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Oris Consulting Ltd. – REMY


When construction of the REMY condominium got underway in June 2010, it was a groundbreaking project due to the fact that it was the first of its kind to be built in British Columbia under the pro­vince’s new rule allowing six-storey wood-frame buildings. Located in the city of Richmond, the project was going smoothly until May 2011, when a fire engulfed the structure and burned for five hours before firefighters were able to contain the flames. From that point forward, the REMY became British Columbia’s first six-storey condominium structure that was completely rebuilt after being de­stroy­ed by a fire.

The exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but arson was ruled out. Additionally, no injuries were reported. Oris President Dana Westermark stresses that the building’s wood-frame construction was not the cause of the fire, a point that has been backed up by investigators.

“It’s important to note that this fire at REMY was a construction fire, whereby the life-safety measures – such as sprinklers, smoke alarms, fire compartments and firewalls – that would be provided in an occupied building weren’t installed or activated yet,” he says. “The spread of this fire and the resulting damage cannot be compared to that of a completed development whereby ‘close to 80 percent of all fires within an occupied building are contained within the compartment of fire origin, regardless of construction type,’ [ac­cording to the Canadian Wood Council.]”

Oris began to rebuild REMY just several months after the fire, West­ermark says, because it had the community support and funding necessary to continue. When the project resumed, the company work­ed in close coordination with the Rich­mond fire department to establish and operate practical and improved safety and security systems. These included install­ing and activating the permanent sprinkler systems as early as possible, installing and activating smoke detectors early in construction and temporarily closing openings in the structure to reduce air movement. All trades were required to comply with a specific hot-works schedule and a minimum four-hour inspection of property after the completion of hot works. At the end of construction for each day, a manned security team takes over the site.

“Wood-frame structures are and al­ways will be safe, durable and sustainable buildings,” Westermark says. “Can­adian construction statistics indicate that more than 90 percent of all Canadian homes are built from wood and this will remain so for the foreseeable future.

“Building codes have continued to adapt over the last 50 years in an effort to help improve the safety of all buildings within the Lower Mainland,” he adds. “Six-storey regulations have helped to provide more fire protection in a mid-rise wood-frame building than in most buildings already in the community. These regulations, along with wood’s flexibility, ductile behavior and high energy-absorption capacity allow wood structures to perform better in major earthquakes than other building materials. These characteristics continue to ensure that wood is the material of choice for all builders, not only in the Lower Mainland, but across the world.”

High-Quality Outcome

Oris was able to resume construction on REMY relatively quickly after the fire thanks to the help it received from the trades involved, as well as assistance from the project’s lenders, the city and the province. All of the trades and construction manager Penta Builders Group stayed with the project after the fire. Delivery of some of the units will be delayed because of the fire, but much of the project will be delivered on time or ahead of schedule.

Located in central Richmond, REMY will have 259 condos when completed next year. Oris is dedicated to sustainable development, and REMY is being built in a green manner to not only conserve the structure’s use of water and energy, but also to make residents more comfortable. REMY will use a geothermal heating and cooling system, and all of its paints, sealants and finishes are eco-friendly, he says. The development’s landscaping has been designed to retain beauty while needing minimal maintenance.

“We thrive on the opportunity to create new-urbanist, compact communities that ensure the culture, livability and attractiveness of an area where people can live, work and play,” the company says.

Oris explains REMY will deliver a “vi­brant urban lifestyle” because it is within walking distance to several restaurants, karaoke bars, coffee and tea houses and three major shopping malls. Additionally, the company notes, the development’s location is near the River Rock Casino, which has live music and entertainment most nights of the week.

REMY’s own amenities include an expansive fitness center, a private movie theatre and a 6,500-square-foot daycare facility. It also will offer guest parking and bicycle storage, and is located just a 10-minute walk from TransLink’s Aberdeen light rapid transit station.

Oris and Penta Building worked with Richmond-based Patrick Cotter Architect Inc. and Mitsui Homes Canada of Langley, B.C., to ensure REMY was designed and built efficiently and with the highest level of quality. Mitsui Homes Canada is a subsidiary of Mitsui Home, which is the largest builder of platform-frame single-family homes in Japan. For REMY, Mitsui Homes provided wall, stair and floor panels, as well as the anchor tie-down system, connection hardware, fasteners and the wood-frame construction materials.

“The panel products used on REMY directly address the issues of wood moisture content and shrinkage through the use of custom precision-end trimmed studs,” the architect says. “Mitsui is able to pre-sort 12 percent content candidate stock for plate material using an in-line eight-point moisture detection system. The ability to achieve high construction tolerances, fully coordinated service penetrations and fabrication under controlled conditions are additional benefits that have allowed the REMY project to achieve higher-quality outcomes.”

Adding Value

Oris Consulting’s focus on quality with the REMY development is just another example of the company’s dedication to revitalizing neighbourhoods and providing homebuyers with enduring value, Westermark says. A few years ago, the Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia named Oris’ London Landing project as the Best Townhouse Development, and the second phase of its London Station development received the Merit Award for Best Mixed Use Commercial/Residential project in 2010. The city of Richmond also recognized Oris with design awards for its Townhouses at 4011 Garry Street, and the McKinney Crossing and London Station developments.

“Our popular community along the Steveston waterfront known as London Landing was the recipient of the Canadian Urban Institute’s Brownie award for Heritage/Adaptive Reuse, a Gold Georgie award for Best Townhouse Development [1,500 square feet and over], and a city of Richmond award for the Best Kept Neighbourhood in Richmond,” the company says.