Smithbilt Hats

[Photography by Robert Scott.]

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The completed Smithbilt Hat Factory and Residence project is the redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the long-idle historic Fletcher Mill building adjoining the CPR Mainline on 10th Street SE in Inglewood led by placeworks design.  It now is the proud new home of Calgary’s iconic Smithbilt, its manufacturing and showroom, and an exceptional private residence on the upper floors.

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From the outset, this project was complex due to the multiple and layered considerations required to bring it to fruition. A valuable part of the City’s history located in a heritage neighbourhood adjacent to the CPR tracks and the proposed new LRT line; being long-abandoned with a building needing significant rehabilitation meant that there were many individuals and organizations who would have to work together to revitalize this site and to make it functional for the new use and to ensure, in completion, it would meet required code regulations. From Heritage approvals, community support, permits issued and revisions approved by the city, and long hours for trades, project managers, design teams, engineering, suppliers, the client, and others who were involved, everyone invested their blood, sweat, and tears to make this beloved project come to life.

SMITHBILT NEW OLD COMPARISON

Although not registered as a designated historic resource with the Province or the City, the Mill was listed as a building of interest; the City Historic Architect had compiled a written history and a collection of related images. Heritage Planning was consulted before, and regularly after, the property’s purchase.

The Fletcher Mill was chosen by Smithbilt, in part, due to its adjacency and relationship to Calgary’s historic and western cultural center and its industrial nature. Re-use of the Mill allowed for a restoration of the hundred and ten year old wood-framed structure that has attracted much interest due to its industrial massing, site-specific and generated angular orientation, raw metal exterior finishes, and interesting signage (Sure-Gain). The footprint of the original structure was used or followed as closely as possible to respect and reinforce the unusual geometry of the original mill and the heritage integrity of the building. The repair and restoration of some of the original walls, timber structure, and foundations was significant due to the cumulative damage to the balloon-framed wood structure from several fires during its period of operation and lack of upkeep since.

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These original elements were seen as essential and valuable to the project and to the historic importance of the site so wherever possible, they were repaired and retained; they remain a part of the building seen today. Sprinklers were installed to current code regulations to protect the Mill from further fire damage in the future.

Locally crafted metal cladding similar to the finish of the original siding was used on the exterior to retain the building’s industrial quality. New construction, such as windows, the new roof over the north portion of the building, and the main entry reflect a more contemporary design and use of materials to contrast with and highlight the historical language of the existing structure.

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Smithbilt Hats’ presence here and use is the final piece to the historic value and pride central to the project, having been founded circa 1910 and partnering with the Calgary Stampede since 1926. In 1946, Smithbilt Hats created the White Cowboy Hat, now an iconic symbol of Calgary and the Stampede and internationally recognized and representative of our City’s pride in Western culture and hosting the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Smithbilt further builds real historic connection through their use of the original manufacturing equipment – now more than a century old. This equipment is highlighted and visible from the showroom as part of the buying experience for customers and along with the nature of the entire project, represents the true artisanal service being provided – an authentic link to Calgary’s history.

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For more amazing photos of this project, visit the project page here.

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Happy Holidays!

We just wanted to pass on best wishes for the holiday season to you all.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to placeworks if you need any assistance in addressing your design and project needs, or even in trying to define those. Whether your project is residential or commercial, we can help you start things moving by having an initial discussion and answering questions you may have – and let you get to know us and our capabilities at the same time.

Here are a few quick images that we took of a great residential project in Marda Loop just completed in time for the holiday break. They’ll have to do until we get our photographer in to work their magic and truly capture the results of a great collaboration with our wonderful clients.

Enjoy, and of course, Happy New Year from us all!

Questions to Ask an Architect or Designer

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Whether you are renovating or building new, taking on an architectural/design project can be daunting due to the grand effects it will have on your life both during and after the process. You are going to need to be able to trust, rely on, and get along with your architect or designer so it is important to pick the one most suited to you, your project type, and your budget.

If you’re unsure of what kind of questions you should be asking in order to make your decision of who to hire, then here are a few to get you started. Continue reading

Sandrin Construction Ltd.

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We have added another wonderful, local builder to the Partners page on our website…. Sandrin Construction Ltd. is just wrapping up construction on a residential project that we designed and we must say that their work is spectacular! With a high attention to detail and a desire to make the client happy in a now-functional space, Sandrin Construction executed a fine exterior and interior renovation. At our last site visit, we were blown away by the transformation of the house; instead of outdated and cramped, the new floor plan and finishes create a comfortable space that looks fresh and welcoming. If you’d like to see more of their work, you can find them on our Partners page or you can visit http://www.sandrinconstruction.com/

 

Welcoming Spring and A New Site!

It’s been a long time coming but we’re excited to promote the launch of our new website; Placeworks is fresh, updated, and now compatible with mobile devices. Please check it out for yourselves and we invite you to circulate the link with anyone who may find it interesting or useful. Just follow this link! http://www.placeworksdesign.com/20170323-blog-post

Emily joins placeworks!

