Making a Difference in Burns Lake

Image via Northern Health.

Image via Northern Health.

Northern BC residents can expect the opening of their brand new hospital, currently under construction in Burns Lake, five months earlier than expected! The achievement is a direct result of the hard work of the design and construction team, led by CEI Architecture and PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc.  

The $55 million Design-Build project will see the replacement of an aging facility with a new 16-bed hospital, providing acute care, emergency services, and diagnostic imaging. The facility will also include a medical clinic that will provide mental health, addiction, and community care services.

The project required an aggressive schedule from the outset, as it was necessary to commence construction of the building envelope components prior to the winter months.

CEI Architecture is an advocate for collaborative design processes where the combined efforts of our team members translate into success for our clients. PCL and our design team established a fast-track schedule that saw construction begin prior to Construction Documents being completed. Effective coordination between disciplines, and the careful planning of details, helped achieve schedule efficiencies that have resulted in the project being five months ahead of schedule.

“The pace of construction on this project has been aggressive,” says CEI’s Daniela Zezulka, a Senior Architectural Technologist in the firm and a senior team member on the project. “It is important that all parties work well together, consultants and contractors alike. PCL is a highly organized company with talented staff who care about the work they are doing. We are happy to be working with them on this exciting project for a deserving community.”

Substantial completion of the building is expected by December 2014. To learn more about the project, please visit our project page.



Virtual Reality and its impact on Design

AR 2It’s still early days, but virtual reality technology is already having an impact on the design and construction industries. Being able to tour a design virtually immersed in the building has great benefits for both the client and the designer. Clients are able to better understand the space and design far easier than they could from plans and elevation drawings. By using VR technology to tour both the exterior and interior of a building, people are able to fully understand the design from their virtual point of view.

Recently here at CEI, we received a developer’s kit from IrisVR that includes an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. IrisVR is a new company developing software that will offer full native support for many common 3D file types including SketchUp, Revit, Blender, 3ds Max, ArchiCAD, and IFC.

We are already using this technology to show clients for design validation. It’s a great opportunity for us to get instant feedback on the design and workability. By allowing our clients to tour the space virtually it allows us to validate the design concepts and use this tool to explain the aspects of one design over another. Virtual reality is yet another technology that can take advantage of the building information modeling process that CEI has fully embraced, allowing us to yet again take the process of architectural design to the next level.




SOSS wins SICA awards

Left: Andrew MacPhail, CEI Architecture Center: Mitch Van Aller, Former Facilities Manager, School District No. 53 Right: Mike Symonds, Project Manager, Greyback Construction

Left: Andrew MacPhail, CEI Architecture
Center: Mitch Van Aller, Former Facilities Manager, School District No. 53
Right: Mike Symonds, Project Manager, Greyback Construction


As a proud member of the Okanagan community, we couldn’t be more pleased to have recently been honoured with two awards at the annual Southern Interior Construction Association’s (SICA) Commercial Building Awards that took place Thursday, October 23. Southern Okanagan Secondary School, completed by CEI in collaboration with KMBR Architects, received the Excellence Award in the Community/Institutional Category and was also named the Judges’ Choice Overall Winner.

Completed in February of this year, the expansion and renovation to the existing secondary school included a gymnasium, multi-purpose student common spaces, science lab, classrooms, and the creation of a new Performing Arts Theatre.

Southern Okanagan Secondary School joins a list of other CEI projects that have received SICA awards including Mica Heli Ski Lodge (2013 Hospitality Award of Excellence) and the Black Hills Estate Wine Experience Centre (2013 Merit Award-Wine Industry), among others.





Mark Hentze joins panel at upcoming AIBC Conference

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CEI Partner Mark Hentze will share his insights on the architectural evolution of sport and recreation centres at the upcoming Annual AIBC Conference: Shifting Perspectives.

As Director of CEI’s Recreation, Culture, and Community sector, Mark has a broad range of experience leading recreation projects across Canada. The panel will explore the challenges and opportunities of modern community facilities, where Mark will share lessons learned from a career devoted to the recreation sector and recent CEI projects.

The panel, entitled “Building Community Through Architecture” will be taking place Friday, October 10 at 8:30 a.m. To learn more about the event, or register for sessions, please visit the AIBC Conference website here.



Nick Bevanda to speak at AIBC Conference


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CEI Partner and Design Leader Nick Bevanda will be speaking at the AIBC 2014 Annual Conference on Friday, October 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Nick will share his experience working in architecture—including starting out in a small town in the Okanagan, opening his own practice where he was honoured for his award-winning design at Black Hills Estate Winery, and later joining CEI Architecture. Nick will also share his insights on future trends in architecture.

