Rafii Architects

Defining Downtown

Vancouver-based Rafii Architects is a leading architectural firm specializing in high-rise residential and mixed use buildings within urban centres. Serving the Greater Vancouver and Lower Mainland market, Rafii Architects was founded in 1983, and through its history has become an industry leader in urban development.

Led by Foad Rafii, Principal Architect, whose architectural work has been recognized for shaping modern day Vancouver, the company was one of the first to build in the new downtown south. Following the municipal rezoning in Vancouver, Rafii Architects has completed several high-rise tower projects in the downtown south borough, while the firm has become a trend-setter in developing downtown living spaces. In fact, the headquarters of Rafii Architects was one of the initial occupants of the picturesque North Shore of False Creek community, now one of the most sought after areas in the central hub of British Columbia.

While primarily operating in the Greater Vancouver market, over the years the company and its team of seven registered architects has grown its reach and development expertise to projects on Vancouver Island, as well as Calgary and an award-winning point tower development in Austin, Texas.

Mixed Use Developments

In 2006, Rafii Architects completed one of its most notable projects to date, the Paramount Place, a 24-storey mixed use development that encompasses 460 condominium units, several restaurants, nine movie theatres, plus commercial/retail space. Concentrating on mixed use urban residential projects, Rafii Architects has developed key relationships across the development and construction sector where its reputation is known to both developers and clients as experts in residential high-rise buildings.
“We don’t have a marketing team; all of our projects come from repeat clients and from word of mouth,” Rafii told The Canadian Business Journal. “All of our jobs come to our office without our solicitation. It shows that developers understand the way that we work. We consider ourselves a competent company in doing business for developers because we understand the market and the ins and outs of residential and mixed-use projects. That’s the reason why we are busy.

“Our understanding is of the nature of building. We believe that we understand things better because we do not operate only to our own satisfaction and to the satisfaction of our peers. We have always tried to achieve the goal that a project is successful if there are three parties happy at the end of the day: the client, the end user, and ourselves.”

LEED Certification

Making its mark in sustainability, Rafii Architects was the designer of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certified residential tower in Canada, with the POMARIA project, built in downtown Vancouver. Recognizing the industry push and client demand toward buildings that are more environmentally friendly, Rafii Architects has been responsive toward this effort.
Nowadays, LEED certification is an assumed component of any development, and most projects within the rezoned new areas of Vancouver require LEED Gold Certification. All projects are based on sustainability principles and incorporate measures such as harvested rainwater for reuse and solar panels to create renewable energy or various other green initiatives.

“We do all projects based on these regulations, but rather than mandating every project for LEED Gold, I would prefer that these sustainability measures be put into the bylaws,” Rafii commented. “If they want every project to have LEED certification, then it should become part of the building bylaw. Then, we can build to that standard, rather than build it first and hope it gets certification.”
In terms of its future vision, Rafii Architects also recognizes its own sustainability as an organization. While it sees growth on the road ahead, the company will continue to emphasize sustainable growth, as it develops and expands in a manner that allows for its continued success.

“We have been doing something right, and we plan to do the same moving forward. We are not planning any changes in our strategies or the size of our office, as this allows us to have a hands-on approach for every project,” Rafii concluded. “I don’t want the company to become so big that I don’t know what is happening in the office. I am personally involved with every single project and involved with the clients, and that has been a determining factor for our success.”