Heritage Home Renovated To Energy Efficient Office Building – Award Winning!

May 24, 2023

Each year, the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board doles out awards to completed construction projects deserving recognition of their excellence.  For 2012, Pheasant Hill Homes was honoured to learn that our role in the renovation of Raymond DeBeeld Architect Inc.’s offices won just such an award.  Taking home the prize for Best Heritage Renovation, this award category represents unique challenges.  One has to renew and rejuvenate a space, make it sustainable to operate in an environment of increasing energy costs, maintain or improve the integrity of the original architectural design, and still make it a functional space for it’s new purpose.  However, the precise and visionary design of Raymond DeBeeld Architect Inc, and the competent, cooperative contracting of Pheasant Hill Homes made the project an exceptional success.  It’s nice to receive an award for your efforts now and then, but what we’ve appreciated even more are the comments we’ve received from friends, business colleagues, and even strangers about how much they’ve enjoyed seeing the transformation of the landmark building, and how much they’ve appreciated getting a “virtual tour” through our blog posting about the project on our website.  So, congratulations to Raymond DeBeeld Architect Inc, (and to ourselves!) for receiving the 2012 VIREB Commercial Building Award for best Heritage Renovation.

Continue reading on below to view our original blog article about the Raymond DeBeeld Architect Inc.

Art Moderne Heritage House Transforms into Energy Efficient, Creative Office

For most people employed in an office setting, their workspace needs to be comfortable and productive.  When you’re an architectural firm, however, your office space has to be not only an effective workspace, but it also has to embody everything that your firm is capable of achieving for any number of clients that might walk through your door.

That is precisely what Raymond de Beeld (B.A., M. Evds (Arch), MAIBC) set out to achieve when he asked Pheasant Hill Homes to help him transform a unique Art Moderne styled heritage house near downtown Nanaimo into a new commercial office space for his firm, Raymond de Beeld Architect Inc.  Raymond had, of course, a clear vision of what he wanted the space to be: an open, communicative layout for the architects to work and collaborate in, with design elements that showed off their ability to blend creativity, functionality and cost effectiveness.  He succeeded.

In addition to this, it was important to preserve the appearance of the home, which had become a landmark for many on Terminal Ave.  The “big white stucco building,” as everyone in town seems to refer to it, has design qualities cherished by many architects. Because Art Moderne was born out of the German Bauhaus movement in the 1930’s, the house displays many of the sleek, sophisticated signatures recognized as “modern architecture,” even today.  The flat roof, the simple massing, and the wrap-around windows are common on contemporary design today, but at the time of the original home’s construction, these were cutting edge architectural features designed to make the home functional and beautiful all at once.  Not content to sit on the laurels of Art Moderne, however, Raymond de Beeld introduced some new life into the old design.

Bright primary colours now adorn both the exterior and interior throughout.  Rustic reclaimed fir lumber was refashioned into fun and sophisticated shelving.  The resident architects’ entrance into the office was designed to be a sophisticated modern cedar rainscreen vestibule that acts as a perfect counterpoint to the historic nature of the house.

 And Pheasant Hill even helped Ray pick up a length of re-claimed maple bowling alley from DEMXX, which we then lovingly turned into a beautiful 12′ long boardroom table.  It was so enormous (and heavy!) that we had to crane it up to the second story boardroom.

Design considerations aside, environmental responsibility is also an important consideration in everything Raymond de Beeld Architect Inc. creates.  Pheasant Hill Homes fit into this role perfectly, as a contractor with a special focus on energy efficient building practices.  It was important to have a contractor and architect who spoke the same language when incorporating energy upgrades such as spray foam, vapour barrier paint, mini-split heat pumps, point of use on-demand hot water heaters and solar tube skylights.  Because of the work we performed for Raymond, a cold, drafty, poorly insulated (or insulation free in some spots!) heritage house has been altered into a much tighter, thermally efficient commercial space that is comfortable to work in, and a pleasure to look at.

The subtrade work  in the house was all performed either by hand-picked subcontractors via Raymond or by Pheasant Hill regulars.  All electrical work and lighting was installed by Brad Koster of Automated Electrical Installation.  Plumbing was performed by Fairwinds Plumbing and Heating.  Mechanical ventilation, heat pumps and wall cassettes were installed by Archie Johnstone Plumbing and Heating.  Re-Roofing and parapet flashing was performed by Erickson Roofing.  All painting was performed by Indigo Painting Ltd.  The fir and maple floors were re-finished and supplemented with new by Heritage Hardwood Floors.  While working to the high tolerances expected by an architect can require extra time and care, being successfully involved in a demanding commercial project was an excellent example of how Pheasant Hill Homes is capable of producing a high quality of work whether it be a commercial, new residential, or renovation situation.

Raymond and his staff now have an office they can enjoy working in and an open layout facilitates easy collaboration.  The energy efficient retrofit translates into a comfortable, conscience-friendly space and the playful, contemporary design motif injects energy into the atmosphere.  And perhaps most importantly, a landmark heritage house in Nanaimo was maintained to ensure it lasts well into another century of use.  Should the deadlines and workload ever become too stressful around Raymond’s office, however, the staff need only find their way upstairs to blow off some steam with a round of bowling on their boardroom table.

If the beautiful photos above (mostly taken by Artez Photography) haven’t whetted your appetite, review the full gallery below.  And if you have a unique project that requires an attentive, or energy conscious touch, don’t hesitate to contact Pheasant Hill Homes now, by clicking here.

(Click here to visit the City of Nanaimo Heritage Register’s page on the Wardill Residence.)

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