Mixed use residential/commercial
The client is the owner is the designer. Business savvy As owner, architect and developer of this project we had a unique chance to put our money where our mouth is. We had an opportunity to prove that it is possible to undertake a project that is both well designed and a sound business investment. One that is as attractive to future tenants as possible, without making it cost prohibitive. Developing downtown near markets, banks, restaurants, shopping, and theaters, made the most sense. It enables a lifestyle that is a healthy alternative to fossil fuel dependent living. This line of thought spawned our slogan “Where you live is what you live” which helped to hone in potential tenants. And we knew we had proved our business model when we sold out of units 2 days before opening. In a record high vacancy rate for the area.
As architects we felt it was important to catalyze the city’s wish to raise the standards of its downtown planning while respecting the surrounding heritage district. We achieved this by building 10 residential units and 3500 sq.ft. of commercial space in the heart of downtown, an upgrade compared to the previous aged building and empty lot. The project was embraced unanimously by both the Heritage board members and the downtown vision planning committee, in its present contemporary form.
As designers we took the project to a global scale by addressing sustainability in its design. We chose to register the project with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), involving a third party for verification, keeping us on-trend with the rest of the country. The team was confident and dedicated to ensure that the project did well from an environmental standpoint, and it did. 83 Botsford was registered with the CaGBC (Canadian Green Building Council) as the first of its kind – Mixed use Residential – in Canada and obtained a distinguished rating of LEED Gold. Our dream was to design a building that went beyond the baseline, a building we would work and live in without compromising good design or the bottom line. The 83 Botsford project is a celebrated success for us as owners and designers as well as for the city and the environment.
The Urban Fabric
People strive for connections. In a building rooms are connected to each other with halls and stairs. In a city buildings are connected with roads and sidewalks. As humans we connect to buildings and outdoor spaces via our daily patterns. Subconsciously or not we create links. These connections are what make up our concept of the Urban Fabric. The threads may exist only as human concept but the evidence of its presence can be seen in our architecture and planning. In this city the downtown fabric is weakened by big box businesses that root themselves at the fringe of the city, far from the core, outside our urban fabric. The fabric is delicate; it requires people using it, it requires further connection. Competing with downtown commerce by seeking cheaper places to build big boxes creates duplicity in our city, diluting its potency, demising its integrity. 83 Botsford creates multiple new connections and strengthens what was there before. It reminds us we can live, work, do business and simply enjoy our downtown without having to travel to the periphery of our cities. It reminds us that the city is a tight knit fabric of people and spaces, interconnected. It shows us that the more we migrate to the outskirts of cities to open businesses and the more we commune as consumers to these businesses, the more the core of our fabric weakens, and the desire to live there lessens. We are the urban fabric, thus our presence and participation is required to build and maintain a vibrant city. The vibrancy starts at the nucleus, so it was in this marrow that was grafted a building that would help strengthen our downtown, and beautify it.
As architects we can help restore the Urban Fabric – One thread at a time.