve in the federal government office environment, with issues around security,” says Jim Anderson of DIALOG. “It will strongly inf luence things if they can stick with that mandate. If government work space is leading-edge, everyone’s got to keep up.”
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At a municipal level, for Toronto-area residents, a pressing issue is the price of housing—although prices have yet to reach the stratospheric heights of Vancouver. One strategy that the City is taking to address affordability is through encouraging gentle density. “We have looser rules on secondary suites, and now we have laneway housing. The trend is to densify within the existing housing fabric,” says Christine Lolley, of sustainable housing firm Solares Architecture. Lolley says her firm has seen an uptick on inquiries about laneway housing in particular, although the program parameters are very strict, and have yet to be tested with built projects. The condo towers rising throughout Toronto’s downtown core are also much-needed contributors to housing. Typically, they’re all-glass highrises, and criticism has been aimed at their cheap construction and poor energy performance. This is starting to change. The towers are subject to the Toronto Green Standard, which sets tiered requirements for new private and city-owned developments. The standard aims to bring new construction to near-net-zero emissions by 2030, and is part of a plan to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. The ratcheting up of the standard is affecting developers, comments architect Pat Hanson of gh3*, who
notes that the glass towers being completed today would no longer be possible under the most recent version of the standard. Ultimately, innovative approaches may be needed to address the housing need in Toronto, speculates Richard Witt of Quadrangle. In the past five years, 80,805 new dwellings were added to Toronto, while the population grew by 116,511 residents. One in three residents spend more than a third of their before-tax income on shelter, and some 97,000 households are on a waiting list for social housing. “The only way [to meet demand] is to spread construction out to other areas,” says Witt, who imagines prefabricated building modules being completed in factories in outlying areas, and being brought into the city to be stacked together. Similar to Vancouver, Toronto is seeing an influx of international starchitects designing marquis developments—from Chicago’s Jeanne Gang to Copenhagen’s 3XN. “Firms like BIG bring a business approach that proves the value of architecture is possible,” says Andrew Reeves of Linebox, which has offices in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Led by Bjarke Ingels, the Danish firm BIG is working with Allied Properties to build the Habitat-67-inspired KING Toronto development. “With one big punch, the bar is raised, and for other developers,
PATKAU ARCHITECTS / MJMA
ABOVE Located at 2450 Victoria Park, a mixeduse residential complex designed by gh3* exemplifies the fast-paced development that continues in Toronto. LEFT DIALOG is leading a net-zero-carbon retrofit of the federal Arthur Meighen Building in Toronto. RIGHT A 14-storey mass timber and concrete hybrid tower, designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA, will be a striking addition to the University of Toronto’s downtown campus. The academic building adjoins the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, which was designed by the same duo of architecture firms.
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it’s a proof-of-concept that investing in design pays off,” says Reeves. Easily the most bold—and controversial—development in Toronto at present is Sidewalk Toronto, a dozen-building proposal for the waterfront Quayside lands by Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google. Local firms have been involved in pieces of the project—Lebel & Bouliane designed Sidewalk’s Toronto offices and community engagement space, gh3* created a prototype interior for the timber towers, PARTISANS developed a deployable ETFE building raincoat that can latch on to façades. But the higher-profile pieces of the design—the actual towers, which are intended to be built of modular mass timber—are currently in the hands of Katerra-partnered Michael Green Architects, Snøhetta, and Thomas Heatherwick. In any case, it’s up in the air whether the project will move forward. Data privacy concerns are circling around Sidewalk’s smart city proposal. And it seems the company is vying to extend its development to the Portlands—a 715-acre waterfront area that is currently undergoing a $1.25-billion flood protection project. When completed in 2023, the work will unlock the site as Canada’s most valuable development zone— with an accompanying wealth of opportunity for architects.
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“It’s busier than I’ve ever seen it,” says Gavin Affleck of Montreal’s Affleck de la Riva architects, who has practiced for 30 years. “Students and graduates are basically hired instantly,” says Anne Cormier, of Atelier Big City. Every firm in Quebec seems to agree: work is plentiful. Architects are comparing the current boom to the build-up of Montreal in the pivotal decade of the 1960s. This winter, Montreal’s real estate sector overtook Vancouver as the second largest market in the country after Toronto. In the past year, housing has shown strong price growth, a period when prices in other cities softened. And the city still has “a lot of catching up to do,” says Gavin Affleck: there are many empty downtown lots that remain from the 1980s and 90s, when recessions and the threat of separation from Canada put the province in an economic rut. The boom is also affecting heritage buildings, which are being restored and converted to new uses. The biggest of these is the multi-building Royal Victoria Hospital site, which flanks the southern edge of Mount Royal. The site sat in limbo for several years, but McGill University is now planning to convert the former hospital’s main building, a heritage structure dating back to 1893, into campus teaching and research spaces. In Old Montreal, the million-square-foot Gare Viger, Montreal’s original train station, is being converted into a mixed-use development by Provencher_Roy. Good times come with challenges, and the biggest is a shortage of skilled intermediate and senior-level staff. It’s a generational challenge faced by firms across Canada, but on that is perhaps particularly acute in la belle province because of the language barrier—architects need to pass a French competency test to transfer their credentials to Quebec, slowing movement from other provinces. The cities may also be underprepared for the current sudden growth. Maxime-Alexis Frappier of ACDF, who also works in Vancouver, says that Montreal lacks the tall-building regulations of the West Coast. “We are going to face challenges about the residential densification downtown,” he says. “Vancouver has strong criteria to protect the public realm; in Montreal, they have allowed us to go higher to have a greater density, but the projects still have large floorplates and a high podium.” Nonetheless, some private sector actors have taken the lead in delivering quality architecture. “Developers are understanding that good design can sell well,” he says. On the public side, Quebec’s competition system has long been the envy of architects in the rest of Canada: a way to ensure quality architecture, and for young firms to land major projects based solely on their design chops. All provincially subsidized cultural spaces with a construction budget above $5-million must be procured through competitions, and municipalities can opt to use the competition system for other buildings, a choice frequently made by the City of Montreal. And indeed, many of Quebec’s best-known firms—including Montreal’s Atelier TAG and Atelier Big City—came to prominence through design competitions for theatres, libraries, and other publicly funded facilities.
