Canadian Architect October 2023

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SUSTAINABILITY

CANADIAN ARCHITECT

OCTOBER 2023 03

RAYMOND CHOW, GH3*

04 VIEWPOINT

The difficult situation faced by Ontario’s former Licensed Technologists OAA.

06 NEWS

Remembering Raymond Moriyama; new design revealed for Therme facility at Ontario Place.

11 AIA JOURNAL

Navigating the use of AI tools for visualization.

40 INSITES

Stephanie Calvet reports on a leading City of Calgary program to convert office towers into residences.

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44 TECHNICAL

16 WINDERMERE FIRE STATION NO. 31 S2 Architecture and gh3* reinvent the fire station in an Edmonton suburb. TEXT Greg Whistance-Smith

23 SPREADING THE WOOD

The latest mass timber innovations by Michael Green Architecture, Moriyama Teshima Architects, Acton Ostry Architects, and Intelligent City. TEXT Adele Weder

Ted Kesik reviews the trajectory of sustainability practices in architecture over the past 20 years— and what’s needed for the next 20 years.

50 BACKPAGE

A visit to Dub Architects’ solar-PVclad office building in Edmonton.

36 PARK BY SIDEWALK CITIZEN

SALINA KASSAM

HAYDEN PATTULLO

Studio North handcrafts a greenhouse-inspired dining room for a parkside Calgary café. TEXT Elsa Lam

Windermere Fire Station No. 31, by S2 Architecture (prime consultant) with gh3* (design architect). Photo by Raymond Chow, gh3*.

COVER

V.68 N.07 THE NATIONAL REVIEW OF DESIGN AND PRACTICE / THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE RAIC / THE OFFICIAL

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MAGAZINE OF THE AIA CANADA SOCIETY

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VIEWPOINT

THE TECHNOLOGISTS’ PREDICAMENT Twenty years ago, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) created a program that enabled technologists to become licensed professionals with the OAA . Licensed Technologists OAA had the legal right to design larger houses, low-rise apartment buildings, restaurants with a capacity of up to 100 persons, and other buildings that no person, other than a licensed architect, might otherwise design. To achieve this status, they underwent a process similar to architectural licensing: submitting educational qualifications, logging 5,580 hours of work experience, and completing comprehensive examinations and ongoing con-ed. However, in parallel to this, the Association of Architectural Technologists of Ontario (AATO), a registered non-profit organization founded in 1969, has had a long history of seeking a legislated scope of practice for its members. The AATO regulates the use of titles including Architectural Technologist and Registered Building Technologist, but as all “acts of architecture” are currently controlled by the OAA, has no special ability to grant members an expanded scope of practice. “I came to the association in 2007, and all I’ve heard is that our scope should be expanded,” says Alonzo Jones, President of the AATO, who adds that he has aimed to come to a position of “mutual understanding and respect” with the OAA. According to Jones, the AATO has been in contact with the relevant ministries to pursue a legislated scope of practice, and with the OAA to request exemptions to the Architects Act for a class of architectural practitioners governed independently by the AATO. Last fall, the AATO filed a Court application challenging the OAA’s authority to issue licenses to technologists via policy, rather than regulation, which its legal counsel Valerie Wise says was “unrelated” to the AATO’s ongoing pursuit of a larger scope of practice. OAA Council agreed to pursue good-faith negotiations with the AATO “in the goal of finding an equitable and fair resolution in the public interest,” writes the OAA on its website. “Unfortunately, these negotiations were unsuccessful.” This resulted in a court order on May 10, 2023, that discontinued

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the OAA’s ability to issue licenses through its technology program. The court order also voided all current Licensed Technologist OAA licenses—effective immediately. These developments have been devastating—and disorienting—for the 150 people who held Licensed Technologist OAA licenses, including 44 with Certificates of Practice. While some were able to obtain or restore a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN), others have needed to hire architects to assume responsibility for their drawings, or have dropped work. “Applications from Licensed Technologists OAA are being rejected, and there’s a fear of being sued by clients,” said one Ottawa-based technologist I spoke to in the summer, who asked not to be named. “How many projects are being put on hold and impacted?” he added. “The most frustrating thing is that it’s not benefiting the AATO, the OAA , the public, or the people who lost their license or their practice.” “Since May, those of us who lost our credential have been left without a clear path forward,” says Dana Séguin, a Toronto-based technologist. “It’s unethical that we lost our licenses suddenly and without warning. It’s unfathomable that our small businesses and status within our areas of employment ceased to exist without certainty for our existing members. It’s devastating that graduates of Ontario colleges’ Architectural Technology programs will not have the opportunity to hold professional status in the province they studied and work in.” The OAA says that it is seeking legislative amendments to recognize a Limited Licence provision in the Architects Act, with a designated class of licence for these individuals. OAA Executive Director Kristi Doyle says that she’s spoken with many of the affected technologists personally, and understands their anger over how swiftly the licenses were removed. “We are working with government to work as quickly as possible to get the necessary legislative amendments made to get people their licenses back.”

EDITOR ELSA LAM, FRAIC, HON. OAA ART DIRECTOR ROY GAIOT CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ANNMARIE ADAMS, FRAIC ODILE HÉNAULT DOUGLAS MACLEOD, NCARB, FRAIC ONLINE EDITOR LUCY MAZZUCCO REGIONAL CORRESPONDENTS WINNIPEG LISA LANDRUM, MAA, AIA, FRAIC VANCOUVER ADELE WEDER, HON. MRAIC SUSTAINABILITY ADVISOR ANNE LISSETT, ARCHITECT AIBC, LEED BD+C VICE PRESIDENT & SENIOR PUBLISHER STEVE WILSON 416-441-2085 x3 SWILSON@CANADIANARCHITECT.COM ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER FARIA AHMED 416-919-8338 FAHMED@CANADIANARCHITECT.COM CIRCULATION CIRCULATION@CANADIANARCHITECT.COM PRESIDENT OF IQ BUSINESS MEDIA INC. ALEX PAPANOU HEAD OFFICE 126 OLD SHEPPARD AVE, TORONTO, ON M2J 3L9 TELEPHONE 416-441-2085 WEBSITE www.canadianarchitect.com Canadian Architect is published 9 times per year 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. 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 x2 E-mail circulation@canadianarchitect.com Mail Circulation, 126 Old Sheppard Ave, Toronto ON M2J 3L9 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)

Elsa Lam ELAM@CANADIANARCHITECT.COM

2023-09-18 9:09 AM

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NEWS

PROJECTS Bentway Staging Grounds

The Bentway has opened Staging Grounds beneath the Gardiner Expressway. Designed by Tei Carpenter from Agency—Agency in NYC and Reza Nik from Toronto-based SHEEEP, the series of experimental gardens captures and purifies rainwater from the highway above, nurturing the growth of native flowering plants below.

ABOVE Designed by Agency—Agency and SHEEEP, the Staging Grounds installation will harvest and filter stormwater runoff from Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway.

The gardens serve as a temporary public space dedicated to exploring novel methods of harnessing stormwater runoff from the Expressway to support urban biodiversity. Visitors have the opportunity to traverse a system of elevated pathways, where they encounter resilient techniques for water filtration and f lood prevention, which may potentially be applied throughout the entire length of the Gardiner Expressway in the future. “Bentway Staging Grounds responds to the dynamic conditions below the Gardiner, transforming the space into a living laboratory,” says Ilana Altman, co-executive director of The Bentway. “The project continues The Bentway’s ongoing work to reposition the Expressway and unlock its creative potential, by revealing the ways in which the existing structure can be leveraged to support new connections, sustainability, and public benefit.” Bentway Staging Grounds will be operational until the City of Toronto initiates its Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation project in the vicinity, which is presently slated to start in late 2025. thebentway.ca

Therme releases updated design of Ontario Place facility

Therme, along with architects Diamond Schmitt and landscape architects STUDIO tla, have revealed a revised design of their proposed waterpark at Ontario Place, on downtown Toronto’s waterfront. The design was presented at a set of two City of Toronto-led community consultation meetings on September 7 and 12. According to Therme, the new design includes 15.9 acres of public space, up from 12.5 acres, including 3.4 acres of green roof and publicly accessible parkland on top of the waterpark building. The building itself will be 25 per cent smaller in volume than the original design, which is done by shrinking the height and the scale of the building, representatives said. The new building has an 8.4-acre footprint. Key design changes include the introduction of a terraced profile along the sides of the facility, which the proponents say is intended to soften the edge between the facility and the public realm, and an entry pavilion which has been reduced in size. The plaza now includes access to a publicly accessible “land bridge” atop a portion of the Therme buildings up to four storeys in height. A series of pathways on the land

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ABOVE The latest design by Diamond Schmitt for Therme’s facility on Ontario Place introduces a “land bridge” atop the waterpark buildings.

bridge are shaped like the Credit River, which Therme says resulted from collaboration with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The proponents say that because the West Island will be expanded with additional lake infilling in their design, the design will deliver a net increase of public parkland compared to the existing West Island. Attendees who commented at the public meeting on September 7

remained firmly opposed to the development. Their concerns focused on the privatization of the prominent site, the government’s refusal to disclose the terms of the 95-year lease, and the lack of transparency in deciding on the site’s use as a large recreational waterpark, which numerous commentators felt was an inappropriate use for Ontario Place. Several people who spoke at the meeting also expressed concern about the position of the new beach on the West Island. The design replaces the existing south-facing beach with a west-facing beach located near a combined sewer outf low; residents are concerned that the new beach will be in shade much of the day, and exposed to high winds and polluted water. Opposition New Democrat Chris Glover, who represents SpadinaFort York, writes that “(Premier Doug) Ford’s Conservatives continue to hide the details of this 95-year lease to give away some of the most valuable public parkland to a private corporation.” The Official Opposition has sent a letter of support for a public request to begin an investigation into a value-for-money and compliance audit with respect to the proposed redevelopment of Ontario Place. Glover also notes concerns of cronyism related to Therme Group Canada’s Vice President of Communications and External Relations, who was previously the Premier’s Deputy Chief of Staff. “We haven’t seen any actual plans yet,” urbanist Ken Greenberg, a member of advocacy group Ontario Place for All, told Spacing contributing writer Ian Darragh, in response to the revised concepts. “These are bird’s eye renderings. The public can’t actually see how the buildings are laid out, how the circulation works. There are some fundamentals which you can’t design around, which are extremely problematic. There’s the 95-year secret lease. About 850 trees will still have to be clearcut for this development. It will take decades to

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NEWS

replace those trees. When Ontario Place opened, it cost a dollar to get in. [The land bridge] is not a park. It is a privately managed, accessible open space, on top of an enormous, privately accessed building. To describe it as parkland is really misleading.” A revised development application is expected to be filed with the City of Toronto this fall.

provocative questions, innovative research, and impactful solutions.” With Landrum’s appointment, all five of Ontario’s architectural departments and schools are currently headed by women, as are six of Canada’s dozen architectural schools.

­— Elsa Lam, with files from The Canadian Press

McEwen School of Architecture celebrates 10th anniversary

WHAT’S NEW

The McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University, which welcomed its inaugural class in September 2013, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a series of special events. The celebrations include a lecture by Janna Levitt from LGA Architectural Partners, the lead designer of the School’s building in downtown Sudbury, and a community party at the school with music, speeches and food. Laurentian is officially a bilingual and tri-cultural university. The school works with Elders-in-residence, Knowledge Carriers, and guests who are First Nation and Métis, and its curriculum emphasizes designbuild and community design projects.

