Since 1985, Ottawa-based GRC Architects has been a leader in architectural design-build, bringing the best in value to every client’s project. The company develops projects that meet client needs and identity delivered with quality and cost-conscious value. When working alongside GRC Architects, project delivery is all about the client.
“As a practice, we’ve been generalists since the beginning and that has allowed us to be more nimble,” John Cook, Founding Principal with GRC Architects, told The Canadian Business Journal. “We ventured early into design-build, including outside of Ottawa and for institutional clients. We’re interested in urban design and a variety of ways of looking at architectural practice.”
GRC Architects has a willingness and strong desire to work alongside clients that are building for their own use. Cook added, “It’s not a ready-made look; more something that is based on the project. There is a specific look at context and budget, but also a very significant and thoughtful consultation process that leads to building.”
In an effort to stabilize the effects of the global recession, in 2007 the Government of Canada created the Economic Action Plan to guide a strong financial path forward. The stimulus package freed up funding and encouraged companies to invest in their business and industry. GRC Architects, seeing its clients invest in new and upgraded facilities, proved to be a beneficiary.
One example of a GRC Architects project that was spurred by the stimulus funding was its assistance to Algonquin College for the development of the Centre for Construction Excellence at its Ottawa campus. Opening its doors in 2011, the facility achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation, the highest environmental sustainability standard.
The Algonquin College website reads, “[The Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence] brings the next generation of carpenters, plumbers, civil engineering technologists, interior designers, and many other trades and professions under a single, green roof in this one-of-a-kind living laboratory.”
Institutional and specialized projects like the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence highlights GRC Architects’ project portfolio, as the company often collaborates in this type of work, from community-based buildings, to public schools, paramedic facilities, recreational complexes, and more. Among these was the Ottawa Paramedic Service Headquarters, the city’s first LEED certified building. This design-build project has so successfully meet the needs of Ottawa’s emergency services that other municipalities are coming to review it.
“Our role with the Algonquin project, both with the trades centre and the new student commons, was to be the client’s advocate throughout the process,” Martin Tite, Principal at GRC Architects, said. “The team pulled together the program, interviewing all of the users in order to develop a building philosophy for the preliminary drawings that demonstrated that this could work. This served as the basis for the design-build proposal.”
The Algonquin project took the design-build philosophy to the next level. Design-build originated with technically-designed or simply-defined projects. It was critical for the Algonquin project to foster a design-build process that captured an educational energy and atmosphere, and was responsive to the prototype assembled and tested by GRC Architects.
“The new student commons is a major innovation for Algonquin,” Alex Leung, Principal at GRC Architects, added. “Algonquin never really had a lot of on-campus space for students and this now keeps students on campus offering a fuller campus experience. It pulls together all of the student services provided by the college.”
In recent years, the construction industry has emphasized LEED certification – building with a green, sustainable approach – something that is second nature at GRC Architects. Client interest in the sustainable dimension wasn’t as present a few years ago, but is now perceived as not only normal practice, but an expectation.
“This sustainable approach has led us into an integrated design process, where we collaborate with clients and engineers to come up with an integrated design,” Leung summarized. “A green building is indistinguishable from any other building, except it functions very energy efficiently. It’s very important to be seen as innovating.”