Getting to know Greg Fenske

Greg Fenske is an architectural technologist who joined HDR | CEI in July. Greg recently returned to Vancouver after a six-year stint in Montreal, where he worked for Cannon Design and NEUF architects on the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, or CHUM. We caught up with Greg to learn more about his background and interests.

What drew you to architecture and working as a technologist?

The drawing element of architecture was first thing that attracted me as a boy. I saw the art in architecture from an early age and had a very creative adolescence. Appreciating the design process and construction of the form itself came later.

What are you working on right now?

Recently I’ve been helping Chris Blackie and the team on the Valleyview Mental Health project, on the issued for construction drawings of the shell/core for client review.

Can you tell me a bit about the CHUM project?

CHUM may be the most dynamic project I have contributed to in my career. At 334,172 square metres, it’s one of the largest healthcare facilities in Canada. Three existing healthcare facilities in Montreal will eventually filter in, with the first one hundred patients having been transferred to the 775-bed tower last Sunday, October 8th.

Joining the CHUM team in Montreal shortly after the pursuit phase for the push to “Financial Completion,” continuing into design and coordination, then following through with final construction and project delivery was a six-year rollercoaster education in architecture. I learned a tremendous amount from many different colleagues who were very generous with their time and had so much to share.

How do healthcare projects compare to other types of projects?

There’s a different level of complexity that I have come to appreciate but, in the end, most projects have some quirk that makes them interesting, it’s just a matter of digging.

How did you like living in Montreal?

It was a fascinating cultural experience and an eye-opener to a uniquely cosmopolitan society that is not without its challenges. I made some very dear friends through the project and within the community, some of whom I expect to know for the rest of my days.

Did you see any memorable concerts there?

Way too many to mention. Live music has been a passion since my youth. At the Jazz Festival alone I saw so many (free) shows. Montreal is a music hub and I attended concerts of all scales: big, small, fancy, grimy. True stand-outs were Prince (three times in three different venues), local hero Chilly Gonzalez, Elvis Costello, Jeff Mills, David Byrne, Brad Mehldau and Ty Segall. I could go on and on.

One non-Montreal concert experience that stood out was managing to buy a single ticket for the final Tragically Hip concert in Kingston last year. It turned out to be the day after my birthday and a Saturday. I rented a car, drove to Kingston, ate lunch at a downtown brew pub, said good-bye to The Hip, then slept in my car and drove home at dawn. It was a true Canadian rock and roll experience.

What brought you back to Vancouver?

Phase One was finishing on CHUM, there were some significant changes to the team structure and I needed to look at another building. My relationship with Montreal had become a bit strained and I wanted to better nurture relationships that were both existing and developing back here on the West Coast. The less extreme version of winter is also highly anticipated.




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?

Visit us on Facebook to see updates, news, and more.



(VIDEO) Our Charrette Success; Collaborative and Beneficial

At HDR | CEI, we pride ourselves in hosting collaborative charrette sessions that are beneficial to our clients, stakeholders, and communities alike.

Curious about what make our design charettes so successful? Mary Chow, Associate Vice President, provides some insight into our process in the video posted below.



What else is HDR | CEI up to? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn for news and updates.

Video by Gradio Media.



Remembering Nick Bevanda

Our cherished colleague and friend, Nick Bevanda, passed away on May 7, 2017 after a 10-month battle with cancer. As Vice President and Design Principal, Nick was a leader in design from our Penticton studio. Nick leaves a lasting legacy throughout the Okanagan through the impact he has made on architecture throughout BC. He designed many significant buildings such as the Black Hills Estate Winery, Road 13 Vineyards, Miradoro Restaurant, and Southern Okanagan Secondary School.

Nick joined HDR | CEI as a Partner in 2010 after running his own successful firm, Bevanda Architecture, since 2003. He was widely recognized for his outstanding achievement in the profession, having won the Lieutenant Governor of B.C.’s Award in 2008 for his design of Black Hills Winery, and was also honoured as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

He is survived by his wife Sandy and children Branko, Luka, Carolina and Domenic. Nick touched many lives and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

Donations can be made in Nick’s memory to the Moog and Friends Hospice House.




In memory of Andrew MacPhail

It is with sadness we share that our dear friend and valued colleague Andrew MacPhail died at home, surrounded by his family, on February 18, 2017 after a long and determined battle against cancer. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Cindy and his sons, Brian and Colin.

Andrew was based in our Penticton office for six years, working on many building types from schools to houses, wineries, and restaurants. He was instrumental in the success of many projects throughout the Okanagan, including Southern Okanagan Secondary School, RockRidge Canyon Clubhouse, Lakeside Resort, Miradoro Restaurant, Black Hills Wine Experience Centre, and Road 13 Vineyards.