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In recent years, the system has been subtly changing. Adversity to risk, and particularly the threat of cost overruns, have led municipalities to tighten competition requirements. Many competitions now come with detailed technical and functional programs at the outset, tight budgets, and requirements for the applicant to have at least a decade of experience in practice as well as a certain number of completed projects of the same type. As a result, fewer firms are able to compete—and those that do succeed tend to get pigeon-holed in sectors based on their previous experience. Still, says Gavin Affleck of Affleck de la Riva, the process is ultimately continuing to succeed in delivering quality work. “If you get shortlisted, you’ve really worked hard on your conceptual approach,” he says—a phase that often gets short shrift with the compressed timelines of private sector projects. Several upcoming projects awarded through competitions have won Canadian Architect Awards for design-stage work: these include Pelletier de Fontenay, Kuehn Malvazzi, and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte’s Insectarium in Montreal, KANVA’s renovation of the nearby Biodome, Atelier TAG and Architecture49’s installation of an observation belvedere in the lantern of Mount Royal’s Oratoire Saint-Joseph, and Saucier + Perrotte and GLCRM’s Gabrielle-Roy Library addition in Quebec City. Perhaps equally important, the competition system has helped sustain a small-firm culture in Quebec. While many engineering firms merged in the 1990s, the typical Quebec firm is still a small to midsized enterprise—“an artisanal production,” as Affleck puts it. This has been healthy for an architecture community that is active, in many ways, in creating its own fortune. Lobbying efforts, led by OAQ president Nathalie Dion, are advancing a provincial architecture strategy, which would further solidify architecture’s importance to Quebec culture. Architect Pierre Thibault was one of the champions of the grassroots Lab-École campaign to improve the design, food, and opportunities for physical activity in Quebec’s public schools. As part of the program, competitions are starting soon for renovations of several schools—and the rules have been opened up so that younger architects will have an opportunity to get in the game.
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ADRIEN WILLIAMS STÉPHANE BRÜGGER
The design of Rigaud City Hall, by Affleck de la Riva architectes, alludes to the archetype of the classical temple, whose form is associated with the birth of democracy. TOP RIGHT ACDF Architecture’s Hotel Monville in downtown Montreal takes on a clean, modernist aesthetic, inside and out. ABOVE Designed by Birtz Bastien Beaudoin Laforest Architectes (Groupe Provencher_Roy), the École Baril school addition integrates with the restored and renovated original 1910 buildling, which had been slated for demolition. TOP LEFT
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CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
The postcard view of Canada’s Atlantic coast is dotted with small, colourful clapboard houses sitting by the ocean. But in some parts of the Atlantic, that’s starting to change, with a growing appetite for contemporary design, and a contingent of architects ready to deliver it. “When the Halifax Central Library opened, it changed many people’s perceptions about what a modern building could bring to the city,” says Rayleen Hill, of RHAD Architects. The opening of the library in 2014 coincided with a real estate boom in the city: construction has been on the rise, with a record number of housing starts in 2018. There’s a sense of economic optimism that’s unusual for the fiscally conservative city. It’s anchored, perhaps, in the thriving Irving shipyard, which secured a $25-billion package for building federal combat vessels in 2011, and earlier this year was part of a team selected to design and construct another $60 billion of military ships. “When I first arrived in Halifax 25 years ago, there were massive parking lots in the city,” recalls Susan Fitzgerald, of FBM Architecture & Interior Design. “Now, new communities are being created on those sites.” One of the most visible development projects is Queen’s Marque, a set of residential midrises on the downtown waterfront by MacKayLyons Sweetapple and FBM that includes public areas. There’s also anticipation building around the municipality’s plan to replace the Cogswell Interchange—a concrete snarl that caps the north end of downtown—with a pedestrian-oriented district centred on parks, plazas and a transit hub. Affordability is increasingly an issue, and developers are responding in projects such as Midtown North, which includes a significant component of below-market-value rentals. The five-acre parcel, designed by FBM, weaves together a mix of building types and scales, and includes a plaza for weekend markets. RHAD is designing a 30-unit affordable housing project in Bridgewater, a community just outside the city that recently won a $5-million pot in the federal Smart Cities Challenge. Bridgewater’s proposal intends to lift residents out of energy poverty, including through providing better housing that reduces energy expenses. The Nova Scotia coast is also upgrading its tourism infrastructure, in both public venues and private enterprises. Among the rising stars are the globally acclaimed Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses, which have transformed the landscape and economy of a former mining community. FBM has contributed handsome structures to each. A side-effect of tourism is an uptick in residential projects. “We’ve seen a lot of clients from overseas or out west who have become enamoured with the Nova Scotian landscape and have purchased waterfront properties around the province,” says Rayleen Hill. “Some lived or went to university here, others have vacationed here, and now want to build a summer home where they can eventually retire.” In neighbouring New Brunswick, there is a similar boom in the vacation home market—even though the provincial government is in a nonbuilding phase of austerity. “We recently did an audit of our commissions, and found 85 percent of our clients are from out-of-province,” says Stephen Kopp of Saint John-based Acre Architects, a draw that
he attributes in part to the attractiveness of the Bay of Fundy coastline. Kopp also notes that there has been a drift of people from the suburbs back into the city core. In line with the trend, one of their current projects is a six-storey, Passive House-standard multi-unit residential build. “This will be a big statement locally to show how high sustainability standards and high design ambitions can work together,” he says. Throughout the Atlantic coast, climate change has been palpable: there’s been major flooding in New Brunswick, Arctic sea ice blowing down the coast of Newfoundland, and invasive species like European Green Crab coming up regularly in fishing nets. Perhaps as a result, private house clients, universities and specific municipalities seem interested in building with sustainability in mind. But government policy and regulations have to catch up. The potential exists for the buildings sector to make a significant impact: the relatively moderate climate of Newfoundland, for instance, means that geothermal fields are remarkably effective. “You can run almost 100 percent of a building’s heating and cooling on geothermal,” says Jeremy Bryant of St. John’s-based Lat49, who notes a short payback time of five to six years. Of the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland’s economy is struggling the most, as it continues to recover from the fallout of the oil and gas price crash several years ago. The capital-poor provincial government has relied on P3s as a way to finance major projects, including the $120-million Corner Brook hospital, a mental health facility in St. John’s, and a number of long-term care facilities. “We’ve done several long-term care homes in the past, but now, we don’t even get looked at unless we’re linked to an outside firm,” says Richard Symonds of Lat49, who is concerned that the province lacks understanding of the full implications of using this type of procurement. With only 35 local members across Newfoundland and Labrador, notes Symonds, the architecture community has little inf luence with government officials. The situation may be somewhat different in the Maritime provinces. Says Susan Fitzgerald of Halifax-based FBM, “I actually see a growing desire to work with local firms with their deep local knowledge—especially as Atlantic archi-
