Reflections on Dutch Design

Preview of Project
3-D Computer generated Image
Expressing a Corporate Identity
Expressing a Corporate Identity



DUCA Podium Phase 1 at 5290 Yonge Street, Toronto.     

A 3-storey 27,703 sf. Building with DUCA Corporate Offices on the 2nd. and 3rd. Floors, DUCA Retail Branch, and 5,200 sf. of rentable space on the Ground Floor.

Phase 2 by Diversicare is a 17 storey – 165 rental unit Retirement Tower.

Both Phases will result in one building with the east side naming rights by sign on top of the tower by the DUCA D.

Date: March 19, 2014

Almost sizteen years ago, under the direction of then chairman of the board of DUCA Financial Services Credit Union undertook a project with the goal to maximize the value of their current property at 5270-5290 Yonge St, which the credit union purchased in 1980.  The original building was the Provincial Courthouse, which after DUCA purchased at an auction, was converted to an office building housing the credit union’s main branch and corporate offices.

DUCA was started 60 years ago by a group of Dutch Canadian immigrants, seeking to provide an alternative to the banks for saving and borrowing.  The basic philosophy of people helping people has not changed, as DUCA now serves over 35,000 people from all walks of life through its 12 branches in the GTA.

The architect who arrived in Canada  graduating in The Netherlands  with a  Masters degree in Architecture, Housing, and Urban Design[j1] .  Upon his arrival in Toronto, his dream as to someday design a prominent building on Yonge Street.

The firm has established a reputation as a team of multi-disciplined individuals whose efforts and co-ordination abilities focus on a project’s design parameters and the clients needs. The firm has concentrated on golf clubs, hotel resorts, casinos and condominiums, which integrate the built facilities with the natural environment to form a total experience.

“Meeting with the leadership of DUCA, I experienced an organization with strength, integrity, transparency, and fairness.  I wanted to incorporate those values in the design of their new building.” Says the Architect.

The unveiling of the new ROM design, triggered in him a quest to design an iconic edifice for DUCA. DUCA was presented with an avant-garde design, expressing the DUCA corporate philosophy, and traits of Dutch Architecture, especially the imagery  of the grandiose water work protection structures.

In 2004, when current President & CEO, took on the leadership of the credit union, the project started moving in earnest.

One challenge presented to the architect was how to construct a new building on the same site as the existing DUCA building, while the credit union continued operating, thus preventing two moves and an absence from the site for 2-4 years.   The development would be completed in 2 phases.  Phase 1 was the construction of the podium which houses the credit union offices. On completion of Phase 1, the land would be severed thus creating two parcels of land with the remaining land and density sold to DCMS Realty for construction of Phase 2, consisting of a 17-storey retirement residence on a 2-storey podium.  


Energy Efficiency

Design Guidelines to create Beautiful Sustainable Zero Energy Buildings and Communities

Green Roof
Towards Zero Energy Buildings


Design Guidelines to create Beautiful Sustainable Zero Energy Buildings and Communities


I. Title: Design Guidelines to create Beautiful Sustainable Zero Energy Buildings and Communities

II. Theme: After researching world-wide standards, built and proposed environments, and systems, I will develop design guidelines integrating all aspects of energy efficiency, and sustainability to achieve Beautiful Zero energy Buildings and Communities.


III. Motivating Question(s): My thesis will serve to provide key design guidelines i.e. a condensed handbook of achieving zero energy building in the next 10-20 years, and to provide good architecture. Good architecture comes from good design and good design is synonymous with beauty. Truly exceptional architecture transcends the physical and captures the spiritual. This harmony of design has a subtle yet definitive impact on the well being of people in their daily lives. By choosing a healthier lifestyle, including the consumption of healthier food, one achieves balance with the new buildings, and its sustainable components. The Living Building challenge, Leed, and other similar standards must alter the built form in harmony to better serve man, and create more sustainable and energy efficient, and less carbon intensive footprints. We can build beautiful zero energy buildings & communities with a sound financial & technical underpinning, creating a future for mankind, by addressing a major component in reducing global warming.

IV. Summary of research: Initial analysis of Zero Energy Buildings indicates that this goal can be achieved by reducing energy needs substantially in the range of 60-75% with passive design and active systems.   Furthermore, by capturing energy from solar, geothermal, biomass and other unique methods, energy can be captured, and sold to a (subsidized) grid. Hence one may achieve the Zero Energy target.

