ASPECT Structural Engineers selected as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers

The global structural engineering practice joins a competitive list of top employers in the 2024 “Top 100 Employers” Project.

The 2024 list of “Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers” was announced this morning in a special magazine published by Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Top Small & Medium Employers category focuses on smaller enterprises with less than 500 employees, and is part of the “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” project. Conducted since 1999, this project includes 19 regional and special-interest editorial competitions that reach Canadians annually through publications such as The Globe and Mail.

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers is a competition that is now in its 11th year, and recognizes the small and medium businesses (SMEs) that offer the nation’s best workplaces and more forward-thinking human resources policies. Applicant employers are evaluated across eight categories of criteria:

  1. Workplace
  2. Work Atmosphere & Social
  3. Health, Financial & Family Benefits
  4. Vacation & Time Off
  5. Employee Communications
  6. Performance Management
  7. Training & Skills Development
  8. Community Involvement

The announcement noted that, this year, the competition for recognition amongst SMEs was stronger than ever. The competition is open to any company in Canada that has less than 500 employees worldwide, and is a commercial, for-profit business. Kristina Leung, management editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, noted that, “What’s remarkable about the employers on this year’s list is how quickly and effectively they’ve worked to create rewards and other programs developed from employee input…SMEs have enviable levels of customization, flexibility, and speed-of implementation that are difficult for larger employers to match.”

This is ASPECT’s first year recognized on the list since the firm was first founded in 2016.

“Creating an environment that established new possibilities for what a workplace could be was a big part of why we started ASPECT,” says Gina Sheppard, COO and one of the Founding Principals of ASPECT. “Of course, this recognition means so much to the leaders who started ASPECT – Andrew Chad, Bernhard Gafner, Mehrdad Jahangiri, Adam Gerber and me – but it is actually a direct reflection of the incredible people that make up ASPECT today. There are so many team members who set the “tone” for who we have become as a firm, and who have since stepped up to become leaders of ASPECT and of the industry.”

Some of the reasons for ASPECT’s selection, as identified by the jury panel, include:

  • Maintaining a formal hybrid work policy that enables employees to work from home for up to two days per week as well as the option to work from anywhere for up to two weeks per year.
  • Providing flexible work hours.
  • Encouraging employees to adopt healthy habits with an annual fitness allowance of $600 that can be put towards any type of physical activity (examples include gym memberships, ski passes, fitness classes, or personal training sessions).
  • Taking a thoughtful approach when employees are called upon to care for their loved ones, providing compassionate leave top-up of up to 80 per cent of salary for 15 weeks.
  • Supporting employees with $1,500 in tuition subsidies for job-related courses per year.

Stories and photos surrounding the ASPECT work culture, values, and overall approach can be found through the competition homepage, along with a complete list of this year’s winners.

Recipients of this year’s award will be recognized at an award ceremony this evening. Read the full press release here.

If you have any questions about this or other ASPECT awards, please contact:

Samantha Armitage

Director, Marketing & Communications

sam@aspectengineers.com

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About ASPECT Structural Engineers

ASPECT Structural Engineers is a globally acclaimed, full-service structural engineering firm. Founded in 2016, we are now a cohesive team of more than 50 engineers, fabrication designers, technicians, and support staff. Through thoughtful yet pragmatic design practices and rigorous training, the engineers and designers at ASPECT understand not only their role in contributing to a project, but also how to support the roles of others.

Many members of the ASPECT team started their careers in other disciplines, pulling from their experience working with carpenters, contractors, suppliers, or architects to contribute to a wider understanding of the value that structural engineers can bring to a project. Our team-based approach focuses on better design, improved constructability, and unwavering accountability.

From the beginning, ASPECT has been driven by the importance of true sustainability, underscoring our commitment to understanding, and educating others on the benefits of, mass timber. Beyond producing award-winning structural engineering work for everything from office buildings, to bridges, to custom homes, we also dedicate a substantial amount of time to working with other industry leaders - industry suppliers, architects, and clients - to work through new ways to design and build for the future. Our diverse team is active in markets around the world, with dedicated offices in Canada (Vancouver and Toronto), Switzerland (Bern), and the United States (Seattle).


Camera House Recognized at AFBC Architectural Awards of Excellence

This custom single-family home in Pemberton Valley, BC, was recognized for design excellence by The Architecture Foundation of British Columbia (AFBC).

The AFBC is a non-profit organization that aims to advance architecture and design within the province of British Columbia. Each year, the AFBC recognizes projects that demonstrate modernization, diversity, and inclusivity in architecture.

