August 27 2020
A Unique Understanding of Client Needs & Drivers
Brian van Bussel on His Transition to Residential Lead at Entuitive
Brian van Bussel still remembers his work in the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory at Western University during his undergraduate program in engineering.
“We had the world’s first wind tunnel at Western, which was really exciting,” says Brian. “During my internship there, I worked on building proximity models for several towers planned for New York and lead a full tunnel wind analysis for a building planned for Manila, Philippines. The wind tunnel itself was the first of its kind in the world to perform scaled wind engineering testing on proposed buildings to predict their dynamic performance.”
The birthplace of modern wind engineering was an exciting introduction to the structural dynamics of tall buildings, expertise Brian has been perfecting over the last 20 years with an international portfolio of projects, including Pier 27 Phase III in Toronto, the RBC Centre in Toronto, Enigma Lofts, Ocean Club Condominium Towers, and the Mercer Street Condominium Tower in Toronto.
Prior to taking over the Residential sector group in Toronto at Entuitive, Brian led the Special Projects group, delivering ambitious designs within tight budgets and fast-tracked schedules. Before that, he worked on a variety of large commercial, residential, healthcare, cultural, and institutional buildings in Ontario and around the world, including the US, UK, South America, and the Middle East.
With this comprehensive portfolio, Brian brings a unique perspective to the Residential sector service offering while understanding the particular constraints that drive a residential project.
One example of this is the Pier 27 tower in Toronto.
Pier 27 Phase III
The Pier 27 tower in Toronto is a 35-storey, high-rise condominium featuring an alternating balcony pattern with individually jagged floor plates working together to form a smooth and distinctive aesthetic. The development also features a nine-storey podium from which the tower steps out, and four levels of below-grade parking right at the waterfront.
To achieve the required architectural aesthetic, Brian worked with the residential team to design a post-tensioned balcony system. The desire for six-metre-long balconies meant that, if constructed conventionally, the balcony floors would have to have been at least 500 millimetres thick, more than double the typical slab thickness for balconies. That amount of concrete would have significantly increased the cost of the tower, adding to its height and weight.
Post-tensioning the concrete slabs meant the thickness of the balconies could be reduced to 225 millimetres, only slightly thicker than a conventional slab, thereby achieving the alternating balcony pattern.
Understanding the needs and constraints of all stakeholders on this project allowed Brian and the team to deliver the required aesthetic while being mindful of cost and return on investment.
Brian’s unique expertise also enabled the striking Enigma Lofts development. Located in Toronto’s Bloor and Lansdowne neighbourhood, this project provided 86 boutique residential units together with three levels of commercial space for artist studios and galleries. The building design integrates with the surrounding residential community, maximizing the views out to the natural landscape while providing a range of unit types and sizing.
The structure’s unique layout creates an S-shaped building with a nine-storey twisting tower, with two- and three-bedroom townhouses located at podium level and five additional levels of one- and two-bedroom units, spanning over an interior courtyard.
Brian and his team designed a Vierendeel structure to achieve the long span over the courtyard. The structural depth was kept as thin as possible by engaging all horizontal concrete elements of the upper five levels with the vertical elements connecting them – concrete shear walls between units and corridors.
The Residential Sector Post-Covid
Brian brings holistic thinking and years of experience to his new role as Residential Lead in Toronto. Throughout his career he has undertaken many projects that presented unique drivers and stakeholder needs.
“Understanding the full asset lifecycle, as well as all phases of a project, from design to construction, is what allows us to continually deliver great projects for great clients,” says Brian. “I have enjoyed all the challenging projects in my career because each has been an opportunity for innovative solutions and great collaboration.”COVID-19 has vastly changed the landscape of our industry. We see continued demand for residential projects as many of us have shifted to working from home. New and unique project requirements, such as ensuring physical distancing both during construction and for residents, will be paramount as we move forward.
“Residential projects must balance developer, architect, and resident needs,” says Brian. “All of which have been impacted by the pandemic.”
Residents are asking more from their spaces. Sustainable designs are a must to reduce energy usage and improve comfort when people are working from home. Apartments and single-family homes will need to provide adequate space for families to accommodate situations where both parents are working from home and the children are in school on a potentially rotating basis.
Construction sites are affected, too. They must remain active and safe, meaning we must, now more than ever, consider the constructability of our designs and the sequence of work.
The need for physical distancing and more space isn’t the only way the pandemic is shifting our understanding of the sector. Many individuals have been laid off around the world as the pandemic has battered our global economy. Affordable housing has become an even greater priority for many communities and policymakers as many citizens have been out of work and unable to pay rent.
Entuitive is proposing solutions to the affordable housing crisis that include building on challenging sites, designing modular affordable housing, and retrofitting and adaptive reuse.
“At Entuitive, we can see all the ways the pandemic has affected the Residential sector,” says Brian. “We continue to consider these impacts and how they affect our clients and their end users. Our priority is always to deliver solutions that meet the needs of all stakeholders. I’m no stranger to unique needs and drivers and I look forward to taking on these new challenges.”To learn more about our work reach out to Brian van Bussel.