October 2019

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OCTOBER 2019 | 51 West Block West Block by ROBIN BRUNET W est Block Glenora in Edmonton is being marketed as "a new way to live" – a reference not only to the fact that the mixed-use project brings together residences, shopping, dining, and offices, but also spacious floor plans for the homes, with many of them being 1,600 to 2,000 square feet (the largest is 3,268 square feet). For developer Beaverbrook Group of Companies and GEC Architecture, West Block's purpose was to create an urban community on a 3.5-acre site and a new level of luxury living as well as conve- nience. West Block's public plaza will connect directly to the future at-grade LRT line. The site was acquired from a previ- ous developer that had partially built a parkade and three levels of structure in one corner of the site. Beaverbrook and GEC completely reimagined and redesigned the entire development to create an urban transit-oriented development (TOD) in the historic community of Glenora. "Our compa- ny's infill housing division, InHouse, acquired the site in 2015," explains Paul Fereday, director of construc- tion for InHouse by Beaverbrook. "Purchasing a site with a partly con- structed building was both a benefit and a challenge. The positives were that InHouse by Beaverbrook was able to reuse much of the structure and adapt the building to the creative vision for West Block." Peter Osborne, partner at GEC Architecture, notes that, "What existed on the site was the underground park- ing, the concrete frame for a podium, and the structure for the first three floors. The original design was for a brick podium and a tower with a nearly round floorplate, but InHouse by Beaverbrook and our firm wanted the floorplate changed in order to maximize the sense of space and func- tionality, while adhering to the original tower's height." In order to make the project work economically, GEC squared off the floorplates and expanded wher- ever possible, while minimizing the upgrades that would be required for the existing structural concrete – work that was carried out in collabo- ration with Protostatix Engineering Consultants. "We further altered the residences by adding very large out- door terraces, and we reconfigured the podium to accommodate curtain wall glazing rather than the brick – all of which modernized the project," says Osborne. The revitalized design would accommodate 60 open-concept homes with nine-foot ceilings and triple-pane, floor-to-ceiling windows. GEC and InHouse by Beaverbrook decided that the second building, 300 West Block, would be a three-storey mass timber commercial structure whose straight-lined geometry and extensive glazing would complement the exterior appearance of 100 West Block's podium and tower. "We do a lot of work with mass timber, and this would be the biggest of its kind in the prairies," says Osborne. Fereday adds, "It took intensive consultation with the building code authorities and the City of Edmonton to get consensus to develop the structure, but the effort was well worth it." 300 West Block utilizes glulam beams, col- umns, and floor panels to help create a warm wood interior with generous floor-to-floor heights, for a modern loft office and retail space. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY INHOUSE BY BEAVERBROOK 1:39 PM

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