Republic Architecture Inc.
- 385 St. Mary Avenue
Republic Architecture Inc. has made its mark in downtown Winnipeg in more than one way.
Recently completing the major renovation of its office space, the design firm preserved the historic building at 385 St. Mary Avenue by overhauling it for the new purpose. Republic has also recently completed the necessary updates to the Manitoba Legislative Building on Broadway to make it possible for a person with a disability to serve in the Chamber barrier-free.
True to its collaborative ethos, everyone at Republic had a hand in shaping the design for its new headquarters.
“We’re even collaborative from the inside out,” says Justin Ladia, environmental designer at Republic. “Everyone had their stake in it and felt like it was their baby.”
Since its start in 2009, Republic has had the same principal architect, Shane Solomon, at the helm. While the firm works on a wide variety of projects, a pattern appears in its portfolio with a number of government buildings, urban infill and historic restoration work.
Having worked in likely the northern-most civilian point in Canada, Republic also prides itself on some specialized knowledge of its home country.
“The majority of the firm’s work is in Canada,” says Ladia. “We sort of know what Canada is, what the landscape’s about.”
While the firm has always been inherently collaborative with its clients (and internal team), there was even more at stake when it did work in the remote northern community of Grise Fiord, Nunavut.
“We had to understand what it is like to live there,” says Ladia. “Things need to be contextual.”
Besides the specific use of the building, Republic needed to understand the limitations of the location such as building in permafrost conditions, necessitating the need for an ultra-high performing building envelope to weather the extreme conditions – and why many buildings in the area are built on stilts to avoid foundations freezing over.
“We consider the long- and short-term impacts of a building,” says Jennifer Zatser, director of marketing communications and business development for Republic. “Not just on the environment but on the users and communities they service.”
Due to the nature of this and some of Republic’s other previous work, sustainable practices, including their own in the office, is another thing that’s deeply engrained in its culture.
“A lot of our work is in existing spaces. (The final product) speaks to what the original character was, but we give it our spin,” says Ladia.