Professional Office Buildings
There couldn’t be a more appropriate location for the Widsten Property Management Inc “mixed use” building. Once Lindsay Widsten hired R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd to build his new “mixed use” office building in 2010 he went looking for an “anchor association. He did great, signing the Multi-Cultural Association. As Nanaimo has always been a multi-cultural town. The first immigrant miners were Europeans, but by 1877 there were also many Snuneymux and 300 Chinese working in the Nanaimo and Wellington mines.
This building’s 750 square metre “foot print” has many special features, on several levels. A few of which are: three residential suites, a day care/nap room, two dozen offices, and six classrooms where English as a second language is taught, alone with job search skills. All of which adds up to a very valuable amenity for the people of Nanaimo.
The architect’s use of many exterior materials to clad the building give it one of the most interesting looks in the “Old City neighbourhood. Brick cladding, painted concrete, metal cladding, Hardie Panel, and heavy timber (with clean stain), all certainly make this building stand out.
Seven Sails Medical
This is a leading edge “mixed use” medical/dental/residential facility. It is a non-combustible steel, brick, stucco and glass building, built to the strictest codes of the day, The offices and third floor residences sit prominently atop the concrete underground gated secure parkade.
We named this building the Seven Sails Professional Building because the seven oversized skylight wells located on the west side of the royal blue pitched meatal roof, look a little like the sails of a Spanish Galleon out to sea. These skylights flood the core of the third floor with natural light, to compliment the exceptional natural light and the spectacular Mount Benson views the oversized windows on all sides of this building afford.
These “live-work” hybrid buildings R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd have been building all over Nanaimo are just another way of fledgling businesses can get into their own facilities.
This ultra modern concrete, steel, brick and glass contemporary styled building was named Millstone Medical because the Millstone River, the only river within the Nanaimo City Limits, is where the water powered saw mill was located. This mill cut all the lumber to build the original buildings of Colviletown (Nanaimo’s first name).
This River still serves Nanaimo well as the natural water course returning the “storm sewer” water from Nanaimo’s buildings to the sea. In 2015 the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board recognized this building for significantly improving the quality of commercial buildings in Nanaimo.
Purtzki & Associates
In 1863 the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company had surveyors devise a town plan for Nanaimo. The wealthier part of the middle ward in Victorian times soon became known as “Nob Hill”. It was here on the edge of a sheer rock bluff that R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd was asked in 2009 to build a mixed-use professional building, for a private oral facial surgical centre and offices for a prominent accountant firm.
After numerous designs were considered, and architects changed, the project eventually became the winner of the “best exterior appearance” category in the highly regarded design competition sponsored by the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA).
Several problems were encountered building on bare rock, up to within three feet of a sheer rock bluff. To start with the building “foot print” was painted on the smooth sloping rock face. Then a blasting company was hired to drill 2.5 feet down into the rock at two-foot intervals, all around the footprint. The Hilti-Hit two-part epoxy system was then used to permanently secure the concrete foundation to the rock face, by embedding the foundations reinforcing steel right into the two-part epoxy adhesive via the cored rock holes around the entire footprint.
Another problem became evident that fall. Water started coming into the crawl space through the cracks in the rock face. An interior drainage system complete with the sump and electric pump was installed to get the water back outside the crawlspace. A dehumidifier was also installed to keep the humidity at optimal levels for records storage in the crawlspace. Voila, another unusual site challenge solved!
Harbour City Health Centre
Homes were “moved” to another subdivision to make room for this multipurpose commercial building. It is located immediately across the street from the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Covered parking and elevators to all floors make this modern handicap accessible facility a pleasure to work in or visit. The reinforced concrete and structural steel assembly format combined with the red brick cladding and oversized windows give this building a timeless beauty that will always hold its value.
We chose the “Harbour City Health Centre” name, said Bob Wall, because “the harbour city” has been Nanaimo’s “nickname” ever since Francisco Eliza, the Spanish explorer, chose this location for his base of explorations in 1791. He chose this location because it was the only spot with two harbours. Wentjuysen Harbour (now called Nanaimo Harbour) from where the Port Authority controls shipping, and Departure Bay Harbour (which serves as the transportation hub for all of Vancouver Island).
In the 1800’s Bowen Road was nothing more than a horse and wagon trail between the frontier coal mining towns Nanaimo (population 1,600) and Wellington (population 1,000). However, travel between the two towns became easier in 1878, when Joseph Ganner inaugurated a passenger stage coach service on this road twice a day. This service continued until the railway arrived. This eventually became the “Old Island Highway”. Today it is a very busy “corridor zoned” through-fare in Nanaimo with more than 20,000 cars passing this prime location at the corner of Bowen and Madsen daily.
R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd was not the first to develop this busy corner property by building “Madsen Centre” here. The first developer was also a carpenter, a Dane named Knute Madsen, who constructed a lumber yard here a hundred years ago.
This Heavy gauge “mixed use” professional building is built to a “non-combustible code”. It was assembled using structural steel columns and beams, re-enforced concrete floor slabs on steel “Q-Deck”, with two hour fire wall across the west property line. All while the 26 foot radius blue steel and glass canopy, the round tinted glass “curtain wall” corners and oversized parapet “crown moulding” detail, give this “counterpart architecture” and award winning timeless beauty.
Real Estate Webmasters Downtown Campus
In 1874 George Norris founded Nanaimo’s first newspaper. He then built the iconic Free Press building to house it in 1893. In 1956 the third floor was removed following a tragic fire. It wasn’t until R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd was hired by “Real Estate Webmasters” in 2012 to restore the Victorian Italian Architecture styled historic gem to its original glory, and once again make it structurally sound, did the third floor reappear.
As it turned out the biggest challenges were structural. Getting this 120-year-old building up to current structural and seismic building codes was tough. The existing perimeter foundations had to be “undermined” ten feet at the time to install heavy gauge reinforced “concrete footings” beneath them. Next structural steel “moment frames” were installed to support the buildings core, and “screw pilings” installed across the entire street-scape to support the new arched brick façade. All of which gave this “International Style” beauty at least another fifty years to serve Nanaimo from this prominent downtown intersection.
The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board recognized this project as the “Best Commercial Renovation” in 2014.