Home Month and Year October 2022 Following the Plan

Following the Plan

Planworks Architecture celebrates 15 years

Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt.

Planworks Architecture delivers complete architectural and design services that take their client’s projects beyond expectation. By combining building design, complete full service architectural drawings, master planning, interior design, specifications, project management and even tenant coordination, each Planworks project gets the big-picture approach. Add to that client service that is focused on solutions and personalization, and it’s clear that this combination is hard to beat.

Danny Estephan and Jason Leblanc founded Planworks in 2007.

“We came from a large global firm and wanted to get back to providing a fluid, nimble and personalized service to our clients,” says Estephan.
“We believe in providing architectural and interior design services that begin with being humble, listening to our clients and arriving at creative solutions to ensure the project expectations are surpassed. We are honoured to be trusted with our client’s vision, financial investment, and success. We feel we are stake holders in all our projects regardless of size or complexity,” adds Leblanc.

The original company launched in 2007 was named Planworks Design Studio. In 2010, the branding changed to Planworks Design & Planning. Six years later, growth and expansion meant another change and the era of Planworks Architecture began. The company expanded in leadership as well, with Principal Melody Erickson and Principal and registered architect Jean Louis Baillargeon joining the partnership team.

“Joining Planworks in 2014 was a great career move for me,” says Erickson. “After spending 17 years at a larger firm, I had a desire to get back to the basics. Taking projects from inception to completion and focusing on client relations was what I desired – and I knew I wanted to be a part of the team and culture that Danny and Jason had started.”

Today, the company that started with a talk and outline at Estephan’s kitchen island is a thriving business with 19 staff, three associates, four partners and impressive projects that span residential, industrial, hospitality, commercial, institutional and office complexes.

The founding partners are pleased with the progress.

“Our start 15 years ago was to create a dynamic boutique firm that breaks all the typical stereotypes of an architectural and design-oriented business. We took a leap of faith when we decided we could provide a different, more meaningful service to our clients,” says Estephan.

Leblanc adds, “On this anniversary year, we are proud at how our company has evolved to become a better one each year through our employees, existing and new clients and projects.”
Both credit the growing team as drivers of the company’s success.

The strengths and diversity seen in the dynamic principal group ensures smooth navigation in the architecture and construction fields. For example, Baillargeon’s varied experience in several different private and public building typologies has added yet another dimension to the firm. His ongoing desire and focus on ensuring sound planning principles, elegant design solutions and drawing production quality all reinforce both his professional values and those originally established at the firm’s outset.

Estephan also notes, “We have been fortunate to create an extremely stable, diverse team and client base, resulting in many diverse project types that continuously provide a challenge and call to innovation. We value our people and celebrate our culture at Planworks. We promote equality, inclusivity, and diversity from our leadership group to our newest employee. We believe in a mentorship program that exposes all our people to all aspects of architecture and interior design from the initial idea through to project completion, and we promote and celebrate internal growth within the company. We will always have at least one partner involved in all aspects of a project to provide guidance and viable solutions if any challenges arise.”

“We are a humble and very grateful team that wants to extract our clients’ visions, improve on them and work together with them on the next project,” smiles Leblanc. “We hold each other accountable throughout our projects and our doors are always open! Planworks’ open-door policy is not just for employees, it’s for clients too.”

Erickson and Baillargeon agree, “Clients would be surprised to know how inclusive and cherished our culture and team are; we all work together – and for one another – regardless of role or experience level.”

As a local business, the founders and principals couldn’t be happier to be making a difference for their team and the clients in the Capital City.
“Edmonton is a great place to do business. Our ability to remain somewhat insulated from economic downturns is truly an example of our resiliency. Through the years we have met and worked with many great people that have turned into partners and friends in business. The architecture and construction industries here are very active and robust, yet it still feels like a smaller community. We sincerely appreciate the partnerships we have created in Edmonton’s business community,” say the founders.