A huge welcome to Emily Jepson, who joined us at placeworks three weeks ago.

We’ve been lucky enough to have come to know and dealt with this dynamic designer and personality for the past couple of years while she was part of the LightForm team here in Calgary. Emily brings great design and project skills to placeworks – particularly in interiors and lighting – and is already becoming an important part of our Client’s projects.

Although Emily is a “born and raised” Calgarian, she now calls Cochrane home and spends as much time as possible in the East Kootenay. She attended The Centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna for her formal design education, where she also almost by accident, acquired some amazing photography skills.

When you get a chance, please intorduce yourself to this awesome individual!

In summer, thoughts turn to our Homes and what-if’s…

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As schedules slow down a bit over the summer holiday’s, many people start to think about their homes and their relationship with them. If you need some help answering any questions that might arise, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll gladly do what we can.

Most people have not gone through the process of designing and building new homes or significant renovations – the whole idea of it can seem complex, daunting, and a general mind-field. As a means of introduction, we’re happy to help take away a bit of the mystery and hype, and talk with you to help evaluate what might be the best way forward. Your situation is different from anybody else’s – understanding and fitting your needs is paramount.

In return, we hope you get to know us and out of that, perhaps there will be a fit between us. In return, me might ask for a cup of coffee and an open mind.

Don’t think that this approach is only suited to residential work! We think looking at your commercial needs in this manner is just as appropriate.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call. Happy summer contemplation!

What DO we do?

We’ve been remiss. Since many of you visiting here probably don’t know a lot about what placeworks actually does, here goes.

For the most part, we do architectural design. Seems simple, but in our reality, it is pretty messy, complex, and wide ranging. Our bread and butter is and has always been residential design.Within that, our projects include new homes, additions, renovations, interiors, and landscaping for private clients and developers. Associated with this residential work, we’ve also become adept at dealing with complex planning and community requirements. These projects have been designed and built across Alberta, BC, in Saskatchewan, and even in Montana.

We enjoy dealing with individuals and families and their lives and work to design solutions around those. Important to us is being able to help potential clients understand what options are even open to them and how they might approach embarking on changes to how they live – most people have never gone through a design process before. Our services include varying mixes of working together to create great design, finding builders, getting approvals, and providing assistance throughout the construction.

placeworks also has built expertise and experience in commercial design, in particular with office fit-outs and tenant improvements, retail, food and beverage, and the odd climbing wall. We care deeply with creating facilities that not only work well for a business, but also are exceptional expressions of the spirit of these enterprises to their clients, customers and staff. Along with this design oriented work, we’ve developed some expertise at addressing and evaluating complex Land-Use issues. A real belief in effective collaboration has worked well both with regulatory bodies, communities, and neighbors.

Our commitment to collaboration also extends to partnering with other design and Architecture practices, consulting engineers, builders, and trades as is required and appropriate to creating great solutions. It can be a lot of fun as well!

If you feel that we can assist you at all – even if it is just answering a few questions – please don’t hesitate to call us at 403-261-0092 or email us at info@placeworksdesign.com.

New Faces at placeworks design

It’s been busy here in Inglewood and we’re remiss to post an update of some recent arrivals and news in the studio.

Michael McKeown has recently arrived in Canada after graduating with a Master of Architecture at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland and has joined us. He and a fellow student made the big speculative  step to come to Calgary and already he has been making a difference to our work and as part of the office. It has been great!

Erika Hornquist has joined us as our fall co-op student from Dalhousie. She’s really from Fernie, BC which makes us all happy, but has been a part of that amazing program in Halifax that is putting out some great students. We’ve been spoiled with the co-op students from Dal over the past few years and Erika looks set to continue that.

It was sad to say good-bye to Fatima Rehman as she headed back to Dalhousie after her 6 month work-placement position here. Michael and Erika are funny, but Fatima’s irreverent way of slicing to the core of things is missed. We wish her all the best as she buckles down to her studies again.

Magda Gawlik has returned from her excellent travels in North Africa and in the East. Stephanie, Cam, our clients, the dogs and I all missed her but have been enjoying the stories as she settles back in to the office.

Life and work are busy for all, there are some great projects in the office, and as winter slowly approaches, we’re having a rewarding time.

Some Project Images

Just a quick update to a couple of placeworks projects now under construction.
Construction is well underway for our Client’s lease-space in the newly developed and incredible Biscuit Block in Victoria Park. Taking up the entire main floor of this 100+ year old Timber and Brick Building, the space is going to be about light and texture. Karson Builders are knocking it out of the park too.

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Biscuit Block


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Biscuit Board Room

Biscuit Board Room


We’re close to completing a large and complex full renovation and addition in Kelvin Grove. The home’s main floor has been reconfigured to create incredible connections to large garden space now reinforced by the newly added glass walled family room. Great clients – great project.

Kelvin Grove

Kelvin Grove

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Kelvin Grove

Kelvin Grove