FBM ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR DESIGN ACRE ARCHITECTS
tects receive more press and win national and international accolades.” Still, Newfoundland and Labrador’s architects do what they can, particularly in advocating for architecture. The developments at Fogo Island continue to have a positive impact for design culture, with the international draw of the Fogo Island Inn bringing attention to the transformative potential of architecture. With the help of Canada Council grants, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Architects runs an annual architecture week and hosts lectures throughout the year. As in Saskatchewan, there’s the sense that a local design school would be of help in bolstering the status of architecture in the province—perhaps an outpost of Dalhousie University’s School of Architecture. Architect Chris Woodford, of Newfoundland-based Woodford Sheppard, says that design throughout the Atlantic would also be well-served by closer links between the architects in its different provinces. “It’s cheaper for me to fly to London, England, than to St. John, New Brunswick,” he says. “There’s good design happening in various pockets in the region, but it’s difficult for me to even see architectural work designed by my peers in other Atlantic provinces. It’s also difficult to collaborate and to work in different cities, because of the physical obstacles of getting around.” Regional connections may be strengthened by the advent of Building Equality in Architecture Atlantic (BEAA), an offshoot of Torontobased organization BEAT, which supports diversity in the profession. With the launch of a PEI chapter in June, BEAA now has a presence in each of the Atlantic provinces. This fall, they’re planning a regional retreat in New Brunswick, and hoping to make it an annual event. “Despite our small number of registered architects in Atlantic Canada—and with even fewer women architects—there is a palpable feeling of growth and progress with the launch of BEAA,” says Monica Adair of Acre Architects, who spearheaded the initiative. “A shared dedication to the larger mission of helping shape our profession to be more diverse is resulting in a more connected ecosystem. This is vital especially for the smaller provinces, where the architect is not always top of mind, and where we must together address our value in society.” It may be just the kind of energy that’s needed to build a stronger culture of architecture within the region.
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Located on Cape Breton, Abacus House was designed by RHAD Architects to reference the typology of local barns. TOP RIGHT FBM Architecture & Interior Design’s plan for Halifax’s Midtown North comprises a mix of six commercial and residential buildings. ABOVE Acre Architects is designing The Wellington, a mixed-income, Passive House-standard muti-unit residential building in Saint John. The massing and pops of colour reflect the legacy of the three houses that previously occupied the site. TOP LEFT
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The Indigenous population is Canada’s fastest growing demographic, with some 1.6 million Indigenous people in the 2016 census, and an anticipated growth to over 2.5 million by 2038. Statistics Canada says that two factors have contributed to this explosion: high fertility rates, but also a greater confidence that is causing more people to identify themselves as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit on the census. What’s indisputable is that it’s a demographic in need of better architecture, starting from the basic level of housing. One in five Indigenous people lived in a dwelling in need of major repair in 2016, including nearly a third of Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat and almost half of Status First Nations people living on reserves. Close to one fifth of the Indigenous population lived in crowded housing, with a shortfall of bedrooms. Jack Kobayashi, of Whitehorse-based Kobayashi + Zedda Architects, notes that the housing sector in Northern Canada has been extremely busy in the past five years. “At this time, we are designing residential projects that comprise the entire continuum of housing, including homeless shelters, tiny homes, rental apartments, market condos, seniors’ housing and extended care facilities,” says Kobayashi. To address the severe shortage of housing in Whitehorse, the firm has also developed its own construction arm, 360 Design Build, which has completed several projects, including, most recently, a 14-unit building with micro-sized apartments. Funding for the majority of Northern projects ultimately comes from federal coffers. “While much of the federal subsidies have been devolved over the years through local government, First Nation governments and First Nation Development Corporations, all paths lead back to the Federal Government,” says Kobayashi. Unfortunately, Ottawa’s schedules don’t always align with the realities of Northern living. “The North operates on annual government funding milestones that revolve around a March 31st year-end. Many projects start and stop on that milestone date,” he says. “This arbitrary date does not align well with the short construction season.” Architect Bill Semple of NORDEC consulting and design echoes the need for reality checks. “There’s never enough money, and never enough housing getting built. Every year, the backlog gets bigger,” he says. Often, funding is year-to-year, or over a couple of years at most. The lack of long-term funding makes it difficult to build capacity and to plan longer-term strategies. On the positive side, there seems to be a willingness to develop improved processes. “The conversations between communities and the federal government is much more open now than before,” says Semple. Adds Kobayashi, “Projects coming out of the efforts of First Nation Development Corporations have been consistently rewarding. The Development Corporations operate at arms-length to the First Nations they represent, and are sufficiently nimble in their risk-taking and decisionmaking ability to become very good clients of architecture in the North.” A variety of community-centred approaches are seen in the work of Yellowknife-based Taylor Architecture Group. For the Hamlet Office and Community Hall at Kugaaruk, the firm focused on using as much
local labour as possible. “We did this by interviewing community members interested in working on the project, acquiring their contact information and skill levels, and then including that in the project’s specifications,” says Ksenia Eic of Taylor Architecture Group. Forty-five percent of the project was constructed by locals. Wood construction was also chosen, in order to use construction equipment already available in the community. “Usually people shy away from using local labour, as they think it will increase the cost, but the amazing thing is that the building tender price ended up being under the budget price— which is very unusual for the North.” There is opportunity in the North for young architects intrepid enough to move there. Eic completed her student thesis looking at First Nations housing in her home province of New Brunswick, then decided to join Taylor Architectural Group as a way to pursue her interests. “Even as an intern architect, you really get thrown into the middle of things, with a variety of experiences,” she says, recalling how she was exposed to the firm’s highly varied work, from offices and schools, to community centres and arenas. “People think that you can only go to Vancouver or Toronto to find work, but you’re more likely to find an interesting experience by going somewhere more remote.” All this is happening in the shadow of the significant impacts of the climate crisis: the Arctic is warming almost three times as fast as the rest of the world. “Since my arrival in Yukon, the average annual temperature in some northern communities with permafrost has increased by as much as 4.8 degrees,” says Kobayashi. Thawing permafrost threatens northern infrastructure, since the foundations of many buildings are dependent upon maintaining permafrost in its frozen state. (Buildings are typically raised to allow cold air to circulate over the ground.) “Much of the permafrost in Yukon is just below zero degrees Celsius, and therefore very susceptible to even slight increases in warming temperatures,” says Kobayashi.