To learn more about the conference, and to register for Nick’s session “Imagining the Future,” please visit the AIBC Conference website here.




New Southern Okanagan Secondary School ready for students once again


Southern Okanagan Secondary School welcome students again this September!

Flashback to September 2011: KMBR Architects and CEI Architecture had been working on an extensive renovation and addition to the school. A landmark in Oliver, the original school was built in 1948 at cost of over $1 million, and was designed in the Art Deco Streamline Moderne Style.

As students filled the halls that September, they had access to a bright new gymnasium, science lab and multi-purpose space, and renovations to the existing classroom wing, library and Frank Venables Auditorium were underway.

Soon after the school year started, a massive fire destroyed the existing older structure, causing School District 53 and the design team to go back to the drawing board. As part of the addition, the design and construction team included a firewall between the existing school and the new facilities, so the newly added space remained intact. Gregg Brown, the KMBR partner-in-charge of the project, recalls, “The fire was devastating and hard on everyone involved. But the focus had to be on moving forward, to raising a new facility from the ashes that the community would be proud of.”

A new scope of work was outlined, in which the team would design a new 395-seat theatre, theatre lobby, library and classroom wing, to replace the spaces destroyed in the fire. They would also add a neighbourhood learning centre, with a daycare, community counseling and adult learning space. The project was fast-tracked due to the urgency of getting students out of temporary accommodations (portables) and into a permanent and properly equipped and designed learning environment.

“The objective was to design a contemporary school that embraces the principles of 21st century learning,” says Nick Bevanda, architect and partner with CEI Architecture. “The resulting spaces have a flexible design that can adapt over time to changes in methods of teaching, technology needs and other educational evolutions.”

Now complete, the finished result is breathtaking, fostering formal and informal learning, and social interaction.

To learn more about the project, download our press release or visit our project page.




BIM Networking Event: Innovation in Design and Construction

The BIM User Group of Kelowna Presents:

BIM Networking Event: Innovation in Design & Construction

Thursday, November 13, 2014 (New Date)
7:00 p.m. –  9:30 p.m.
Horizon Room at the Coast Capri Hotel
1171 Harvey Avenue, Kelowna, BC 

Please join us for an informative and lively evening with presentations by distinguished industry speakers. This event is designed to keep you informed of the recent developments in innovation of the design and construction industry. This is also a great opportunity to network with other professionals in the architectural, engineering and construction industries.

Who should attend? Engineers, Architects, Developers, Contractors, Consultants and Construction Industry Professionals

Seating is Limited. Please RSVP to Scott Chatterton.


Fanfare for the Common BIM
Allan Partridge
Principle, GROUP2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd.
President, Canadian BIM Council

Southern Okanagan Secondary School Expansion: Rising from the Ashes
Nick Bevanda
Partner in Charge of Design, CEI Architecture

BIM in Engineering and Fabrication of Timber Structures
Lucas Epp
Project Engineer, StructureCraft Builders Inc.

This free event is brought to you by:

SICA | UDI | CanBIM | Okanagan College | CEI Architecture | CanCADD | Morinwood Mfg. | Points West Audio Visual | Summit AEC



UBC Life Sciences set for expansion

Campus renewal to bring state-of-the-art laboratory and learning space.

CEI Architecture in association with Diamond Schmitt Architects will reconfigure and expand University of British Columbia’s Life Sciences UndergraduateTeaching Labs.

The $51.8 million project will renew the Biological Sciences complex located at the heart of the Vancouver campus. Both new and renovated buildings will provide connectivity and opportunity for interdisciplinary learning around an expanded courtyard.

The project includes the renewal and addition of new greenhouse facilities to the fourth floor of the Biological Sciences North Wing (1976), and a four-storey link between it and Biological Sciences West. The Biological Sciences Centre Block (1948) and a two-storey workshop (1976) will be replaced by a four-storey building on the east side of the courtyard. The courtyard will undergo a comprehensive expansion and renewal as part of the project.

These additions will provide flexible,modern teaching labs, associated classrooms, group and informal learning spaces and instructor/support offices for the Biology and Biological Sciences programs and also incorporate Microbiology, Biochemistry and Cellular and Physiological Sciences teaching programs. Existing mechanical and electrical facilities will be upgraded along with seismic, life safety and Building Code enhancements. The new facilities are being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

“This is an exciting opportunity to enhance UBC’s science teaching facilities with flexible and modern spaces for hands-on learning,” said John Scott, Principal, CEI Architecture.