It is a joy for Planworks to influence the very fabric of the city. Some of the local projects that showcase Planwork’s vision include:
Strathcona Farmers Market: The Market is a centerpiece to the City of Edmonton and the Old Strathcona neighborhood. Planworks relished in the challenge to increase community engagement and created an event space within the market and to provide options for multi-day use, community gardens and gathering spaces.

The future goal is to implement upgrades beneficial to the Market itself, and to the community. Upgrades to the existing mechanical and electrical systems align with the Energy Transition Strategy and promote a pathway to a zero-omission building. Planworks will explore the replacement of all lighting to LED, low consumption plumbing fixtures, replacement of existing boiler system and installation of solar panels.

Planworks will further assess the improved energy and water consumption obtained with building upgrades, will review air quality monitoring and assist in facilitating maintenance and management policies associated with the program.

Mill99: This is a two-acre site located at 99 Street and 80 Avenue in Edmonton. The development will encompass one mixed use (multifamily and retail) building containing approximately 150 units over 14 stories. Another multifamily building will contain approximately 60 units at 6 stories. A central outdoor amenity plaza will link the two, creating a rich pedestrian environment on site.

Urban Village: A 12.8-acre site located in St. Albert, the mixed use development will encompass two multifamily buildings, a commercial retail component and a seniors living facility. It will integrate the philosophy of work/life balance surrounded by local supporting amenities. Construction on phase 1 will start this fall.

Planworks is also active outside of the city, seen in, for example, Leduc Golf and County Club in Leduc. Completed and open to the public in 2021, Planworks worked closely with the City of Leduc and the golf course, to design and oversee the construction of their new 20,000-square-foot facility. Showcasing beautiful natural stone and heavy timber accents, the new facility is home to an event space able to accommodate 220 people, a full service lounge, pro shop, indoor simulators and putting green. The new clubhouse was constructed in the exact location as the original, and was designed to capitalize on the beautiful views overlooking the course.

“Taking a project from inception to completion and having our clients tell us that ‘you listened and delivered to our highest expectations’ is very rewarding,” say Estephan and Leblanc.
Building the city and surrounding community means more to this team than the projects they enjoy. It also means being a community partner. To this end, Planworks is pleased to support the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, MS Bike, Edmonton Humane Society and Youth Empowerment and Support Services: YESS.

For their project work and service, Planworks has been recognized several times, including a nomination in 2019’s Urban Design Awards for The Grand. Planworks also received an Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) award for millwork design at Oasis Orthodontics.
Leblanc notes, “The AWMAC award was an exciting one for us as our interior design division was growing and this was a great celebration of their dedication and achievements. However, we don’t really measure success based on awards or accolades – we measure success in the eyes of our clients’ acceptance of our quality and service. Nothing else stands above that. Our people and our clients are what we consider being successful.”

As Planworks celebrates 15 years, the founders, principals and team say a heartfelt thank you to the many partners that have helped the company reach professional and personal goals.

“We work with a multitude of design build contractors and developers in the City of Edmonton and beyond. We credit our success, in part, to individual groups that promote key relationships with Planworks. This list includes but is in no way limited to: Allard Developments, Synergy Group of Companies, Carlson Construction, Eagle Builders, Melcor Developments, Canalta Group, Soul Foods Group, Landrex Developments, and many other groups – there are just too many to name – all of which have helped to make Planworks Architecture’s journey a success.”

What comes next? Estephan and Leblanc conclude, “Our trajectory has been steep and ongoing. We have been providing our services from B.C. to New Brunswick. We are currently looking at setting up offices in B.C. and Ontario to better serve our growing client base. Regardless of our growth, we will retain our boutique firm’s size and vision. Client service and team culture will always remain our top priorities.”

There are plenty of exciting days and projects ahead for Planworks, and you can have a front row seat to the action by following along on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Visit weareplanworks.ca to learn more, or to engage the company where your project gets the personalized attention it deserves.

600, 10339-124 Street
Edmonton, AB Canada T5N 3W1
mail: admin@pwarch.ca
Office: 780.643.3233