V. Research problématique: Balancing all the components from a practical, technical, and feasibility perspective, including the impact on the objective of good design is the challenge. No doubt conflicts will arise as a result of input factors diametrically opposing each other (e.g. initial cost versus life cycle costing)

The research will focus on the active design and passive design. Passive design focuses on shape, fenestration, insulation factors, enclosure systems, and healthy (re-usable) materials.  Active design will focus on energy created by photovoltaic, liquid, air solar panels, wind generators, and geothermal retrieval. Furthermore also to be considered are reclaimed rejection energy (including from sanitary discharge), energy from biogas & fuel. Lake water (cooling), tidal wave technology, water conservation, and water re-use are also paramount in the technical research. Independent factors of mass energy storing, green walls & roofs, and any other systems complete the research components to be incorporated.

Find, research, and utilize energy modeling tools and other (financial) tool modeling in       order to evaluate existing built zero energy buildings and proposed ones. Separately the definition of beauty should be explored, and set into the context of the design process. Research if other existing criteria exist by which to evaluate beautiful buildings. Integration of all the technical aspects into the design process must result in the handbook of achieving beautiful zero energy buildings


VI. Disciplinary Approach:


  1. Research the impact of the total built environment on the total global energy use.
  2. Research global strategies of reducing the energy use of the built environment in the next 10 to 20 years.
  3. Gather empirical data of built and proposed zero energy buildings integrated in their community. I intend to catalogue all existing and proposed Zero energy Buildings in the world via a new website medium named I will develop a set of standards compiled from other international data, in order to standardize the intake of data of submitted Zero energy buildings. This in order to provide statistical analysis, groupings, similarities, of realized and proposed Zero Energy Buildings
  4. Evaluate Leed, the Living Building challenge, and other equivalent criteria used in the world.
  5. Set the background standard by listing beautiful buildings in the world. An empirical analysis parallel with overall research what beautiful or good architecture is will be conducted, in order to provide the encapsulating perspective of beautiful architecture. Super star architects are not the only ones who can create beauty or good architecture. Define the difference between beauty and a good building.
  6. Set up a system of evaluation of all the components responsible for the considerable reduction of total energy, increase in sustainability, and improved water use.


Process all the researched components, and develop Design Guidelines to create Beautiful Sustainable Zero Energy Buildings and Communities.



















VII. Research significance: The world is at a critical turning point as it burns fossil fuels, which contribute greatly to CO2 emissions, and are in part responsible for the global warming. We need to change the directions of being less dependent on fossil fuels. By creating sustainable zero energy buildings and communities, we are greatly reducing use of fossil fuels. Sustainability integration into the buildings becomes a life style change. Not only is the physical building effected but also the physical human being. Implementation by the construction industry of researched components is paramount. Develop adaptable criteria, building designs or components, standard models, standardization, products, systems and services for utilization by the construction industry. Greening buildings will be profitable in the long run.

My audience is the Authorities and the professional Community who are responsible for the built environment. The general public could be greatly interested in the subject, as it could provide clarity in the complex matter.

VIII. Bibliography: I have been researching the zero energy subjects by reading articles, googling the subject, practicing in part the matter in reality, and attending numerous conferences, and seminars. Only recently is the subject of interest at large, and not too many reference books are available.

  1. Lisa Rochon Globe and Mail -Tall, thin, curvy, gorgeous and heating the winter sky
  2. Architectural Record –Frick Chemistry Laboratory
  3. School District earns “A” for energy Conservation.
  4. International Living Building Institute – Living Building challenge 2.0
  5. Intelligent Energy Europe -Nearly Zero Energy Buildings in Europe
  6. Zero Energy Designs R –Abundant energy in Harmony with Nature
  7. Net Zero Energy Buildings – Sustainability workshop
  8. Zero energy Buildings – Zero Building Database
  9. BCA Academy – Zero Energy Building

10. Natural Resources Canada – Net Zero Energy (NZE) Housing

11.Quad-Lock- Five Steps to a successful Zero Energy House (ZEH)

12.Facilitiesnet- Net Zero energy Buildings Becoming More Common

13.NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) – Zero energy        Buildings (A Critical Look at the Definition) – Governments Retrofit Buildings to Save Money    and Energy

15.PRNewswire –Four Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012

16.Construction Canada Online – Manitoba Releases Online Green       Building Product List

17.Construction Canada – New Green Building Codes for the United     States and Canada

18.Canadian Journal of Green Building & Design

19.Construct Canada Show

20.Building Strategies & Sustainability Magazine

21.University of Toronto Lecture – Hospital of the Future

22.CMX CIPHEX  Lectures – Roundtable of Renewable Energy

- Water Reuse Strategies

- New Labelling and Certification Program                              for Homes

- Solar Thermal Applications

- Symposium on Smart Controls

- Navigating the Sustainable Building Field                          – Leed Strategies

- Change for the Better – Strategies for                               Green Existing Buildings


IX. Addendum: My experience is building buildings, and integrating energy efficient components.