Kobayashi + Zedda Architects designed the 17-unit Inuvik Singles complex to meet the needs of a growing demographic in the community. TOP RIGHT Local artist Alina Tungilik’s work was integrated into the Kugaaruk Hamlet Office and Community Hall, designed by Taylor Architecture Group. RIGHT For the Lutsel K’e Dene School, Taylor Architecture Group provided maximum transparency to connect classrooms with the outdoors and with the corridors, building trust with the community and combatting feelings of claustrophobia.
CHRISTOPHER OLAND IHOR PONA
While there is a small contingent of registered architects in the North, some firms from southern cities have developed a long history of working with Indigenous communities, among them, Edmonton-based Manasc Isaac. “We are working more than ever with First Nations, and are developing deeper and more enduring relationships with the many First Nations and Métis communities that we work with,” says Vivian Manasc, whose current work includes a number of First Nations schools in Alberta and gathering centres at Métis Crossing (Alberta), Salt River (Northwest Territories), and Kwanlin Dün (Yukon). “Our approach is informed as much as possible by Indigenous ways of being and knowing and of relationships with the land.” Conversations with Indigenous clients have the potential to do more than meet the challenge of providing adequate housing, as immense as that goal may already be. “First Nations have a close relationship with the land, they understand how it has inherent richness, they have spent countless generations living on it,” says Semple. “To address climate change, the very attitude they have to the land is what we need to cultivate—there is much to learn from them. It is my belief that reconciliation will be finally happening when we’re actually having two-way conversations, where we are learning from each other.”
CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
EMBODIED CARBON: THE BLIND SPOT OF THE BUILDINGS INDUSTRY TEXT
WITH THE HUGE RATE OF NEW CONSTRUCTION WORLDWIDE, WE NEED TO CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF MATERIALS USED TO CREATE BUILDINGS.
Between now and 2060, the buildings industry is poised to add a whopping 230 billion square metres of new construction worldwide. That means we will double the amount of buildings we currently have on the planet over the next four decades. To put this into perspective, we are constructing the equivalent of an entire New York City every month for the next 40 years. Let that sink in.
Given the sheer volume and speed of new construction, it is critical that we design all of these buildings as sustainably as possible. But what do we mean when we say sustainable? When you hear the term “green buildings,” what comes to mind? If you are like most people, you think about energy efficient buildings that use renewable energy. That is no coincidence, since reducing operational energy use has been the primary focus of green building efforts for decades. Passive House and Net Zero Energy buildings are great examples of how we can design buildings to make significant reductions in operational energy use. Of course, it’s undeniable that reducing carbon emissions from operational energy use is extremely important and should be a key priority. But our industry’s single-minded focus on operational energy efficiency raises the question: What about the greenhouse gases emitted during the construction of all these new buildings? If we really are adding another New York City to the mix every month, why aren’t we thinking about the environmental impacts associated with the materials used to construct those buildings? Well, actually, we are—or at least, we’re starting to. With promising policy initiatives and a rapidly growing awareness surrounding the concept of embodied carbon, the green building industry is now beginning to understand and take steps toward reducing the enormous environ-
Total carbon emissions of global new construction from 2020-2050
mental impacts associated with construction materials. Today, there is a small but growing group of impassioned individuals, organizations and policymakers tackling the problem of embodied carbon. But it is nowhere near enough. For all of us dedicated to building an industry genuinely invested in the future of our global climate, it’s a concept that needs to become a priority—and now.
Other 9% Building operation 28% Industry 30%
Building materials and construction 11%
This puts embodied carbon on par with operational carbon emissions over the span of the next three decades. So if you are designing green buildings with the idea that you are saving the planet, but you don’t consider embodied carbon, you are missing half of the equation.
It should be noted that this statistic does not account for the full lifespan of these new buildings, but rather only looks at the operational and embodied emissions that take place between now and 2050. If, instead, we look at a typical building over a 60-year lifespan, we see that embodied carbon generally makes up between 10% to 70% of its impacts, depending in large part on the carbon intensity of the local energy system. Total carbon emissions of global new construction every year from 2020-2050
Global CO2 emission by sector
Why does embodied carbon matter? According to data from the UN Environment - Global Status Report 2018, the buildings sector is responsible for a full 39% of global energyrelated carbon emissions. While it’s true that the majority of these emissions—around 28%—arise from the day-to-day operations of existing buildings, the other 11% come directly from the embodied emissions of constructing new buildings. That 11% slice of the pie is what the buildings industry has mostly ignored—our industry’s blind spot.
