Draycor Developments & Designated Developments wanted an attractive, dynamic looking building to grace the corner of Leigh and Dunford. To make it so, the turned once again to David McGrath with WA Architects Ltd.

The architectural firm’s tag line ”Architecture Made Personal” encompasses their vision of fostering good relationships as a foundation of great design.

“We make a great impression. And so do our buildings,” says David Echaiz-McGrath, one of the four Principals of WA. “A Dynamic collision of forms creating beautiful, functional spaces.”

David enjoys and studies art which features collision of form, where elements come together in compelling ways. “To me, that is the most exciting part; to see how that can create spaces that really energizes the whole look of the building.”

Hanging on his office wall is a magnificent piece from contemporary art from Etienne Zack which inspires David. He shares the artist’s concept of painting as a dynamic writing and reading technology, intricately reflecting the depths of the human mind.

David’s ideas on ‘collision of form’ came from his days at Carlton University Ottawa.

“My thesis work was very much about that, taking a 1920s residential building and colliding some foreign forms into it. A lot of the art I do is like this. There is a lot of correlation between my art and my architecture.”

How Did WA get involved with Draycor Developments?

WA worked with the builders (Kent and Kevin) on the projects at McCallum Road – Mr. Mikes and the 5 buildings at Triple Crown Communities.

“They respect design and what we do, and they are good, savvy businesspeople. We meshed well. They know what they want, and I appreciate their openness to discussion about the criteria. They had a vision, but it was a collaboration and discussion. They respect design. They knew how important it was for their final product.”

“It’s great to have clients that buy into designing a community. They don’t just gloss over the planning process to get to the work. They were totally into planning.”

“And they are fun guys to socialize with,” laughs David.

How do you approach design?

“We stay curious, and we respect what people have to say. A lot of our staff are into sustainability and into the wellness buildings. We like to design it in a way that will encourage happenstance meetings. Security is more than lock and key. It has to do with knowing your neighbours and knowing your surroundings.”

Is there a way to design a space so it feels more secure and friendly?

“Absolutely. Especially when you’re introducing things like common courtyards and outdoor seating spaces, a fitness studio, or a multi-purpose room. Things like this where people will have to bump into each other, working out, walking their dog. That means more eyes on the plaza and more people you know.”
“How a community is organized and how tenants inhabit a space are important considerations for a real community. We work to implement community mindedness from the beginning with the building design, FSR setbacks and building height. This is an important aspect of our profession.”

How many projects have you been a part of in Langford?

“I’d say over fourty. We’ve been working there (in the community of Langford), for thirty years or so. I remember when they used to call Langford ‘the Dogpatch of Victoria’. They’ve come a long way. Stu Young pulled out all the stops to make it so.”

How is WA Doing?

“We thought the Pandemic would slow us down, but if anything, it ramped us up even more!” By February 2000, we’d already organized to have everyone working from home, so when it hit, it was easy because everyone was already at home.”

“Obviously, the pandemic was a horrible time, but some good things came out of it for us. We now know virtual meetings can work, especially when working with Municipalities. We have projects in the Interior, in Langley, on the Island, so we don’t have to be spending all our time travelling.”

“When the pandemic was here, working from home was quite efficient because there was nothing else to do,” David laughs. “Now our policy allows our staff to work some days from home and some days at the office. I still think you get much more done face to face!”

What is your design approach for Lakeside West?

“The builders wanted a strong presence on the corner (of Leigh and Dunford), and that’s what we delivered. Something with interesting angles, and always with an eye on how to make it a community within a community.”
“We started with a feasibility study and a building block which I broke up to make it more approachable, more pedestrian friendly. The blocks collide into each other form a very dynamic result.”

“The builders gave us the program and unit mix they wanted, along with their overall view of the project. They were looking for very modern with amenity spaces to support the 78 units. We wanted a building with presence, with street facing appeal, with a commercial component on the ground floor. We wanted a breezeway connection to the commercial which will also serves as a lobby for the residential. Ultimately, we wanted to create a community within a community.”

“It’s quite an interesting design, and it was well received by Langford.”