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All the best, The Editorial Team We will keep adding business units that enhance our offering and separate us from our competition. “ ” Editor From The Dear Reader, Welcome to the latest issue of Construction Source Canada, the magazine that highlights the best in building and building products across the country. In this edition, we’ve focused on companies that are looking towards the future and embracing innovation. In a lot of cases, that means pushing the envelope in terms of environmentalefficiency and sustainability. Globally, buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of carbon emissions – many of these companies recognize that and they want to do their part to make a change. Kearns Mancini Architects Incorporated is the best example – they are an award-winning architectural practice that has always strived to deliver environmentally-friendly buildings. They have been working with Passive House design since 2009, and today they are one of the few firms that do it in-house. To learn more about their process, and everything a passive house has to offer, we talked to Jonathon Kearns, CEO and Principal in Charge, Deborah Bryne, COO, and Rick Sealey, Project Manager. Also in this edition is Anxin Projects, the developer behind Squamish’s upcoming ‘AegeanHomes,’ a project that is very close to nature. Director Kelvin Pan calls that development a “unique and vibrant gateway to all-season mountain recreation,” as it’s on the doorstep of world-class mountain biking, kiteboarding, running, climbing, and hiking. Kelvin walked us through those opportunities, everything else the development has to offer, and Anxin’s long-term vision to provide more affordable housing to the market. There’s also Three Bridges Properties, the Vancouver-based developer behind the acclaimed ‘Gold House’ development in Burnaby, now working on ‘The Great Falls’ in Niagara. With ‘The Great Falls’ – which takes place on a 7.5-acre piece of land with over 2.2 million square feet of buildable space – they are building three towers which will comprise over 1,500 hotel and residential units and 336,00 square feet of commercial space. We spoke to Dan Zhang, Director and CEO, who walked us through his lofty vision for that project, as well as all the work they have done in the Niagara community in the course of making it happen. For those stories, and many more like them – about more forward-thinking and boundary-pushing designers, builders, and developers – just keep reading.
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THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA With over 90,000 senior executive readers, The Construction Source is proud to offer an attractive platform to share you message with the people that matter most - your customers. Whether your objective is to promote a new condo development, attract financial investment in your upcoming projects, or to build brand recognition, we stand ready to help! To find out more about having your company or latest project feature in The Construction Source, please contact our Group Publisher. Jermaine Poulsen e: email@example.com The Costruction Source Canada 2201 - 250 Yonge St Toronto, Ontario M5B 2L7 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Publisher Jermaine Poulsen General Manager Alexandra Box Operations Manager Josh Stewart - Boyd Head of Editorial Content Allen Bishop Production Manager Vicki Lee Editor Zach Janes Graphics Design Pranim Thapa
FEBRUARY 2022 THREE BRIDGES PROPERTIES Destination Attractions ANXIN PROPERTIES Precise and purposeful TITAN BUILT CONSTRUCTION Build with a Titan MRA ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN Innovative and engaging design RAFAEL SANTA ANA ARCHITECTURE WORKSHOP Designing for the future KEARNS MANCINI ARCHITECTS Innovation In Construction: Planet Earth. We have a problem. JUST WORKING Healthy and hopeful building AMP CONSTRUCTION Smarter, stronger, safer INDUSTRY INNOVATIONS INCINERATING TOILETS IN THIS ISSUE FEBRUARY 2022 ANXIN PROPERTIES JUST WORKING
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA RAFAEL SANTA ANA ARCHITECTURE WORKSHOP
FEBRUARY 2022 Industry INNOVATIONS MODERN & ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY TOILET SOLUTIONS
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA Water connection not required Requires little space No odour Easy installation No frost protection needed Secure for children ash to be emptied No waste handling, only and more Bunkies, For Home, Cottages, Shops, 3 - 4 visits per hour High capacity Propane&Electric models ABOUT CINDERELLA ECO GROUP Cinderella Eco Group is a family-owned company located in the north-western coastal community of Midsund in Romsdal, with deep roots in the beautiful Norwegian fjord-landscape. We have more than 20 years’ experience with the Cinderella Incineration Toilet, a water-free, ecological solution for the management of toilet waste. Cinderella, the natural first choice for those who place high demands on quality and functionality. HIGHLIGHTS OF INCINERATION TOILETS:
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FEBRUARY 2022 Destination Attractions
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA Three Bridges Properties (3Bridges) is a Vancouver-based development company focused on creating “destination attractions,” according to Dan Zhang, Director and CEO. By combining local expertise with a global vision, they seek to create meaningful projects that will maximize rewards for both their stakeholders and the communities in which they work. The corporate vision is to build “three bridges,” Dan says – “one of cultural diversity within multicultural cities, one of economic development within the local area, and one of friendship and understanding between Asia and North America.”
