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Parker: S2 a busy barometer of Calgary projects

Parker: S2 a busy barometer of Calgary projects
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If the busyness of architectural firms is a barometer of improving business conditions in this city, the work of S2 Architecture is an indicator of renewed confidence.

The Calgary office has lots on the books, and its locations in Edmonton and Vancouver are enjoying interesting projects on their own plus working with the Calgary team when their expertise is required.

Vancouver principal Robert Lange has earned a reputation in the design of RCMP and municipal police buildings and, with the Calgary office’s award-winning designs of many emergency service facilities, the company is receiving contracts across the country to design or assist local architects.

Peter Streith, principal in Edmonton, has built up his staff to 30, many involved with an expanding number of clients with residential and industrial projects. Expecting further growth, he will move the office into the trendy Brewery District next year.

Founded in Calgary 26 years ago — two of the founders, David Symons and Robert Spaetgens, are still principals of the company — S2 now offers a full service in architecture, interior design and master planning with a total staff count of 100, 60 in the Calgary head office.

They have been responsible for many highly recognized buildings outside of the city, including one of the tallest residential towers in downtown San Diego and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in the East Village district of the California city. But the Calgary staff are being kept busy with a number of interesting designs for local projects.

Riverwalk is a unique aging-in-place rental facility for seniors being built in the established community of Cliff Bungalow, in the heart of the inner city at the corner of 5th Street and 25th Avenue S.W. It has been designed for the collaborative partnership of Campion Property Group and Verve Senior Living to provide a continuum of care, with three distinct areas offering independent living, assisted living and memory care.

The first two levels of the 12-storey structure are set back from the above floors to provide cover for a wraparound restaurant/patio and to allow for additional width to the sidewalk. The main level reception is on 25th Avenue with the benefit of a drop-off area beneath a heated porte-couchere, and the east portion of the second level is dedicated to amenities such as games rooms and a movie theatre for residents.

Riverwalk is ideally located for seniors with its proximity to 4th Street shopping, restaurants, groceries and services, and the walkable, flat Elbow River pathway, a package that will empower residents to “travel less and live more” as well as being a fine amenity for the local community.

S2 has become a recognized architectural designer of multi-family residential, mixed-use residential and seniors facilities.

A rendering of Riverwalk Senior Living by S2 Architecture. Supplied photo, for David Parker column. October 2019

Among its more recent projects are Willow Square Continuing Care Centre, an $80-million facility in Fort McMurray; Cambridge Manor & Maple Independent Living for the Brenda Stafford Foundation in Calgary’s University District; The Armory, a 58-unit multi-residential development in Currie Barracks for Cove Properties; and the new Kensington Legion mixed-use building along Kensington Road N.W. for Truman Development.

The relationship with Truman has resulted in some major projects, including its master-planned, 95-acre West District community off 85th Street S.W. where construction is well underway on the first multi-family towers.

Construction methods continue to change and improve, and S2 has developed expertise in the use of modular building technology. For Calgary-based Horizon North, it has designed a number of modular residences and hotels for northern communities, including three in Kitimat, B.C., where the huge LNG facility is to be built.

Adding to its long list of active projects, S2’s involvement in leading the construction administration team for the planned doubling of the convention centre space at the BMO Centre has the company looking forward to a productive 2020.

Notes:

At the reception to mark the opening of the Joe Fafard exhibition at Masters Gallery, I was pleased to chat with Grit McCreath and learned that she has taken over the position as chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan. A graduate of the university and longtime member of the board of governors, the Calgary resident took over the role from former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow.
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