Billions kg CO2 / m2
SOURCE: © 2018 2030, INC. / ARCHITECTURE 2030. DATA SOURCE: UN ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 2017; EIA INTERNATIONAL ENERGY OUTLOOK 2017 1
What is embodied carbon? Buckminster Fuller once famously asked Norman Foster, “How much does your building weigh?” How about today’s buildings? Where did all of that concrete, steel and wood come from? What did it take to extract, manufacture and transport those materials? What will happen to them when your building eventually gets torn down? The term “embodied carbon” refers to the carbon footprint associated with building materials, from cradle to grave. Using the scientific method known as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), we can quantify the environmental impacts associated with all of the construction materials used over a building’s lifespan. Unlike your building’s operational energy use, which is more visible and easier to measure, these “embodied” environmental impacts are hidden and often overlooked. Though conventional wisdom focuses on operational carbon emissions as far exceeding those of embodied carbon, the building industry is now realizing that we have underestimated the importance of embodied carbon.
One thing that is often not discussed is the time value of carbon. While it is important to look at cumulative emissions over the lifetime of a building, it also matters when these emissions take place. Once a building has been constructed, the embodied carbon has already been emitted, and the emissions will actively impact our climate for the next decades and centuries. You can’t do anything to reduce embodied carbon once a building has been built. The same is not true for operational carbon emissions, which could be reduced in the future by scaling up renewable energy generation in the grid, and by retrofitting buildings. The climate implications The importance of embodied carbon becomes even more evident when you consider that, according to the IPCC, to limit global warming to 1.5°C, carbon emissions would need to peak next year in 2020 and then go to net zero globally by 2050. Given that embodied carbon will make up almost half of total new construction emissions between now and 2050, we cannot ignore embodied carbon if we want to have any chance of hitting our climate targets. As disturbing as the IPCC’s recent report may be, it doesn’t even factor in potential climate tipping points, which could be triggered by passing certain thresholds of warming. While there is significant uncertainty
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duce emissions now and end up triggering some tipping points as a result, it may not matter how energy efficient our buildings are 60 years from now. We are already experiencing many of the effects of climate change, including increased risks of wildfire. In British Columbia, where I live and work, the wildfires we had over the past two years were the largest on record. Each is estimated to have emitted two to three times the carbon emissions of the province’s annual fossil fuel use across all sectors. The unprecedented wildfires in California caused immense damage and forced PG&E, the largest utility in America, to declare bankruptcy. As the brave 16-year-old Greta Thunberg said in her powerful talk in Davos, “I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.” All of this paints a picture of why we urgently need to focus on embodied carbon. Luckily, the long-neglected idea of embodied carbon is finally gaining traction, and policymakers and industry leaders are taking note.
Global total net CO2 emissions Billion tonnes of CO2 / yr In pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot as well as in pathways with a higher overshoot, CO2 emissions are reduced to net zero globally around 2050.
Four illustrative model pathways
0 P1 P2
SOURCE: IPCC SR15 SPM 2
Timing of net zero CO2 Line widths depict the 5-95th percentile and the 25-75th percentile of scenarios
Pathway limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot
Policies and certifications There are already numerous regulatory bodies focusing on the impact of embodied carbon. The Embodied Carbon Review study conducted by Bionova recently reviewed over 100 certifications, regulations, and voluntary incentive systems addressing embodied carbon around the world. Over the past five years, the number of these systems has more than doubled. Such regulations and incentives are the primary reason why our industry is finally starting to pay attention to embodied carbon. For us to adequately address embodied carbon, we need to rapidly scale up the number of embodied carbon policies around the world, and also increase the requirements and thresholds for carbon reduction.
Pathway with higher overshoot
Numbers of systems addressing embodied carbon by geography Pathway limiting global warming to 2°C (not shown above)
Increase in global average surface temperatures, °C
1 – 2.9
3 – 4.9
SOURCE: STOCKHOLM RESILIENCE CENTRE 3
Climate cascade: feedback loops could amplify one another, pushing Earth towards ‘hothouse’ state, warn scientists.
in this field of research, a recent Guardian article cited a study that explored the potential risk where crossing 2°C of warming could lead to a domino-like series of cascading, self-reinforcing feedback loops that prevent the climate from stabilizing, leading to a “Hothouse Earth.” This further emphasizes the importance of reducing near-term emissions, as doing so can give us slightly more time to decarbonize our grid and reduce future operational energy use emissions. Put simply, if we don’t re-
Illustration: leading countries have several embodied carbon systems in place
In North America, one of the major industry drivers for addressing embodied carbon is the LEED green building rating system. Since the release of LEED v4, projects have been able to achieve up to five LEED points through the use of Whole Building LCA. Now with the LEED v4.1 update, some changes have been made to the LCA credit, with the aim of increasing uptake of this credit and incentivizing further reductions in embodied carbon to 20%, up from the previous 10%. Here in Vancouver, our city council has recently approved what I believe is the most ambitious embodied carbon target in North America. This target is one of the six “big moves” from the city’s Climate Emergency Response. It states that by 2030, the embodied emissions in new buildings and construction projects will be reduced by 40% compared to a 2018 baseline. This builds on our city’s current policy, which already requires all rezoning projects to conduct a Whole Building LCA and disclose the embodied carbon impacts. At this moment when cities and countries around the world are declaring a Climate Emergency and developing plans to drive deep carbon reductions, other jurisdictions should follow Vancouver’s example and include a focus on embodied carbon. Most climate policies relating to the buildings sector focus on operational carbon, leaving embodied carbon as an untapped source of carbon reduction potential. While voluntary standards are useful, addressing embodied carbon at-scale requires a strong regulatory response.
