Excellent condo building design starts with an excellent team of architects, and our team is WA Architects Ltd. serving Vancouver and Victoria. Their tag line ”Architecture Made Personal” encompasses their vision of fostering good relationships as a foundation of great design.
“We make a great impression. And so do our buildings.”
David Echaiz-McGrath is one of the four Principals of WA. Better residential architecture is his journey and his obsession, which started with Environmental Design from University of Manitoba, then Architecture from Carlton University. He moved around a lot in his early days as an architect; Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary then down to San Francisco during the dot-com boom.
How and when did you join WA?
“I went looking for a good firm where I could influence and make an impact in design,” says David. “After I moved back to Canada, I found WA, staked my claim in the office and learned a great deal from Neil Banich, our Design Director. I’ve been with them for over 15 years now.”
When he joined WA, the company’s primary focus at the time was shopping malls and commercial real estate. Less than five percent of their portfolio was residential.
“The experience and contacts I brought in helped us to refocus on residential,” he says, and he went to work building up their mixed-use commercial and residential portfolio.
He also brought innovative technological improvements, such as setting up a hub intranet for WA. “Kind of like an Instagram for architects and technologists,” laughs David.
Eventually, the went through a full rebranding, which included a review of their guiding principals and their evolving company identity. They became WA – an acknowledgement of their predecessor, Jim Wensley. They set out to design communities, not just buildings, and they established a strong and healthy company culture.
“We play hard, but we also work hard. That’s our office culture. We need to know people fit in the office, but they also need to have a life and outside interests to sustain them.”
How Did WA get involved with Triple Crown?
Wensley Architecture Ltd. has worked with Cliff Curtis and Stu Gordon for years. We’ve built a strong working relationship but also have become friends. Cliff and Stu’s business venture with Kent Sheldrake and Kevin Parker provided the opportunity for us to work with these gents. We found out quickly that their development/design process worked well with ours. It’s been a fortunate and rewarding relationship.
David and WA (Neil Banich was very much involved in the initial design) enjoyed the collaborative process of designing Triple Crown Community. “I appreciate their openness to discussion about the criteria. They had a vision, but it was a collaboration and discussion. They respect design. They knew how important it was for their final product.”
“They are businessmen for sure. They know what they want to do, they know how to approach it, and they let us do what we do; what we are specialized in.”
“It’s great to have clients that buy into designing a community. They don’t just gloss over the planning process to get to the work. They were totally into planning.”
“And they are fun guys to socialize with,” laughs David.
How do you approach design?
“We stay curious, and we respect what people have to say. A lot of our staff are into sustainability and into the wellness buildings. We like to design it in a way that will encourage happenstance meetings. Security is more than lock and key. It has to do with knowing your neighbours and knowing your surroundings.”
Is there a way to design a condo building so it feels more secure and friendly?
“Absolutely. Especially when you’re introducing things like common courtyards and outdoor seating spaces, a fitness studio, or a multi-purpose room. Things like this where people will have to bump into each other, working out, walking their dog. That means more eyes on the plaza and more people you know.”
“How a community is organized and how tenants inhabit a space are important considerations for a real community. We work to implement community mindedness from the beginning along with more pragmatic issues such as FSR setbacks and building height. They are all important aspect of our profession.”
What do you like most about Triple Crown’s design?
“The modern ascetic,” says David.
“Another reason I like Triple Crown so much is because it is a community within a community. I’m always assessing buildings as I drive by. A lot of times, I’ll say ‘wow, that’s beautiful’, but then I find out it’s just a residential building and there is nothing else to it. I think that’s a bit of a miss when it comes to developments.”
“Triple Crown Community has everything to offer: Fitness centers, mixed use rooms, commercial and retail spaces. It’s not just a condo building. It has much more to it.”
Learn more about Triple Crown by contacting Todd Mahovlich or Justine Connor.