If you ask Pat Hanson what makes Toronto architectural firm, gh3, stand out from the crowd, the founding partner is quick to mention an integrated approach (the firm works in both building and landscape architecture) and an open concept studio space that encourages collaboration and the free exchange of ideas. But at the heart of the firm’s award-winning work is one core belief:
“When I started this practice, almost 10 years ago, the goal was absolute commitment to good design and excellent work. I’ve always believed in that kind of uncompromising position – design excellence at every phase.”
That steadfast commitment has paid off. Recently the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC) awarded Hanson and her team the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for Borden Park Pavilion, an inspiring geometric structure that reintroduces playful qualities from the site’s former glory days as an early 20th century amusement park. It’s the second time gh3 has received the award (the first, in 2010, for Boathouse Studio on Stony Lake), the highest recognition for building architecture in Canada.
Both projects share a context¬ually driven approach, using innovative architecture to blur the lines between indoors and out, and maximizing the user experience while minimizing the environmental footprint. It’s the same underlying ethos found in gh3’s work with Collecdev – buildings that include 22 Balliol, 36 Tippett, and the latest, a mixed-use community in Wilson Heights.
“Wilson Heights is inspired by successful urban design in European cities, updated with what we need to achieve in a modern residential building today. It’s mid-rise architecture that feels comfortable at street level, but encourages a great relationship from your unit to the outdoors. How can we bring in ample daylight? How can we ensure sustainability? How can we create balconies that feel expansive and welcoming? I feel very strongly that today’s urban condominium lifestyle requires a strong connection between interior and exterior spaces because we know that people do better with access to outdoor space and fresh air.”
With such a strong commitment to improving the everyday experience through architecture and design, it’s no wonder that Collecdev and gh3 mesh so well. Both companies take an integrated approach, applying meticulous attention to every detail, even those which other developers often overlook. “Think of all the semi-public spaces in a building, from the lobby to the elevator, to the hallways on every floor,” says Hanson, “it doesn’t matter how fabulous your unit is, if that experience, of moving through these semi-public spaces, are not well considered. All of those things make a huge difference to daily living and Collecdev understands that.”
“They’re a really interesting combination of an innovative young company, with a type of maturity where they take the long view. They give us the freedom to try new things that result in new architectural expressions and improved environmental considerations. They recognize the importance of architecture and landscape and how the two fit together. They understand how design can make life better.”
Therein lies the secret to the success behind gh3’s award-winning work and their prolific relationship with Collecdev – a shared commitment to good design and a better way of life for all.