Engineered Assemblies has established itself as an innovative leader within the Canadian and North American markets since 2007. It was founded to bring innovative building envelope solutions to architects and builders, bridging design with efficiency, and offering architects the opportunity to create distinctive designs for all types of projects including infrastructure, commercial, institutional, and custom houses projects.
The Toronto-based company provides architectural building product solutions that truly contribute to the vision of the architect. It offers design support for the complete system, engineered shop drawings and site observation for general compliance with manufacturers’ instructions. EA partners with installers, including Praxy Cladding, to bring the whole job together to a successful result. The company takes a partnership approach, always working toward solutions.
The Canadian Business Journal recently spoke with Vice President and General Manager Blair Davies, PEng. about the importance of inspiring, innovative architecture and how the company is constantly striving to help architects design and construct top-tier buildings through its leadership and expertise in façade and daylighting.
Committed to innovative, inspiring architecture
Engineered Assemblies helps architects build what Davies calls “brilliant buildings™” because, he says great architecture influences how people operate in society—affecting their level of optimism, productivity, and positive decision making. “Good architecture, or inspiring architecture, and well-constructed architecture, helps us all,” he says. “Architecture needs to be more important in society. Inspiring buildings need to be in the environment, so when you walk along the street or drive along the highway, it’s brilliant and beautiful.”
Better and more creative design doesn’t have to cost more either. As Davies explains, good design actually costs less: “If it is constructible and inspiring—it brings together people—then, in my experience, they tend to get built better, faster and people are happier with them. And that costs less,” he says. “The buildings that aren’t inspiring; they aren’t constructible, cost a lot because, although the lower bid guy might have won it, there’s going to be all these extras and there’s going to be repairs and buildings are going to leak or they’re not going to perform or they are going to be cold or going to use up a lot energy. And people will pay the price for that set of decisions.”
This attraction to innovative, inspiring architecture is why the company partners with architects that have a unique vision and push the envelope with their design. Its philosophy of uniting the house of design with the field of construction means bringing together a process from design to supply to installation, delivering to the closest intent what the architect has in mind for the building.
Modern projects with unique materials
Driving the success behind the company’s expansive list of projects is a team with expertise in rear ventilated rain screen façades, metal roofing and leading designs in daylighting systems. Over the years, Engineered Assemblies has contributed to award-winning, environmentally conscious projects. Some of these include the Vancouver Island Regional Library and the St. Victor School in Mattawa, Ontario. The projects are examples of Engineered Assemblies’ philosophy of helping provide superior products to architects with unique design ideas.
The Vancouver Island Regional Library by Low Hammond Rowe Architects, was nominated for the ArchDaily Builidng of the Year Award 2016. On this project, Engineered Assemblies provided EQUITONE [natura] Fibre Cement Façade, combing face-fastened large and small EQUITONE panels with an anti-graffiti coating. The building design was inspired by the majestic trees that surround the site and constructed to embrace a connection to nature by capturing the filtered daylight deep into the heart of the building.
The St. Victor School designed was inspired by the rich history of Mattawa’s wood. The wood played an important role in choosing the building material for the project. A structure with high visibility, Laroque Elder Architects Inc. elevated the traditional look of a school, creating a warm and welcoming environment. Engineered Assemblies provided Parlex as the main exterior cladding product because of the authentic look and natural beauty of real wood.
“We sure enjoy when somebody starts drawing something that’s different,” says Davies. “Both John and myself and a number of the other staff, we relish those things that make the day interesting.”
The company’s façades provide superior moisture management, thermal performance and offer the opportunity for unique aesthetics that have been highly sought after by architects. The modern façade materials include fibre cement, ceramic, porcelain, phenolic and wood veneer phenolic in addition to unique metals like, zinc, copper, stainless steel The building envelope represents the personality and the brand of every building, and the premise of Engineered Assemblies’ unique service in the façade business starts with the empathy for the architect’s process and vision, fusing this vision with the practicality and efficiencies required by the builders.
A unique approach in the industry
On top of providing products that “make something look really cool,” Davies says the company combines these products with technical know-how. “We really understand the implementation of our products. Most of the products, except the couple we invented, are from other companies. Mostly from Europe and a little bit from the United States. But we really understand the technology and the construction of these products.”
Like the architects who constantly strive to design creative architecture, Engineered Assemblies matches that drive with what Davies describes as the company’s constant effort to better itself. “We try to get better all the time. Never resting on our laurels. Caring. Always trying to attract new people. Never afraid to challenge ourselves.”
This constant striving includes what Davies describes as a ‘hands on approach’ to each project. “Nobody spends the time we do on the projects,” he says. “And then nobody earns what we earn for having done what we do. We get more work. We usually get higher prices. We kind of bring it upon ourselves to be so involved.”
Davies attributes the company’s continuing success to a new strategy the involves listening to the client about products, price point and types of buildings. “We listen to our clients and they tell us what we need. That means our clients start telling us what products to have, what price point you need to be at, what kind of buildings you’re going to build. And your job, is not to go predict anything, your job is just to listen really, really, really well,” he explains.