Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Architectural firm earns accolades

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A three-year-old Winnipeg firm is making waves in North American architecture circles after winning two prestigious awards in the last three months.

The latest accolade for the firm with the unusual name -- 5468796 Architecture Inc. -- is a P/A (progressive architecture) Award from U.S.-based Architect Magazine.

The magazine handed out only nine P/A awards this year, and 5469796 was the only Canadian firm to receive one. It was for its design of the BGBX condominium development on Wall Street in Winnipeg.

The other is a Canadian Architect Award of Merit from Canadian Architect magazine for its design of the You Cube condominium project on north Waterfront Drive.

Ten of the Canadian awards were given out at the end of 2009, and 5468796 was the only Manitoba recipient.

5468796 co-founder Johanna Hurme said winning the U.S. Architect Magazine award was especially gratifying because there were more than 300 entries from around North America.

"And some of the other architects that received awards are guys we studied in school," she said. "So it's a really big deal."

They'll receive the Architect Magazine award at a ceremony Wednesday in New York City.

It recognizes unbuilt projects that excel in design quality and ingenuity. BGBX is designed after a big-box retail development, with six blocks of alternating two- and three-storey loft condos. The 24 condos face an interior courtyard featuring lush foliage and water cisterns and bioswales to collect run-off water. The courtyard walls will be hand painted with pixelated images of trees.

"I like it," juror James Richards is quoted as saying in an article on the magazine's website, "and I almost wish the core had actually gotten even more playful."

Colin Neufeld, a project architect with 5468796, said You Cube was singled out for its innovative solutions to a variety of design challenges, including the narrow depth of the Waterfront Drive site that didn't offer a lot of clear views of either the downtown skyline or the nearby Red River.

The firm got around that problem by designing the condos as staggered, multi-level cubes ranging from two to four storeys running along an elevated community plaza. That way each of the 18 units will have a view of either the downtown or the river, Neufeld said.

The first phase of the You Cube project is already well underway, while foundation work has begun on BGBX.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2010 B4

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