PBK Architects Inc.

Global Solutions in Design
PBK Architects Inc., a member of engineering consulting firm GENIVAR Inc., is going through an exciting evolution. The Canadian architecture firm, which was originally founded in the 1960s as an affiliate of Phillips Barrett Engineers, has grown into a leading national firm with a focus on local clientele and sector based expertise. 
PBK Architects formed a strategic partnership with GENIVAR in 2007, which has afforded PBK an affiliation with GENIVAR’s considerable network of other architecture firms and engineering offices, which includes Smith Carter Architects in Winnipeg, Manitoba The Arcop Group in Montreal, Quebec, WHW Architects in Halifax, Nova Scotia, AEC in St. John’s Newfoundland and N46 Architecture in Charlottetown, PEI, to form an overall architectural group of approximately 400 architects in 11 offices from coast to coast.
Currently PBK’s senior management team focuses on how to strategically leverage its network to increase expertise and create best practises for a single unified entity. The possible synergies from PBK’s strategic partnerships are enormous and are already providing opportunities for PBK and its partners to better serve its diverse client roster.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with PBK Architects President and Managing Principal, Elisa Brandts, about this exciting time for PBK. “One of the benefits of PBK’s various partners is it provides a broad geographic coverage and has allowed the company to diversify market sectors,” said Brandts.
PBK traditionally has been very strong in sports, recreation and multi-purpose spectator venues across Canada, such as the Abbottsford Sport and Entertainment Centre in British Columbia and the 16 Mile Arena in Ontario, as well as in transportation and transportation-related fixed facilities and infrastructure projects (this includes everything from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and the Canada Line Transit system in Vancouver,  to a large transit maintenance facility for York Region ,Ontario).
“Our new partners have well established expertise and portfolios in the science and laboratory, and security and defense sectors,” said Brandts, citing Smith Carter’s core strength in those practice areas. Arcop brings a well -established global portfolio in hospitality and commercial projects, airport work and restoration, and WHW’s and its Atlantic Canada partners portfolio includes a broad range of public buildings including municipal buildings, schools, sports and recreation venues, and healthcare facilities.
“Our ability to collaborate and partner with each other as well as other Architecture and Engineering  firms, whether they are in Canada, the U.S.A, or internationally is a successful differentiator. That is one of the advantages we bring – not only a very broad skill set and strong core sector expertise, but a capability and mindset to be able to partner well with other firms including design-build and P3 partners.” These strategic partnerships are all driven by the needs of the Client and the demands of each particular project.
Major Projects
Partnered with Parsons Brinkerhoff and GENIVAR, PBK Architects is the fixed facilities lead on the owner/advocate general engineering consultant team for the Waterloo Light Rapid Transit project, a new street running rapid transit system between Waterloo and Cambridge, Ont. “We are providing technical review services, concept design, review of the Request for Proposal, technical reviews of the project, and the technical support team as a member of the larger team for the Region of Waterloo,” said Brandts.
PBK has just completed the design of a 5,000 seat multi-purpose event centre in St. Catharines, Ont.  with Ball Construction, and this summer won a similar $60 million, 7,000 seat multi-purpose event centre in Medicine Hat, Alberta with PCL Construction.
PBK is also designing the Viva Bus Operations, Maintenance & Storage facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The facility will accommodate 250 articulated buses and 430 employee and visitor parking spaces. The project is being delivered through Design Build with PCL Construction for the Region of York, and will be pursuing LEED Silver certification.
“The Viva Bus Operation project is another example of where we were able to bring in some of the technical skill set from our Winnipeg and Vancouver offices,” said Brandts, “Synergies resulting from these offices allows us to respond to large-scale, fast-track projects quickly because we have resources that can work together effectively. That proved very successful on the Viva project where we needed to meet an aggressive delivery  schedule for a large and complex project.”
Because of PBK’s depth in these types of facilities and experience in PPP and Design Build projects, the firm is able to either team up with a proponent to pursue the project delivery or support the Client as a technical expert as an owner advocate.
PBK is poised for another successful chapter in its ongoing legacy as a dynamic architecture firm. By aligning with GENIVAR and its affiliates, PBK brings out the best of the existing firms and highlights their strategic strength without it becoming diluted.
“We have a mindset to be creative, agile and entrepreneurial so we are able to meet diverse Client needs in a rapidly changing economic and built environment. This includes a focus on sustainable design, BIM and different delivery methods including emerging approaches such as integrated project delivery,” said Brandts.
“Being larger and operating nationally in a number of significant sectors doesn’t mean the firm needs to become a large bureaucratic machine. We are committed to proving excellent design which is responsive to Clients’ needs and enhances the experience we have with our built environment.”