With their first project – ‘Gold House’ in Metrotown, Burnaby – Dan feels they have successfully built those bridges. With their current project – ‘The Great Falls’ in Niagara Falls – 3Bridges aims to continue honouring their corporate vision. The response from the market would indicate they are on target, as Gold House almost sold out within two weeks and The Great Falls is one of the most anticipated projects of Eastern Canada. Three Bridges Properties was founded in Vancouver in 2014 by a team of internationallyexperienced developers. The company’s first project was Gold House. A key asset of this project is the prime location of Metrotown – it’s one of Metro Vancouver’s main shopping hubs, and only a 20-minute SkyTrain ride to downtown Vancouver. To enhance that bustling community, two residential towers were built – one 41 storeys, the other 26 storeys, with 492 condo units between them, as well as some commercial offices and retail spaces located on the first few floors. Dan remembers when they first started selling those units, during a time when the market wasn’t as active as it is now. Gold House was amenity-rich with luxuriously-finished units, and so the prices were amongst the most expensive in the area. “When we first put Gold House THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA “When we first put Gold House on the market, the market trends were not very clear,” Dan recalls. “However, within two weeks, we sold over 70 percent of the units. The rest sold out very quickly after that.”
FEBRUARY 2022 on the market, the market trends were not very clear,” Dan recalls. “However, within two weeks, we sold over 70 percent of the units. The rest sold out very quickly after that.” Dan credits that quick commercial success to a “multitude of factors.” To start with, he again credits the location – it is very close to a shopping mall, it is easily accessible via public transportation, and it is in a well-populated and soughtafter neighborhood. He also credits the bold and innovative design of the project. For example, they featureMetro Vancouver’s first four-storeyhigh residential lobby, as well as the first three-story-tall LED screen fitted on the building’s exterior wall. “This is rare in residential buildings,” Dan comments. “Usually, it’s only hotels that have tall, grand lobbies. Therefore, when one walks into Gold House, they are stunned by what they see.” Furthermore, Dan credits the sales success to the parties involved. 3Bridges collaborated with local companies that had over 20 years of proven experience in the development and construction fields, and together, carefully created a team of expert leaders and consultants. This ensured that the project was able to meet the demands and expectations of the local market.
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The Great Falls In 2019, Three Bridges Properties began their second project, called The Great Falls. This project takes place at one of the last Fallsview development sites in the city, on a 7.5-acre piece of land with over 2.2 million square feet of buildable space. The design and concept has gone through multiple iterations, but as of now consists of three towers – the Central Tower is 60 storeys high, the North Tower is 45 storeys, and the South Tower is 38 storeys. By the time the project is fully complete, it will comprise of 1,535 hotel and residential units, along with approximately 336,000 square feet of commercial retail space. This project also has a strong cultural component. For example, there is a nunnery turned historic girl’s school on the property that was built over 130 years ago. Early on, the decision was made to preserve and restore the historical building, and to incorporate it into the new FEBRUARY 2022
development. When The Great Falls is fully complete, this old building (which is rich with culture), will become host to a museum, a private club, a wine tasting facility, and many more attractions. In addition, there will be a podium connecting the bases of the three towers. Within this podium, 3Bridges anticipates putting in an entertainment complex, which will include boutique shopping outlets, highly-rated restaurants, exciting attractions, and venues for live entertainment. The podium will also encompass three sides of the historical building, protecting it and guests from the cold during winter. Furthermore, the towers themselves will be rich with attractions that the public can visit. At the top of North Tower, for example, will be a rooftop tropical spa with direct views of the glorious Niagara Falls. 3Bridges expects this to be a particularly popular attraction during winter-time. The firm also envisions the natural backdrop of the falls to be a sought-after location for filming, and hopes to build a TV Studio at the top of Central Tower. In general, 3Bridges expects The Great Falls to be in high demand from everyone, especially from future residents – and they have plenty of reasons to believe so. The road that this project is located on, for example, is already famous for being Niagara Falls’ main commercial corridor. “Lots of guests, both domestic and international, visit this area yearly,” Dan explains. “That’s why we are providing hotel units. During peak seasons, the THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA
hotels here are fully booked and there is a huge demand for more.” 3Bridges also included residential units in the project planbecause therearecurrently even less of these. According to Dan, this would be the only residential building with direct views of the grand waterfalls, that people from anywhere in the world can privately own. “There’s actually a very big demand for condos,” he says. “In addition to students and local retirees, many professionals work in the area – for example, at the local universities, or in the hospital, or in the City Hall, or in the neighboring hotels. The corporate shift to remote work also means that more people are leaving the big cities in search of homes with beautiful views. The Great Falls has brilliant vistas and is in a convenient location, making it a very ideal place to live.” Currently, The Great Falls is still in the design and rezoning stage. Prior to choosing their architect, 3Bridges conducted a global search for a firm that not only understood their vision, but also possessed the skills to see it through from paper to reality. They ultimately chose Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA), a Toronto-based firm with experience in designing mixed-use developments, as well as experience in restoring churches and historical buildings. HPA’s history dates back to 1994 and they have a large portfolio of successful projects, which 3Bridges values immensely. Late last year, theCity of Niagara Falls held an open house for The Great Falls, which Dan describes as going “very well.” 3Bridges hopes to conclude the FEBRUARY 2022
