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.



Port Hardy Multiplex Charrette a Success

Public buildings are a primary avenue for municipalities to express their goals and aspirations.

Last June, we hosted a charrette with the District of Port Hardy to allow stakeholders, as well as the community, to experience and review the initial concept and provide their feedback on a proposed multiplex.

We enlisted the help of Gradio Media to capture the essence of the charrette and to highlight the need for a multiplex within this budding community.



Members of the community are excited to see this project to completion, seeing it as a “hub to drive sports and recreation” as well as a gathering place to draw more people to the north island.

A local resident wrote a letter to the Mayor expressing her excitement for the new swimming pool:


"Dear Mayor Hank, thank you for the tore arownd yore office. I can't wait intill you make the new swimming pool. Sincerely Annie"

“Dear Mayor Hank, thank you for the tore arownd yore office. I can’t wait intill you make the new swimming pool. Sincerely Annie”


On October 22nd, 2016, the community voted 77.25% in favor of the multiplex project.



HDR | CEI is excited to embark on this journey with the District of Port Hardy and look forward to the next phase of the project.



The Power of Great Design

Blogger: Doug Wignall, President of Architecture
December 31, 2016


As I travel to our offices around the world, I am struck by the amazing stories I hear of how our talented professionals are producing great design that delivers value.

We deliver value when we assemble multi-disciplinary teams that foster progress. We deliver value when we design complex and integrated building systems that support advanced discovery. We deliver value when we design communities that enrich the ways people work, live and play. We deliver value when we create architecture that enhances our day-to-day experiences, that creates a sense of place that is meaningful to the society it serves. We deliver value when we design systems that are regenerative and restorative, that respect the human impact of our work. We deliver value when we think beyond buildings and innovate across disciplines, geographies and firms to improve the human condition.

We are able to realize these accomplishments through a commitment to design excellence and by embracing the tenets of our design philosophy:

  • Elevate the Vision
  • Reinvest Smart
  • Value People, Place and Time
  • Express Integration
  • Capture a Bold Idea

I’m proud of all that we’ve achieved, and I think the 39 design awards we’ve received in 2016—for architecture, interior design, engineering, graphic design, product design and experience design—is an impressive symbol of the immense progress we’ve made. It also leaves me exhilarated by the possibilities that lie ahead in this coming year.

For the last last two years, we’ve celebrated our previous year’s accomplishments in an annual “Year in Review” video. This year we’ve done the same, providing a glimpse into all of our award-winning project work for 2016. (A complete list of all awards can be found here.)

I’m honored to work with so many dedicated professionals, who work hard to make great things happen in many corners of the world.



Humber River Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Honored in Modern Healthcare Design Awards

Humber River Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi honored by Modern Healthcare for design that advances innovation and care.

HDR’s Humber River Hospital in Toronto and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi were both honored this year in Modern Healthcare magazine’s prestigious 31st Annual Design Awards. Out of 74 entries, only five winners were named in this awards program, recognizing excellence in the design and planning of new and remodeled healthcare facilities.

Humber River Hospital was awarded the Gold Award, the top prize in the competition. The facility was praised by judges for its inviting design, incredible operational efficiency, and the successful balance between technology savvy and human touch.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi won the Bronze Award. Judges cited the hospital’s remarkable adaptation of esthetics, culture and the latest in healthcare innovations and energy efficiency to a physical environment in which high temperatures for July and August average 108 degrees.

The 31st Annual Design Awards are featured in a fall issue of Modern Healthcare.



Mulgrave Senior School wins 2016 A4LE Pinnacle Award

Designed by HDR | CEI Architecture, the recent addition to Mulgrave School in West Vancouver features a mix of collaborative, engaging and sustainable educational spaces.

The Association of Learning Environments (A4LE), Pacific Northwest Region Pinnacle Award recognizes the most outstanding recent educational facility among submissions from Northwest U.S. and Canada.

The new Mulgrave Senior School in West Vancouver, BC, designed by Vancouver’s HDR | CEI Architecture, has been honoured with the 2016 Pinnacle Award from the Association of Learning Environments, Pacific Northwest Region.

The annual award is the highest honour given by the chapter, recognizing facilities that provide outstanding learning environments for students. The award was selected based on the evaluation of a facility’s learning environment, physical environment and capacity for community integration.

A jury comprised of education and design professionals lauded Mulgrave for its strength in all three categories.

