Introduction

Craig Applegath is the founding principal of Toronto office of one of the best and the biggest architecture and design companies in Canada – DIALOG. He is also a passionate designer who believes in the power of built form to meaningfully improve the wellbeing of communities and the environment they are part of.

Background

Since graduating from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University with a Master of Architecture in Urban Design Craig has focused his energies on leading innovative planning and design projects that address the complex challenges facing our communities, as well as on his advocacy of sustainable building design and urban regeneration and symbiosis. Craig’s area of practice includes the master planning and design of institutional projects, including cultural and museum, post secondary education, and healthcare facilities, as well as the design of innovative industrial and manufacturing facilities.

This is the pilot of a video series in which thought leaders discuss the ideas that will shape the future of design. In this webisode, biologist-turned-architect Craig Applegath talks about the symbiotic relationship that should be at the heart of everything we build.

Craig was a founding Board Member of Sustainable Buildings Canada, a Past President of the Ontario Association of Architects, and the current moderator of SymbioticCities.net. Craig has lectured or taught at Harvard, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, as well as at many professional and sector related conferences around the world. In 2001 Craig was made a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada for his contributions to the profession of architecture.

In addition to his fulltime Architecture Practice as a Principle in DIALOG’s Toronto studio, Craig is a regular speaker and facilitator at international conferences, seminars and workshops on the topic of symbiotic city planning, urban resilience, and eco-effective, regenerative building design.

A resilient city is a city that has developed the systems and capacities to be able to absorb future shocks and stresses over time so as to still maintain essentially the same function, structure, systems, and identity, while at the same time working to mitigate the present causes of future shocks and stresses.

See also: Top Interior Designers | Michael Taylor and Robert Smyth

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The Studio

Founded in Alberta in 1961 and established in Edmonton in 1984, DIALOG is one of Canada’s largest fully integrated architectural, engineering, interior design, urban planning and landscape architecture firms. With over 500 employees in four studios across the country, DIALOG has moved its Edmonton studio even closer to the City’s centre as it continues to grow.

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The Dialog studio designs projects of every size and level of complexity, from houses to hospitals, office buildings to police headquarters. The multidisciplinary firm focuses on the complex processes of city building by thinking carefully about places, people, and environments. Dialog places a high value on aesthetics and respect for human values and requires expert engagement, creativity, meticulous planning, and attention to detail at every stage.

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Serving both public and private clients, their work is characterized by thorough project management, comprehensive planning analysis, a strong and clear commitment to beauty through design, and a willingness to understand the uniqueness of each place where they work.

In their interior design practice studio finds flexible ways to meet organizational goals that range from enhancing productivity, to improving health and wellbeing, to leaving a lasting impression on potential customers. Whether it is a million-square-foot shopping mall or a small office reception area, they put integrated, cost-effective interior design solutions to work for all.

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The company has offices and Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver. DIALOG’s Edmonton studio totals 28,000 square feet and is located on 104th street in the historic Revillon building. Formerly used as a warehouse facility, the Revillon building first opened its doors in 1912 and has been a witness to the growth of Edmonton ever since.

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“We are thrilled to be able to move into the dynamic 104th street neighborhood,” says DIALOG Edmonton’s Studio Managing Principal, Darrell Halliwell about their new Edmonton location. “The Revillon building is an important part of Edmonton’s downtown history and we are pleased to be able to preserve and repurpose this space. DIALOG has been working in this city for 30 years and we are proud to make our commitment to a resurgent downtown in one of Canada’s most dynamic cities.”

Projects

Robbins Pavilion at Royal Alexandra Hospital

A major addition to Edmonton’s busiest acute care hospital supports state-of-the-art cardiology and women’s health programs. Hand picked by a small committee of stakeholders over four years, installations of watercolours, acrylic and oil paintings, drawings, textiles, and sculpture grace every waiting area, nursing station, corridor end, patient and exam room. The permanently acquired collection boasts work by 76 artists including Holman Island, NWT and pieces from award winning artists such as Alex Janvier, Vivian Thierfelder, Vic Cicansky, Sylvain Voyer and Aganetha Dyck. Occupying four floors within the Pavilion, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women offers specialized services for women’s health using state-of-the-art technology and innovative programs and clinics.

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The CK Hui Heart Centre, also within the Pavilion, is the largest cardiac centre in northern Alberta and specializes in minimally invasive heart care. The Robbins Chapel offers patients, families, staff and physicians a quiet space in the heart of the Pavilion to pause and reflect. The Robbins Learning Centre features a high-tech auditorium accommodating 180 students, enabling classes to meet onsite and facilitating remote learning from around the world.

Shangri-La Toronto

The Shangri La consists of a 65 storey/ 702 ft. tower of luxury in downtown Toronto. Levels 1-17 consist of the 220-room Five-star Shangri-La Hotel, a spa, business centre, restaurants, and retail. Levels 18-38 house 279 urban residences, and levels 49-65 hold 73 estates. No supplemental damping was required on this project as the lateral core system was carefully design to respond to architectural and structural requirements. Shangri-La was the second deepest excavation for a building in Canada’s history at 102 ft (31 m).

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Newman Theological College

Newman Theological College joins St. Joseph Seminary to form a campus on a hill. The design of the College grew from the concept of community, both collegial and spiritual. Collegial community is expressed by a north-south axis that begins at the bell tower of the Seminary and terminates at the Pastoral Centre, the offices of the Catholic Archdiocese. Framing the axis are the two largest spaces in the building, the gathering space and the double height library. Nestled within existing mature trees, the college is sited to respect and takes advantage of its picturesque location.

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The largest space within the building is the library, a double height volume filled with diffused natural light provided by translucent and opaque panels of glass patterned to evoke stained glass. The college chapel, dedicated to the venerable John Henry Newman, represents the spiritual community. The design of the space is inspired by Newman’s famous poem “The Pillar of the Cloud”. The poem’s ideas are manifested architecturally through several elements including a column of light created by a skylight above the altar and fourteen pillars that line the perimeter of the chapel that mark the fourteen Stations of the Cross

Fort Wellington Visitor Reception Centre

A small visitor centre has a big impact by wrapping a heritage site in a contemporary solution. Through the integrated design process, the re-envisioned visitor centre reinvents the existing building, adding elements of sustainability, while leaving important historical features intact. Centre provides regional economic stimuli, and an enhanced, more focused visitor experience, while putting community pride on display with multi-purpose rooms, exhibit spaces, and a War of 1812 era gunboat installation. Overall, there is a concentrated effort to engage community stakeholders and embrace local histories.

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The total square footage of the visitor centre is now 6990 sq. ft., and the aesthetic impact to the community is comparable to that of housing a larger, costlier venue. The new addition to this historically relevant site (during the War of 1812, Prescott’s location was of utmost importance to the Canadian and the British war efforts) allows for relocation and accommodation of a noteworthy early 1800s gunboat vessel. This relatively small project packs in design excellence, community pride and increased economic opportunities.

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