rezoning and site plan approval processes by early 2022, and to bring the first phase of the project to the market later in the year. Again, Dan credits the smooth development so far to the contribution of consultants such as HPA, and that of approximately 20 other experts of different fields. He reiterates that 3Bridges’ operational strategy is to “work with the greatest,” and provides the advice that “the key to success is not to know everything yourself, but to partner with those that have the requisite experience and expertise.” In this case, another such expert consultant is NPG Planning Solutions, a Niagara-based planning and development firm focused on designing vibrant and forward-thinking communities. NPG is a fullservice firm that offers an extensive scope of integrated services, and they have a comprehensive understanding of both the internal dynamics of development companies like 3Bridges, and of the municipalities they work in. This understanding is crucial in communicating ideas that lead to successful project outcomes. “The success of 3Bridges is not just ours,” Dan states. “Our success is also the success of the people we collaborate with.” THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA
Building Bridges Moving forward, Three Bridges Properties’ main goal for the projects they take on is reflected in their name. With The Great Falls, and with every future development, they aim to build “three bridges” – the bridge of culture, the bridge of economic development, and the bridge of friendship and understanding. According to Dan, the company facilitates connections for that third bridge in a variety of ways. For example, prior to COVID-19, 3Bridges annually sponsored a musical concert in the Greater Toronto Area called ‘East Meets West.’ This concert typically takes place in early January, and features notable musicians and classic musical pieces. Every year, the concert is “highly anticipated,” Dan shares, with tickets always selling out. The concert has been repeatedly recognized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has written multiple letters congratulating the organizers for bringing western and eastern cultures together, and for providing a FEBRUARY 2022
special occasion to celebrate the friends and families of people of Asian descent. These letters are usually featured in the annual concert programs. Since commencing work on The Great Falls, Three Bridges has also hosted several events in Niagara to connect with the local population. For example, in 2019, they brought together about 30 graduates from the 1969 class of the Loretto Academy – the historic girls’ school that is being preserved as part of the project. “Everyone was very excited to gather for the 50-year reunion and to see each other again,” Dan remembers. “It was a very special event.” Part of what made it so special, he explains, was that the attendees were able to experience the historical building in a new way. The Loretto Academy was very prestigious, but also very strict –students were prohibited from entering via the front entrance. They were only allowed to enter from the sides. “Fifty years later, when we hosted this event, they were allowed for the first time to walk through the front doors of the Academy,” Dan says. “Everyone was very excited about that.” The graduates who attended that event called the reunion opportunity ‘absolutely awesome’ and ‘a dream come true.’ They praised 3Bridges for retaining and planning to restore the building, which they called ‘hallowed’ and ‘sacred,’ as many young women were educated there in the arts and sciences at a time when women were traditionally taught to be wives and mothers. THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA
Dan says that he and his team were “delighted” by the opportunity to host the event. He says it reinforced their decision to make the historic building into a centerpiece of the new development. “By honouring the Loretto Academy’s past, we pave the way for this landmark to have a bright future,” he says. In the future, Dan hopes that The Great Falls as a whole will also be a known destination. This sentiment is shared by the rest of the company, as Hanson Zhang, Chief Marketing Officer of 3Bridges, adds that the intent is to “make [The Great Falls] into one of Canada’s most significant and representative projects, like the Marina Bay Sands of Singapore, Burj Khalifa of Dubai, and Caesars Palace of Las Vegas.” “In addition to the 13 million visitors per year in city recorded traffic, many people dream of visiting Niagara Falls – it’s a key bucket list item,” Hanson says. “Our hope is that in the future, peoplewill come toNiagara Falls because of our entertainment facilities, our exhibitions, our shopping boutiques, our observation decks, and our world-class hospitality. Just like how the Grand Canyon is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, but many people are drawn to the area for Las Vegas’ famous Strip, our goal is to make the Great Falls into a well-known attraction of the Niagara Region, comparable to Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The attractions within the future development will generate significant interest from an entertainment angle, to complement the natural wonder of the Niagara Falls. This is why our vision for the project will not only change the dynamic of Niagara Falls’ commercial corridor, but also majorly contribute to Canada’s tourism industry on a global scale.” “The average visitor stays in Vegas for three-to-five days, with approximately 20 per cent of tourists staying longer than five days. However, at Niagara Falls, many come, take their pictures, and then leave, all within two hours, “ Hanson concludes. “Our aim is very simple: to entice guests into staying for just a little longer. This way, we can help the City see double, or even triple, the annual tourism expenditure.” FEBRUARY 2022
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on Three Bridges Properties, their history, their team, and their projects to date – including Gold House and The Great Falls – visit https://3bridgesproperties.com/
Precise and purposeful
Anxin Projects is a Lower Mainland developer focused on building projects that positively contribute to their environment. According to Director Kelvin Pan, with every project they undertake, their goal is to deliver “exceptional quality and craftsmanship” and to “build life-long friendships with our clients.” They achieve those goals by bringing together a curated team of collaborators from local development partners to internationally-acclaimed architects and interior designers. Together, they take a “precise and purposeful approach” to all aspects of their work, and they deliver projects that match quality with affordability.
