Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd.

Developing Winnipeg’s urban landscape for more than 60 years

Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd is a Winnipeg-based consulting engineering firm that has earned an outstanding nationwide reputation for its skillful application of structural engineering principles in unison with top-quality, cost effective and durable solutions throughout more than 60 years in business.

The company was founded in 1954 by Arnold Crosier whose first job was to design a fence around a Winnipeg drive-in theatre. From there Crosier went on to establish a company that has played a leading role in the development of the Winnipeg landscape for decades.

In 1976 the company became known as Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd. The lengthy list of portfolio projects that have been developed through the years are far too many to mention, but some of the more notable and prominent structures include Manitoba Hydro’s new downtown headquarters, the redevelopment of the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba, the MTS Centre, which is home to the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, Shaw Park, the recladding of the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the renovation of Winnipeg’s Millennium Library.

The Canadian Business Journal recently spoke with two of the company’s senior executives, President John Wells and Vice President Tom Malkiewicz, about the firm’s storied history and ongoing success in the marketplace.

Heading into 2018 there are currently 10 partners, 18 engineers and a full staff of about 60 people, including technologists and support staff. The company is licenced to practice in all provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec. Due to the outstanding legacy brought forth through the many successful projects there has never been a desire to contemplate a corporate name change.

“We had a marketing consultant work with us on the corporate brand and decided to trademark the name Crosier Kilgour & Partners,” says Wells.

The primary focus of attention for the firm is to concentrate on the Greater Winnipeg area, however, the company does continue to develop projects throughout western Canada as well as northwestern Ontario and the Arctic. In the late 1980s the company started to develop specialization in concrete and structural restoration as part of its core portfolio of services.

“It was developed by our past president Kelly Hearson. My research thesis was on concrete durability so Kelly and I really worked hard in advancing the investigation and restoration of buildings components. Since the 1990s that segment of our work has increased significantly and also includes such things as cladding, penetration and roofing,” says Wells.

Team members at Crosier Kilgour & Partners bring an in-depth pride in the special relationships that are established with clients. It’s an engineering company that collectively holds a distinctly dynamic personality and fresh perspective on architecture. It is evident in speaking with both Wells and Malkiewicz that the company fosters an open, friendly, light-hearted atmosphere while maintaining a high level of professionalism and proficiency to ensure 100% client satisfaction.

“We enjoy the work we do and that shines through in terms of the company’s culture and what we bring to a particular project,” says Wells.

The enjoyment at work includes researching and investigating new opportunities not only in terms of what the company can do in the marketplace but also in coming up with answers for innovative structural systems and solutions for each and every situation.

“We have a very solid core of very talented people. They are regularly attending conferences and seminars in order to ensure that we are at the forefront of our structural design and building envelope system consulting,” says Malkiewicz

“We have a very deep bench,” adds Wells. “That was actually a term put to us by one of our architectural clients. We have principals that specialize in state-of-the-art wood design systems using advanced materials and we have engineers that specialize in various areas including structural steel, reinforced concrete and seismic design. We have a tremendous amount of depth in the skillsets required to address a multitude of different projects.”

Suffice to say there are simply far too many successful projects completed by Crosier Kilgour & Partners to highlight them all, but there are a few that still tend to stand out. On the new design side, Manitoba Hydro’s downtown magnificent office building often comes to mind.

“The entire design and construction process was quite something; to have everyone working together to create a facility that is world-renowned for the energy savings that are obtained and the work environment – the natural lighting and ventilation. Luckily enough it’s right across the street from us, so I get to look at it every day,” Malkiewicz proudly says.

On the restoration side Wells points to the Workers’ Compensation Building, a post-modern state-of-the-art structure that was clad in black granite with a light-safety problem with the granite cladding panels that were in danger of falling off the building.

“We developed a design that brought the building envelope up to current code requirements. We also developed a system enabling reuse of every granite panel. That was quite unique because it saved having to put 500 tons of granite in the landfill,” notes Wells.

Another project that is near and dear to the hearts of both Wells and Malkiewicz – and is now nearing completion – is at 360 Main Street and will undoubtedly change the appearance of the downtown.

“The conversion of the refurbishment of the curtain-wall system in the 1990s to a state-of-the-art dual structural silicone glazed curtain wall, we’ve substantially increased the energy efficiency of that building while working with the architect to radically change that landmark at the corner of Portage and Main,” says Wells.

About 75% of the current portfolio projects are located in Manitoba with the remaining 25% being spread throughout other regions. In an industry where innovative new practices and methodologies are always being introduced it comes as no surprise that continuous emerging technology plays a crucial role in every project, including production timelines.

“Many of the analysis programs being developed nowadays are all starting to mesh together so you can combine them much more now. We send a lot of our people out for training. So, on the restoration side we’ve got thermal imaging capabilities,” says Malkiewicz.

“We are leaders at highly-efficient window and wall systems to optimize the type and level of installation for buildings in our climate. Advanced computer modelling is being used and will continue to grow in terms of the technology and the analytical tools,” says Wells.

Quite notably both Wells and Malkiewicz often refer to the hard work and dedication of the employees as to why the company has garnered so much success. There is an undeniable depth of knowledge and an open-door policy within the company whereby fresh ideas can be freely shared amongst one another, which helps to set the tone for a productive, positive environment. And on the topic of the global environment, there is a sincere dedication to sustainable practices on each and every project. When LEED first gained traction Crosier Kilgour and Partners had one of the very first structural engineers who was registered in the LEED program, and it happened to be Malkiewicz.

“We offer things like recycled materials and our understanding of the industry when it comes to construction and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and that all plays into the overall success of the overall project. When you are involved in many different projects you learn a lot from other trades and consultants, which you can then share on the next project. You share that with others,” he says.

On the restoration side it’s about proper recycling and the reuse of materials whenever appropriate. As an example, if Crosier Kilgour & Partners has the job of replacing an entire building facade they take it upon themselves to determine the best method for handling the recycling of the materials that are to be taken away. At 360 Main Street in the downtown core there was about 220,000 square feet of eight-inch aluminum that had to be properly discarded. It was written in the contract that the aluminum would be recycled and the credit for that material went back into the project.

It is also a great source of pride for both Wells and Malkiewicz to see that the employees at Crosier Kilgour & Partners is committed to being such excellent ambassadors within the community, many of whom are involved with a number of charitable causes, including Habitat for Humanity. The company is also a major donor to the Health Science Centre.

“We have also made a five-year commitment to the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba,” says Malkiewicz.

Wells personally volunteers his time for the National Building Code of Canada while Malkiewicz has provided many hours of his own time serving on the board for The Dream Factory – a local children’s charity.

“We always encourage our staff to get involved in the community. A number of us get involved on a professional level in volunteering our time to the Engineering Geoscientists of Manitoba,” says Wells.

There are many current exciting projects on the docket at Crosier Kilgour & Partners, including the design of an expanded Red River College campus and the development of a new 42-storey building at 300 Main Street that is certain to aesthetically redefine the entire downtown skyline.

Looking to the future, the plan is to continue forging ahead with the same dedication and passion that has taken the company to where it is today.

“My goal is to continue working closely with our clients to realize their projects,” says Wells.

“We enjoy working with all of our clients and we want to maintain those excellent relationships,” concludes Malkiewicz.