Lisa Landrum appointed Chair at TMU’s Department of Architectural Science

The Department of Architectural Science at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) has announced the appointment of Lisa Landrum as the new Chair of the department. Landrum served as the Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba for the past six years. During this time, she significantly elevated research efforts, oversaw the growth of the PhD in Design and Planning program, initiated and led a Cooperative Education program, and taught various graduate and undergraduate courses in design studios, seminars, and architectural history and theory for 15 years. “Architects have crucial roles to play in advancing climate action, social justice, Indigenous rights, and cultural vitality. Today’s complex challenges require reimagining what, how and why we design, and who we design for and with,” said Landrum. “TMU’s Department of Architectural Science prepares students to design adventurously and responsibly, and to engage design creatively and critically through

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Artscape goes into receivership

In late August, Toronto-based Artscape announced that it was being placed in receivership. For 30 years, the arts-based group of not-forprofit organizations has evolved from a provider of affordable artist studios to a placemaker that engages in social enterprise in fields including real estate development, property management, performance and event services, artistic programming, and community animation. In August, it operated 14 projects including live/work spaces, community cultural hubs, and Artscape Daniels Launchpad, a specialized facility with a focus on creative sector entrepreneurship. “Staying on course with the mission to support the creative and the artist community, Artscape took on debt to expand its offerings over the years. In addition, pandemic recovery had required further line of credit use to maintain operations and meet debt payments. While Artscape had begun to see success in rebuilding event venue space revenues, stabilizing operations and gaining grant funding for impactful programs, the level of debt payments was not sustainable,” writes the organization. “This year Artscape commenced a financial restructuring plan to reduce debt costs and streamline operations. A key part of the restructuring was the targeted sale of Artscape Daniels Launchpad property at 130 Queens Quay East to repay debt owed to its primary lender. Additional lending to maintain operations was also sought. Regrettably, progress to a sale at an appropriate timeline has not materialized and the primary lender has taken steps that will lead to Artscape being placed into receivership.” Artscape says that it remains committed to meeting the needs of the artists and arts organizations that use its spaces, programming, and other services. “We have been actively collaborating with key stakeholders to find solutions that will allow for spaces to continue supporting artists and creatives. The financial challenges are critical, as are those facing the City,” they write. “However, with the support of the City, TD Bank and other lenders and funders, we can continue to work toward a restructuring while maintaining a skeleton staff for the time being, to ensure minimal disruption to our community.” A fundraising campaign has been launched to support Artscape’s skeleton staff in seeing through a restructuring process that will continue to support the creative community served by Artscape. www.artscape.ca

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COURTESY MORIYAMA TESHIMA ARCHITECTS ABOVE Architect Raymond Moriyama, co-founder of Moriyama Teshima Architects, passed away on September 1, 2023.

IN MEMORIAM Raymond Moriyama, 1929-2023

Architect Raymond Moriyama, co-founder of Moriyama Teshima Architects, passed away at the age of 93 on September 1, 2023. Moriyama’s legacy includes the design of prominent buildings across the

globe, including the Canadian War Museum (in joint venture with Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects) in Ottawa, Science North in Sudbury, and the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Moriyama was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Toronto along with a Master of Architecture in civic and town planning from McGill University’s School of Architecture. His first major independent project, the Ontario Science Centre, was completed in 1969, shortly before he teamed up with Ted Teshima, in 1970, to found Moriyama Teshima Architects. The firm’s portfolio includes the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum, and the National Museum of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh. Throughout Moriyama’s career, he received various awards in recognition of his achievements, including the Order of Canada, the RAIC Gold Medal, several Governor General’s Awards in Architecture, the OAA Lifetime Achievement Award, the Order of Ontario, and the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan). He created the Moriyama RAIC International Prize (now RAIC International Prize) in 2014. “We are deeply saddened to learn of Raymond Moriyama’s passing on September 1st, 2023. Our immediate thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” writes Moriyama Teshima Architects. “During this time, we ask for respect and privacy as we process and grieve the profound loss of our firm’s founder.” “The world has lost a visionary architect.”

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2023-09-15 12:48 PM


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Canada Journal President’s Letter Lara Presber Architect,

AAA, AIA, CPHD, WELL AP™

Of

all the conversations happening in our profession right now, the topic of AI is most akin to a rollercoaster ride. There is the excitement during the climb to the top: the anticipation of perhaps off-loading the less glamorous tasks we don’t enjoy via automation. That’s followed by the sensation of complete loss of control as we scream down the big drop: the possibility of losing the part of the process that we love the most, the design. Or worse yet, obsolescence. In this month’s AIA Journal, we look at how we might enjoy the ride, staying open to change and possibilities. Covid taught many of us to remain detached from specific outcomes, and to stay nimble, ready to respond to changing circumstances. The issue of AI also challenges us to take another look at how we define our profession and our role within it. Might the role of architects evolve from creator to curator? To delve deeper, we revisit a webinar hosted by AIA Canada Society earlier this year, exploring the future of architecture with current students and recent grads. The discussion touched on issues of technological advancements and their potential in the field—as well as on climate change, diversity and inclusivity, affordable housing, and economic challenges.

AIA Knowledge Community Profile: Technology in Architectural Practice he AIA Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community (TAP) serves as a resource for AIA members, the profession, and the public in the deployment of computer technology in the practice of architecture. TAP leaders monitor the development of computer technology and its impact on architecture practice and the entire building life cycle, including design, construction, facility management, and retirement or reuse. The original focus of the community was technology in buildings. This then expanded into new practices and technologies that further enable project delivery including lifecycle operations support. With the unexpected advent of overnight work-from-home in 2020, questions surrounding technology for remote work exploded, and the focus of topics became software-centric— including, most recently, the arrival of AI. The greatest resource behind this community is its intra-member discussions. At the time of writing, there were over 1,700 ongoing discussion threads among members, providing architect-to-architect resources and support for topics such as emerging AI tools, BIM, workflow automation, and postsecondary training for emerging professionals, to name a few.

T

At the 2023 AIA Conference, the group held a full day symposium with panel discussions on Shift in Skillsets (Education vs. Practice), Do It Yourself (creating your own software for internal firm automation), and Relationship with Technology (Practice vs. Process). The community runs an annual Innovation Awards program with previous winners addressing carbon capture, innovative materials and life-cycle assessment tools.

WELCOME TO BOARD MEMBER HANNAH ALLAWI The AIA Canada Society wishes to extend a warm welcome to the latest member of the Board of Directors, Hannah Allawi. Hannah is a registered Intern Architect with the AAA and NCARB, and has over seven years of professional experience in Canada and the UAE. She recently completed a PhD in Architecture from the University of Calgary, focused on the revival of lost modern architecture of the city of Abu Dhabi using mobile augmented reality technology. Hannah holds a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from the American University of Sharjah, UAE, and a post-professional Master of Science in Architecture & Urban Design from Columbia University, USA.

NEWS AIA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

AIA International is thrilled to announce that the 2023 Conference will take place in Mexico City. From the majestic remains of the ancient Aztec civilization in Teotihuacán to the iconic skyscrapers that adorn the city skyline, every corner of this metropolis tells a unique architectural story. Mexico City stands as an unparalleled destination for architecture enthusiasts, who will find delight and limitless inspiration at every turn.

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The conference will open on Thursday, November 2, at the Memory and Tolerance Museum. This will be followed by three days of morning tours and talks at Universidad Anáhuac from November 3 to 5, with an optional extension day tour on Monday, November 6. DESIGN AWARDS 2023 AIA Canada Society is calling for entries to its annual Design Awards. Winners will be published in the AIA Canada Society’s Journal, within the

pages of Canadian Architect. Two winners will be selected to participate in the 2024 AIA International awards program at no additional cost. Submission categories include: Architecture, Interior Architecture, Special Projects, Urban Design, and Student. The AIA Canada Student Architecture Awards have a prize pool consisting of $3,800 USD in student scholarships. Submissions are due October 26, 2023. For more information, visit www.aiacanadasociety.org/design-awards

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AIA Canada Journal

Navigating AI’s Impact on Visual Communication in Architecture By John van Hemert

Visualization with Generative AI Generative AI, a subset of artificial intelligence, involves training a computational model on a large set of existing data. In AI’s visualization tools, the models are trained on large sets of existing imagery. The model learns the patterns and structures in the data, and when given instructions from a user, it can generate new content by extrapolating from what it has learned. Midjourney, one of the many generative AI image tools on offer, outputs original imagery

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from user-inputted text. While it is far from perfect, one only needs a short amount of time with tools like Midjourney to understand their seductive promise: rapid idea generation, real-time collaborative brainstorming with clients, unlimited options in a few clicks, often with compelling and surprising results. In those early stages of design, when the question ‘what if’ is asked so often, design teams can almost instantaneously generate propositions to react to. Ironically, using the tool can be likened to sketching, even though there is no drawing involved: it is imprecise, exploratory, and holds the possibility of discovering happy accidents. Other AI capabilities at various stages of development include: the automatic generation of code-compliant floor plans based on a footprint and functional program; the revision of floor plan options in real time to respond to footprint and/or program changes; the rapid production of options-heavy feasibility studies; the automatic generation of building forms that respond to site constraints; and the automation of repetitive and time-consuming tasks. What’s more, the tools generally dispense with steep learning

curves and complicated interfaces, thereby democratizing their adoption beyond the architectural profession. Just as the benefits of generative AI are easy to spot—and even rally behind—with enthusiasm, there are pitfalls which can only be framed as questions at present. Are the AI outputs really any good, practical, or useful? How can we trust their quality, and should we? What if the data sets were trained with an inherent bias, either cultural or formal? Is having more design options necessarily a good thing? How about the mountain of possible intellectual property and copyright issues? Can machines really acknowledge and synthesize the complex array of project-specific contexts and constraints with sensitivity and elegance? How about liability concerns? Will staffing levels be forever changed in a world where so much more can be accomplished with fewer resources? Will there be a loss of craft and skill over time as human intelligence is outsourced? How will this change architectural education? As bewildering as such questions may seem, there is a group uniquely positioned to navigate through the uncertainty: architects.

JOHN VAN HEMERT

If

the rise of artificial intelligence feels eerily familiar, it’s no wonder. We’ve seen how social media reshaped human interactions, how streaming changed the entertainment industry, and how the internet itself rose to provide the infrastructure for all of it. The difference is that with AI, we find ourselves in the early stages of its adoption and societal integration, with an open and exploratory journey ahead. The question for architects: how shall we navigate this emerging and unproven path forward? Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science. It is concerned with performing tasks by computation that traditionally require human intelligence. Such tasks may include reasoning, problem solving, and language processing. Especially relevant to the architectural profession is AI’s ability to understand, interpret, and generate imagery—in short, to visualize. If we grant that visualization is architecture’s main currency, what does it buy for us? Just about everything. Collaboration, coordination, consensus, exploration of options, client communication, decision-making, construction, marketing, energy modelling, and more—they all depend, ultimately, on some kind of image production. Visualization is a fuel that propels projects forward. The natural question that arises is: if visualization stands as a core architectural skill, what happens when we entrust this task—either partially or entirely—to AI? As we navigate through a rapidly evolving landscape of increased AI adoption and the emergence of new tools at speed, the answers to this question are not yet clear. What is evident is that the implications span from the practical aspects of daily work routines to the very essence of what defines the role of an architect.

This Prairie house concept by architect John van Hemert was used as a reference image in Midjourney.

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AIA Canada Journal

Based on the reference image, Midjourney was asked to imagine an interior courtyard for the same house. It was also prompted to use black wood cladding, to include a water feature and vegetation, and to render the image as if taken on a DSLR 50mm camera. The time spent using Midjourney was five minutes.

