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IBI Group’s highrises awarded for design excellence

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IBI Group has been recognized for incorporating unique architectural and urban design elements in four Canadian highrise mixed-use projects.

The global architecture, engineering, planning and technology firm headquartered in Toronto recently won a number of awards from local design institutes and organizations for designing L’Avenue in Montreal; Minto Yorkville Park in Toronto; One Pacific in Vancouver; and Trapp+Holbrook in New Westminster, B.C.

Broccolini’s L’Avenue project in Montreal was awarded the INOVA award by the Quebec Urban Design Institute for best multiuse residential over $50 million. The 50-storey, mixed-use tower, which is nearing completion, is slated to be the tallest residential building in the city.

"It’s a really beautiful building that has made a real impact on the Montreal skyline," explained Mansoor Kazerouni, a director with IBI Group. "Our concept there was to create what I call a contemporary interpretation of a traditional New York City tower that tapers as it approaches the sky and has a very distinctive top that’s highly recognizable in the Montreal skyline."

In terms of its use, the project incorporates retail at grade and has a seven-storey podium that includes office uses and a grocery store. An amenity deck on the roof of the podium features an indoor/outdoor pool, with 40-plus floors of residential units rising above it.

"It has this really sculptural quality to it that makes it stand out above everything else around it," said Kazerouni.

Minto Yorkville Park, a 26-storey building currently under construction in Yorkville’s historic village in downtown Toronto, received an award of distinction from the Ontario Home Builders’ Association for most outstanding highrise over 11 storeys.

"It was an interesting design approach where at grade we wanted to create a very sophisticated retail storefront base which responds to the character of the village and also the high-end shops and retail establishments that line Yorkville and Cumberland (Street)," said Kazerouni.

The property presented a unique challenge to incorporate urban aspects of the city as well as the park, a green oasis in the heart of Yorkville.

"Architecturally, we decided to respond to both contexts," said Kazerouni. "We’ve got this very octagonal, strong edge on the east side that responds to the more urban context and on the other side we’ve got a soft, organic form that responds to the park and gives it a veil-like quality. It’s a building that really emerges, in terms of its architectural expression, right out of the context that it sits in."

Concord Pacific’s One Pacific project in Vancouver won best urban highrise and a readers’ choice award from the Pacific Region Urban Development Institute. The 20-storey building includes 40,000 square feet of commercial space on the first two floors and 435 condo suites above.

"It functions as the entrance to downtown from the Cambie Street Bridge," explained Jeff Christianson, a studio principal with IBI Group. "It’s part of a development that will be on both sides of the bridge. Both have a serpentine quality against the bridge that will invite people into downtown Vancouver."

The building also includes unique design features, he said.

"The project has an amenity feature on the third floor and on the roof that includes a swimming pool that cantilevers over a plaza," explained Christianson.

"The amenity area acts as an opening through the building from the bridge side to the front entrance on Smithe Street. There’s kind of a glass hole through the building that ties both sides of the project together."

The project was technical in nature and presented some logistical challenges.

"It was quite a long process to go through from rezoning to construction and dealing with the very public nature of the site," Christianson noted. "It’s surrounded on all sides by major streets in Vancouver and also bound by a view corridor that preserves views from the Cambie Street Bridge towards Grouse Mountain. The view corridor constricted the height the building could be. The form, in many ways, responds to those external conditions."

Quite a bit of the site is also dedicated to urban infrastructure, Christianson explained.

"So the project is quite dense in its form because we were trying to maintain the density allowed to be built on the site for our client and also respond to the conditions of the urban nature of the site, including adding bike and pedestrian paths along the bridge, making allowances for a possible future streetcar route along Pacific Boulevard and a new street between our building and a new hotel and casino project across the street," he said.

Mixing old and new, The Salient Group’s Trapp+Holbrook won an Urban Development Institute award for excellence in heritage design for preserving two historic facades in New Westminster’s downtown core.

"It’s located on the main street of New Westminster, one of the most historical communities in the Lower Mainland," explained Christianson. "It incorporates two original facades from the street and the commercial functions at grade and adds on a larger development that respects the makeup of the existing buildings and adds a density that should enliven the community."

"It brings commercial activity to Columbia Street but at the same time it introduces new residential units and creates a very vibrant, very walkable, transit-connected, mixed-use community that’s undoubtedly going to contribute to the reemergence of downtown New Westminster," added Kazerouni.

While the firm is honoured to receive the awards, overall it is even more proud of designing significant projects that contribute to the success of communities, said Kazerouni.

"There is a consistent desire across the firm to strive for excellence and in many instances they do get recognized and we see that as a validation of our efforts," he said. "We don’t work simply to do awards, we work to create projects that contribute to the success of the community and the cities in which they exist and when that does get recognized it just adds to the sense of achievement associated with those projects."

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