October 2019

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8 | OCTOBER 2019 CORE Architects CORE Architects prides itself on innovative and thoughtful design solutions by NATALIE BRUCKNER photos COURTESY CORE ARCHITECTS T he saying goes that a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all, and as CORE Architects celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with an impressive number of loyal and dedicated clientele, you could say the team at the Toronto-based firm has this strategy dialled in. Since its very beginnings, the firm's founding principals, Babak Eslahjou, Charles Gane, and Deni Poletti, shared a common philosophy: to place the needs of the client first. And the results, well, they speak for themselves. CORE has gained a reputation for its innovative yet thoughtful solutions and as a result has been responsible for the design of over 160 condominium projects, the urban-master planning for over 200-million square feet of residential devel- opment, numerous private residences, over 1,800 retail roll-outs, and a number of recreational and mixed-use projects across North America and the world. They also have a number of accolades under their belt – they were one of the few Canadian firms to be shortlisted at the 2014 World Architecture Festival for Six50 King and then again in 2016 for 12 Degrees. At the root of CORE lies a deep friendship that started when the three founding principals worked together at Zeidler Roberts Partnership. "We were managing large projects at the time and experiencing the impacts of the long recession, but knew there would be an end in sight and wanted to explore our futures," says Eslahjou. Realizing that the three gentlemen shared similar philosophies they decided to pursue an idea to branch off on their own. "We held retreats to ensure our visions and our goals were aligned and then contributed $200 each to open a bank account." Rather than risk taking the leap, the team decided, rather wisely, to go slow and began working on small freelance projects. Eslahjou felt confident in the part- nership that was being formed and made the decision to focus full time on CORE. He was quickly followed by Gane and Poletti. "In 1994 we officially founded the company, but each partner was still working from home. It wasn't until November 1996 that we acquired our first 'official' office space at Adelaide when we took over a sewing factory. All the trades in there were from the garment industry! I remember the first rent being seven dollars per square foot," laughs Eslahjou. As with most start-up architectural firms, they accepted all job sizes to build their reputation. "The work ranged from single-family residential to funeral homes. The first residential project was with the former lawyer David Wex who wanted to become a developer. In fact, 29 Camden was our first project together," says Eslahjou. In many ways, this project launched CORE into the spotlight. "We quickly became known as downtown residential experts, and new entrepreneurs started coming to us. We had found a niche in the residential sector and that niche contin- ued to grow, both nationally and internationally," explains Eslahjou. Poletti adds that CORE was also becoming known for providing sensitive design solutions for complex infill sites throughout Toronto. "Projects like Fashion House, Seventy5 Portland, and Five Hundred Wellington were the catalyst to our growth," says Poletti. "Over the years we shaped a number of very successful neighbourhoods in Toronto and our reputation led to a great number of iconic developments and international projects including urban design, residential buildings, commercial buildings, retail and interior design." In 2001, CORE Architects entered the international market in the Middle East when the firm was contracted by Emaar Properties to provide master-planning, site co-ordination, and design for over 100-million square feet of development at the Dubai Marina, a waterfront community along the Persian Gulf. CORE had made its stamp on the global stage. You could say that the firm has always been ahead of its time, so when the sector found itself going through a transformation as a result of a new technology- driven generation, the team was ready to work with them on more responsive, forward-looking designs. Celebrating 25 Years M City, Mississauga, ON. Fashion House, Toronto, ON.

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