The company’s latest project, Aegean Homes in downtown Squamish, is a prime example of that approach in action. Located at 1360 Victoria Street, in the city’s “exciting and intimate core,” it comprises 32 condo units over six levels, ranging in price from $399,998 to over $752,220. There are also six commercial units on the bottom two levels. The development as a whole includes a number of soughtafter amenities, and each unit has been designed and crafted for a “life of effortless style and enduring elegance.” The inspiration for the Aegean Homes happened several years ago, Kelvin recalls, when he and the Anxin team first set their sights on Squamish. “It’s a very unique, very fastgrowing city,” Kelvin says. “The population has a lot of people between 22 and 45, and the city has a lot to offer that age range. It doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter – there are all sorts of activities.” Anxin Projects originally purchased land in downtown Squamish with the belief that Squamish’s growth was about to speed up. At the time, the majority of the downtown buildings were old and dated, and they saw an opportunity to provide a newer building that would appeal to the growing population. THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA “The inspiration for the Aegean Homes happened several years ago, Kelvin recalls, when he and the Anxin team first set their sights on Squamish.”
FEBRUARY 2022 Anxin’s belief was proven correct – Aegean Homes was pre-sold very quickly. Kelvin credits that success to the contemporary quality of the design, as well as all the highend features they were able to offer for such competitive prices. The units at Aegean Homes boast a long list of enviable features, he explains. Each home includes: a spacious and contemporary interior; high quality windows with an abundance of natural light; stunning views on all sides; large, efficient floorplates; generous nine-inch high ceilings; airy, open plan kitchens; high-quality faucets, shower systems, and hardware; and a lot more. Aegean Homes is also amenityrich. It includes outdoor lavish green terraces; secure floorby-floor fob-controlled access; fully-loaded fitness and weight rooms; indoor/outdoor yoga and stretching zones; a social lounge with table games and fireside seating; and breakout workspaces. Outside the doors of Aegean Homes, residents also have access to a wide range of recreational opportunities – the development was envisioned as a “unique and vibrant gateway to all-season mountain recreation,” Kelvin explains. There are nearby opportunities for world-class mountain biking, kiteboarding, running, climbing, and hiking. There is also “fantastic dining and great shops.” “The project was inspired by the outdoors,” Kelvin reiterates. “The best of the mountains and the best of the city is all within easy reach.” Construction on Aegean Homes has recently begun, and the project is scheduled to be fully completed by early 2023.
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Meeting a need Anxin Projects was officially established about six years ago. From the start, the vision for the company was to focus on low-to-mid-rise apartments and condos, and to provide the market with more affordable housing options. They decided to pursue that niche because they saw there was a need: “Over the past few years, the economy hasn’t been stable, and inflation has been going up,” Kelvin says. “We’re seeing that housing isn’t affordable for young families, especially young couples, and families with single moms or single dads. We wanted to address that need.” “We didn’t want to focus on luxury condominiums and highrises,” he adds. “We believe that market has been covered. We wanted to provide something for working families and lowincome families. We wanted to provide them with more living options in the Lower Mainland.” Currently, Anxin Projects has four projects on the go – all of FEBRUARY 2022
which were conceived to fill that gap in the market. All of them began with the purchase of single-family properties in coveted downtown locations, after which Anxin worked with the local district or municipality to rezone. In all cases, they managed to increase the density by at least 35 per cent. Aegean Homes is one of those projects. Another is a big project in Cloverdale, Surrey, where they are working on three apartment buildings. Between the three buildings, they are providing 144 units meant for sale and 52 units meant for long-term rental. “Those are for retirees, small families, and workers in the neighborhood,” Kelvin explains. “So far, the feedback we’ve gotten from those demographics has been amazing.” Anxin Projects is also about to start construction at 207 Street in Langley. There, they will be delivering 68 condo units. Originally, that site had only been approved for 44 units, but Anxin’s design concept swayed local authorities and they were allowed to add that density. “We’ve had strong support from a lot of people on that one,” Kelvin says. “The community is pretty happy with what we’re doing there. For that reason, we already feel pretty successful.” In general, Anxin Projects aims to form strong relationships with all the communities they work in. Their goal is to always deliver projects that their communities need. The company also strives to build strong relationships with theirotherproject stakeholders, including their architects and builders. On Aegean Homes, THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA
