Getting to Know Curtis Knichel

Curtis Knichel is an architect who has been with HDR | CEI since 2008. Working from the Victoria office, he has led projects in many sectors—he’s currently working on several interesting residential projects on Vancouver Island.

What are you working on right now?

Primarily multi-family residential projects here in Victoria. We have three projects in construction, and recently submitted another for rezoning and a development permit, and we’re finishing contract documents on another.

The projects include 1075 Pandora, which is nearing completion. It’s a 13-storey, 134-unit residential rental building. This project is quite unique. The building is divided into three blocks that are separated by a T-shaped breezeway to provide for natural ventilation of the common areas and cross ventilation of the individual units—a primary program requirement of the developer. Suspended walkways will provide access to individual suites on each floor.

The voids between these bridges allow for visual connection between floors. The building

will have three separate outdoor gathering spaces for the residents: an 11th floor, south-facing patio and a children’s play area and art lounge on the second floor. The art lounge will have a stair leading directly to the street and green space along Pandora Ave.

We’re also working on:

  • 989 Victoria, which is located at 989 Johnson Street. It’s a 17-storey, 205-unit residential building that’s under construction.
  • OTTO, a 59-unit wood-frame building that’s under construction in Saanich.
  • 1088 Johnson, a 10-storey, 37-unit strata building in the contract document phase.
  • 932 Pandora, a 150-unit building in the rezoning and development permit phase.

What got you interested in architecture?

Probably my Lego blocks. As a child I would construct the shell of buildings and explain to everyone in great detail how the inside of the building worked. It was inevitable that I would become an architect.

How long have you been with HDR | CEI?

I was hired in 2008, so I’m in my 10th year.

What’s it like working in Victoria?

I enjoy living and working in Victoria. It’s a very community-based city. People are very friendly and personable. The city is growing and evolving, and HDR | CEI has the opportunity to help shape its future. That’s very exciting.

Have you always lived there?

No. I’m a prairie boy. I grew up in Edmonton and studied Architecture in Manitoba. After that I lived in Montreal before moving to B.C. I lived in Vancouver before Victoria.

What types of projects do you most enjoy?

I like working on all building types. For the past five years, I have primarily worked on residential projects, which I quite enjoy. There is a fair bit of freedom with this building type so one can have some fun with the form. There’s a lot of competition in the marketplace, so you have to be budget conscious for the developer, but at the same time you also need to be creative to help the project stand out.

Is it about the project type or the client?

Both. It is up to us what we make of a particular project. The client will play a role in the outcome and success of it, and it’s up to us to engage the client and understand their objectives. Collaboration is essential, and realizing their vision is the end goal.

What do you do in your space time?

What spare time?

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