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Longest-Running Architectural Firm In Waterloo Region

Longest-Running Architectural Firm In Waterloo Region

Longest-Running Architectural Firm In Waterloo Region
July 18
16:34 2016

Robertson Simmons architects Inc. has an extensive history within the Waterloo Region under a variety of names and partners by continuously delivering what Partner Laird Robertson acknowledges are the “landmark structures in our community for over 65 years as stewards of the corporation.”

With a corporate history dating back to 1946, Robertson Simmons architects Inc. (RSai) is the longest- running architectural firm in Waterloo Region. Founded as Barnett and Rieder Architects, it later became Rieder and Hymmen Architects, then Rieder, Hymmen and Lobban Architects, followed by RHL Architects Inc. as varying partners contributed to the structural aesthetics of Waterloo Region up to its current incarnation as Robertson Simmons architects Inc.

“Carl Rieder, the founder of the firm, developed the Centre in the Square and it’s an example of our history and considered one of the best performing arts centres in North America,” says Robertson. “Our efforts follow this tradition,” he adds.

Today the leadership team features Laird Robertson, Patrick Simmons and, as of June 2013, Jason Martin.

“What makes our work so special is that the design vision is maintained from beginning to end by a Partner to ensure that the quality of the end product is worthy of the original vision. It’s a quality control method and why our projects have such a high design rigour,” says Robertson.

Robertson joined the firm that now bears his name in 1996 adding to the company’s strength in designing educational facilities. He has received numerous Urban Design Awards including awards for St. Mary’s High School and the adjoining Country Hills Community Library – from the City of Kitchener for being a “development-industry leader who exemplifies a commitment to excellence and creating a built environment that enhances quality of life.”

Patrick Simmons has put his Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University to good use by contributing significantly to Waterloo Region’s corporate landscape, including pushing the boundaries of sustainable design for Enermodal, and meeting the fierce scheduling demands required by one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the world. In October 2011, the Enermodal facility represented Canada at the World Sustainable Building Conference in Helsinki Finland and is recognized as Canada’s most energy efficient office building.

“It’s all about the people,” says Simmons. “We have been able to attract some of the best designers and technologists to this firm over the years and put together a great studio team atmosphere. We have also been fortunate enough to work with some great clients that truly care about the environment that people live and work in. That’s what has allowed us to create the architecture in our portfolio.”

Jason Martin’s 15 years of leadership experience in the field of design and construction administration of various award-winning large corporate, institutional and healthcare facilities fits well with RSai’s standard of design excellence and effective delivery. Martin was instrumental in developing the Hyper-Speed DeliveryTM model to successfully deliver custom, site-specific buildings to clients in two-thirds the time of traditional delivery models. In keeping with RSai’s committed to sustainable design practices, he has been responsible for the design and leadership of more than 750,000 square feet of LEEDR certified projects.

“Waterloo Region is quickly realizing the benefits of environmentally sustain- able design. Being at the forefront of sustainable design has allowed RSai to work with the most forward thinking clients and consultants in the field, producing some of the most energy- efficient building types in Canada,” explains Martin. “The Hyper-Speed DeliveryTM model has helped us keep pace with those demands while maintaining a high level of design quality and construction. With the development of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the tremendous growth in start-up tech companies the region is a buzz with amazing opportunities.”

The three partners are garnering a lot of attention having been featured in the Fall 2014 issue of Journal produced by the Grand Valley Construction Association (, as well as an article in Grand Magazine, July-August 2014

( that “focused on the human side of our business,” says Robertson.

That human side is essential in understanding their six key principles of their service approach as noted on their website, beginning with a client centred approach.

To deliver effective, compelling, historically significant or technically complex architectural solutions, RSai pursue an equal balance between their six key principles – Firmness, Commodity, Delight, Sustainability, Schedule, and Budget.

“We can give our clients price, function, and beauty,”

says Robertson. “Then there’s the pure economics of it,”

he adds. “We offer incredible value with a quality product produced on time and on budget.”

Through 65 years of experience of serving Waterloo Region, Southwestern Ontario, and the GTHA, RSai provides feasibility studies, inspiring architectural, and interior design services for new facilities, additions, and renovations within the corporate, educational, recreational, municipal, healthcare, residential, and mission critical sectors. RSai have developed a comprehensive knowledge of every project delivery methodology including design/bid/build, design/ build, construction management, as well as P3 (Private Public Partnerships) for brownfield developments, urban intensification, adaptive re-use, and traditional greenfield developments in order to serve the broader market.

RSai’s design portfolio now includes over 4 million square feet of corporate space, and over 6 million square feet of academic facilities.

Other landmark structures that the firm has developed include: BlackBerry’s Northfield Corporate Campus; the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo; Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School; Lang’s Community Health Centre (Cambridge) that used the firm’s Hyper-Speed DeliveryTM model; and The Breithaupt Block, in partnership with the Perimeter Development Corporation.

The Breithaupt Block, which won Best Overall Brownfield Redevelopment Project at the 2014 Brownie Awards presented each year by the Canadian Urban Institute, is the location of RSai’s Google project. “When completed, the Breithaupt Block will be a landmark building; another example of our firm continuing the tradition of creating landmark buildings in the Region,” says Robertson.

There is a Toronto branch office which was “part of RSai’s foundation. Kitchener-Waterloo is our head office. We re-started our Toronto office over 15 years ago to work more closely with the school boards there and we continue to pursue and do schools out of our Toronto office,” says Robertson.

There is also an emerging emphasis on contemporary residential design with the Southall Residence and the Eby Residence being two homes of note.

“There’s a move towards living in a modern home that is connected and sustainable with LEEDR infrastructure,” says Robertson. “There are young professionals who want to live in the modern world and right now, the only place to find a contemporary living environment is in a condominium tower. We are making it our mission to bring contemporary design to all residential projects with a focus on private residences and urban in-fill projects.”

With this level of diverse expertise and community commitment, it’s easy to see why so many have made RSai their designer of choice when it comes to buildings.

“When the choice is to hire a local firm for a high profile project, we are the firm of choice. RSai is committed to the tradition of designing landmark buildings that provide an equal balance of design and practicality,” says Robertson. “Beauty is essential, but without fiscal responsibility, functionality, technology, sustainability, and connectedness to the environment – you have nothing. Having them all is what makes truly great architecture.”

RSai is located at 130 Weber St. West, Suite 100, Kitchener. For additional information, or to discuss any of your architectural needs, call 519-745-4754 or visit

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    Lloyd Stevens has been writing Canadian business news for over 20 years with articles appearing in Perspective which appears in The Globe & Mail and contributing to and

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