This year, Camera House received recognition for Design Excellence in the Single-Family Residential category. Built as a rural retreat for a young family, the home is situated on a sloped, five-acre lot in Pemberton Valley. The home’s moniker is a nod to the way the dramatic windows and skylights frame the surrounding landscape like a camera lens. Capturing incoming light, the design emphasizes a connection to the natural environment while offering scenic views of the mountain ranges. The roof structure is comprised of a series of 3-series sided boxes, allowing the architecture to open up views to the natural scenery through clerestories. 2x trusses were used to simplify backframing and create the vaulted interior ceiling. The project also includes a workshop building and pool shell.

We would like to congratulate our friends at Leckie Studio for this prestigious and well-deserved recognition! The ASPECT team is proud to have provided Engineer of Record services while working with Leckie Studio as they led this award-winning project.

For more information about the AFBC Architectural Awards and to see the full list of winners, click here.

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ASPECT regularly works with and advises on custom home projects and has built a dedicated team, uniquely qualified for this type of work. Check out the Projects page to take a look at our wider portfolio.


Sidewalk Talk: Introducing PMX 15

We’re proud to be able to finally share more of our work with Sidewalk Labs: introducing…PMX 15! Building on our learnings from PMX 35, we’ve set out to further define and refine mass timber construction using a prefabricated, factory-built, "Kit of Parts" approach. This time we took the design up to construction level documents for a 15-storey mass timber building based in Seattle:

"Next, we wanted to test our ability to design a safe wooden structure in a seismic region. We decided to do that with a mid-rise building 15 stories tall, for a couple reasons. Many cities have a greater market demand for mid-rise buildings, and U.S. states and cities are also starting to adopt the 2021 International Building Code, which grants regulatory approval for timber structures up to 18 stories tall."

This 2-part Sidewalk Labs blog will take you through the project and the choices, implications and learnings behind it:

  • Introducing PMX 15: Our model for a mid-rise timber building (Introduction)
  • Designing for a high seismic zone while meeting latest building code (Part 1)
  • Improving the factory kit of parts to achieve low-carbon, high-quality design (Part 2)

We also invite you to explore Sidewalk Talk, a blog where technologists and urbanists discuss the future of cities.

(Image: Sidewalk Labs)

Side Walk Talk: Exploring the Future of Mass Timber Building

Sidewalk Toronto is a proponent of mass timber, a sustainable new building material with great potential for efficient factory production. The Aspect team is proud to be part of the engineering team on this state of the art project. Learn all about the Sidewalk Toronto Proposal, a new approach to inclusive urban growth.

We also invite you to explore Side Walk Talk a blog where technologists and urbanists discuss the future of cities:

We think timber buildings could be even taller, so we spent the past year working with a world-class team of architects, engineers, and environmental designers to create a mass timber "proto-model" at 35 stories  — a height yet to be achieved in practice. We call this project Proto-Model X, or PMX. What's a proto-model, you ask? Associate Director of Development Cara Eckholm explains that and more in a PMX mini series on the Sidewalk Talk blog.

Their blog will take you through this project and the potential of mass timber building:

  • Introducing PMX: Our model for how tall timber buildings could work in cities (Introduction)
  • How to design a timber building that can reach 35 stories (Part 1)
  • How to design a timber building that's easy to make in a factory (Part 2)
(Image: Michael Green Architecture and Gensler)

Tall Wood Buildings Hoped to Boost Lumber Sector

Check out the Global Okanagan News footage of our associate Ilana Danzig discussing the future of Mass-Timber buildings in BC.

The story covered the The Wood Design Luncheon Conference in Kelowna. These annual conferences in two BC locations feature presentations on current topics in architecture, engineering, design and construction with wood by experts in wood design and building while suppliers are on hand with their exhibits to answer questions about wood products and systems. The same three presentations are given in each location. Learn more about the conference...

This year Ilana presented on:

Tall Wood Case Studies in Canada
Ilana Danzig | P.Eng., M.Eng., PE, SE | Associate – Aspect Engineering
Review and discussion of two tall mass timber buildings: A 12-storey building and a 30+ storey building. Discussions will included the structural system, fire requirements, lateral load considerations, opportunities for prefabrication, and the new 2020 NBCC Encapsulated Mass Timber construction type.

Go to the 12:45 mark of this video to see the Mass-Timber story:


New mass timber projects a glimmer of hope for B.C. forestry industry

Our Associate, Ilana Danzig was featured on CTV News to discuss the possible growth of the BC forestry industry because of changes to the building code:

Starting in 2020, the national building code of Canada will allow for mass timber buildings to be constructed across the country. Currently, buildings made of wood are only allowed to stand six storeys high. After the mass timber policy change next year, buildings will be permitted to stand up to 12 storeys tall.