for example, they are working with AKA Architects. On another downtown Squamish project, they are working with Station One Architects. “We’ve had a very, very good experience with those firms,” Kelvin says. “We love that they have paid attention to all the little details, and we love how organized they are. They’ve totally met our expectations. That’s what we look for in our partners. Those are the kind of designers we want to work with in the future.” Anxin Projects looks for similar qualities in their builders, Kelvin adds. They also look for experience in low-rise and midrise building. “We prefer companies with a longer history,” he says. “We’re a relatively new company to the Lower Mainland, so we rely on the experience of our building partners. They help us avoid the mistakes that new companies tend to make.” Anxin also looks for “good communicators” and “problemsolvers.” If a builder can tick all those boxes, Kelvin says, Anxin would be honoured to work with them over-and-over again. Lastly, Anxin Projects strives to form strong and lasting relationships with their buyers. They do that by providing the “best customer service possible,” according to Kelvin. “Again, we’re a relatively new company to the industry, so our reputation is very important to us,” he says. “We know that it takes a lot to build a good reputation, we’re putting in the time and effort to do that.” To ensure their buyers have a good experience, Anxin Projects has put together FEBRUARY 2022
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a whole “Customer Care” department who are solely dedicated to taking care of clients throughout the entire process. “From concept and design, to when they move in, through the warranty period – our Customer Care team is there to deliver an exceptional product and an unmatched service experience,” Kelvin says. Moving forward, Anxin Projects’ goal is to maintain that “unmatched service,” even as they grow. In fact, Kelvin says they will only grow so long as that service remains unmatched. “We want to grow and do more projects,” he says, “but we also want to keep providing the best service, and the best quality. As long as we can do that, we’ll keep growing and doing as much as we can – but if the quality or service is ever compromised, we’ll have to slow down. Our reputation is too important to us.” As far as the type of work they want to be doing, Kelvin says they are already doing it. He reiterates that there are a lot of other companies catering to the luxury high-rise market, but Anxin Projects is still one of the few doing more affordable lowto-mid-rise projects. “I think if we look ahead fiveto-10 years, we see ourselves still focusing on this strategy,” he concludes. “We want to be providing more density and more units that are affordable for families. That’s our goal. We don’t see ourselves staying far from that goal.” FEBRUARY 2022
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on Anxin Projects, including the latest news on their latest developments, visit https:// www.anxincanada.com/ For more on Aegean Homes specifically – including more on the location, features, and floorplans – visit https://aegeanhomes.ca/
Build with a Titan
Titan Built Construction is one of the leading contractors in the Williams Lake area of British Columbia. Their team of full-certified professionals – led by founder and director Darren McEachen – have become known in the region for their commitment to excellence and their willingness to go the extra mile for customers. Whether they are building a small cottage or the home of their clients’ dreams, they provide the same attention to detail and the same quality service. They walk their clients through every step of the building process, and by the end they make sure they are completely satisfied with the result.
Darren personally comes from a deep background in the building industry – growing up, his father was a carpenter, and he and his three brothers would summer vacations helping out on job sites. In their early 20s, Darren and his brothers moved to Alberta and started their first company. After five years running that business together, Darren and his wife decided to move back to B.C., where they grew up. Darren joined on with a high-end custom home builder, where he worked as a superintendent and managed multiple crews. After earning about 10 years of experience in that role, he decided to branch out again and go back into business for himself. Titan Built Construction was officially formed in 2016. From the start, Darren’s vision for the company was to build custom homes, as that has always been his passion. “Something I’ve always enjoyed, and something I’ve always been good at, is dealing with people,” he says. “I’ve always liked working with clients from the start of the journey to the end and seeing their dreams come true. When I went out on my own, that’s what I wanted to do.” Darren also wanted to do it in an honest and integral way. He didn’t just want to build homes that lasted, he also wanted to build relationships that lasted THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA “Titan Built Construction was officially formed in 2016. From the start, Darren’s vision for the company was to build custom homes, as that has always been his passion.”
