October 2019

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74 | OCTOBER 2019 The Underwood PHOTOGRAPHY + RENDERINGS COURTESY WESTERN SECURITIES LIMITED The Underwood by ROBIN BRUNET S ometimes, changing the intent of a residential project mid-phase not only results in a much better out- come, it also better fulfills a market need – as long as the developers, architects, and builders are adept at shifting gears. This was very much the case with The Underwood, a 30-storey tower featuring 225 units, located in Calgary. Developed by Western Securities Limited, the tower arises from a restored heritage facade at street level that blends seam- lessly with the neighbouring Union Square condominium tower. Mike Brescia, VP and partner at Western Securities, says, "The Underwood is the second phase of a project in which we developed the Union Square tower in a joint venture with Pacific Capital." That structure was completed in 2009, but the sec- ond phase was postponed due to a downturn in the condo market, and when the project recommenced in 2013, the design of the new tower, which had been undertaken by Zeidler Architecture (formerly BKDI Architects) was tweaked, with more units per floor added. More importantly, the building was re-thought to accommodate a differ- ent variety of tenants. "Specifically, we decided to turn the tower into rental residences instead of condos," says Brescia. "Doing so was a bureaucratic challenge as well as a task for Zeidler, because the second tower design was tied to the overall site plan and the architectural design couldn't easily be changed. But rentals made sense given Calgary's market conditions, plus we were determined to make this an out- standing building in terms of quality and livability." Brian Rowland, associate at Zeidler Architecture, discusses how his com- pany approached The Underwood's revamped design. "In matching many LOCATION 202-14th Avenue, Calgary, Alberta OWNER/DEVELOPER Western Securities Limited OWNER'S REPRESENTATIVE M3 Development Management Ltd. ARCHITECT Zeidler Architecture GENERAL CONTRACTOR ITC Construction Group STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT RJC Engineers MECHANICAL CONSULTANT Reinbold Engineering Group ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd. TOTAL SIZE 19,502 square metres TOTAL COST Undisclosed of Union Square's visual elements, we also decided to add contrast in the exterior design by using a different colour of metal panel banding," he says. "We spent considerable time and effort reconfiguring the living units, from seven condos per floor to nine rental units complete with nine-foot ceilings, and balcony areas similar to what had already been worked out." Another bold decision was to locate the amenity space on the top floor, above the six floors of penthouse units, rather than in the lower levels as is standard. "We wanted everyone living in this building to feel special, and this was one way of doing so," explains Brescia. In stark contrast to the extensive glazing and sleek appearance of both towers is the three-storey Underwood building, a red brick structure built in 1911 that would, coupled with a con- temporary red brick extension on either end, be incorporated into the main floor restaurant (the future First Street Market) and the second floor office of Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. "It was important to preserve the old structure, not only for its visual appeal but also because this podium would return a great deal of character to the neighbourhood," says Rowland. Close consultation with RJC Engineers determined that it would be easier to preserve the entire building rather than brace and shore the facade and demolish the rest of the structure. "The walls were in good shape, as were the first floor and roof trusses; but we created a new second floor to tie in with the podium, and after ground broke on the project in April of 2017, ITC Construction replaced the third floor, which was rotten, with a con- crete floor," says Rowland. ITC also repointed the brickwork and restored or replaced the stained glass windows, the mouldings, and the cornices. Juan Montenegro, project manager for ITC, says despite the care required in the restoration and the complexities associated with high-rise construction, "everything came together very fast and efficiently; for example, we finished the level one slab on December 21 of 2017, which was a huge milestone. The superintendents were amazing, and at peak 200 people were working at the top of their game – and met all of the target dates. By June 21 of this year we had reached substantial completion." For his part, Brescia is enjoying enthusiastic feedback from his residen- tial and commercial tenants. "That's so fulfilling, and The Underwood will become even more remarkable when we establish the 8,000-square-foot First Street Market in the podium next year," he says. "So many elements had to line up to make The Underwood work – and thanks to the skill of every- one involved, they did." A

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