SOURCE: EMBODIED CARBON REVIEW 4
CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
EDGE IS AN INNOVATION OF IFC, A MEMBER OF THE WORLD BANK GROUP
One of the initiatives that I am most excited about is EDGE, a green building standard and certification system for over 140 countries. It’s like LEED, but designed to be much simpler so as to encourage broad adoption, including in developing countries. To get certified, EDGE requires buildings to reduce energy use, water use, and material impacts by 20 percent. While there is a modest cost for certification, EDGE offers a free web app that lets anyone build a simple model of their building, compare different design options, and explore cost-effective strategies to reduce environmental impacts. For the materials section in EDGE, users can calculate the embodied energy of different material design options. Similar to embodied carbon, embodied energy looks at the fossil fuel energy use (rather than the carbon emissions) associated with a material’s lifecycle. My hope is that EDGE will consider shifting their focus to embodied carbon instead of embodied energy, as this would be more relevant from a climate change perspective. Embodied carbon is a relatively new concept, even to the North American buildings industry, so to introduce this critical measure to developing countries—where the most new construction is taking place—would be a game changer. With these and other systems being implemented around the world, the entire green building industry is trending toward making embodied carbon a priority. Projects like the World Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero initiative are searching for ways to bring embodied carbon to the forefront of the discussion, while an organization like Architecture 2030 already includes action on embodied carbon as a central component in its overall plan.
Scale, scale, scale While it’s encouraging to see the buildings industry start to focus on embodied carbon, at the current pace, it will likely take 10-20 years before it becomes standard practice for design teams to focus on reducing embodied carbon. Unfortunately, we just don’t have that much time. According to the Global Status Report 2017, here is the amount of new construction projected to take place over the next 40 years across different regions compared to the existing building stock. Architecture 2030 founder Ed Mazria pointed out in a recent talk that over the next 15 years, we will build the equivalent of 40 percent of the buildings that currently exist in the world. That means that if we wait until 2030 or 2035 to seriously address embodied carbon at-scale, we will have already built the equivalent of all the buildings we currently have in North America, South America and Europe combined. As Mazria emphasizes, we can’t wait until 2030 to build net-zero carbon buildings. The new date is 2020. We need to act now. Every effort we make has to have an impact. Everything we do must scale up. The buildings industry consumes almost half of the world’s material resources every year, so we cannot keep turning a blind eye to our embodied carbon footprint. To be clear, I am not saying that embodied carbon is more important than operational carbon. Both are critical. It’s just that, to date, our industry has focused heavily on operational carbon and has mostly ignored embodied carbon. This needs to change, and it needs to change fast. Whether you are an architect, structural engineer, environmental consultant, developer, product manufacturer, or policy maker, the world needs you to champion the issue of embodied carbon. Advocate for incorporating embodied carbon on your projects, and make it standard practice within your firm. Now, more than ever, is the time for your leadership. Let’s make 2019 the year of embodied carbon! Anthony Pak is Principal at Priopta, one of the first firms in North America to provide a Parametric Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) consulting service for buildings. He is also the founder of Embodied Carbon Catalyst, a group that organizes bi-monthly events in Vancouver empowering industry professionals to champion the issue of embodied carbon on their projects and within their firms. 1 Architecture 2030. Data Sources: UN Environment Global Status Report 2017; EIA International Energy Outlook 2017 2 IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and
SOURCE: IEA (2017), ENERGY TECHNOLOGY PERSPECTIVES 2017, IEA/OECD, PARIS 5
related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the
Floor area additions to 2060 by key regions
global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, Current floor area
Africa China India
P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield
Floor area additions
(eds.)]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 32 pp.
3 Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. Will Steffen, Johan Rock-
ström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin
P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan
F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, Hans
Joachim Schellnhuber. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Aug
2018, 115 (33) 8252-8259; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1810141115
Middle East OECD Pacific
4 Embodied Carbon Review, 2018. Copyright Bionova Ltd / One Click LCA. www.em-
Russia and Caspian region -60
Billion m2 NOTES: OECD PACIFIC INCLUDES AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, JAPAN AND KOREA; ASEAN = ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS.
bodiedcarbonreview.com 5 UN Environment and International Energy Agency (2017): Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector. Global Status Report 2017, https://www.iea.org/etp.
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BOOKS CHERYL O’BRIAN, COURTESY THE ART GALLERY OF YORK UNIVERSITY
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The Long Now: Public Studio Art Gallery of York University, 2018 REVIEW Lawrence Bird
Tamira Sawatzky is an architect. Elle Flanders is a filmmaker. Together they are more than either of these: they form Public Studio, a cross-disciplinary practice engaging space and visual art. As their name suggests, Public Studio also engages public participation. What kind of public? What is meant by “public”? What is the artists’ relationship to that public when it comes to creation and authorship? These are questions re-examined with each project. The recent book The Long Now offers an overview focusing on Public Studio’s installation work. Prior to the convergence of their careers in 2010, Sawatzky worked with Toronto firm MJMA on community centres and libraries. Flanders’ art focused on conditions of life in
Palestine, as exemplified by her film Zero Degrees of Separation, produced for the NFB. This interest in the Palestinian condition informed Public Studio’s work for its first several years. Their preoccupation with the political deployment of space as a tool of settlement turned to Canada with the project The New Field (2017), which took them and a community of supporters on what might be described as a dérive through the colonized Canadian landscape. Their work since then has frequently superimposed political and ecological critiques in a rich layering of ideas with minimal, even austere, images and architecture. In their installation What We Lose in Metrics (2016), for example, architecture is reduced to its barest bones—a variety of screens and the icon-like frame of a plywood house help frame thoughtful relationships between spaces housing work from a range of collaborations. That work references the civil and the wild:
tearing a jungle from the film Apocalypse Now, for example, and projecting it into a house; or screening, for an audience of potted plants, a legal, Indigenous-inspired declaration of our responsibilities to the living world. As is frequently the case with Public Studio, rather than a single work, this piece presents us with a kind of community—of ideas, forms, images and authors. It might be understood as a thesis about what architecture can be. The interval implied in a title like The Long Now would seem to exist in space as much as time—fittingly for a creative practice where architecture and film share equal importance. The title was taken from a proposal to encode, in DNA, a film evoking the timescales of the Laurentian geography, and then bury it forever on reclaimed land at the edge of one of the Great Lakes. Interpenetrating discourses on politics and ecology are clearly a part of Public Studio’s own DNA. These are avenues for exploring what Sawatzky identifies as the difficult (and perhaps unresolvable) relationship between architecture and art—in particular their public aspects. The book includes documentation of key work, accompanied by thoughtful essays by T.J. Demos, Susan Schuppli, Jayne Wilkinson, and John Greyson connecting it to ecologies of media, art/science hybrids, surveillance technologies, and a meteorology derived as much from satellites as from clouds. While at times the reader wishes that more of the images could be seen at the widescreen scale of film and architecture, rather than as curatorial thumbnails, the book is a thought-provoking overview of Public Studio’s work. It leaves one hungry for another opportunity to experience their work—in public. Lawrence Bird, MRAIC is an architect, planner and visual artist. He works at pico ARCHITECTURE in Winnipeg.
