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Architect named for Okanagan trades facility

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The firm of Diamond Schmitt Architects has been retained to lead the design of Okanagan College's $33 million Kelowna trades facility expansion.

The firm of Diamond Schmitt Architects has been retained to lead the design of Okanagan College's $33 million Kelowna trades facility expansion.

The project will provide 6,264 square metres of new space and more than 4,385 square metres of renovated space., and is expected to take four years to complete.

Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt is working in collaboration with David Nairne + Associates Ltd. of North Vancouver. Diamond Schmitt principal Donald Schmitt said the aim is to create “a highly sustainable facility” that is responsive to and anticipates the needs of students, faculty and the community.

Diamond Schmitt has designed numerous LEED Gold and Platinum facilities and pioneered the commercial application of the biofilter living wall, a technology that uses tropical plants to lower volatile organic compounds, energy costs, and reduce demand on mechanical systems.

Diamond Schmitt will be responsible for the majority of the work in the design and contract document phases. Its partner will be undertaking the majority of the contract administration work.

Sarah Low, an associate in the Toronto firm, said the primary sustainable design goal is net-zero energy use. LEED Platinum is also being targeted, as is Living Building Challenge certification.

The architects have met with user groups and community groups to gain some initial feedback.

“We are now starting to develop the functional program.” Low said.

Consultants have not yet been selected. The project will be phased to suit the schedule for provincial funding. Primary construction is expected to get under way in 2014/15.

The firm has completed such projects as the LEED Gold Centre for Learning in Kelowna and most recently, the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design and Renewable Energy Conservation.

The college said the next step in the design process for the Kelowna trades facility will be a charette, which will engage employees, students and members of the community in an interactive series of consultations.

Charettes have not yet been scheduled.

by Patricia Williams

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