WZMH and Pellow Merger Spawns Commercial Design Powerhouse
WZMH Architects, known for its office building work, has merged with retail specialists Pellow + Associates Architects, forming this summer's second most significant union. (Sorry, Batman vs. Superman will be hard to top.)
Principals David Moore and Carl Blanchaer (whom we snapped at WZMH’s St. Clair Avenue W office) tell us they've created a one-stop shop for mixed-use commercial design. Pellow, a midsized firm that dates back to 1978, had to adapt to a commercial marketplace that’s been seeing ever-bigger projects by increasingly larger players. “We needed a partner that would give us a little more horsepower," says David. Pellow’s expertise is in retail, enclosed suburban shopping centres in particular. But the rise of mixed-use has found the firm in large office buildings and residential complexes, “something Carl and his partners are much more involved in.”
For WZMH, the merger is all about diversification. “In the '90s we were known as the office building guys," notes Carl, "and we’re still in the position of having done more office buildings in Canada than any other firm. But we wanted to have a broader base.” While retail is a key part of most new WZMH projects—such as WaterPark Place in the South Core or Bay Adelaide Centre (above)—office clients weren't fully convinced of the firm's mixed-use credentials. With Pellow in the fold, “we can now cover all those bases.”
WZMH has been broadening its scope, designing the super-cool looking Parliament Street data centre and the revolutionary PATH bridge (above) that connects WaterPark Place III and the South Core with the rest of the financial district. The firm’s also been doing more residential design, including Yorkville Plaza and Emerald City at Don Mills and Sheppard. Pellow's roster of high-profile projects includes the new Outlet Collection at Niagara; Shops at Don Mills; and Morguard’s 50 Bloor West, below, which will see a 71-storey, 600-unit residential tower rise behind a revamped flagship Holt Renfrew.
For decades, Pellow has designed suburban shopping centres for clients like Oxford Properties, Ivanhoe Cambridge, Cadillac Fairview, Primaris and Bentall Kennedy. But David notes things have been evolving, as those same developers add significant retail offerings to downtown office locations while intensifying suburban mall sites into large-scale mixed-use projects. “They were out in the middle of a field, now they’re completely surrounded and transit's being brought to the door." Plus they’re integrating office and residential—something WZMH can help with. Says Carl: “We can offer full-service for all building types now."