As custodians of a multi-disciplinary process that can last years, architects are looked upon to provide collaborative leadership through the design process. Making sense of often competing cultural, economic, poetic, technical, functional, and sustainability objectives is a core job description. While AI stands to transform how some of the visual products of design are produced, the design process itself will remain a complex collaborative act, so long as the need to synthesize the disparate concerns of human beings remains. Similarly, architects are harmonizers of complexity. While AI may reduce the complexity involved in performing certain discrete tasks (such as producing multiple rendered design options), its widespread adoption may indeed amplify the complexity of the design process as a whole. If AI’s alluring promise of democratizing design through its compelling outputs and ease of use is met, architects may find themselves cast in the role of ‘curator’ instead of ‘creator’ at times, as the sheer volume of design ideas brought to the table mounts. In such a role, hard-earned abilities

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such as context sensitivity, compositional discernment, and multi-disciplinary coordination may be more essential than ever to separate the signal from the noise. Deep down, architecture is concerned with human well-being. As such, architects often find themselves taking on some big questions: Will a design enhance the psychological and emotional well-being of its users? Will it foster an environment conducive to positive social interaction and human connections? Will it be sensitive to the cultural identities and traditions of its occupants? Can it adapt to changing circumstances to support long-term well-being? Will it be comfortable? AI’s image-making power will not answer these questions with the click of a mouse. It may, however, offer the gift of time found through the automation of the repetitive tasks baked into the process of image generation by conventional means. In this sense, AI stands to augment architects’ capabilities, and to encourage greater focus on leading a complex and collaborative process in the service of human well-being.

John van Hemert, Architect, AAA, CPHD, MRAIC is a practicing architect in the province of Alberta. He holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Calgary. His interest in Artificial Intelligence and its effects on culture began while completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Science, Technology, and Society, also from the University of Calgary. Before becoming an architect, John was a computer programmer specializing in the design of large data structures.

2023-09-14 5:05 PM


14

AIA Canada Journal

The Future of Architecture in Canada – A Follow-Up Conversation By Hannah Allawi

On

June 12, 2023, AIA Canada Society hosted members of the architectural community to participate in a panel entitled “Future of Architecture in Canada – A Conversation.” Practicing architects and students in architecture came together to discuss research, ideas and questions on current issues in the field within Canada. They asked: how can architecture better serve our communities and future generations of Canadians? The participants included students Fangying (Maggie) Liu (University of British Columbia), Jaspal Ubhi (University of Calgary) and Carlee Wale (University of Calgary). It also included practicing architects and educators: Lisa Landrum (University of Manitoba) and Darryl Condon (HCMA, Vancouver). AIA Canada Society’s Dora Ng joined as the panel’s moderator. The conversation included discussions around climate change, diversity and inclusivity, affordable housing, economic challenges, and technological advancements and their potential in the field. Participants shared common concerns about the future of architecture, especially in light of today’s societal and environmental challenges. Maggie Liu’s research on affordable housing typologies in North Vancouver questions how affordable housing can respond to the changing lifestyles and needs of residents, and whether certain methodologies can assist in the design-thinking around the long-term uses of a project. She also explores the opportunities and challenges we face in the profession with the use of evolving artificial intelligence technologies, and the role these play in how architects define themselves as creative pro-

fessionals. To respond to her questions, Liu has looked in particular at co-housing typologies, and used AI to help generate images that offer possibilities for the future of affordable housing in the region. Turning a lens to urban social issues, Jaspal Ubhi is researching the intangible aspects of segregation in our cities today by looking at the invisible barriers created through ‘redlining’ and other urban design practices that have limited accessibility to certain parts of the city. He asks: what is the potential of technology to combat these barriers in our cities, and to create more cohesive, accessible communities and architecture for our cities today? Ubhi also questions the risks and opportunities that arise from the complexities of digital tools used in conjunction with the design and formmaking processes of cities today. How we can repurpose the existing built fabric of our cities, while considering the technological evolution of our built environment? Carlee Wale’s research looks at the possibilities of adaptive reuse. She urges reforms to architectural education to encourage students to look at existing buildings and their adaptability in accommodating current uses, needs and lifestyles, as a creative exercise. Wale questions the prevalent culture of architecture, which in many circumstances values new buildings by starchitects over existing structures. A unique blend of research methods, topics and questions is starting to appear in Canada’s architecture schools. Lisa Landrum, who recently was appointed Chair of TMU’s Department of Architectural Science, champions the potential of current and future students in architecture, and has helped to create a multi-

From left to right, top to bottom: Dora Ng, Carlee Wale, Darryl Condon, Fangying (Maggie) Liu, Lisa Landrum, and Jaspal Ubhi were part of an AIA Canada Society webinar on the future of architecture.

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year series of in-person workshops that has advanced the conversation around architecture and urbanism in Canada. The Canadian Architecture Forums in Education (CAFÉ), is a unique in the field because of its primary focuses on student voices in architecture, and its involvement of all twelve schools across the country. Launched in 2019, CAFÉ events were hosted at universities across the country, allowing students to voice their concerns, present their ideas, and lead discussions. Themes in the discussions pertained to People, Potential, Place and Prosperity, with continuous student feedback that help to adjust and refine future sessions. Key takeaways from these workshops included the need for current and future architects to foreground climate action, social justice, radical diversity in the profession and accessibility in built environments, public health and personal well-being, community-engaged processes, and Indigenous empowerment. Architect Darryl Condon, managing partner of Vancouver-based HCMA, discussed his work with the Rise for Architecture initiative. This project was created to advocate for an architectural policy for Canada. The larger consultation and research that emerged from this effort resulted in identifying several key calls to action for the profession at large. First, they call to renew the governance partnership between organizations within the profession, including regulators, schools, advocacy organizations and governments. Second, the organizers call for collaboration to achieve the goal of an architectural policy for Canada. Third, they call for an expanded definition of public interest. Next, they call for all to commit to dramatically improving equity within the profession. They also call for involving the public in the processes that shape their communities. Finally, they call on both individual architects and firms to contribute solutions to the big social challenges of our time. All of the panellists of the recent webinar brought to light important notions, including the value of design-thinking and the need for social justice. There was keen interest from the seminar’s audience on how to join future CAFÉ sessions as well as participate in the Rise for Architecture initiative, enabling for further dialogue on the future of architecture in Canada. ‘Future of Architecture in Canada – A Conversation’ is just the beginning of a discourse that AIA Canada Society will continue to facilitate, hoping to further address the profession’s many challenges through continued research, discussions, teaching and practice. The recording of the webinar ‘Future of Architecture in Canada – A Conversation’ can be found on the AIA Canada Society website, www.aiacanadasociety.org.

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A NET-ZERO EDMONTON FIRE STATION IS TOPPED WITH A SWEEP OF SOLAR PANELS.

Windermere Fire Station No. 31, Edmonton, Alberta S2 Architecture (Prime Consultant) with gh3* (Design Architect) TEXT Greg Whistance-Smith PHOTOS Raymond Chow, gh3* PROJECT

ARCHITECTS

Located in Edmonton’s far southwest, gh3* and S2’s Windermere Fire Station #31 casts a mountainous silhouette—capped with glimmering solar panels—against the vast Prairie sky. Windermere’s built form is remarkably close in execution to its early design, which won a 2018 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence. It delivers on dual promises: creating an expressive form that anchors its community, and performing as a net-zero building that wears its sustainability credentials on its sleeve. As the design architect, gh3*’s team was faced with an uninspiring suburban site lacking the contextual depth of the firm’s other projects in Edmonton. In response, they decided to explore the archetypal idea of the firehall as a community building that blends technical and domestic space. While firehalls are first and foremost pieces of infrastructure LEFT Windermere Fire Station’s distinctive form accommodates the large volume needed for the apparatus bay with the lower volume for living quarters. The direction and angle of the south-facing roof slope is optimized for the placement of solar photovoltaic panels.

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for ensuring the safety of their communities, they are also second homes for the firefighters who live there while on duty, waiting for the next crisis to snap them into action. The pairing of an apparatus bay for trucks and equipment with domestic dorms housing places to sleep, bathe, cook, and relax, results in two programmatic areas with significantly different heights. This invites the architectural response of designing the building as two distinct masses: “big volume, small volume,” as gh3* principal Pat Hanson puts it, a response that “is not very successful, in my mind.” In contrast, she notes that Windermere’s bold profile arose from the initial desires “to find a consolidated, unified form between these two very different programmatic pieces of the building […] combined with trying to find an approach that was expressive and sustainable.” Working within the constraints of a municipal budget, Hanson and her team approached this task with the attitude of “ just being respectful of the program and getting it right” and only having “one or two moves that carry the architectural idea, while being strategic about the other things so that they don’t take over.” On the exterior, these key moves included developing a unified mass, fitting the southfacing roof with an extensive solar array, and cladding the building in dark, woven masonry. On the interior, the program is arranged along a corridor circuit, and a glazed courtyard brings daylight into the central fitness area. Achieving net-zero involved a blend of passive systems—thick insulation, high-performance windows, and atypical folding doors for the apparatus bay—along with two active ones, namely, geothermal heating/cooling and solar photovoltaic electricity production. While most of these features are all but invisible, the solar panels offered a chance

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to express the building’s net-zero status, and their optimal configuration helps define the gentle curve of the south roof. The firehall’s pitched roof also sought to evoke façades of historic firehalls—the kind that still appear in children’s storybooks. “Firehalls ground communities,” says Hanson. “The emotional response to the firehall as a structure—particularly the old ones—is quite strong.” Edmonton City Architect Carol Bélanger echoes this, arguing that firehalls can serve as meaningful “gateways to a community” instead of just being “located in a light-industrial area.” How can a firehall be both an architectural landmark and a place of community pride? That question recalls architectural historian Kenneth Frampton’s comment, in a 2013 lecture on Alvar Aalto, that the most fundamental challenge facing architects today is “how to provide for a liberative modern environment, while still being able to embody a sense of security and rootedness without descending into kitsch.” On this measure, Windermere partially succeeds. Without question, it’s a surprising, evocative form offering a sense of strength and security. The heavy visual presence of the black brick paired with the sloped profile, however, seems more likely to evoke Alberta’s beloved Rocky Mountains than historic firehalls. Imagining the same form constructed in red brick is an interesting exercise: the historic connection suddenly reappears, but now the building no longer appears contemporary, and even starts to recall the red brick masses of later Aalto projects. This is no accident, since gh3* shares Aalto’s interest in the expressive and textural possibilities of brick. Hanson notes that brick was always the obvious choice for the project: it offers “feelings of permanence, security, wellbeing, comfort, and longevity”—exactly the values one would hope to find in a firehall. Brick also affords an incredible

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OPPOSITE A woven brick exterior is a contemporary take on the materiality of traditional red-brick firehouses. ABOVE LEFT Similar to gh3* and Morrison Hershfield’s Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage in Edmonton, the apparatus bay for fire trucks and equipment is finished in white. ABOVE RIGHT A large rooftop solar array is expected to provide for the entirety of the facility’s electricity needs.