FEBRUARY 2022 – and the only way to do that, Darren believes, is by being up-front and transparent with clients. “I’ve never forgotten where I camefrom,”hesays. “Something my dad instilled in me and my brothers is to always be honest with people, and to treat them with respect and kindness. He said your integrity is what keeps you going. That’s the approach I’ve always taken.” Powered by that ethical approach, Titan Built Construction has grown by “leaps and bounds” over the past six years. In that time, they have grown from one employee – Darren himself – to over 25 employees. They have also progressed from doing small-scale renovations and additions to high-end new homes, and even some multihome packages – for example, they recently worked on the Williams Lake First Nations Housing project, where they delivered six homes and two fourplexes, all within a year. “We designed those homes to be very efficient and inexpensive to build, but they still have the same quality as our high-end homes,” Darren says. “We’re very proud of what we accomplished there. I think the clients feel a big sense of pride too. The feedback has been really good.” In addition, Titan Built has also done some commercial projects and apartment buildings, and they are interested in doing more. Their range these days is “massive,” according to Darren, “We’re very, very diverse,” he says. “We’re open to doing a little bit of everything. It just depends on the client – we want to work with people who have the same values as us, people who we know we’re going to get along with and have fun with.” “At the end of the project, we want to be able to sit and have a beer with them,” he adds. “That’s how it is with a lot of our past clients. We’ve become friends. I live out on the lake on Lac La Hache, and every year we have a family day at our house, and a lot of my clients
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA come and bring their families. That’s the kind of relationship we build here.” In order to build that kind of relationship, and earn that kind of customer loyalty, Darren deals with all of his clients personally. “When you deal with Titan Built Construction, you deal with the owner directly,” he says. “That’s a big part of it. I get to know clients right from start-to-finish. I gain a deep understanding of their wants and dreams and what they want achieved by the end of the job.” And then he and his team actually achieve it – Darren says that’s also big part of what sets Titan Built apart, their ability to meet and exceed customer expectations in terms of quality. “We can do that because we do it all ourselves,” he explains. “We build every project from the ground up. We perform as much work as we can in-house. We employ the concrete guys, the framers, the insulators, the drywallers – everyone works for Titan.” Thoseemployees tendtobevery experienced, and the majority of them are longstanding. Some team members have actually been working with Darren for almost 15 years – several worked under him at his previous company, and later followed him over to Titan Built shortly after he struck out on his own. “So they only know how to do things my way,” Darren says, “and that means quality.” The company also invites their clients into the quality assurance process. Darren frequently invites clients onto the job site at various intervals to make sure they are satisfied. “Throughout the build, we make sure theyget thechance tocome in and do a walkthrough. After framing, we’ll ask them, ‘Does this bedroom look big enough?’ or ‘Does this walk-in closet look big enough?’ ‘Because now’s the time to move a wall or make some changes.’ And before the electrical is all put in, we get our clients to walk around with me and the electrician. Maybe they’ll want to move an outlet, or maybe they have something they want to make sure is lighted properly. There are numerous stages like that.” “And we don’t ultimately charge for those little changes,” Darren adds. “A lot of outfits will nickel and dime their clients and try to make a whole bunch of money that way. For us, it’s more about making sure the client is satisfied and happy.”
Sticking by suppliers Again, Titan Built Construction self-performs as much work as they can, which has a lot of advantages. For one, it means they can deliver jobs faster, as there are limited scheduling delays between construction ages. Also, it means the same crew is there the entire time – which means they are very familiar with the job, Darren explains, and can better catch inconsistencies or mistakes compared to subcontractors who are just their for their portion. That said, Titan Built does work with some subcontractors, and Darren says those relationships tend to be just as strong as the relationships with team members. “Most of those guys have been working with me ever since I was at my previous outfit,” he says. “I’ve known them for over 15 years. So they know the kind of quality I expect.” “And they’re the kind of people I can call and they’ll be there at FEBRUARY 2022
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a moment’s notice,” he adds. “They’ll step up and help me out. The same goes for my suppliers. I know they’ll stick by me, because they already have. When I started this company, I had $1,000 in my bank account. They allowed me to run up credit on my building supplies. They knew my integrity and they knew my reputation, and they had my back. That’s how Titan started. Those are the same people I’m working with today.” Titan Built experienced another bump when COVID hit, during the initial uncertainty of the pandemic when many clients decided to delay their jobs. Again, Darren recalls, his suppliers and subcontractors stood by him and helped him weather that storm. “It was almost like starting over,” he remembers. “We had the reputation and the clients, but we had no work. Still, the trades and suppliers stuck by me, and I can’t thank them enough – I just can’t.” “And I’d do the same for them,” he adds. “Our trades know they’ll always have a job with me.” Fortunately, since that momentary period of uncertainty, Titan Built has become busier than ever. They are now offered more jobs than they have time to take, so Darren is in the fortunate position of being able to be somewhat selective. When selecting, he reiterates that he looks less at the sector or size of the project and more at the client – he wants to work with people who share his values and who are as passionate about quality as him. Finding the right clients, Darren says, is more important than growing any larger as a company. “I believe in sticking to what you know, and if it’s not broke don’t fix it,” he says. “I think we’re at a good size right now. We bring a lot to the table. Our employees do an amazing job. We just want to keep them working – and ideally, we want them to be working on exciting, really high quality projects like they’re doing now. That’s our long-term vision.” FEBRUARY 2022
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on Titan Built Construction and their services, and to get in touch with Darren and his team, visit https://www.titanbuilt.ca/
Innovative and engaging design
MRA architecture + design is a full service, Montreal-based architectural firm defined by their experienced team, technical expertise, and creative know-how. Working from offices in the city’s historic Old Port District, they employ a staff of roughly 20 professionals of diverse backgrounds and experiences, including interior designers, architects, project managers, and architectural technologists. Together, they offer a comprehensive range of architectural services, and they have carried out a long list of high profile projects.
