“The sign of a successful project is a dream, transformed into reality.” - this is Curtis’ personal design credo. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture at Carleton in 1994 and his Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Manitoba in 1989 after completing an Architectural Technologist Diploma from NAIT in 1986. He's spent over 25 years building upon this knowledge and accumulating an impressive portfolio of work. Curtis’ expertise helps realize reverie.
We were first introduced to Curtis in 2009 through a fellow renovator working on our neighbour's house. It left an impression on us how Curtis zeroed in on our neighbour's vision and held that level of focus and dedication all the way through to and across the finish line. We observed Curtis master the balancing act of maintaining the home's practical functionality with it's tasteful design. Since 2010 we have used Curtis exclusively without disappointment.
While it may be tempting to cringe at the 'fee schedule' for an architect's services, Curtis' one-liner ought to effectively snap one back to the big picture perspective: "If you think architects are expensive - try skipping us". In fact, if you are like most of our clients and a plain vanilla version of your project isn't what you had in mind, then you'll quickly be made aware of the need for professional input at the City's Planning and Development approvals desk where they take no prisoners: you either submit professional grade drawings with the appropriate architect and structural engineer stamps as required, or you come back with them another time! At this time simple renovations and decks can still be hand drawn and submitted by homeowners or their General Contractor, but the City is quickly moving to "ePermit" where all drawings will have to be submitted electronically, including the scaled drawings. Structures calling for specialized foundation systems, engineered roof trusses/ beams/ joists, and any other structural details not specifically covered by the Alberta Building Code are exclusively left to the pros.
So now that you are in a mindset to hear and receive expensive advice, we asked Curtis some soft-ball questions that might help your project go smoother now that you're armed with this knowledge.
Q. What projects have you worked on with Blackstone?
- The total redevelopment (inside and out) and condo syndication of a "way past due date" 1962 Lower Mt. Royal twenty-three unit apartment building into upscale condominiums which were sold via MLS
- Adding a second story "bed & bath addition" over a main floor family room which originally had a vaulted ceiling in a 1984 Canyon Meadows Country Estates home
- Adding an upscale second story "master & ensuite" addition and making large scale renovations throughout the rest of the 1932 Upper Mount Royal executive home
- A complete "basement to second story" house addition on a 1905 heritage home in Elbow Park
- Re-zoning issues to convert a 1908 Lower Mount Royal B&B into professional office space. The large home was built by the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway Company) to house their senior management for the Western Canadian line logistics.
- Constantly looking at projects in the pipeline as they come up.
- (Many of these projects can be found here on Blackstone's website under Photo Galleries.)
Q. At what stage in a project are you typically brought on? And is this your preferred entry point or is there a more ideal position?
- Typically we start in the design development or contract documentation phase, and progressing to the preparation of the working drawings / building permit drawings.
- The ideal entry point is at the schematic or design development phase. At this phase the main objective is to enable the client to understand how the project will function as well as give more detail about what it will look like.
Q. In your experience, what's an average ratio of your time spent on a project with:
- the home owner (client)
- the GC (general contractor)
- at your drafting table
It all depends on the scope of work of the project. Generally 10 to 15 % for clients and General Contractor and the balance is on the drafting table.
Q. Between the home owner and the GC - who usually initiates contact with you to bring you on board for a project, and who usually is cutting your cheques?
In the past we have been contacted equally by both parties. With Blackstone, Paul always calls us in very early in the process, and many times we talk about projects long before the client contract is signed. By the time I meet Blackstone's client Paul has already had many meetings with them to delineate their needs & wants and then makes the determination that our professional input is required. As for who is cutting the cheque it will depend on how the contracts are established. In a design-build project it will be the General Contractor. Alternatively, if the owner has called us before selecting a General Contractor, then it would likely be the owner, though sometimes the General takes this over.
We'd like to thank you Curtis for your expert opinions and comments and hopefully we've been able to offer our readers some valuable insight for their upcoming projects.