He leaves a legacy of positivity, strength, humor and courage, and he will be deeply missed by everyone.

“Provide integrity and transparency to all that I do. Learn from others and pass on that learning to continually increase the quality of our work. Increase our quality of living and environment through the use of responsible and effective choices.”     – Andrew MacPhail




Richmond City Centre Community Centre Recipient of Bill Woycik Outstanding Facility Award

HDR | CEI is proud to announce, on behalf of the RFABC, the Richmond City Centre Community Centre is the recipient of the 2017 Bill Woycik Outstanding Facility Award.

City Centre Community Centre is a vibrant two-storey facility located within a mixed-use development. The LEED Gold community centre offers modern, multi-purpose spaces for a range of community recreation programs and services that are tailored to residents of all ages. HDR | CEI designed the facility, which occupies the lower floors of a base building shell.

The Bill Woycik Outstanding Facility Award honors W.E. “Bill” Woycik, a Past President of the RFABC. Each year, the award goes to one outstanding new or newly renovated recreation, sport or leisure facility in British Columbia that exemplifies innovations in design, energy management, operations, revenue generation, and services. The recipient of the award must also meet a demonstrated community need, as well as efficiency in operation, energy consumption and preventative maintenance.

Read more about City Centre Community Centre here.



Getting to know John Etcher

John Etcher recently joined HDR | CEI as a senior clinical healthcare planner, bolstering the firm’s depth on complex hospital and healthcare facilities. John has worked on healthcare projects across Canada, including the Royal Columbian Hospital, Toronto Psychiatric Hospital, Abbotsford Hospital and Cancer Centre, and many more. We sat down with him to talk about his career and the state of healthcare planning and design today.

What drew you to healthcare planning and design?

Back in 1978, two years into my career, I was put to work on a hospital in Edmonton. The planning and illogicalness of the project appealed to me; the relationships between the equipment and the processes and how they informed the shape and the design—it attracted me. I’m a puzzle person. That’s the easiest way to say it.

What changes have taken place in healthcare planning over the past 30 years?

It comes down to technology and processes. For instance, consider infection control. Healthcare professionals have to wash their hands frequently now, which makes sense, but it does slow the process down. When a nurse goes into patient room they wash their hands, and when they walk out they wash their hands again. 34 years ago I don’t even think there was a sink in every room.

With regard to technology, think about medical records. You don’t have hardcopy charts anymore, in most cases. For a new patient, it’s an electronic chart, so it’s on a tablet. The process is still being worked out: How a tablet should be taken into a room and out of a room, because if you’re taking it right up to the patient, then you take it out, it’s dirty—that’s where infection control and technology are trying to bridge a gap.

What changes do you see over the next five or 10 years?

I think it’s twofold: Technology is going to increase the speed of procedures, so there will be more outpatient services. When my first child was born, 31 years ago, my wife was in the hospital for four days. Now I think it’s two days. And you used to go into a hospital to have a process done and you stayed overnight, now you go to the outpatient facility for a 20-minute operation, they watch you for half an hour, and you’re out.

How do you see the aging population impacting healthcare design?

There are going to be many older people who have to attend to their bodies and their health. The solution will involve making it so that they’re not always going to an acute-care hospital.

They should be able to visit an outpatient facility that’s like a one-stop shop. You have a general check up in a medical office, and the doctor can send you to have an X-ray, and you can go and see a specialist about your gallbladder, and there’s another specialist on level two, and another on level three—and on your way out you can stop at the drugstore. Elderly people often don’t have the means to drive around to five places, when they can just stop at one location and get everything done.

What opportunities can HDR pursue in terms of healthcare planning and design in the next few years?

There is a huge infrastructure being built, by P3 and design-build, but someone is going to need to do renovations as the facilities age. The Authorities are going to say, we’ve got a new machine, a new piece of technology, so certain areas need to be revised, and they’ll need an architect. We’ll have to be efficient, and have really good quality control.

The AIBC’s intern architect program requires 3,720 hours that they must put into 13 different categories: 120 hours on-site, 80 hours on contracts, 120 hours on schematic design, etc. The smaller renovation projects, which take anywhere from six months to a year to complete, are perfect for them. You get on these bigger P3 projects and these poor guys are stuck doing design development for two years. They’re not getting other skills. So there’s an advantage to having the smaller projects for them too.

What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?

I think my involvement with users has taught me that it’s about listening, but also asking questions. I’m always learning. I’m 64 years old, and I go into a user meeting and we are talking about something that I have done two or three different ways, and then I learn that there’s a fourth way. And then I see it can work.

