D e s i g n E n v e l o p e . c o m
                                                               by William Edward Summers, Inc.


1950s to 1990s In Four Easy Steps

Homes & Builder’s Magazine, Victoria, B.C., June 1998

Because of the location or for financial reasons, the choice to renovate an existing building is the only practical option for many people.

In the ease of the Joffre Street project, located on the South Barnaby/Vancouver border, the owner liked the neighborhood but wanted a larger and newer house. In this case, tearing down and rebuilding was not feasible.

The existing house was a typical post World War II building, of which there are tens of thousands in Canada. Our proposal was to add a new second floor, which would capture a sweeping view over the Fraser River and an extension to the rear with basement. This solution would completely fill out the allowable building envelope and floor area ratio, doubling the size of the house. We also proposed to completely transform the house so that it would look and feel new inside and out.

Because of careful planning, the desired results were achieved for an amount which was under the allotted budget – a very good thing for the client. In the end he was able to buy all new furniture for his house. The story of his project was featured in the Vancouver Sun, and in a Japanese newspaper.

In the case of another project at West Point Grey Road and Collingwood, the exact opposite happened. The 4,000-square-foot house had a heritage “A” designation, which meant that the structural aspects of the exterior could not be changed. In this project the goal was to bring modern luxury into the interior and capitalize on the multimillion view of downtown Vancouver English Bay and the North Shore. My proposal was to completely gut the house down to bare studs and start over.

The second floor became an unforgettable entertainment area with kitchen, living and dining. We raised the ceilings to ten feet and removed walls, which gave the entire floor a New York loft-type feeling. The bedrooms were placed on the first floor and the basement was converted into a very nice two-bedroom apartment.

Often a building offers everything from a location or cost standpoint. However, architectural redesign is needed to completely realize its potential. Such properties are plentiful in British Columbia. Careful design often can often make an old building better than new.

William Edward Summers