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ABOVE LEFT Full-height corridor glazing brings daylight from an exterior courtyard to the central fitness room. ABOVE RIGHT A slickly finished universal changeroom adjoins the fitness area.

play of scale. “Because of the size of it, it allows for a form to be absolutely monolithic; you just don’t get that from metal panels.” The sculptural possibilities of brick are apparent in the switch at the window datum from a regular bond to an open, woven pattern. The latter provides rich visual texture while toying with the solidity of the mass and making the most of the harsh Prairie shadows. As you approach the building, the contrast between the fine-grained detail of the woven brick and the monumentality of the entire building is delightfully staggering. Windermere’s interior boasts a smart, well-organized plan that ensures firefighters can achieve rapid response times. The domestic area is organized around a corridor circuit, with the changerooms and fitness centre in the middle, and the sleeping areas, kitchen, lounge, and offices around the perimeter. Given the fraternal lifestyle of firefighters on duty, there is also a large south-facing courtyard for outdoor activities and cooking. A f loor-to-ceiling glazed hallway links the courtyard to the gymnasium, bringing natural light into this deeper part of the plan. The darker, monochromatic colour scheme of the domestic area— save for the orange accent of the gym f loor—is a surprising contrast to the light, airy quality of the apparatus bay. One has to hope that the firefighters will bring some much-needed colour into these spaces as they occupy the building.

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I toured Windermere with the project team shortly before it was occupied, and they discussed how the building was already garnering a lot of interest, perhaps ushering in a new paradigm for fire stations in the region. Using dark, patterned masonry for this typology already seems to have caught on: Edmonton’s under-construction Fire Station #3 Rehabilitation, by Winnipeg office 5468796, deploys charcoal concrete masonry units with rhythmic horizontal notches that enliven its facades. Taking a long view, Edmonton’s fire stations have historically kept pace with progressive trends across the decades—from Moderne and the International Style, to Brutalism and Post-Modernism. Windermere points to a compelling next phase in this architectural evolution. Greg Whistance-Smith is an Intern Architect in Edmonton, and author of the recent book Expressive Space: Embodying Meaning in Video Game Environments (De Gruyter, 2022).

CLIENT CITY OF EDMONTON | ARCHITECT TEAM LINUS MURPHY, IVAN SORENSON, GRACE O’BRIEN,

ERIC KLATT, PAT HANSON (FRAIC), JOEL DIGIACOMO, MARK KIM, NICHOLAS CALLIES | STRUCTURAL RJC | MECHANICAL/ ELECTRICAL SMITH AND ANDERSEN | SUSTAINABILITY ECOAMMO | CIVIL | LANDSCAPE GH3* / URBAN SYSTEMS | INTERIORS GH3* / S2 | CONTRACTOR PCL | AREA 1,532 M2 | BUDGET $17.2 M | COMPLETION JUNE 2023 ENERGY USE INTENSITY (PROJECTED) 94 KWH/M2/YEAR (WITH SOLAR PANELS OPERATIONAL, EUI WILL BE 0 KWH/M2/YEAR) | WATER USE INTENSITY (PROJECTED) 104 M3/M2/YEAR

2023-09-18 9:10 AM


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2023-09-18 9:10 AM


SPREADING THE WOOD

SALINA KASSAM

TEXT

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Adele Weder

Over the past decade, engineered mass timber has evolved from a new and innovative choice of structural material to becoming almost mainstream. Canadian architects have played a major role in the material’s acceptance in the North American building industry, with British Columbia architects at the vanguard of harnessing Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) around 10 years ago. As the three in-construction projects featured on the following pages demonstrate, Canadian mass timber expertise continues to advance—and in Michael Green’s case, it is garnering international projects. Moreover, architects including MTA with Acton Ostry are looking beyond the material’s vaunted renewability and carbon-sink aspects to make their mass-timber buildings even more environmentally sound. And lastly, architects like Intelligent City are integrating and overhauling the very process of designing and building with mass timber. The material choice still requires something of a helping hand in terms of subsidies and investment. Though few architects speak freely about it, choosing an engineered wood structure is usually a more expensive way to build—at least for the moment. But that could change quickly as the immense carbon costs of construction become reflected in pricing and in regulations. And as more innovative and impressive projects near completion and prove their mettle, Canadian architects will continue to show that they remain at the forefront of mass timber innovation.

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LIMBERLOST PLACE AN INNOVATIVE STRUCTURAL SYSTEM AND PRE-FABRICATED ENVELOPE SET NEW STANDARDS FOR MASS TIMBER PUBLIC BUILDINGS.

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LOCATION George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario ARCHITECTS Moriyama Teshima Architects + Acton Ostry Architects PHOTOS Salina Kassam

EXPLODED AXONOMETRIC

Even while still under construction, Limberlost Place is hauling in acclaim. Part of George Brown College’s waterfront campus in Toronto, the building has pulled in over a dozen awards, including the RAIC’s 2023 Research & Innovation in Architecture Award, and a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence. Expect more accolades upon its projected completion in January of 2025. At 10 storeys high, Limberlost Place is one of the world’s tallest masstimber institutional buildings. Buildings of this typology must meet onerous construction codes and design considerations; this one will serve 3,400 students and staff. Teaching and gathering spaces occupy the full structure, including a tall-wood research institute, childcare centre, classrooms, and areas for lounging and study. MTA’s Vancouver-based jointventure partner, Acton Ostry Architects, has already established a benchmark in designing the 18-storey Brock Commons Tower at the University of British Columbia, at the time the tallest mass-timber project in the world.

he ABOVE Currently under construction in Toronto, the 10-storey facility for George Brown College will be one of the world’s tallest mass-timber institutional buildings.

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Like Brock Commons, Limberlost Place is a hybrid structure of CLT, concrete, and steel. But where Brock Commons’ CLT was mostly hidden under drywall, roughly 50 per cent of Limberlost’s is exposed to view, including its nine-metre-span beams and every column in the building. Its 10-storey height clocks in four storeys above the conventional pre-CLT code, “so we had to be meticulous about every element,” says MTA principal Phil Silverstein, who is the construction administration lead on the project. While many North American mass-timber structures are still sourced from overseas suppliers, Limberlost has taken a made-inCanada approach. Its prefabricated envelope system arrived in twostorey panels assembled in Windsor, Ontario, and delivered just-intime to eliminate on-site storage needs. The prefab wall panels have been manufactured up to 11.7 metres high and are quickly assembled on site and supported by jack posts. The CLT for Limberlost Place— manufactured largely from fast-growing black spruce—comes from Quebec-based Nordic Structures. As we walked through Limberlost mid-construction, we could already sense the dramatical verticality of its interior, dominated by a threestorey-high glazed foyer connected to smaller common spaces—“breathing rooms,” as design partner Carol Phillips calls them—on the second and

third levels. The open volume of the foyer is anchored by a 16-metrehigh glulam column, the heaviest member of the entire project, weighing in at 22,000 pounds. “Timber doesn’t like to transfer loads very well,” notes Silverstein. “Timber likes to work vertically.” In horizontal terms, a major innovation is the ultra-generous 9.2-metre span of the teaching spaces. It’s essentially a “beamless” construction system: its main structural member is a timber-concrete slab band, composed mostly of CLT, topped by a layer of reinforced concrete. “It’s an extremely shallow system,” notes Phillips, allowing for greater f loor-to-ceiling heights as well as column-free spaces ideal for largegroup instruction. The building has environmental attributes well beyond its use of mass timber. Solar chimneys on the east and west façades will draw air up and through the building from operable windows, to harness the stack effect and establish a natural convection system for temperature regulation. The building informally meets Passive House standards and meets the energy targets for LEED Platinum status, according to the architects, although they will apply for LEED Gold. The most salient value of the project is that it will provide a paradigm for many more sustainable mass-timber public buildings in the future. “This isn’t a one-off,” says Silverstein. “It’s a starting point.”

Photo: hortonphotoinc.com

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The building’s prefabricated façade panels are assembled in Windsor, Ontario, delivered just-in-time to eliminate on-site storage needs, and lifted into place by crane. ABOVE RIGHT A system of shallow CLT slab bands is used for long spans, allowing for greater floor-to-ceiling heights in large gathering spaces, including classrooms, study areas, and the front lobby, shown here.

ABOVE LEFT

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FLORA CANADIAN MASS TIMBER EXPERTISE IS BEING TAPPED FOR THIS PROJECT IN EUROPE.

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Nanterre, France MGA | Michael Green Architecture + CALQ Agence d’Architecture PHOTOS Courtesy MGA LOCATION

ARCHITECTS

The first thing you notice about Flora is the sensuality of its form. Even in mid-construction, its rounded corners, jogged massing, and prow-like base distinguish it from the other rectilinear buildings around it. Its principal designer, Michael Green, avers that the building’s voluptuous shape is entirely logic-based, following the irregularities of the site and the material economy of avoiding 90-degree corners that often end up as wasteful underused space. Flora is a nine-storey mixed-use complex, with offices and retail slated for the lower floors, and a mix of market and non-market housABOVE

ing above. Here in Nanterre, a fast-growing suburb of Paris, Green has teamed up with local architecture firm CALQ Agence d’Architecture to bring his knowledge, design, and powers of persuasion to France. CALQ’s website states that the firm’s main reason for using mass timber is to combat “le réchauffement climatique.” Green concurs. And Woodeum, the Paris-based real-estate developer and the project’s client, promotes itself as a specialist in low-carbon wood architecture— making Canada’s best-known mass-timber advocate a natural choice for a partnership.

Michael Green has teamed up with a Paris-based firm to create a nine-storey mass timber mixed-use complex in the city’s suburbs.

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This summer, as Green surveyed the busy construction site in person for the first time, he noted some of the distinctions between building in France versus in his homeland. For instance, the interior of Flora is enlivened by a spiral staircase—a charming, fun, and space-saving element. In Canada, the building codes disallow spiral staircases, because they are allegedly dangerous—although, as with so much in life, risk calibration is partly a subjective matter. Although the French remain détendu about risks that furrow the brows of Canadian code-writers, they are rigorous about certain other requirements that enhance sustainability and quality of life, notes Green. Their national building code includes the stipulation for cross-ventilation, for instance, while our national building code has nothing of the sort for residential construction. In Green’s most recent TED Talk, he unpacked his bid for the next big transition in mass-timber engineering and design: a system based on biomimicry. He foresees a future of plant-based materials whose lignified tissues and cellulose are reinforced in a way that will allow the architecture to carry loads in the same way as tree branches, with an aesthetically

pleasing curvilinearity that would have an inherent structural logic. And instead of the standard spruce-fir-pine now used for most Canadian mass timber, the choice of plant will be based on what’s local and ecologically appropriate. “It might be bamboo in one region, and then grass, or salal, or hemp in another,” he says. His concept “is going to be a big thing. It’s not happening yet, but it will in ten, twenty years,” he avows. “As humans, we’re very resistant to the idea of starting over. But we need to rethink all aspects of the built environment.” Back to the here and now: French authorities, like their North American counterparts, are still nervous about transitioning the entire structural framework of buildings to mass timber. That’s not the way Green would have it. The ground floor of Flora is concrete, and so it’s essentially a hybrid structure. All over the world, including here in Canada, notes Green, “concrete use is driven largely by code. So, you have different trades, you have two different structural materials, you have finger-pointing.” It’s not the cheapest or the most efficient way of building, but it will change, he expects, or at least hopes. “We’re still stuck in a version of the old system. It’s time to move on.”

ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Flora’s dynamic geometries derive in part from its placement on a triangular lot; the building’s curved forms give it a distinctive presence even under construction; a wood massing model showcases the design in its urban context. OPPOSITE An interior courtyard will create a verdant sanctuary for Flora’s residents and office workers.

