June 2014

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An Expression Of Place SMM continues to plant the seeds of inspired design by Adam Currie I n an age hell-bent on sustainability and effec- tive utilization of urban space, few landscape architectural firms have managed to move for- ward in a manner that is both ecologically and economically viable. One company that has been able to achieve this synergy is Scatliff+Miller+Murray Inc. ( SMM), a firm of 35 employees made up of landscape architects, planners, urban designers and biologists. It currently operates out of three offices located in Calgary, Winnipeg and Regina. SMM was originally founded in Winnipeg in 1989 by Michael Scatliff. Scatliff remains the partner in charge of the Winnipeg and Regina offices, while Deron Miller, who joined the firm in 1990, is the managing partner of the Calgary office. Derek Murray, Cheryl Oakden and Bob Somers make up the remainder of the part- nership tasked with guiding the firm's direction and vision, and ensuring that innovative projects remain the standard rather than the exception. " SMM is recognized for its focus on civic projects and public realm design, operating both as prime con- sultant and as integral team members in the delivery of true urban design. From the outset, the firm has pur- sued the challenge of creating relevant and meaning- ful public space within the urban context of our cities," Scatliff explains. He adds that SMM's philosophy has always hinged on the artistic combination of hard and soft elements, with a focus on sustainability and the creative use of native plants and local materials as an expression of place. The firm has a number of biologists on its team who play a key role in many of its projects – they try hard to not only enhance the quality of life for people, but also address the larger ecological principles and effects of development to ensure truly sustainable projects. "Our firm strives to create meaningful projects that meet the goals and objectives of our clients, while pro- viding varying levels of meaning, from simple comfort to intellectual contemplation. As landscape architects our work is highly collaborative, recognizing an open process of multi-disciplinary and public interaction is not just necessary, but essential, to the realization of exceptional design," says Miller. SMM has completed a number of large-scale projects that include varied user and stakeholder groups. It has also been chosen to be part of a number of signa- ture design teams, including The Asper Foundation's Canadian Museum for Human Rights project in Winni- peg and the Bison Courtyard project in Banff, Alberta. Miller adds that although SMM's primary core busi- ness was initially focused on public realm and civic projects, the firm has grown and expanded over time to include local and international multi-family residen- tial projects in Western Canada, as well as the People's Republic of China. SMM's commitment to innovative design has resulted in the company being recognized with over 20 national and international design awards, includ- ing the 2002 People's Republic of China Planning & Residential Development Association – Ideal Commu- nity Award of Excellence, 2003 Consulting Engineers of Manitoba – Design Excellence Award, and most recently, the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects ( CSLA) National Citation Award in 2013. SMM's longevity and success can be traced back to its willingness to evolve within a sector that's very existence centres around evolution. Looking back on one of the firm's more renowned projects, Scatliff notes that SMM was able to play a large part in redefining Winnipeg's urban waterfront as principal designers of The Assiniboine Riverwalk. "The Riverwalk is a legacy project linking the [Manitoba] Legislative Building to The Forks in a highly successful urban promenade that set a new standard for both environmental responsiveness in flood damage mitigation and ripar- ian restoration, while at the same time providing a much-needed public amenity." Together with consulting firm KGS Group, SMM was hired to prepare the development plans for the new Urban Park and waterfront interface that included substantial riverbank reclamation, environmental assessment and mitigation, and hydraulic engineering to ensure and enhance fish habitat, while simultane- ously providing erosion control. He adds that in the early 1990s, SMM went on to push the boundaries of both technology and the role of landscape architects when it joined the multi- disciplinary team overseeing the $110-million Main Street and Norwood Bridges project, also located in Winnipeg. The project called for an entire rethink in relation to public infrastructure as simply a vehicle transportation device and sought to create a civic amenity that included the provision of four meaning- ful bridge structures, as well as a rail overpass, that were relevant to its rich historic context. The result was a project that became both a des- tination, as well as multi-modal links that promoted pedestrian-first principles and incorporated sepa- rated bicycle lanes – something that later went on to become the norm in most Canadian cities. 8/ JUNE 2014 SMM p.08-11SMM coverstory.indd 8 14-06-03 9:29 AM

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