Kelson Group’s City Gardens project is proving to be a dream project, not just for the developer, but also its many stakeholders, such as the architects; and with the architects’ design, they promise to make it an oasis for residents. Station One Architect’s Justin Dyck is one such stakeholder for whom the project has been a dream to work on.
“Personally, it is the project of my life. I always had a desire to design things in a natural, organic sort of a way; it has always been a passion of mine from way back, I would say from the university-times. This is the project of my career and is very personal for myself and for our company,” Dyck said.
Dyck believes that the City Gardens project, which has promised to transform Kamloops’ downtown core into a habitable oasis, has pulled in so much of the nature’s influences, that it is hard to miss the connection.
“The whole development is the vision of Executive Director and Founder Ron Fawcett,” said Dyck. “The overall concept – the look and the feel of the building has taken its influence, mimicking plants and nature, trying to create a natural oasis in the centre of the city. Supports, columns, everything is inspired by nature, and all things we find in nature.”
“The two towers mimic taller trees, old growth sort of trees; we have introduced curves to the spine of these towers to give that organic feel to it. And then there are four other levels of buildings mimicking that next level of growth you see in a garden. For the overall site itself, we really had a lot of fun. With the heart of the whole thing having a valley, the meadows, and even for the children’s play structure, we have given the spaces a more natural touch.”
In the initial concept, before Station One Architects came on board, there were plans to make City Gardens into more of a closed-off oasis, which is contained within itself. However, when Dyck and the team came on board, they met with Ron Fawcett and went through several iterations before deciding to make it into a place where the community can gather.
“We decided that we would get a lot more vibrancy if we pulled the community in, inviting people through it. So, it was a challenge for us to balance public and private space,” Dyck remarked, adding that the big decision for the project was to allow Nicola Street to go through.
Dyck credits Fawcett for the dream project, but also the City of Kamloops for making it into a reality.
“The City has been amazing to work with; any other city and they it would have taken four to five years before they would’ve gotten us to this point, but Kamloops – from the mayor, down to the staff has been on board since day one; I have never seen a project of this size advance so quickly,” he said.
So many aspects of the project involve thoughtful design and implementation. From having a bicycle elevator for residents installed in the parkade, to various features like the valley, the open grounds, the water feature, the architects have really worked to make the project unique in every which way possible. According to Dyck, the detailing extends to working to make this development a greener one as well, and the team is now exploring options to make it more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
“I would say, it is not your average development; it is really something special. It is not purely profit-based, but something special for the developer, and I think people would find something different when they come here. I hope it will be a little hub or point of interest when they come to City Gardens; there is an opportunity for a café and a grocery store or deli, and the valley, where not just residents but the public would hopefully want to go and provide some light and vibrancy to it,” said Dyck.
As with everyone involved with the project, Dyck and his team of architects are excited to finally have the community and future residents see the oasis.
“We really worked hard to frame an experience. We have created a gateway to this special place. Each way you enter, we have created something there to let you know you are entering something special; a neighbourhood that has a different character, a different feel to it. We are really trying to create the experience,” he said.