Parkin Architects Limited

Challenging the Institutional Space

Parkin Architects Limited focuses on designing and building public buildings such as hospitals, libraries, schools, fire stations and anything in between. Offering services since 1940’s, the company has participated in over 1,000 projects in the past decade alone, and employs well over 100 experienced architects, designers, project managers, and staff.

Parkin Architects focuses on providing services in institutional architecture, offering the experience of working with user groups that work in public institutions.

Opposed to office buildings, which are not public buildings and where an architectural company simply works with one client, public building architecture needs to serve the public, and the architect needs to take into account the needs of the users.

Harland Lindsay, Director at Parkin Architects, told The Canadian Business Journal, “While the general public understanding of architects being ‘people who design pretty buildings’, the challenge of institutional architecture is to provide buildings that work for staff and users. These buildings need to be as efficient for staff as they need to be comfortable and pleasant. The buildings also need to minimize the amount of labour such as walking for the users. To do this, we need to know how buildings work on a day-to-day, operational basis, whether it’s a library or a hockey arena. Our firm has spent long hours in public buildings, watching, listening and learning how these buildings and their users operate, and we work to improve these spaces so the users can be better administrators, better nurses, better physicians, and so on.”

To design an efficient public building, Parkin Architects often has to work with 40 to 50 user groups on any given project. Parkin Architects offers its clients the confidence of exceptional service supported by some 70 years of experience that allow the architects to work with the user groups efficiently, and offer alternative solutions to create required building efficiencies. “We need to work with the user groups effectively and efficiently. To do this, we listen to what the user groups think they want and need, and a big part of the challenge is to engage these groups and make them aware that we understand their business, and that we are able to offer alternatives that may address these needs better.” The most rewarding projects for Parkin Architects are the ones where the company works with clients who are willing to work with the company on addressing the user group needs and efficiencies, rather than demanding what they think they want.

Parkin Architects Projects

Brampton Civic Hospital represents one of company’s notable milestone projects. Valued around $1 billion, the project was its first built under Alternative Funding Procurement (AFP) – a project financed by a third party, usually a consortium, which might usually be the builder. Under this form of funding, the overall approach to the project changes for the architects as they do not answer directly to the users and the ultimate building owner, but rather to the contractors forming a part of the consortia. “In regular funding we are employed by the owner, (say a hospital), develop designs and have contractors bidding on the construction price and the project. Under the AFP, we do not represent the interests of the hospital directly, rather the interests of the contractor or the developer.” Since this project, the company has seen a rise in such third party funded projects in construction of institutional buildings across Canada.

“Other interesting projects on which we have worked are a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital at the University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. We were very pleased to be hired for the project, beating our American competition. The unit is very innovative, children oriented, with 40 private rooms, and it’s a gem of a building in regards to usability as well as the exterior design.”

In a joint venture with Smith Carter, Parkin Architects led the inner functional design of the Women and Newborn Hospital in Winnipeg. With the intention to redefine what a hospital can mean to patients, staff, and the community, the facility sets the standard in healthcare for leading-edge, energy-efficient and high-performance design, targeting LEED Gold certification.

Parkin Architects has received an avalanche of awards. The most recent include: 2011 International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA), President’s Award; Team Award (Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations (UNDPKO)); 2010 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, (in Association with Smith Carter Architects) Women and Newborn Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Design & Health International Academy’s 2010 International Interior Design High Commendation, (in Association with Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions); Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University Hospitals in Cleveland; and the list goes on.

While Parkin has participated in thousands of projects over the years, Lindsay says that the firm enjoys projects that offer a degree of challenge, some of which are located in northern Canada. “What I find interesting is the challenge to the building sciences, because building and maintaining buildings in this severe climate is very different and much more challenging.” The company recently built a Rankin Inlet Correctional Centre, and also designed hospital renovations in Iqaluit.

Experienced in working with user groups in public buildings, Parkin Architects represent the pinnacle of Canadian institutional architecture. The company’s designs receive attention from the architectural community, as well as gratitude of those who use these buildings and who can better serve the public through Parkin’s efficient, intuitive, and pleasing design.