Architects Dale Staples and Duane Siegrist launched Integra Architecture in 1999. The two architects came together upon a shared belief in client-centered architecture solutions, and building longterm working relationships with its partners. The firm focuses on multi-family residential buildings, mixed-use projects, social housing and senior housing, renovations, working closely with construction firms and project stakeholders, delivering projects that are efficient and appreciated by their end-users. The company’s residential projects range anywhere from 20-unit residential units such as townhomes and apartment buildings all the way to larger commercial / residential mid-rise of concrete hirise and woodframe construction rezoning projects throughout British Columbia. The company has executed to completion projects as large as 400 residential units and the firm’s average project size ranges between 100 to 200 units.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Staples and Siegrist, the Principals of Integra Architecture, discussing the unique architectural approaches and client service used to successfully compete in their niche British Columbia market.
The company philosophy continues to revolve around client-centered architecture. As a result of focusing on clients’ needs, the company attracts new clients easily, and enjoys the indulgence of repeat clientele. Residential developers such as Adera, Ledingham McAllister, CitiMark and Regent International, VanMar Constructors, and non profit societies represented by CPA Development converted to the Integra project delivery approach, and became repeat clients.
“We work closely with our repeat and new clients and we also have good relationships and experience working with different municipalities, so the blend of good client relationships and thorough service is what makes us competitive,” says Staples.
While most of the company projects focus on new housing development, the company also offers an expertise in working with governments’ and non-profit societies’ public projects, such as social housing, senior housing, assisted living and senior complex care, and the firm worked on projects such as Richmond Housing and Community Services, Sunrise (Senior) Assisted Living, , and Lakeview Lodge Complex Care. “In regards to working with various societies, such as social housing, realizing their goals and requirements is a very rewarding challenge, because we see the outcome — benefiting the the delicate special needs of the society,” added Siegrist.
All these types of projects require working closely with various stakeholders during the projects’ development, working with their knowledgable staff and working in a way that satisfies the client as well as the end user. To create a successful design, Integra Architecture collaborates closely with the all project stakeholders and user groups during the design process. Integra also works together on contactor / architect “design/build” contracts.
“These projects have a strong drive towards servicing various stakeholders. We work with BC Housing, cost consultants, development managers and societies.
This relates directly into the stakeholder management through clear lines of communication. This is important due to the fact that these types of projects usually involve societies who are not necessarily very knowledgeable in how buildings work and the development process through to construction. We have to take the time and remind the clients through the whole of the process so they understand what’s necessary to achieve the end result,” says Siegrist.
The company’s favourite projects are the ones that present Integra’s dynamic team with a level of professional challenge. “We always strive for an initial strong functional statement serving the client’s need always provides an original design, but also creating thorough confident designs on paper — designs that resemble the final built design with little construction modifications. That’s what allows us to be competitive and creative at the same time,” says Siegrist.
Challenges are also coming to the firm from the development community and changes in marketplace. “The six-storey wood frame buildings are a relatively new form of development in the B.C. market. Until recently, the wooden frame buildings could not exceed four storeys. These projects come with the challenge of balancing an appealing aesthetic with the disciplined building form that is needed to meet the structural requirements,” says Staples.
The company is involved in two new residential six-storey wood frame projects currently under construction: The Dominion in New Westminster, and The Shore in North Vancouver. “Some see the wooden structure as easier-to-build solution that allows for faster construction, but there are challenges as to the design restrictions that come with using wood for these structures, and require thorough coordination. Streamlining the coordination is key to save time, and adding to the bottom line,” says Siegrist.
Over the years the firm received over two dozen awards for its work. Most recently the firm shelved 2012 District of North Vancouver Advisory Design Panel Award of Excellence for its Legacy Townhouses project, and the firm’s Seven 35 project received 2012 BC Georgie Awards – Most Sustainable and Innovative Community Award, 2012 Gold Nugget – Award of Merit Multi-Family Housing Project (over 50 dwelling unit per acre category), and 2012 Gold Nugget – Award of Merit Green Sustainable Residential Community.
Awards aside, Staples and Siegrist expect Integra Architecture to march on the road of success in the B.C. market. The firm continues to improve its service, enjoying providing quality design services using the latest (3D) design technologies. “We have an extensive experience with various building types. We enjoy what we do and whom we are working with. And having this experience allows us to enjoy our work even more,” concluded Siegrist.