The increase in size and scale of wooden buildings could help revitalize the forestry industry, according to professionals in the field.

Ilana discussed one of our current projects, Terminus and Tallwood in Langford, BC:

"There's an explosion in mass timber projects right now that we're seeing in B.C. and all through Canada and all throughout the U.S.," said Ilana Danzig, a structural engineer for Langford's upcoming Tallwood 1 building.

"Mass timber is a very hot item. There's going to be very high demand both on the design side and the supply side," said Danzig.

Read the full article by Adam Chan... 


Distillery District Tower at DRP

ASPECT is thrilled to work with the team on the mass timber portion of this new development in the Distillery District.

proposal for the development of a 29-story tower with a “heritage feel” and timber interior that creates the feeling of an old industrial warehouse.

Two developers and two design firms have come together to collaborate in this effort: DreamCityscapeShoP Architects and Quadrangle.

Read the full article on BlogTO.com

 

ASPECT'S contribution will be:

On the inside of "The Ribbon", mass timber construction is being considered for its warm feel—the use of a timber structural system could add a historical aspect by replicating the common structural system of Toronto's old industrial warehouses, while simultaneously adding a contemporary aspect by joining a growing roster of new buildings in Toronto using mass timber following the recent changes to the Ontario Building Code.

Read the full article on urbantoronto.ca

Image: Rendering looking west along the Ribbon, image courtesy of Dream and CityScape.

 


Malahat Summit Skywalk

We are excited to announce a proposed project on the Malahat Summit, an elevated ‘Skywalk’ with a 40-metre spiral viewing tower. It has been featured on Global News:

“Inspired by our exploration of elevated forest walks in Europe, we want to bring the concept of an accessible, environmentally sound and culturally significant tourism experience to Vancouver Island,”

A.Spire by Nature Principal David Greenfield

 

“The Malahat Skywalk is a project that our Nation is proud to partner on. Not only is it a tourism experience that speaks to sustainability and the connection to our land, but it will also provide opportunities for many generations of the Malahat Nation to come,”

Malahat Coun. George Harry Jr.

 

Click here to view the full article and video.


Sea to Sky Gondola Tree Walk

We are happy to announce the Sea to Sky Gondola Tree Walk, an elevated tree walk that spirals 34 metres into the sky. It has been featured on Global News.

“The tree walk will preserve, connect and enhance access to natural areas while protecting environmentally-sensitive areas.”

Sea to Sky Gondola general manager Kirby Brown

The Sea to Sky Gondola’s planned elevated tree walk is envisioned to be an accessible outdoor recreation structure comprised of an elevated boardwalk which meanders through the tree tops and over natural features, eventually leading to a timber viewing tower. The boardwalk is over 700 feet long and up to 75 feet above the forest floor. A gently sloped ramp winds its way up the tower to provide an unparalleled view of the surrounding mountains and Howe Sound, making this structure not only unique to North America, but the world!

Click here to view the full article and video


Building Employee Trust and Respect

We are happy to share an article feature on Kent Employment Law’s website. They are an employment law firm with offices in Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria. They advise employers and employees throughout British Columbia on all employment-related legal matters. They recently interviewed our principal, Gina Sheppard about some of our employee polices:

 

Aspect Structural Engineers: Building Employee Trust and Respect

When Gina Sheppard, Partner at Aspect Structural Engineers, told us that her firm had recently introduced policies allowing employees to take unlimited vacation and set their own work hours, we were intrigued. As a B Corpand strong proponents of sustainable employment – workplace practices built on transparency, collaboration, respect and fairness – we are always on the lookout for companies striving to “do good” for their employees.

Wanting to learn more and to share ASPECT’s successes with other forward-thinking employers, we asked Gina if she would be willing to fill us in on the inspiration for and implementation of their progressive workplace approach. Luckily, she agreed.
Here’s what she had to say:

What sparked you and your partners to start your own firm?
We wanted to combine our collective experience as associates and employees elsewhere, both good and bad, to create a new, modern engineering firm that focuses on employee growth and development.

How do you motivate your employees?
By challenging them personally & professionally while providing them with a fun working environment free of “red-tape” and bureaucracy. We constantly ask for, and actually act on, the advice and input of our employees in regards to many aspects of the business – we recognize that good ideas come from all over. Listening to everyone on the team and valuing their opinions is paramount. We try to provide challenges and learning opportunities and allow them to make mistakes, while still maintaining strong support and easily accessible mentorship. Constant communication and feedback.

 

View the Full Article