December 2020

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 40 of 71

D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 | 41 ARIA R EN D ER I N GS CO U RT E SY N O R R ; G R ACO R P ARIA by ROBIN BRUNET A s a subsidiary of Graham Group, Gracorp is rapidly cementing its reputation as a Canadian real estate developer of high-quality residential, office, indus- trial, and retail projects – but it's still small enough to treat each project with hands-on care. This is most evident in ARIA, a massive, multi-use complex of street front retail (with Save-On-Foods as the anchor) and 288 rental apartments nestled between the Alberta Children's Hospital and the University of Calgary. Gracorp marketing describes ARIA as defining the heart of this lively neighbourhood, with elements designed by NORR and constructed by Graham intended to give residents all they need for a convenient and walk- able lifestyle. The one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments are an amalgamation of urban elements (a bold charcoal and white colour scheme throughout) and trendy features such as sliding barn doors. These units in turn surround what is arguably ARIA's most out- standing feature: a 22,000-square-foot landscaped courtyard with private grilling stations, pickleball and bocce ball courts, and a fenced pet play area. Other amenities include a fully equipped fitness centre, a large group kitchen with dining areas, and two furnished short stay guest suites. From a development viewpoint, ARIA is the outcome of an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) model that com- menced in 2017 and in which early collaboration with Gracorp, the archi- tects, builders, and main sub trades was crucial in bringing the develop- er's vision to life within budget. "IPD was extremely beneficial because this was Gracorp's first foray into mixed use multi-residential in Alberta," says Gavin Murphy, project manager at NORR, adding that development co-ordinator Shannon Quinney and managing director Novy Cheema "Had terrific ideas and enthusiasm, and we worked hard to make those ideas come alive, while staying within budget." The development process resulted in compromises being made that didn't sacrifice quality or appeal. For exam- ple, Gracorp was initially going to take advantage of a recent change to the province's building code allowing for wood frame construction of up to six storeys. "We wanted ARIA's five storeys of residential to be wood frame and sit on a concrete podium," says Murphy. "However, Save-On-Foods wanted six- metre ceiling heights, and that plus other tenant requirements exceeded the code's height restrictions." Gracorp and the IPD determined that compressing ceiling heights to meet building code was unacceptable. So instead of wood, ARIA's residences were made of a light steel frame con- struction, with light metal decks and poured concrete that were four inches thinner than wood frame. Another effective compromise was an atrium originally conceived as a three-storey structure, whose curtain wall would glow at night and reveal a feature staircase within. "Again, we had to bring expectations in line with budget, and thanks to costing exercises and value engineering we simplified the staircase and down- sized other elements – but retained the visual impact of the atrium being a magnificent glass box," says Murphy.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Award - December 2020