Since forming in 1996, MRA a+d has worked closely with a number of big-name clients, such as McDonald’s, Parkland (formerly CST/ Ultramar), Canadian Tire, and Énergir (formerly Gaz Metro). Additionally, the firm has also seen through a wide range of commercial, institutional, and residential projects at various scales – most notably the Montreal Ronald McDonald House and a day-care and community facility in PortCartier. What’s more, they have established a track record for carrying out projects remotely. In recent years, the firm has notably overseen multiple mandates in Ontario and in the Maritimes. According to Manon Renaud, Principal Architect, those kinds of clients choose MRA a+d for many reasons, but the biggest is their dedication to achieving their clients’ objectives. She says the firm is “wholly invested in the success of each project we undertake.” “We set ourselves apart thanks to a shared vision: innovative and engaging design, rigorous strategic thinking, total transparency, and a passion for trusted client relationships,” Manon says. “Driven by a deeply collaborative spirit and an utmost commitment to quality architecture and interior design, we pride ourselves on active THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA “We set ourselves apart thanks to a shared vision: innovative and engaging design, rigorous strategic thinking, total transparency, and a passion for trusted client relationships,” Manon says.
FEBRUARY 2022 involvement at every stage of the process, from a project’s inception all the way through to its successful completion,” she explains. “An integral and consistent focus on clients’ evolving needs and vision allows us to deliver bespoke solutions that meet their high expectations.” Also, over the years, MRA a+d has honed the ability to creatively manage projects and complete them within short time frames – “with each being a testament to our dedication and integrated design process,” Manon says. She believes clients are also drawn to the firm by that proven efficiency. Clients don’t just choose MRA a+d, however – MRA a+d also chooses their clients. These days, they look for clients who value creativity. They also look for clients who value energy-efficiency and social responsibility, as Manon and her team put a lot of thought into the long-term impact of what they design. “We take what we do to heart,” says Nepheli Alexandris, Creative Director. “Every project that we undertake, we consider the effect it’s going to have on the environment and the surrounding community.” In addition, MRA a+d looks for clients they can build long-term relationships with. According to Maxime Toussaint, Deputy Project Manager, repeat business is how the firm has lasted so long. They have been working with McDonald’s ever since the beginning of the company, for example, and many of the franchisees they have worked with have come to them to design their new homes and renovations. “Our goal is never just to work with a client once,” he says. “We want to build a relationship that’s going to last a long time. We want to stay involved with the client, even after the project is finished. If they have any questions, we’re here to answer them. We’re totally committed to listening to them and supporting them at every stage.”
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA MRA a+d earns that loyalty, Manon believes, by demonstrating that commitment on every single project, no matter the size or scope. “We take the same approach every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big project or a small project. Whoever approaches us, we give them and their project everything we’ve got. That’s in the DNA of our company.” “The big point of difference for our firm is our customer service,” says Linda Thériault, Executive Director. “I truly believe that. I truly believe we go above and beyond to service our customers.” “It’s never about our ego,” Maxime adds. “It’s always about the client first. It’s about making sure that they’re satisfied at the end of the process. If they are satisfied, we’ve done our job.” Again, the team stresses, their goal is to achieve that satisfaction on more innovative and creative projects. They believe MRA a+d is a great fit for those projects for the aforementioned reasons – including their consistent approach, their efficient delivery, and their commitment to quality – but also because of the dynamism and passion of their team. “We’re hungry for it,” Nepheli says. “We’veput together a really great team, and we’re all ready to apply all our knowledge and put together everything we’ve learned. We know that if we get the opportunity, we can prove ourselves – both in architecture and interior design, because we have amazing teams doing both.” In some ways, the firm has
FEBRUARY 2022 already proven themselves – for example, when they the Village des Écluses project. There, they designed an innovative “urban glamping” project to be located at the entrance to the Lachine Canal. That location is in a natural wind corridor, and MRA a+d’s design used the flowing wind as an inspiration for the shapes of the built environment. They competed against some very large firms to win that project, and Nepheli believes “our creative pushed us through.” (Unfortunately, the project was later abandoned by the client after many attempts to obtain the required financing.) MRA a+d’s creativity also placed them close to winning other innovative projects still in the concept stage, including Plaisance National Park and Parc Mohawk. They have also proven themselves on a diverse array of state-of-the-art projects that have been fully delivered, including the Renaud-Lépine House (a sustainable residential project), the Cassinc offices (a luxury commercial project), and CPE Touchatouille (a public project). The latter project, CPE Touchatouille, involved a booming area with many families that need a new day care in Port Cartier (‘CPE’ meaning Early Childhood Centre). The client wanted to serve more families by building new facilities for 80 additional children, and the new facilities – along with a family support and community centre – needed to be integrated to the existing building. They were able to purchase an old bowling alley that we were tasked to reimagine. We wanted to limit any demolition and use as much of the existing structure and building.
THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA That project presented three major challenges: an envelope consisting of exterior metal cladding with no opening save for the main entrance; the need to increase usable floor area within the limits of the existing envelope; and the Quebec Ministry of Family’s stringent policies and regulations. To solve those challenges, the MRA a+d team conducted a lot of research to find durable, affordable materials that met the rigorous needs of day care facilities (aswell as all associated laws and regulations regarding exterior/interior architecture) – while “still conveying something about the building’s purpose and elevating the end user’s experience,” Manon explains. Windows were cut out and siding was added to make the long empty facade more dynamic and luminous. Additionally, fenestration was designed to position windows at different heights in a given room, thus providing children of varying ages and heights the opportunity to look outside and connect with nature. A “childlike sense of playfulness” was also conjured up via a colour modulation of the siding. Another challenging project, a more recent one, would be the McDonald’s and PetroCanada outlet that the firm recently designed in Chelsea. The challenge there was the city had to sign off on the design, and they insisted that it respect the more “rural, village-like architecture” of the surrounding area with 2 clients that had very modern and corporate aesthetics. “That is definitely not the image of McDonald’s or PetroCanada,” Nepheli says. “It was a challenge for us to merge the two aesthetics together and come up with something that would satisfy the city, as well as McDonald’s and Petro-Canada. We had to come up with a brand new aesthetic.” “That’s something we’re very proud about,” she adds. “We came up with something that’s still very modern and very contemporary, while respecting the city’s demands .” Another interesting element of that project, was that the site was home to several historic barns. The city asked MRA a+d to maintain the materials of those barns. “That was challenging, but we were able to work with the contractors to come up with a way to refinish and reuse that existing barn-wood as an important cladding on the building. We’re seeing now that it’s led to a great result. The recycled wood looks amazing and rich.”
Reliable collaborators Over the years, MRA a+d has successfully carried out hundreds of projects, and they estimate they have just as many satisfied clients. Again, the team at MRA a+d credits that history of satisfaction to their consistent approach to design and their unwavering commitment to quality. At the same time, they also credit the firm’s depth of capabilities – they have more than 20 “resourceful and highly skilled employees,” they have an architecture department, an interior design department, a 3Dmodelling division, they have a proven track record in creative project management, they provide effective administrative support, and they have “many esteemed and reliable external collaborators who share that vision.” One such collaborator is WESCO – a globally-based, industry-leading, Fortune 500 company that specializes in electrical, communications, FEBRUARY 2022
utility distribution, and supply chain solutions. Their history in the industry dates back almost 100 years, they have developed relationships with thousands of reputable brands, and they have nearly 800 branches and warehouses worldwide. With their experience, capacity, and longstanding partnerships, they can ensure that their customers are serviced efficiently and consistently, wherever they are located. Their goal is always to provide customers with a full range of products, services, and solutions that keep their business running in top form and help them stay ahead of the competition. According to Manon, MRA a+d strives to form longstanding relationships with partners like WESCO, and historically, they have been very successful. She has personally been working with some of her consultants and vendors for more than 20 years. “We’ve worked with some of the same people since the beginning,” she says. “In a lot of cases, the only reason we made a change was because someone retired.” “We’re very loyal,” adds Linda. “We try to form longlasting relationships with our consultants and suppliers, just like we do with our clients.” In fact, when MRA a+d is bidding on a new project, they will very frequently go to their main consultants first and ask them to bid with them. “That’s because we already have a good synergy with those professionals,” Maxime explains. “The project can only benefit from us working together from the start. It can only turn out better.” THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA
MRA a+d strives to form similarly strong relationships with contractors. Most of the time, they don’t get to choose the builders they work with, but in all cases, they seek to collaborate closely and they strive to see things from the builders’ perspective. “We understand that they are the ones that are actually building our vision,” Nepheli says. “It’s one thing to imagine something on paper and build an amazing 3D rendering, it’s another thing to actually make it come to life – and builders are the people making it come to life. We recognize that, and we believe collaborating with them is the key to a great result .” “That’s why we try, when approved by the client, to be on site with them,” she continues. “If they have any questions, we want to be there to answer them.” “And we put a lot of time and effort into the quality control of our drawings,” Maxime adds. “We don’t want to leave things up to interpretation, and we want to limit change orders as much as we can. When the builders on site and delivering the project, we want to do our part to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.” FEBRUARY 2022