“Mulgrave Senior School displays many of the principles of the 21st Century Learning methodology—both learning and teaching,” said Judy Shoemaker, past president and board member of the Association for Learning Environments, Pacific Northwest Region.

“The facility scored very highly in the learning environment criteria by providing a variety of open, collaborative and stimulating educational spaces,” Shoemaker added.

Bright and aesthetically engaging design

The 42,000-square-foot Senior School includes a bright and spacious new main entrance atrium, a “Great Hall” dining room, a roof garden with an outdoor theatre space, art exhibition area, and innovative module-based approach to classrooms.

“We are honoured that our project has been recognized with this award,” said Rod Windjack, senior vice president with HDR | CEI and principal on the project.

“It was designed to achieve a university campus feel within a secondary school context, and we incorporated many features to emphasize learning and engagement inside and outside the classroom,” Windjack added.

Flexible classrooms and stimulating social spaces

The classrooms at Mulgrave Senior School support various learning styles through flexible configurations, with smaller collaborative areas and larger group spaces that are responsive to a variety of pedagogical styles. Learning spaces are equipped with flatscreen monitors, projection screens and projectors to facilitate flexible instruction and learning.

Wide, non-linear arteries—rather than straight corridors—surrounded by niches and nooks offer a number of options for students to collaborate, talk, relax or work independently in safe, supervise-able spaces.

Shoemaker noted: “The variety and flexibility for learning and engagement was really well met. If methods of learning and pedagogy shift over time, Mulgrave School can be easily reconfigured.”

Many sustainable features

A fully accessible green roof provides stormwater retention and roof insulation, and serves as an outdoor play area and learning space. The green roof creates green space in what was previously a hard surface.

A low-profile, tiered amphitheatre creates seating that looks onto a temporary stage location with a spectacular background view of Burrard Inlet and beyond. Extensive natural light, passive ventilation and solar hot water heating provide further sustainable elements along with a comfortable interior environment.



When Social Media Shifts Your Perspective: or, How I Became a Social Media Convert

By Mary Chow, Community Recreation Sector Leader

I’ve seen the influence of social media; the power to connect to a world larger than immediate family members, friends and acquaintances. Last year I saw my 13 year olds Instagram account reach over 800 followers within months. At the time, his entire elementary school didn’t even have 500 students. So how could he know 800 people?

I’ve seen a change in expectations from our community and recreation clients; that our projects meet the needs of the entire community, not just of a limited demographic. I’ve seen social media help us achieve this  – we’ve even changed building programs and designs because of it.

I can’t see it stopping there. Facebook has 1.2 billion active users, and Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Youtube are all major players in brand outreach. As we continue to leverage social media to connect with community members, it’s made me wonder: what’s next?

When writing about the biggest social media trends for 2016, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes forecasted that social video would become ever more prevalent and that we would begin to see more 360 video. And he’s right. Video has become ubiquitous. I know because I now click on more videos in my newsfeed than I do articles.

For architecture, a photograph is a still image capturing one moment in time. Video, on the other hand, can weave a story through movement through spaces. Video in architecture has already permeated social media through fly-throughs, professionally-filmed promotional videos, and interviews with building users, but we still haven’t fully tapped the potential of the medium.

So I put the challenge out to my media savvy son (the one with the over 800 Instagram followers who has since abandoned Instagram to build his YouTube following). I brought him to our recently completed City Centre Community Centre in Richmond, BC and asked him to make a video of what he felt the facility was all about. I didn’t give him much more instruction then that. The result is a showcase from the perspective of one individual. It’s a work in progress.

To continue the experiment I recruited Riley, one of our recreation sector team members to create a separate video interpretation of the same facility. I wondered how different individuals from different age brackets, backgrounds and experiences would perceive the same spaces. The two videos tell a different story even though the spaces are the same.

The results are striking because the possibilities are so evident. A few hours of work and a story is told. Architects love the stark, pristine nature of their work but our community buildings are all about the people and how they inhabit and use the space. What better way of showcasing our projects?

I imagine that pretty soon we’ll all be making videos all the time. But as with every craft, it will always be about the quality of the spaces and the storyteller that will set us apart.

Looking for more posts like this? Check out HDR’s blog, BLiNK, written by employees at HDR. Our bloggers represent offices from around the world and write about topics of importance to the architecture and design profession.