Concrete Montreal Map By France Vanlaethem (Blue Crow Media, 2019) REVIEW Elsa Lam
While hard-copy maps may seem retrograde in the age of smartphones, they’re still an invaluable tool for architectural tourism. Part map, part stripped-down guidebook, Concrete Montreal documents some 50 landmarks, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, when concrete was the material of choice for a generation of Quebec architects. The publication includes bare-bones information on each building—an address, the name of the architects, and the years of construction—and 19 enlivening photos by Raphaël Thibodeau. The map itself is graphically abstracted to include building masses and subway stops, although not street names. You may, ultimately, need to break out that smartphone to find the recommended buildings. Concrete Montreal is part of a series of architecture and design maps (all equally thoughtful in their curation and design) created by a small UK-based publisher. The series also includes the map Concrete Toronto.
CANADIAN ARCHITECT INVITES ARCHITECTS AND pHoTogRApHERS To ENTER THE 2019 AwARDS of ExCEllENCE
Open fOr entries August 1
Deadline: September 12th, 2019 at midnight Architecture project entry fee: $175 * Architectural photo entry fee: $75 * Since 1967, our annual national awards program recognizes the architectural excellence of projects in the design phase. If you are a Canadian architect or architectural graduate with a project scheduled for construction or under construction, you are eligible to enter. Submissions will be accepted in PDF format, up to 12 pages with dimensions no greater than 11â€? x 17â€?. Total file size is not to exceed 25MB. There is also the option to submit a video up to two minutes in length. This year, we are also presenting the second edition of the Canadian Architect photo Awards of Excellence, open to professional and amateur architectural photographers with recent images of Canadian buildings. winners of the architectural project and architectural photo competitions will be published in a special issue of Canadian Architect in December 2019. for more details and to submit your entry, visit:
www.canadianarchitect.com/awards * pluS ApplICAblE TAxES
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CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
32 PRODUCT SHOWCASE
ACROSS CANADA Dawson City 09/11—14
Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings The RAIC and Parks Canada offer a three-day design charette, using heritage buildings in the Yukon as learning tools. www.raic.org
Vancouver and Victoria —09/02
Architectural Walking Tours Throughout the summer, the AIBC offers architectural walking tours on a variety of themes, exploring neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Victoria. www.aibc.ca
BUILDEX Alberta This trade show enables architecture, construction, and property management professionals to immerse themselves in dialogue and build community. www.buildexalberta.com
Broadway Modern Architecture Tour The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation leads a free tour that focuses on the post-1945 development of the area as a premier business district, with notable works of modern architecture. www.winnipegarchitecture.ca
Back/Fill Presented in partnership with the CONTACT photography festival, Dobson’s site-specific project explores the detritus of Toronto through images of construction debris dumped at the Leslie Street Spit. www.daniels.utoronto.ca
New Monuments for New Cities This public art exhibition takes place in five cities that are part of the Highline Network, a group of industrial reuse projects. www.thehighline.org
Toronto Architecture Tours Every weekend, the Toronto Society of Architects runs six walking tours, with themes ranging from waterfront redevelopment to the art and architecture of the new Spadina subway extension. www.torontosocietyofarchitects.ca
Emerging Technologies in Architectural Design Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science hosts an international conference for architects, engineers, designers and researchers. www.icetad2019.com
RAIC Festival of Architecture 2019 This year’s Festival of Architecture includes the presentation of the RAIC International Prize, the POP//CAN//CRIT symposium, con-ed opportunities, and an awards ceremony. www.raic.org
Unceded—Voices of the Land Created to represent Canada at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, this exhibition features the work of 18 Indigenous architects and designers. www.historymuseum.ca
Material Thinking: Gordon Matta-Clark Selected by Yann Chateigné The architect’s idiosyncratic personal library is used to reflect on his creative process. www.cca.qc.ca
ABOVE Architect Roger Tallibert’s paintings and drawings are the subject of an exhibition at the Centre d’art Diane-Dufresne in Quebec.
Our Happy Life The CCA’s current exhibit interrogates architecture and wellbeing in the age of emotional capitalism.
cation streams: retrofits, energy benchmarking and accelerating to net-zero.
SIDIM 2019 Montreal’s design fair offers opportunities to mingle with experts, view product launches, attend seminars and take in new interior design trends.
BEA Atlantic Retreat BEA Atlantic holds its first annual retreat at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews-by-theSea. The event will include coned programming and architectural tours.
