Architecture Awards 2022

BUILD Architecture Awards 2022 8 May22213 here are not many cities in North America that have entirely different cultures in close proximity, but that is what you find in Ottawa. On either side of the river, you go from Ontario (Mainly English speaking) to Quebec (Mainly French speaking). While the popular consensus is that this is a limitation, they see this as a huge opportunity to add diversity and interest into the urban fabric of their metropolitan area. When Ryan and Danielle founded Project1 Studio, they noticed that there was a number of Canadian cities that were smaller than Ottawa with architectural practices that were really doing exceptional work, so they thought, “Why can’t this happen in Ottawa?” They went on to build a firm with the desire to do something different and to break the mould of typical local practices, which meant starting with a core set of values that were more ambitious than simply getting work and generating revenue. These founding values relate to why they do what they do. It is not a mission statement, it is closer to a set of core beliefs defining the firm and why the team continues to push, reflect, and innovate day after day. These are: believing in the value of an open mind; believing that the quality of the built environment has a profound impact on how we live our lives; and believing in crafting thoughtful projects that are beautiful, efficient, and challenge the status quo. Ryan tells us, “These beliefs have informed our decision making as a firm, both at the scale of the individual project and in terms of the strategic direction of the firm. We believe that as architects we bear a huge responsibility in the evolution of our built environment because we are creating the backdrop in which people will live their lives. From being part of the skyline of a city to designing the apartment where someone might experience personal milestones, the impact that design can have on enhancing lives cannot be understated. Every project needs to be unique, and needs to speak to context, proposed use of the building, and it needs to be authentic to its urban setting.” An example of this is one the larger projects the studio is currently developing, a 20-storey residential building in an existing urban neighbourhood. The site is at the corner of a ‘bow-tie’ intersection which creates a sharp point on the lot, and this is something Project1 wanted to express in the design, with the owner being quick to make reference to the Flatiron building in New York City. Ryan explains, “We highlighted the geometry of the site in the expression of the building, with the podium levels coming to a very sharp point. We also wanted to express height, and we achieved this by aligning balconies on the short elevation to enhance the verticality of the project. It will be a striking building that will improve the area and is already getting attention.” However, as is typical with the process, there has been push back from the community and city planning staff. There are questions about height, about density, about car traffic, all of which are things that Project1 hears about all the time. Ryan comments, “The dilemma in these conversations is that T Project1 Studio (Project1) was founded by husband and wife, Danielle Powell and Ryan Koolwine almost nine years ago. With a passion for their location of the city of Ottawa, Ryan and Danielle really believe in its potential to be something unique, an inspirational hub for an aspirational architecture firm. We got in touch with Ryan to learn more. Best Commercial Architecture Firm - Eastern Ontario