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13 MM PVC + GLUE 60 MM FLOATING SCREED POLYURETHANE FILM 15 MM IMPACT-SOUND INSULATION CROSS-LAMINATED TIMBER SLAB - VARIABLE (140 - 200 MM) 80 MM INSULATION MINERAL WOOL 2X18 MM GYP. BOARD SUSPENDED CEILING (ACOUSTIC AND FIRE PROTECTION COMPLEMENT) 2 B ROWN AUTOCLAVE PINE (28 X 120 MM) PINE CLEAT BALCONY METAL STRUCTURE PINE CLEAT AUTOCLAVE PINE CEILING (20 X 120 MM) 3 THIN MINERAL COATING 100 MM ROCK WOOL THERMAL INSULATION CROSS-LAMINATED TIMBER WALL - VARIABLE (140 - 160 MM) VAPOR BARRIER 60 MM THERMAL INSULATION MINERAL WOOL 2X18 MM GYPSBOARD SUSPENDED CEILING 4 FERMACELL FIRE PROTECTION 5 POWDER COATED METAL PREFRAME 6 E XTERNAL ALUMINUM ROLLER SHUTTER ALUMINUM/WOOD WINDOW 7 EDGE PROFILE IN POWDER-COATED STEEL

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8 CORRUGATED PERFORATED VERTICAL PANEL IN POWDER-COATED STEEL - VISUAL AND SOLAR PROTECTION 9 POWDER-COATED STEEL PLINTH 10 POWDER-COATED STEEL RAILING

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30CM

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Savings by Design | Commercial & Multi-Residential

Sustainable educational spaces — “The best part of Savings by Design is that the money saved through energy efficiencies can be spent on school resources and, ultimately, directed back to the classroom.”

FREE

access

Gerry Sancartier Property and Operations Officer Ottawa Catholic School Board

to industry experts and technical tools

Success Story | Ottawa

By the numbers

Participating in Savings by Design has been a key part of Ottawa Catholic School Board’s long-term energy-management strategy. The three schools that have completed the program are now a model for the board’s other new construction projects, setting a green standard in line with its sustainability vision for building beyond code.

Ottawa Catholic School Board — % Average annual natural gas savings

25 % Average annual 30 electricity savings

To get the most out of your next project, contact Venoth Jeganmohan, Energy Solutions Advisor. enbridgegas.com/sbd-commercial 647-502-6759

venoth.jeganmohan@enbridge.com

To qualify for the program, your project must be located in the Enbridge Gas service area. City of Toronto will target the achievement of higher energy performance. Participants must agree to all program terms and conditions, fully participate in all stages of the program and meet all program requirements. Visit enbridgegas.com/sbd-commercial for details. © 2023 Enbridge Gas Inc. All rights reserved. ENB 1407 05/2023

FILE NAME:

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INTELLIGENT CITY AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING IS THE PROJECT.

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Delta, British Columbia Courtesy Intelligent City

LOCATION PHOTOS

In some ways, the Intelligent City factory in Delta, B.C., seems like some sort of sci-fi film set. A giant robot lumbers around in a caged space, looking oddly like a Meccano dinosaur. And yet this metallic creature may well be the future master builder of the region. Controlled by a petite woman holding what looks like a PlayStation remote-control device, the robot is building mass timber components for the firm’s first real-world project. “We saw that the delivery of infill urban housing—multi-housing in particular—was difficult to develop,” says Cindy Wilson, the company’s co-founder with architect Oliver Lang. “Every time you have a new person come to a team, they have their own way of thinking how things should be done. So how could we curate a system that is more integrated and could be repeated at scale?”

By unifying and distilling the messy process of construction into software-controlled prefabrication, the firm essentially smooths over the schism between design and manufacturing, and streamlines the custom design work that is usually dedicated to discrete buildings. Since the Intelligent City team has more control of the overall process, they can also ensure more price stability. This was evidenced in one of their current projects. “During Covid, the price of construction almost doubled,” notes Wilson. “But importantly, about 60% to 80% of a building’s superstructure is our components, so those prices remained stable. We’ve also developed an ecosystem of a supply chain.” As previously reported in Canadian Architect, Intelligent City—the sister firm of Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Culture (LWPAC) — opened its manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C ., two years ago.

ABOVE Intelligent City’s manufacturing facility uses software-controlled robots to ensure the precise manufacturing of custom-designed mass timber building components.

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Now the factory is thrumming as its staff and ultra-high-tech software produce the largely pre-assembled components for the “product proof,” a kind of miniature sample building that staff work on to determine where and how the components will later be assembled on-site. The firm’s first “real-world” building will be the Vancouver Native Housing Society’s Khupkhahpay’ay Building, a nine-storey housing project to be built in East Vancouver by GBL Architects and Ventura Construction Corporation. Intelligent City is producing the building’s Passive-House façade system. The two-year period from factory inception to the launch of actual construction reflects the typical process of testing, commissioning and certification of the building systems and the robotics, but this first realworld project will smooth the way for more projects, built faster, says Wilson. To create a system that would not only be repeatable and scalable but also customizable, the Intelligent City team has streamlined the entire process of building, from preliminary design to construction, so that design and manufacturing are integrated from the start. The fruits of this work are most impressive at the end stages: remote-controlled with proprietary software, the factory’s giant robot lifts, positions,

and custom-cuts oversized panels of mass-timber walls, floors, and ceilings. The cuts are unique to each product and can vary in size and shape, allowing electrical channels and ventilation ducts to be embedded in the components before they even leave the factory. Crucially, the customization is instantly and economically adjusted for each component and each project by altering the instructions to the robot. The result is a convergence of two processes—architecture and construction—that are normally sequential, separate, and rarely align as well as we’d like them to. There is usually no downtime from delays in material delivery or labour shortages. Once on-site, the components will be assembled much more rapidly than in conventional on-site construction, with much of the electrical and ventilation elements already embedded in the structural framework. Wilson and Lang believe that Intelligent City’s approach will have an impact not only on the take-up of climate-friendly mass timber, but also in addressing the housing affordability crisis. “The more control we have over the building, the more we can control costs,” says Wilson. “This is where we can really make a difference in affordable housing. It’s not just time, materials, or labour. It’s how we can roll out the creation of housing at scale, in a systematic, predictable way.”

ABOVE LEFT A product proof helps staff work out the details of assembling the prefabricated components on site. ABOVE RIGHT Insulated, metal-clad prefabricated façade panels, which are built on a mass timber frame, are lifted into place for the product proof.

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GOOD CITIZEN A DESIGN-BUILD FIRM CRAFTS A PARKSIDE RESTAURANT INSPIRED BY VICTORIAN-ERA CONSERVATORIES.

Park by Sidewalk Citizen, Central Memorial Park, Calgary, Alberta Studio North TEXT Elsa Lam PHOTOS Hayden Pattullo PROJECT

DESIGNER

At the edge of Central Memorial Park, just south of downtown Calgary, an unassuming one-storey pavilion opens into a slice of paradise. A lemon bush reaches skyward to meet a cascade of wooden ribs, pyramiding up to two large skylights. Surrounding trees cast their shadows on the translucent walls, creating a dance of leaf silhouettes framed by tall, pointed arch window frames. Glass garage doors open to the park beyond, bringing verdant views and a flood of daylight into the room, the main dining space for Park by Sidewalk Citizen. The park is Calgary’s oldest, founded in 1911, and Victorian-era glassand-iron conservatories were an inspiration. “How else can you do something like that? There’s a nice feeling in here,” says Matthew Kennedy, co-founder of Studio North and the project’s lead designer. The designers also uncovered historic images of garden rooms—semi-enclosed, trellislined spaces for picnicking—that ringed the park 100 years ago. “That was a strong reference for the structure and aesthetic,” explains Damon Hayes Couture, Creative Director at Studio North. In the entryway of the pavilion, X-shaped motifs CNC-cut into plywood walls are patterned after the ornate window screens of Alberta’s first public library, a neoclassical building located at the heart of Central Memorial Park. Park by Sidewalk Citizen results from a can-do approach by client, designer, and the City of Calgary. Several operators had cycled through the park’s existing 30-seat restaurant, which sits adjacent to the new pavilion. Attracting Sidewalk Citizen—a local bakery and restaurant with a civic-minded reputation—was seen as a win for bringing a friendly, culture-minded presence to a tough part of the city. To make the restaurant viable, a renovation and larger space were needed that would deliver a wow factor on a tight budget. Studio North’s design-build approach was perfectly suited for the task. “We’re able to be really nimble, and to carry through a vision from start to finish, especially when it’s something this unique,” says Studio North cofounder Mark Erickson. “With the prefabrication and digital fabrication aspects, it leads to more design involvement in construction,” adds Hayes Couture. “It’s much harder to separate those two disciplines.” Glazed garage doors open between Calgary’s Central Memorial Park and the solarium-like dining room for Park by Sidewalk Citizen.

OPPOSITE

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ABOVE The dining room’s integrated roof and wall structure is constructed from interlocking ribs of CNC-cut plywood. The cutting was performed by Studio North, which led both the design and construction of the project, and assembled on-site with dowel connections rather than nails. OPPOSITE TOP Facing the street, the pavilion, at left, was designed to match the existing restaurant, at right. The latter was renovated as part of the project. OPPOSITE BOTTOM At the entry vestibule, X-shaped motifs CNC-cut into plywood walls are patterned after the ornate window screens of Alberta’s first public library, a neoclassical building located at the heart of Central Memorial Park.

The integrated roof and wall structure in the dining room is made from 160 sheets of plywood, which were CNC-cut in Matthew Kennedy’s garage over 150 hours. Because of the size constraints of the plywood panels and CNC cutting bed, the lattice is composed of multiple layers of plywood, staggered to avoid intersecting seams and structural weak points. The nail-less structure was slotted together on-site, using 137 linear metres of dowel connections. Polycarbonate was chosen for the outer walls as an impact-resistant material that would let light in, and transform the restaurant into a glowing box at night. The City facilitated the project by permitting it as an enclosed patio space, which could be dismantled without affecting the existing restaurant or the heritage park. The total cost of the construction, including renovations to the existing restaurant, was just $550,000. “We pushed the budget really hard on this,” says Kennedy. Extending the use of the space into all four seasons, a central fireplace and HRV system provide heating in the winter. Passive solar gain into the space also contributes to keeping it cozy. In the warmest days of summer, the skylights and garage door open up to encourage breezes. While the solarium operates day-to-day as a restaurant, its stunning design makes it a natural as an event space. In its first years of oper-

ation, Sidewalk Citizen has hosted salon dinners and over a dozen weddings, with the solarium morphing from ceremony space, to dining room, to dance floor. Thoughtful design flourishes pepper the space. A mirror rings the lower edge of the east wall, adding to a sense of spaciousness. A single clear-glass, operating window at the southwest corner offers a leafy view. And there’s a personal touch in the dining room’s subtropical plant collection: the fig tree at the room’s west end was grown from a cutting of a specimen in designer Damon Hayes Couture’s own solarium. Hayes Couture’s house addition was an early design by Studio North, from a decade ago, and following the construction he joined the Studio North team. Hayes Couture currently has a few more seedlings taking root, so the offspring of his tree—along with the ever-evolving creativity and design talents of the group—are sure to grace Studio North’s future work. CLIENT SIDEWALK CITIZEN | DESIGN TEAM DESIGN—MATTHEW KENNEDY, DAMON HAYES COUTURE; PARAMETRIC DESIGN—NICOLAS HAMEL; GENERAL CONTRACTING—MATTHEW KENNEDY; FABRICATION AND ASSEMBLY—DAN VANDERHOORST; SITE CARPENTRY—RYAN PETERS, MATTHEW PETERS, JEREMY ADAMS | INTERIORS FIELD KIT | STRUCTURAL RJC | MECHANICAL REMEDY | AREA 116 M2 | CONSTRUCTION BUDGET $550 K | COMPLETION OCTOBER 2019