What has been the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

The Vancouver Island Cancer Centre and Royal Jubilee Hospital—and those were when I was not working for an architectural firm. I was working for the Authorities. My responsibility when I was working on the Cancer Centre was to make sure the architects designed it for the users. I was basically the BC Cancer Agency’s project manager. Seeing the Cancer Centre be completed and watching the patients finally moving through—it was an emotional experience.

Every hospital I’ve worked on over the years has been a good experience. Every time I walk into a facility and I see the patients moving through, and moving through nicely, it makes me think, “We did it. It worked.” It’s a rewarding feeling.



HDR | CEI Architecture announces promotion of architect Mary Chow to Associate Vice President

Architect on many award-winning B.C. projects, Chow has been with the firm since 2004

HDR | CEI Architecture Associates, Inc. is pleased to announce the promotion of architect Mary Chow to Associate Vice President.

Mary joined the firm in 2004 (then CEI Architecture), and has led the design of a variety of award-winning and successful projects throughout the Lower Mainland of B.C., with an emphasis on community recreation facilities, including community centres, and aquatics, ice and fitness facilities.

Mary was the lead architect of the Edmonds Community Centre and Fred Randall Pool in Burnaby, B.C., which was named 2015 Facility of the Year by the BC Recreation and Parks Association.

She also led the design of the City Centre Community Centre in Richmond, B.C.; Wedgewood Park Aquatic Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland; NexSource Centre in Sylvan Lake, Alberta; the Oliver Woods Community Recreation Centre in Nanaimo, B.C.; and the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex in Coquitlam, B.C.

“Mary is talented architect, outstanding project manager, and inspiring leader at HDR | CEI Architecture,” says Mark Hentze, Vice President at HDR | CEI.

“She has proven again and again her ability to lead projects of significance and size, helping bring outstanding facilities to communities throughout the province, and beyond.”

“This promotion recognizes her talent and long-term dedication to the highest standards of design excellence and project delivery.”

A LEED Accredited architect, Mary has been invited to speak at various conferences and events on issues related to sports, recreation and community facility design. Topics included how the architectural process can use social media to engage communities to create facilities that accommodate local interests and priorities, and the future of recreational facilities.

In the past few years Mary has spoken at the Recreation Foundation of BC Conference in Harrison Hot Springs, the Athletic Business Conference in New Orleans, the IAKS (International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities) Congress in Germany, and the TAFISA (The Association for International Sport for All) World Congress in The Netherlands.



HDR | CEI Architecture hires two senior architects

Ulrich Geissler brings international design experience while John Etcher bolsters their impressive healthcare credentials

HDR | CEI Architecture Associates, Inc. has hired two new architects in senior roles in the firm’s Vancouver office.

Ulrich Geissler joins HDR | CEI as a senior project design architect. The LEED Accredited Professional has over 20 years of experience leading and creating projects from conceptual design to construction for a range of project types, including transportation, hospitality, mixed-use, commercial, high rises, museums and more. Ulrich brings an international pedigree to HDR | CEI, having lived in Switzerland and Hong Kong. He is fluent in English, German and French, and previously worked for Foster and Partners Hong Kong, and on projects in China, Vietnam, Macao, and elsewhere. Working in Vancouver for another firm since 2015, Ulrich has contributed to local projects including Marine Gateway 2, Willingdon residential development, Simon Fraser University residential project and more.

John Etcher joins HDR | CEI as a senior clinical healthcare planner, bolstering the firm’s depth of experience in the design of complex hospital and healthcare facilities. John has extensive experience on healthcare projects across Canada, including the Royal Columbian Hospital, Toronto Psychiatric Hospital, Timmins District Hospital, Abbotsford Hospital and Cancer Centre, and many more. He has worked closely with and for many health authorities and agencies across the country, providing him with a deep understanding of health clients’ needs and clinical processes.

“The addition of these two talented senior-level architects strengthens HDR | CEI’s ability to design and deliver successful significant projects to a range of clients,” says Bill Locking, Vice President, HDR | CEI.

“We are thrilled to have them join our team.”



HDR | CEI Working with PCL on New Valleyview Design-Build Project

HDR | CEI is working with PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. to redevelop the Riverview Lands site to house the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre for Youth along with a Provincial Assessment Centre for people with develop mental disabilities.

The Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services recently announced the proponent selection;

The Province has entered into a design-build agreement with PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. following a competitive selection process. PCL will design and replace the old Valleyview Pavilion with a new building that will provide multi-disciplinary mental health services for British Columbians.

The B.C. government is investing $75 million in this new building, which will accommodate the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre for Youth, which includes a complex care unit and a provincial outreach team. The building will also house Community Living BC’s Provincial Assessment Centre for people with developmental disabilities and concurrent mental health and or substance use disorders.

Read the full article here.