The total area for the new spaces, including rooftop research and teaching greenhouse space, is approximately 175,000 gross square feet. The project builds on the successful renewal of the Biological Sciences West and South Wings completed in 2011.

“CEI and Diamond Schmitt look forward to renewing UBC’s Life Sciences teaching labs with state-of-the-art facilities and learning environments that align with advances in pedagogy,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.

The two design firms have previously collaborated on the UBC Faculty of Law at Allard Hall (2011), Burnaby’s Tommy Douglas Library (2009) and the North Vancouver Civic Library (2008). All three projects have won multiple industry awards. The North Vancouver Civic Library earned a Lieutenant-Governor of BC Award of Merit in 2009.



It’s TIME. New Oliver winery breaks ground


Excavation has begun on TIME Estate Winery‘s future home in the heart of the Okanagan. It has been almost 20 years since Owner’s Harry McWatters and Bob Wareham, together with viticulturist Dick Cleave, began the journey of planting Bordeaux varietals at their site on Black Sage Road, and CEI is thrilled to have been selected to design their new winery.

McWatters believes CEI, lead by renowned winery designer Nick Bevanda, has captured the spirit of the site and created a design that is as functional as it is beautiful. The winery will include an extensive hospitality centre, commercial kitchen, and retail store, along with cellar space, barrel storage, and laboratory.  Ultimately, the design will enhance the natural beauty of the Okanagan, allowing guests to appreciate the Bordeaux premium wines, while enjoying stunning Valley and Lake Osoyoos views.

Construction for the winery is set to be completed for fall 2015.

To see more of Nick Bevanada’s winery portfolio, including the Lieutenant-Governor of BC award-winning Black Hills Estate Winery, please check out the Our Work page.


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Presentation Series on Improving Project Delivery

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BIM and IPD: What is Integrated Project Delivery

This is the second session in the presentation series. This session will feature two great presentations. Michael Horta will be explaining the Integrated Project Delivery process and Shane Scranton from Burlington Vermont (USA) will be demonstrating how Virtual Reality is having an impact on the construction Industry. These quarterly sessions will be facilitated by Scott Chatterton, BIM and QC Manager for CEI Architecture.

Seating is limited. Email Scott Chatterton at to reserve your seat.

More on the presentations:

Michael Horta, Architectural BIM Consultants

Integrated Project Delivery: What is it? Why did it come about? How it is changing the way we work.

Michael will look at different examples of IPD contracts, different cash incentives and multiple ways we can profit from it  as well as preparing your firm for IPD. He will review the steps you should follow to be able to produce work at an IPD level.

Michael focuses on assisting AEC firms to evaluate all aspects of their technology strategy, helping them in their conversion to new BIM technology and increasing the firm’s overall return on their technology investment.

Shane Scranton, CEO, IrisVR

Virtual Reality and the Construction Industry: IrisVR is creating software that sends SketchUp and Revit files directly into a virtual reality (VR) environment, such as the Oculus Rift. This tool will offer a “one click” interface – a feature that allows architects, designers, and students to quickly view their 3D models in VR and iterate through the design and review process with clients. The VR experience also gives viewers a true sense of scale, clarifying the design for clients and offering an accurate view of lighting and space. We are the first company in the AEC industry to offer these features. Our presentation will include a brief overview of IrisVR’s growth as a startup, a discussion on the state of 3D visualization within the AEC industry, and conclude with access to some of our architectural walkthroughs in the Oculus Rift.

Shane is a designer and 3D generalist with a love for the built environment. While working with architects, engineers, builders, and artists, Shane has explored different mediums for representing clients’ ideas. His passion lies in design visualization, and he founded IrisVR to create an immersive 3D platform for architecture & design.

More on the presentation series:

The “Improving the Process of Delivering Projects” series is designed to stimulate discussion on improving the project delivery process. Sessions are designed for members of the AEC industry who would like to see a more integrated approach to project delivery. These sessions will provide you with tools and skills to enhance your project delivery and collaborate with consultants, your client and the contractor. The goals of these sessions are to educate, communicate and cooperate.

 These sessions are not:

  • Another user group. These are a limited series of presentations directed towards improving how we deliver projects in the design and construction industry.
  • Focussed on Revit. They are high level overviews of the processes for delivering projects.
  •  A sales pitch. We’re not selling anything, promoting any products or any specific company. We’re discussing how to improve project delivery.

 These sessions are:

  • Designed for Decision Makers. They’re for project managers, partners, associates, architects, engineers and contractors. Decision makers who need information to be able to make educated decisions and keep up with industry trends.
  • Free… What more can we say?