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SOLARIUM ASSEMBLY AXONOMETRIC

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INSITES

DOWNTOWN DREAMS TEXT

Stephanie Calvet

A CITY OF CALGARY PROGRAM INCENTIVIZES THE CONVERSION OF OFFICE TOWERS INTO RESIDENCES. DOWNTOWN CALGARY DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAM

CITY-SUPPORTED OFFICE CONVERSION PROJECTS APPROVED UNDER AN EARLIER PROGRAM A BARON BUILDING (STRATEGIC GROUP) 610 8 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $8.5M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜10,100 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 118 HOMES

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B NEOMA (HOME SPACE) 706 7 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $5.5M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜8,800 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 82 HOMES

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1T HE CORNERSTONE 909 5 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $7.8M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜9,700 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 112 HOMES 2 CANADIAN CENTRE 833 4 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $12,375M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜15,100 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 225 HOMES 3 UNITED PLACE 805 4 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $6.6M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜8,200 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 81 HOMES 4 PALLISER ONE 125 9 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $15M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜18,600 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 176 HOMES 5 TECH PLACE 205 9 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $8.2M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜10,200 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 113 HOMES

B

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6 THE LOFT 744 4 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $3.9M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜4,900 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 55 HOMES

A

7 E AU CLAIRE PLACE I 525 3 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $6M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜7,400 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 90 HOMES

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8 EAU CLAIRE PLACE II 521 3 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $11.9M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜14,700 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 195 HOMES 9 TAYLOR BUILDING 805 8 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $4.8M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜6,000 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 85 HOMES 10 P ETRO FINA BUILDING 736 8 AVENUE S.W. MUNICIPAL INVESTMENT: $9.7M SCOPE OF CONVERSION: ˜12,100 M2 NUMBER OF HOMES: 105 HOMES

For architects who work with commercial office buildings, these are interesting times. Rising interest rates and the pandemic have led to a surge of commercial loan defaults and property vacancies. Simultaneously, new office construction continues to boom in many major centres, as larger companies shift to higher quality, amenity-rich, and sustainable office buildings. As a result, demand for Class A buildings—the most prestigious locations—has remained firm. Demand for mid-range Class B and no-frills Class C spaces, on the other hand, has softened. Some city builders see an opportunity to convert this older stock to residential and mixed-use, addressing both the glut in office vacancies and the housing crunch. One of the leaders in this effort is the city of Calgary, Alberta. Made-in-Calgary Solutions While the pandemic shift to work-from-home models triggered new discussions about office conversions in many cities, Calgary’s oil and gas driven boom-and-bust cycles gave it a head start. Alberta’s commercial capital has historically had a high ratio of office space to population, and began struggling with vacancies during the last energy sector downturn, in 2014. By 2020, office vacancy rates had

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risen to 32%, eroding the city’s property tax base and creating a cash crisis. This galvanized the city to take action. “We could have reduced office vacancy by putting server farms into the downtown core,” said Thom Mahler, The City of Calgary’s Director of Downtown Strategy, at the annual convention of the SSHRC research partnership on Quality in Canada’s Built Environment this spring. “But that doesn’t do a lot for the small businesses, because server farms don’t go and buy lunch in the food court. So, it was important to have residential as our first focus.” Calgary Economic Development worked with developers, community groups, and businesses, including global architectural firm Gensler, to strategize on their underperforming properties. The result, Calgary’s Downtown Development Incentive Program, is the first of its kind in Canada. The program is designed to support revitalization of the downtown core by encouraging the conversion of underused office space into residential units. The plan is simple: the city provides grants of $75 per square foot (up to $15M) for the converted space, waives the need for a development permit, and expedites its approval processes. “It’s five months for approvals and $17,000 per unit [in development charges] in Calgary, versus 30-plus months and $100,000-plus per unit in Toronto

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or Vancouver,” said Veronica Green, Associate, Development, with Slate Asset Management, at a recent Urban Land Institute panel. Since its 2021 launch, Calgary’s program is well on its way towards its goal to converting six million of the downtown’s 14 million vacant square feet of offices over 10 years, and to increasing the downtown population by 20% in the process. The 10 approved projects will create some 1,237 units of housing, ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, and including affordable units as well as units that will rent at 20% below market rate. A Data-driven Approach To identify and evaluate the top candidates for cost-effective conversions, Gensler turned design thinking into numbers. The firm created a parameterized algorithm that quickly scored each vacant building using factors that make for a good residential conversion—site context, building form, floor plate and core positioning, envelope, servicing. The algorithm identified a dozen downtown structures that would be viable for conversions. Some of the higher-scoring typologies were buildings with closed offices that were originally constructed in the late ’60s and ’70s—they generally have smaller floor plates and good corridor-to-window depth—as well as heritage buildings from the first half of the 20th century, which boast brick façades and punched windows. Residential conversions bring multi-faceted benefits: higher ceilings, desirable locations, and potentially higher floor space ratios compared to typical new apartment buildings. Some of the buildings in Calgary’s roster of conversions have deep building f loor plates, and while this isn’t ideal, creative workarounds can be found. Other cities with similar large, converted buildings

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have repurposed internal areas as bicycle and tenant storage; added lightwells to draw daylight deep into the building core; or made selective exterior massing adjustments to improve light and air penetration. By switching to a decentralized HVAC system, redundant double-height mechanical f loors can be converted to amenity spaces and terraces. Preserving the building fabric can help create a tangible cultural legacy. “Three of the buildings that have come forward are three of our finest examples of mid-century modern office buildings: the Baron building, the Petro Fina building and the Petro Chemical building,” says Mahler. “So, by offering this [office-to-residential conversion] program, we’ve actually been able to do much more by way of heritage preservation. And these are all along Stephen Avenue, and we’ll be able to do a much better job at telling the story of Calgary’s office history and petrochemical industry through architecture.”

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Beyond the Building The buildings slated for conversion are clustered at the east and west ends of Calgary’s downtown core, creating a positive downstream effect for the wider neighbourhoods. The injection of more residential units is stimulating a broader downtown revitalization, and a need for a different city fabric than what has existed for an office-focused area. “We’ve been told by proponents converting these buildings to residential, ‘We’ll do our part, but your downtown is not great for residential amenities. You need to be investing in spaces and places that will make it desirable for someone to sign a lease for these properties,’” says Mahler. As a result, the city has undertaken a slate of capital projects including rebuilding Stephen Avenue and 8th Street SW with better

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INSITES and environmental resiliency. Arguably, the more diverse urban fabric will also upgrade Calgary’s social and economic resiliency.

STEPHANIE CALVET

STEPHANIE CALVET

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TOP Canadian Centre, the largest building in the program, will be converted into 225 residential units. BOTTOM The Petro Fina Building is a heritage structure whose adaptive reuse will be facilitated by the conversion program.

public spaces, new paving, lighting, and better connections for all mobility modes in order to support more diverse, mixed-use neighbourhoods. “Our design philosophy [centres] on how to reconfigure public space to support these residential conversions,” says Mahler. Calgary’s conversion program has since expanded to support the additional conversion of vacant offices into hotels, K-12 schools, performance spaces, and post-secondary institutions. Sustainability needs play an increasingly important role in project economics and city policy. According to Architecture 2030, the concrete used in new buildings is responsible for 11% of global carbon emissions. Adaptive reuse can cut that by up to 80%. Conversion presents an opportunity to upgrade an older structure’s energy efficiency

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Challenges By streamlining permitting and providing robust incentives, Calgary has created a favorable environment for office conversions. Other cities are experiencing a slower journey. Across Canada, few developers and property owners have opted in, either sitting on the sidelines awaiting a market correction, or urging for subsidies to reduce their risk. The profitability equation is complex when weighing the cost, risk and future revenue associated with the choices between converting a building, demolishing it and building new, or holding an asset until the next market cycle. The technical complexity, hidden costs, and industry’s inexperience in office conversions all increase development risk. “These are difficult projects to pencil out,” says Stephen Paynter, a Toronto–based partner at Gensler. Educating developer clients to think beyond their usual metrics is a necessary part of the process to encourage developers to gain experience and improve their comfort levels. “More imagination is needed [as a counterbalance to the] condo formula-based approach,” says Paynter. Ultimately, while office conversions can get complicated, they generally come in at a lower cost per unit—Gensler estimates a 30% savings compared to new construction—and with a faster completion. In the case of Calgary, the city’s financial incentives cover about a third of the cost of conversion. Some view the outdated planning policy context and bureaucracy in older, larger cities as contributing to the slowness. In Toronto, a staggering 40 million square feet of new office space is in the approvals pipeline. Yet, there’s also a decades-old replacement rule in the Financial District—if you demolish an office, it must be replaced like for like, by an office—which is stalling progress, according to Veronica Green at Slate Asset Management. “What needs to happen is a softening or a dismantling of some of these municipal or provincial policies, and there must be a clear path to redevelopment, so we can let the market react, address the realities of the supply we have today, and assess future demand.” In a recent report on office conversions, the Canadian Urban Institute identified 130 office buildings in 11 cities across Canada as suitable for conversion to residential. There are increasing headwinds: pressure on municipalities to maintain their tax base, concerns over the hollowing out of downtowns, the increasing reach and weight of environmental regulations. As a recent Brookings Institute report titled “Myths about converting offices into housing—and what can really revitalize downtowns” noted, conversions alone cannot solve the problems of excess office inventory or housing demand. Furthermore, thought needs to be given as to causes and consequences. Is this a market failure or a public policy problem? How should the burden and the rewards be allocated among public and private actors? Nonetheless, conversions can contribute to more active and vibrant neighbourhoods in former business districts, while chalking up sustainability gains. Calgary has shown itself to be nimble in enabling office conversions, partnering with experts, obtaining city council buy-in, and developing an evidence-based and actionable program with a long-term vision. However, other cities will have differing priorities and policy landscapes. For instance, what level of subsidy is financially viable in other cities? Is an equity interest by the city politically feasible to meet affordable housing expectations? While it remains to be seen what aspects of its program can be adopted elsewhere, Calgary has shown that innovative approaches to city-building are possible, and that architects remain a key voice. Stephanie Calvet AIA is a Toronto-based writer and architecture and design consultant.

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TECHNICAL

ARCHITECTURAL SCIENCE FORUM THE NEXT GENERATIONS TEXT

Ted Kesik

WHAT IS NEEDED FOR TODAY’S ARCHITECTS TO TACKLE THE WICKED PROBLEM OF SUSTAINABILITY? Contemporary ecology challenges the Old World view that man is the measure of all things. Understanding the dynamics of sustainability underlines the need for architecture that respects all living things and the needs of future generations—including those of our design professionals. Only sustainable processes can yield sustainable outcomes.