Tallibert: Volumes et Lumière This exhibition showcases the paintings and drawings of Roger Taillibert, architect of the Montreal Olympic Stadium. www.ville.repentigny.qc.ca
Quebec City 09/30—10/04
Woodrise Conference This conference on mid-rise and high-rise wood buildings is coorganized by FPInnovations and France’s FCBA. www.woodrise2019.ca
BuildGreen Atlantic This event focuses on three edu-
Chicago Architecture Biennial The third edition of the Biennial is titled “and other such stories,” and is rooted in close readings of the spatial realities of its host city. It examines issues that extend beyond regional and national boundaries, including questions of land, memory, rights and civic participation. www.chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org
Influencers: The Pritzker Prize To mark the prize’s 40th anniversary, the Heinz Architectural Center displays visionary works by Pritzker laureates from its collection. www.cmoa.org
CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
CANADIAN ARCHITECT 07/19
LEGACY FIRM TEXT
THIS YEAR, TORONTO FIRM RDHA CELEBRATES ITS CENTENARY. WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR A FIRM TO ENDURE FOR SEVERAL GENERATIONS? In the history of Canadian architecture, there are few firms that can claim the deep roots of RDH A rchitects, which turns 100 this year. Founded by Ferdie Marani, the firm experienced its heyday in the mid-1940s through to the 1960s, when the practice designed the new Toronto courthouse and the Bank of Canada headquarters in Ottawa (with Arthur Erickson), along with a huge volume of other buildings. Throughout that time, says current partner Tyler Sharp, the firm built up a portfolio of “very conservative, modernist buildings that still have this element of classicism.” “Those guys knew their materials,” adds partner Bob Goyeche, noting how the dense Georgian marble used for the Royal Bank Building in Toronto is well-suited to a cold climate. The firm had its share of ups and downs. It landed one of its first major commissions— the North American Life Assurance Company headquarters on King Street—in the otherwise bleak year of 1932. During the Second World War, all three partners left to join warrelated agencies. In 1963, at the height of the firm’s prosperity, two partners died suddenly, within six weeks of one another. By the 1980s, the firm was still a wellrespected practice. Then came the recession
of 1990. “Every level of government and the private sector essentially stopped building for three years,” recalls Goyeche. While there was no money for payroll, former staff came in anyway, “because they couldn’t get work, and wanted to help [partners] Rob [Boyko] and Glenn [Hadley] keep the door open.” As the economy recovered, Goyeche returned to become a partner in the firm. Boyko and Goyeche aggressively built the business, stepping up their game by associating with Brian MacKay-Lyons Architect and becoming the architect of record for a series of prominent projects, including the Academic Resource Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Canadian Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Evolving the firm’s own design capabilities was also on their mind, and, on the recommendation of Talbot Sweetapple, they connected with Dalhousie alumni Tyler Sharp and Geoff Miller. Goyeche notes that he and Boyko were both on board with giving the design reins of the firm to younger architects. “If it’s a firm that you want to go on, you have to decide that,” he says. “You have to be open to change, and to handing over power.” Both proved to be stellar choices: Sharp’s first project was the Bloor Gladstone library
ABOVE RDHA’s University of Waterloo School of Optometry (1974) and Springdale Library and Komagata Maru Park (2017-2019).
and Miller’s was the Newmarket Operations Centre, both of which won Governor General’s Awards. They became partners in 2012. Working for a legacy firm has advantages that go beyond inheriting a portfolio. “The DNA of the firm includes a sense that architects are highly regarded professionals, and that was passed down through the partners,” says Goyeche. “You inherit an intergenerational confidence that you can detail a certain building, or handle whatever issues arise from a client or a builder, because you’re backed by a wealth of experience.” Sharp and Miller take pride in the work culture of RDHA, where there is an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect. “Compared to many people who reach a partner level in an established hierarchical practice, we didn’t have to fight up through the ranks, so we were never inculcated in that tooth-and-nail culture,” says Miller. Instead, they saw partners who maintained a calm attitude at all times. The firm is adamant about paying overtime and creating high-quality work on a 40-hour work week. They’re determined to carry those ways of working forward to the next generation. In these regards, RDHA still has an oldfashioned attitude—in the best of senses.
Experience. Innovation. BILCO Roof Hatches Add Unique Element to D.C. Housing Project
Photo: Studio Trejo
The historic buildings, monuments and scenery around Washington D.C. draw tourists from all over the world. Tenants of 32 new townhomes in the city’s swanky Capitol Hill will have a unique and private vantage point to the area with individual roof hatches, offering them a perspective that is available to only a few residents of the nation’s capital. Buchanan Park is a residential development being built by Ditto Residential. It will include 41 condominiums in a redeveloped historic three-story school building that dates to 1895 and was named after James Buchanan, the nation’s 15th president. Buchanan Park includes a central green, multiple outdoor gathering areas and pedestrian walkways. The 32 three- and four-bedroom townhomes will line 13th and D Streets in Washington, surrounding the Buchanan School. Inspired by the Federal-style homes in the neighborhood, the townhomes will include brick exteriors and spacious living areas. The architect for the townhomes, Maurice Walters, designed them to provide residents with individual access to rooftop deck areas. DJB Contracting is installing 32 thermally broken roof hatches from The BILCO Company to meet the architect’s request. “We have used BILCO roof hatches all the time,’’ said Eric Ward, project manager for DJB, whose business has been providing roofing and related services to the Washington area for more than two decades. “We had never used the thermally broken roof hatches before this project. I think it’s a good fit for the situation. It’s an access point to the roof, and I like that they are pre-fabricated and pre-coated. It makes the job a lot easier.” BILCO’s E-50TB thermally broken roof hatch offers a new standard in energy efficiency, making them ideal for the project at Buchanan Park. The hatch minimizes heat transfer and the effects of condensation. The unit includes a thermally broken cover and curb featuring R-20+ insulation. The unit also offers corrosion resistant aluminum construction. “The increased R value makes this hatch superior to its competitors in the industry,’’ Ward said. “Typically, roof hatches don’t have much insulation in the cover. It’s made of aluminum, too, while others are made of steel around the base. It’s much lighter. I like this model because it’s lighter and maintenance free.”
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Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...
Published on Jul 3, 2019
Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...