December 2020

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 | 47 Muse Flats R EN D ER I N GS CO U RT E SY M I C H A EL M A LT Z A N A RC H I T EC T U R E; P H OTO G R A P H Y BY J A N I N A G ER B R A N DT/CO U RT E SY U WC RC 2 .0 I N C . MUSE FLATS by LAURIE JONES A s one of the most unique and geometrically stunning buildings to be added to the downtown Winnipeg skyline, Muse Flats – a 119-unit mixed-income, mixed- use rental apartment and performing arts space – has been the culmination of work between many organizations. "This is a CMHC National Housing Strategy project funded through the Rental Construction Finance ini- tiative," says Jeremy Read, CEO, University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation (U WCRC) and (U WCRC) 2.0 Inc. "The federal gov- ernment provided $26.2 million in mortgage support towards the $30-million building. The City of Winnipeg participated as well, and we also partnered with New Market Funds, a mission-driven, impact investment group in Vancouver. "Within the options for tenants, we have studio, one-bedroom, two- bedroom, and three-bedroom units. Of those, 46 are designated afford- able housing, 24 are premium suites, and the balance are rented at market rates." The three-bedroom units are approximately 1,100 square feet, and the master bedroom, separated from the other bedrooms for privacy, has an ensuite bathroom and in-suite laundry. Occupancy began on September 1, 2020 with 45 percent of the units already spoken for. "We leased the affordable suites first, and are now working on renting out the market and premium units," says Read. The inspiration for the unique style of Muse Flats was born from the site itself. "The site is a unique shape, making the corner of St. Mary and Colony Streets prominent," says Paul Stoelting, associate with Michael Maltzan Architecture. "Because the project transitions between the scale of the residential buildings to the west and the Winnipeg Art Gallery's Qaumajuq [Inuit Art Centre] to the east, the towers create an individual sense of place for the residents. The irregular shape contributed to the appearance of the towers spinning around the central core." To boost the building's wow-factor, Stoelting explains they added win- dows in varied sizes and positions to create a constellation effect, and uniquely frame views of Winnipeg and the surrounding environment. The interior design is minimal- ist, reflecting a loft look with exposed concrete walls, ceilings, and duct work. "This was a great opportunity to express the building structure as an architectural element," says Stoelting. "For the colour pallet, we used a range of aqua colours – light, medium, and dark. Backsplashes are a comple- mentary blue-green, and the floor is a neutral grey brown in interlocking vinyl planks." All units have the same design, but the premium suites feature an upgraded combination of lighting, fin- ish materials, appliance package, and kitchen hardware. Muse Flats also has four barrier-free, and eight barrier- free adaptable units. Allmar consulted with the client and supplied and installed a state- of-the-art Salto access control system that provides online and real-time technology to secure doors, as well as monitor and control permissions for each user. Kyle Janzen, architect at Cibinel Architecture Ltd. says the building is a positive addition to the city. "The diversity of the tenants is interesting in that no matter what their income level is, everyone will be surrounded by a variety of lifestyles and a diverse and vibrant neighbourhood in the downtown core." He adds that an out- door terrace on the roof of the ninth floor offers gathering space for tenants, including a soundproof music room, and a panoramic view of the downtown area and the Legislative buildings. "In partnership with ArtSpace Inc., part of the programming for this complex is to have four to six fully furnished suites designated for visit- ing artists in programs at various arts organizations in town, although that's on hold as artists are not travelling

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