Some 20 years ago, I had the privilege of working with architecture students at the University of Toronto to develop a website called Architectural Science Forum. The site was hosted by Canadian Architect magazine, and funded by a generous donation from the late Jim Cassell, then the Senior VP of Arriscraft in Cambridge, Ontario. It consisted of modules on sustainability principles, enclosure, design strategies, design tools, durability and detailing—topics for which scant resources were available at the time. An abridged article on each topic appeared in the magazine, then edited by Marco Polo. Architectural Science Forum was based on a simple model of sustainability dynamics. Within each ecological setting, humans evolve cultures as a means of enabling survival. These cultures produce technologies such as language, tools, agriculture, and buildings that improve the odds of survival and quality of life, so long as their impacts are confined within a sustainable ecological footprint. When technologies become dysfunctional and adversely impact the ecology—such as with the over-combustion of fossil fuels for energy—then an appropriate cultural response and re-crafting of the technologies are needed to restore a sustainable balance. The same may be said about architecture as it seeks to adapt its culture and technologies to emerging existential challenges. Humankind is currently in a restorative loop as we reach the limits of growth. This explains why evidence-based architectural science has become essential in guiding sustainable development: we must be reasonably certain we are making things better, rather than worse. A major focus of the Forum was the building enclosure. In the early 2000s, thermal insulation levels were commonly increased to promote energy conservation, but as a result, many buildings were experien-

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cing performance problems related to the inadequate management of heat, air and moisture f lows. Building enclosure performance problems continue to constitute most claims against practicing architects to this day, but there is now a readily accessible arsenal of modern building science principles and strategies in the design of durable, high-performance enclosures. Similarly, it is fair to say that virtually all the issues and challenges identified back with the turn-of-the-millennium Architectural Science Forum have now been engaged by schools and the profession to some degree. But new challenges of great urgency abound. Studio culture continues to emphasize individual expression over the collective collaboration of an integrated design process (IDP). The integrated design process is capable of producing far more sustainable architecture than the linear assembly line model, where the building design is sequentially passed on from one discipline to the next, thus stitching together piecemeal Frankensteins that are kept alive with enormous carbon inputs. We witness the products of this outmoded model of professional practice in the large stock of dysfunctional buildings constructed since the end of World War II, which now represent a burden of deep retrofits and decarbonization efforts to be carried on the stressed-out shoulders and empty wallets of the post-pandemic generation of Canadians. The decades-long fixation on energy efficiency is only now starting to wane as an appreciation of the critical impact of embodied carbon in buildings on global warming gains ascendancy. It is now recognized that time is running out for climate change mitigation as we approach a critical tipping point in mean global temperature rise. If we fail to meet our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, then climate change

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ABOVE AEquae nis as doluptatet ium doluptae voloritis re pre dolupti dolore dolor aliquas am, sed quo experestrum que volut fugit, cum imeni omnimi, quisqui occae dusam.

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TECHNICAL

TI LA VE PO UN IT Y CO ST

Low carbon energy source, green materials and methods, low ecological footprint, high utilization efficiency

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Building form, orientation, fabric, detailing, passive systems, energy and water conservation, resilience, ease of maintenance, long life, loose fit, low impact

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CLEAN

Solar, wind, bio-mass, regenerative design.

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Life Cycle Design of Buildings One way of finding the balance between mitigation and adaptation is to adopt a life cycle approach to the design of buildings. Over the past two years, a growing interest in embodied carbon, non-extractive architecture, and the need for a more circular building industry, has brought forward the importance of life cycle assessment (LCA). Several recent articles in Canadian Architect by Kelly Doran and Anthony Pak underlined the importance of material choices, durability and adaptability for reducing the ecological footprint of buildings. If the objective in Canada is to achieve a net-zero carbon building stock, this can only be accomplished by taking in the whole life cycle of buildings, from cradle to cradle, within a circular building economy. But no form of life cycle assessment is mandated in our green standards, step codes, or design competitions. The concept of a life cycle approach has a cultural component. There is a major disconnect between the reality of the ecological footprint exerted by buildings and the importance placed on their visual appearance, with elegance of form, geometry and composition divorced from performance attributes that render a building sustainable. The predominant focus in design schools on the building as a singular object obscures the fact that buildings are in fact processes—ones that unfold slowly over timeframes that exceed the average life spans of humans. The types of case studies and design exercises needed to impart this

Typically, when just 1% of a project’s capital cost has been expended (schematic design fee), more than 80% of its life cycle costs and impacts have been committed. $$

Climate Change Mitigation Versus Adaptation - Finding the Balance There is currently a natural tension arising between the need to engage climate change mitigation versus adapting to the demands of a changing climate and extreme weather events. Clearly, we need to reduce our current carbon footprint drastically in the short term to avoid global warming tipping points, and the associated severe climate events we are starting to witness today. But neglecting the need for resiliency carries an enormous carbon footprint as damages are cleaned up, requiring the repair and replacement of buildings and infrastructure. For the built environment, in particular buildings, the question is: do we focus on reducing the carbon footprint of new and existing buildings, or do we look at enhancing their resilience? Can we somehow do both? While building codes are slow to change, the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events induced by climate change are beginning to adversely impact human health and safety. If codes and standards do not evolve, the insurance industry will impose premiums that reflect the damages and losses to buildings resulting from climate change; in some cases, assets may not be insured at all because the risks are too high. Either way, architectural design will have to address the need for enhanced resilience. But can this higher level of performance be achieved within a sustainable carbon footprint? When answering this question, it is important to appreciate that resilience is not the new sustainability, and while the two concepts are related, they should not be confused. Resilience is like a shock absorber that allows for a safe, smooth ride, while sustainability is the road taken—one that hopefully does not lead to a precipice or dead end.

SUSTAINABILITY PYRAMID

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beyond the tipping point will unleash extreme weather events that will drive a widespread need for climate change adaptation. Buildings account for some 40% of global carbon emissions and Canada’s demand for buildings is growing. How can we achieve sustainable development while living within our allowable ecological footprint? Here then, some 20 years later for the second time around, is a short list of some of the emerging issues and challenges facing the next generation of Canadian architects and architecture educators. Unlike two decades ago, the issues and challenges are not primarily technological— they are cultural.

PROPORTIONAL CONTRIBUTION TO SUSTAINABILITY

overview of architecture as a set of cultural resources, as opposed to art objects or speculative investments, are largely absent. Strategies and guidelines to inform the early stages of design are also critical to sustainable architecture that delivers high performance, at the lowest life cycle costs, and with the fewest environmental impacts. A large number of green and clean technologies are being innovated, but there is not a corresponding advancement of the lean design basis for truly sustainable architecture. More must be done to revive the elegance of vernacular and passive systems that dominated architecture long before cheap and plentiful fossil fuels swept aside form and fabric with brute-force electro-mechanical conditioning. Today’s innovation additionally requires the application of evidencebased building science. How do we forecast how sustainable a given project will prove to be over its life cycle? This kind of question can only begin to be addressed by evaluating built and occupied projects. Measuring energy performance, embodied and operational carbon, indoor environmental quality, and occupant comfort and satisfaction can provide critical feedback to improve design and project delivery. This feedback is particularly important for healthcare facilities, where the wellbeing of both the patients and the healthcare providers impacts health outcomes. The quality of buildings ranging from housing and schools to offices and hospitals cannot be significantly improved without measuring and reporting actual outcomes over the life cycle of buildings. Evidence gathering, analysis and synthesis are the backbone of the health sciences, but remain largely ignored in the architecture academy and profession. People inhabit actual buildings situated in communities—not architecture theories nested in urbanist ideologies. Architecture must enter into the 21st century by measuring outcomes that inform evidence-based design. Mass Customization of Architecture Education There is much concern about architecture education being out of touch with current realities. And there is even greater concern that our schools are not future-proofing students for careers that will peak several decades after graduation. Meantime, students remain glued to their computer screens instead of engaging in fieldwork that has them experience architecture directly, and more importantly, gather feedback from building inhabitants. Cities are living laboratories that no manner

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BUILDING LAYER LONGEVITY

Initial work by Brand, subsequently augmented by Schmidt and Austin, revealed that nine layers of the building-as-a-system determine its DNA and ability to adapt to changing needs and contexts. The life cycle impacts of the building and its useful service life are predominantly determined by its DNA as conceived during the early stages of design.

Surroundings - landscape, development, densities and demographics of the precinct where the building is situated. VARIABLE

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Stuff - personal belongings, clothing, food, beverages, toiletries, etc. DAY - MONTHS - YEARS

FAST RATE OF CHANGE

Space plan - layout of program elements and amenities, initial circulation including access/egress and vertical transportation, plus interior fit-out of the building. 3 - 30 YEARS

SLOW RATE OF CHANGE

Space - looseness of fit in the packing of services (access, maintenance, replacement). INTEGRAL/ISOLATED

FORM

FIXED

FABRIC FIT OUT FIXTURE

EASE OF CHANGE

Social Social and cultural dynamics EVER CHANGING

FINISH FURNISHING

CHANGEABLE

of research funding could ever afford to reproduce, yet there is almost no time devoted in the current architecture curriculum to surveying the built environment. As the title of Phyllis Lambert’s latest book so aptly reminds us, “Observation is a constant that underlies all approaches.” The reality is that, given the large number of balls students now have to juggle in order to explore just the most basic aspects of contemporary building design, it is only possible to cover what may be termed “shell and core” professional education. The university provides a framework that the graduates must augment, in conjunction with their employers, when they pursue internships. To some extent, this was always the case, but the degree of superficiality in curriculum has dramatically increased over the past several decades, because there is simply insufficient time to engage most of the subject matter in depth. Can schools of architecture continue offering a one-size-fits-all professional degree program that is primarily aimed at producing ‘design’ architects? Streaming is a reality after graduation, and many students would benefit from choosing a stream while still in school. Why is the retrofit, rehabilitation and repurposing of existing buildings not given the same emphasis as the design of new buildings? If roughly half the current practice involves existing buildings, then perhaps some courses and studios could be devoted to deep retrofits and repurposing. In the absence of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) and building performance evaluation (BPE), how can we expect to determine if the buildings we produce to protect us from extinction are effective, and as importantly, contribute to enhancing the good life? Measuring the various dimensions of building performance deserves to be studied and students must learn to engage in meaningful field work. The risk in architecture’s common future is that it falls victim to untested ideologies. It is widely viewed that architecture must once and for all abandon the elitist Fountainhead mentality and courageously embrace an evidence-based, integrated design process that does not fear evaluating itself according to criteria that are meaningful to the people that inhabit the buildings and the communities where they live, work and play. It is widely understood that most of the professional development for architects occurs after graduation during their internships. Looking at buildings for guidance, perhaps architecture education should focus on a sound intellectual armature of good bones to provide an adaptive

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Services - mechanical, electrical and plumbing including telecom wiring, elevators/escalators, HVAC system plus site infrastructure such as building sewer, potable water supply, etc. 5 - 50 YEARS Skin - exterior cladding, fenestration and control layers for heat, air and moisture management. 10 - 75 YEARS Structure - foundation, wall, floor and roof components including bracing, elevator and stairwell cores. 50 - 300 YEARS Site - soil/rock supporting the building, the property where the building is situated. ETERNAL

structure for ongoing internship, practice and lifelong learning. Fads and style trends are for the fashion industry, where clothing only needs to last one season—not for buildings that must endure a changing climate, culture and economy for many generations to come. Exorcising Architecture’s Existential Déja Voodoo Will artificial intelligence displace architects? It is more likely that a failure by the architecture discipline to adapt to the realities of our times will devalue and diminish both the academy and the profession. Expo 67 and its theme of Man and His World represented a watershed moment for Canada as a nation, but especially for its architecture community. Montreal architect Moshe Safdie’s revolutionary Habitat 67—along with over 60 pavilions designed by some of the world’s leading architects—exposed some 50 million visitors at Expo 67 to a new awareness about the role of the built environment in mankind’s future. Many people view this as the big event of the 20th century that brought Canada out of its colonial closet. The Canadian architecture community was among the groups most highly affected. The post-Expo 67 existential angst over architecture education has returned today, because of numerous disconnects between societal expectations, the heightened demands of professional practice in the absence of compensating offsets to fee schedules and liabilities, and the anachronistic accreditation requirements that handcuff the architecture academy to deliver relevant programs of professional education. In 1969, a new model of architectural education was being introduced by Peter Prangnell at the University of Toronto. An overview by Canadian Architect editor Robert Gretton stated, “There is widespread unease that unless architectural education shifts to meet the new demands, other people will assume the task of solving the critical issues facing man and city,” (CA, Feb. 1969). One again fears there is a genuine risk that architecture stands to lose its leadership role in the shaping of our buildings and communities, unless it embraces the need for more applied, multidisciplinary research. Even though the same concerns arose in the 1960s, for over half a century, architecture schools and the profession have failed to demonstrate research leadership within their own discipline. “We’re witnessing new challenges and problems in the built environment,” said Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena in an interview with

