Photo by Shai Gil
Recently, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) announced the 2014 winners of the OAA Awards, recognizing design excellence and innovation in the industry.
Out of 170 submissions, the jury of industry peers selected the winners based on creativity, context, sustainability, good design/good business, and legacy. Celebrating forward-thinking in design, over 30 award-winners were announced in Montreal at the annual OAA conference.
One of the most prestigious and exciting awards is for Best Emerging Practice, which Atelier Kastelic Buffey Inc. (AKB) took home. “AKB has a very clear and well-articulated vision for its architecture – clean, strong, modest and concise, with careful attention to detail. They have a unique approach to running their business. They pay close attention to teamwork in the office and with clients. Everything is very collaborative,” said Bill Birdsell, president of the OAA.
Newinhomes.com had the opportunity to chat with Rob Kastelic and Kelly Buffey, the married principals of AKB.
NIH: How does it feel to be voted Best Emerging Practice?
AKB: It is a great honour. We love what we do and we are sincerely grateful for the acknowledgment.
What makes you Ontario’s best emerging practice? What sets you apart?
We have been asking ourselves that question since we received news of the award. We think it is a combination of things – our ambition, work ethic, the culture of our studio, the dedication of our staff, our truly fantastic clients and their willingness to take risks, and our collective skills and talents.
How would you describe your design style?
We do not think of our work in terms of style, but we are often mistaken for being a European-based architecture firm. We feel that the challenges of Canadian architecture have a lot in common with the Nordic countries and we therefore learn from both our Canadian colleagues as well as Nordic architects. Focusing on the essential elements of natural light, space, proportion, and the craft of building to create work that is not only functional and simple, but also poetic.
What kinds of projects do you normally gravitate to?
We gravitate to smaller scale projects both residentially and commercially that require a thoughtful and unique approach to design.
Would you ever consider designing a condo?
Yes, we would consider designing a condo building if approached by a client who had the intention of benefiting from the value-added significance of good design.
Describe your partnership. How did the two of you become a team?
Rob leads the technical side of our work and he has a truly outstanding aptitude for constructability. I lead the design side, which is largely driven by experience and intuition. Our skills and roles on a project do overlap of course but we have great respect for each other’s expertise. This makes our work much stronger than what either of us would be able to produce on our own.
Can you tell us what big projects you’re working on right now?
We are in the preliminary planning stages for an art gallery complex and we are working on the adaptive-reuse of a 65,000 square foot manufacturing facility that will become a commercial space.
Where will AKB be five years from now? 10 years?
Over the next five years, we hope to continue to be leaders in design excellence, collaborating with fantastic clients both commercially and residentially and growing our business in a controlled manner. We also welcome opportunities to work and collaborate internationally on well considered projects.
In ten years from now, we hope to be doing the same – always remaining open to new opportunities and possibilities which help promote Canadian design to a broader audience.
Newinhomes.com extends congratulations to all the winners of the 2014 OAA Awards. We look forward to all the amazing designs the firms have in store for this year.