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The Globe and Mail in 2016. “The questions are new, and the starting points are very far from architecture. These are,” he continued, “the forces at play in cities, from migration to insecurity to pollution to inequality. These are problems that do not belong to the architectural realm. They are issues that interest society at large. For architects the challenge is: how do we use our specific expertise and translate these issues into form?” Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be of little assistance to the cause of sustainable architecture if those that command it lack the deep knowledge and understanding of what matters. Garbage in, garbage out—computation is not a God, but a tool, and the resulting work is only as good as the heart and mind of the tool user. Deploying energy models, simulating daylight, and conducting life cycle assessments will not save architecture from extinction—not any more than having architects perform their own structural analysis, since there are specialty consultants who possess greater expertise and can do this sort of work much better and more cost effectively. While architects need to understand the fundamental concepts and limitations underlying all allied design disciplines, much like orchestra conductors, there is no need for them to be virtuosos on every instrument. Instead, they must be well-versed in the synthesis and integration of multidisciplinary inputs to the design of buildings. Appreciation of the ‘big picture’ and the ability to bring lateral thinking, synthesis and integration to design problems is the unique purview of architects, and focusing on these attributes while remaining societally relevant is key to sustaining architecture’s status. This implies a massive shift in how professional practices are structured and operated to respond to shifting societal priorities. Stewardship, Not Authorship Much like music, the fine arts and literature, architecture was traditionally concerned with authorship that bestowed credit and intellectual property to architects. The recent shift in thinking that was spurred on by the environmental movement and the more recent life cycle assessment of buildings has made obvious the need for stewardship of our built environment. In the conventional mode of architecture practice in Canada, architects conceive one building project after another, and subsequently abandon their offspring after they are born. There is still little interest in adopting a cradle-to-cradle approach to architecture practice that embraces the principles of a circular building economy. That’s a missed opportunity, because architects remain most informed and best suited to the role of stewardship over their buildings. Engaging in a full life cycle service approach to their building projects would not only stabilize revenue streams, but also provide a feedback loop on how to improve designs to enhance sustainability. Historically, building codes and standards focused on minimum requirements for health and safety. Now we recognize that many aspects of building environments and the environmental impacts of buildings adversely impact not just human health and safety, but wellbeing and resilience. The architecture profession and its allied disciplines must adopt an ethical posture and engage in public education. In ways similar to how the medical profession educated the public about the risks of tobacco smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet, architects must take the lead and vigorously promote the literacy of the average citizen about the social, ecological and economic impacts of buildings, so that appropriate requirements in codes and standards protect the interests of future generations, rather than those of profiteering opportunists. Competency in Sustainable Design Urban development is largely made possible by architects who offer architecture and urban design services to private developers and public

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PHOTO BY NORA VASS, IMAGE STITCHING BY GERGELY VASS

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agencies. Judging by the vast majority of contemporary built works, it appears their basis of design is lingering in the 20th century instead of observing the 3Ls: long life, loose fit, and low impact. Over the past several years, a number of academic and professional surveys have reported the need to enhance climate change and sustainable design competency in the education of architects. Here in Canada, Terri Peters from the Department of Architectural Science at TMU has conducted a survey examining issues related to sustainability. Peters’ initial findings indicated the majority of students at the Canadian schools of architecture did not feel they were gaining relevant competencies in sustainability and climate change mitigation/adaptation: “According to the responses, students do not feel confident in their knowledge of sustainable design and climate change issues,” Peters told me. “Overwhelmingly, students say they want more expertise in these issues, and they say they aren’t getting it.” She adds that students are not confident about how to apply their knowledge to design. Increasing the amount of learning content without guidance on how to apply that knowledge leaves students anxious and frustrated. At the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty, Bruce Mau’s office was retained to conduct a series of interviews, surveys and townhalls to help develop a five-year academic plan. One of the most significant learnings gleaned by Mau’s team was summarized in a call to “Integrate environmental sustainability everywhere.” Their report explains: “Students and faculty see climate change as ‘one of the most important challenges of our time’. Its importance was highlighted as a unifying thread so that each goal could help further the cause. Students and faculty critiqued the unsustainable practices of industry and academia, seeking real change in the operational and academic practices of the faculty.” An Australasia-wide survey, as reported in Architecture AU, similarly concluded: “The mounting impacts of global warming, as well as the imperatives of decarbonization and disaster mitigation, will have dramatic effects on the design, construction and maintenance of the built environment. Architecture education must adapt to prepare graduates—as well as to reskill professionals—for rapidly changing conditions of practice.” One of the elephants in the room is a lack of suitably qualified faculty that have training and experience in applying sustainability principles in building design. In all fairness, sustainable architecture is rela-

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How does Moshe Safdie’s idea of a private and natural domestic environment situated within a dense urban environment compare with today’s clusters of spiky glass condo towers? Canada started a conversation about urban habitats over half a century ago that was never continued by its architecture schools. Is it time to pick up that thread?

tively recent and rare, and so much like advances in medicine where practitioners must take supplementary training in new clinical techniques, the same holds true for 21st-century architectural practice. It is difficult to imagine how someone who has never designed a sustainable building could lead a studio in architecture school without some upgrading of their knowledge and skills. This was not an issue when the rate of change in building technology was slow, and studios were delivered largely by senior practitioners with considerable experience and expertise. Today, reskilling for existing faculty, alongside lifelong learning for architecture professionals, is not only necessary—it represents an enormous opportunity for architecture schools to reconnect with the profession, while augmenting revenue streams. The Future Is Now 20 years from now, it will be obvious whether or not architecture has successfully engaged our common future. In many ways, Canada’s unique geographic, climatic, economic and demographic conditions are at the root of our strength—but only if we are willing to jettison outdated traditions and engage the emerging realities. Across Canada, we have many opportunities and natural blessings to lose if we are unable to transcend the current preoccupation with buildings as objectified commodities. We must learn from our Indigenous Peoples to recognize our buildings as cultural resources to be shared between all peoples and future generations, no differently than our land, water and air. The massive shift in consciousness needed to break away from the artist-patron model of architecture practice can only come about if academics and practitioners work together. We must forge a hybrid, multi-disciplinary view of architecture. Those involved in architecture must also educate the public, in order to promote literacy and citizen participation in shaping our built environment. Equity, diversity and inclusion must be baked into the architecture profession’s public engagement and built environment stewardship agenda. Architecture should become less self-referential and open itself to other perspectives, other disciplines, and other stakeholders besides its paying clients. Public health and wellbeing are so heavily influenced by architecture and the built environment that it is no longer ethical to ignore conducting post-occupancy evaluations, especially in the case of social buildings such as housing, schools, offices and healthcare

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facilities. The artist-patron model may continue to make sense for art, which if it causes displeasure can be stored away out of sight and mind. But is it an ethical model of professional practice in architecture, where buildings shape climate and their communities for many generations? To whom does the architect owe the highest standard of care? The planet and the people should certainly take precedence over the client, since as innocent bystanders, they will suffer any collateral repercussions of an economic transaction in which they had no part. And what of the succeeding generations who inherit a built environment in which they had no say? How does architecture education and professional practice reconcile intergenerational equity? Accepting the new realities is certainly swallowing a jagged, bitter pill. But only by doing so can we move forward with the long overdue process of truth and reconciliation in architecture and its allied disciplines. The technology gods of the 20th century, like our buildings and infrastructure, have clay feet and represent a linear economy that is costing us the earth. Only sustainable processes can yield sustainable outcomes, and this holds true for the future of architecture education and professional practice. For the sake of our ecology, it’s no longer about our technology: it’s all about our culture. As a new hire at U of T back in 1999, leading the collaborative research at the turn of the millennium that developed Architectural Science Forum felt somewhat strange. It feels stranger yet, some 20 years later, to be again revealing the big issues and challenges facing the next generation of architects and educators, given that I am not an architect. But after more than 30 years as an educator of architects, a consultant to architects, and a researcher of building science in support of sustainable architecture, I have had numerous opportunities to speak with colleagues, students and the public about pathways to sustainability. I want to thank the numerous colleagues, students and citizens who shared their thoughts with me and took the time to enlighten me about my misconceptions. It is also important to acknowledge that almost none of what I discussed in this article is original. Thanks to everyone who contributed their observations, ideas and aspirations. Our collaborative spirit should give us cause for great optimism—so long as we have the courage to adapt and evolve. Ted Kesik is a professor of building science at the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

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BACKPAGE

DOUBLESPACE PHOTOGRAPHY

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AT THE EDGE TEXT

Elsa Lam

AN EDMONTON OFFICE BUILDING CONTRASTS A MASSIVE SOUTHFACING SOLAR ARRAY WITH A TRANSPARENT NORTH FAÇADE.

When Dub Architects set out to redevelop a block in Edmonton’s warehouse district, just west of downtown, the designers were faced with an intriguing challenge. At the south end, the block was capped by a relatively narrow, 15-metre lot—an undeveloped leftover. “As a result,” says architect Gene Dub, “you ended up with a wall that had to be a blind wall—you couldn’t put windows in it unless they were set well back from the property line.” Turning that constraint into an asset, he decided to clad the south façade of the new 10-storey building, called The Edge, with an array of 560 photovoltaic panels. The massive array generates 80 percent of the building’s electricity. Moreover, it creates a striking presence in the city: a black monolith, adorned with vertical aluminum strips that underscore its sculptural appearance.

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In contrast to this solidity, the north wall of the building is entirely glass—comprised of triple- and quadruple-paned units to reduce heat loss. Each f loor is bookended by equally airy balconies, constructed with thermal separations in the f loor slab and fitted with solar screens facing south. From inside, the effect is dramatic. For the past four years, Dub Architects has used the top two floors of the building as their office, keeping the space as an open-plan design, with a lightly suspended stair and atrium hovering over a double-height lobby. “It was almost like a Paris garret with north-facing skylights,” says Dub, recalling how the orientation meant that no window coverings were necessary. “You could watch a storm pass from one end of the building to the other—it was a really magical show.” The dramatic design is facilitated by Dub’s ownership of the adjoining parcel: the block

The south-facing façade of The Edge, a 10-storey office building in Edmonton, is clad in solar photovoltaic panels that generate 80 percent of the building’s electricity.

ABOVE

of warehouses has been repurposed as a series of loft condos, and won’t be redeveloped for the next 50 years. Dub himself lives in a suite right next to The Edge, enjoying views of the building from both inside and out throughout most days. That will soon come to an end, though: MC College’s Edmonton campus, which currently occupies the bottom eight storeys of the building, has enjoyed a high degree of success—perhaps in part because of the visibility of its facility—and will be taking over the top two floors to expand its program. This will put Dub Architects on the move again. This time, says Dub, they’ll be moving “to a 1950s building that we’re redoing.” It’s a brutalist-era precast design, he adds, “with sloped glass all over the place.” Doubtless, it’ll be soon transformed into a space that’s as special as The Edge.

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