Number Ten Architectural Group

50 Years of Contextual Design & Empowering the Next Generation
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Chuck McKenna

For over half a century, Number Ten Architectural Group (Number Ten) has focused on contextual building and design while integrating planning, client collaboration, strategic advisory services, interior design and visual communications. The Winnipeg-based company is committed to continuous learning and the growth of the next generation of designers by maintaining ties with the University of Manitoba’s architectural school and local technical college.

Number Ten has offices in Winnipeg, Regina and Victoria, but the company’s name originates from its first location at 10 Donald Street in Winnipeg. “Number Ten’s roots go back to the early 1950s and the name evolved from two companies that merged in 1964,” explains Robert Eastwood, practice leader of Number Ten. “The common denominator was that both companies embraced contemporary architecture and several of the founding partners studied with the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.”

Mies started studying in Germany and eventually came to Chicago where he led the department of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology; he later established the Second Chicago School and was extremely influential in the Mid-Century modern movement. “Although our architecture has evolved immensely, we’re still influenced by a number of elements that stem from Mies, such as clarity and simplicity,” Robert says.

According to Robert, Number Ten is larger now than it’s ever been. “Our firm is much larger than it has been in the past,” he reveals. “We work across Canada and into the U.S., in Minnesota and the San Francisco area. We’ve also completed ­planning and projects in Africa, India and Russia.”

From Student to Partner

The success Number Ten enjoys now stems from a long history of sharing its philosophy and practices through mentorships. Robert has reaped the benefits himself, as he started his life-long career at Number Ten in the 1970s. “I started out as a student myself,” he recalls. “We’re now in our third and fourth generation of partners, including many who started out as students studying at the University of Manitoba and working as interns at Number Ten. A big part of our history is the connection and continuity of this tradition.”

Number Ten’s 80 professionals are organized into integrated studio teams that explore the best practices and key design drivers of specific building typology. Each studio is managed by a studio lead, comprised of architects, intern architects, interior designers, technologists and contract administrators. From commercial and residential to education and recreation, entertainment and hospitality to institutional design, Number Ten has the right team for any job.

The firm is also at the cutting edge of the industry’s latest BIM technology. “We were the first practice in Manitoba to get a 3-D printer,” shares Robert. “All of our teams are capable of producing BIM documents. We’re constantly seeking to innovate and develop internally.”

LEEDing in Design and Context

Innovation may be one of Number Ten’s cornerstones; but, so is sustainability. In 2011 the company completed the University of Winnipeg Richardson’s College for the Environment and Science (UWRE), which is seeking LEED Gold certification.

The historic college, which dates back more than 130 years, was seeking modern-day sustainability with a student-friendly, state-of-the-art science facility. Number Ten’s creative goal was to express the facility’s scientific purpose. This was achieved through a ceramic frit coating applied to the glass, which displays portions of the Periodic Table on the exterior of the building.

UWRE’s main north wall is composed of reclaimed hardwood from the floor of the century-old roller-skating rink that was removed to make way for the science center. At the roof level, the building boasts a greenhouse with views to a central atrium. The most innovative feature is UWRE’s laboratory design. “We achieved a 60 percent reduction in energy use by designing heat recovery ventilation,” details Robert.

Also in Winnipeg, Number Ten is currently in the midst of the redevelopment of the city’s main convention centre. “We won the original bid for the centre in the 1970,” reveals Robert. “To build the original centre we worked in consortium with another Winnipeg firm, which we’ve reestablished again to do another $180 million addition. We’re aiming for LEED Silver certification, with the target completion date being March 2016.”

Another project that’s come full circle for Number Ten is the company’s work at the Metropolitan Theatre. “The facility was originally constructed in 1919 as a theatre but had been closed down for many years,” explains Robert. “We worked to restore and re-plan the site, opening it earlier this year.” Reopening as The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre, the spectacular building will offer a unique food and beverage emporium, as well as a state-of-the-art conference, banquet and meeting area.

From science centers to historic theatres, Number Ten’s design capabilities truly run the gamut. The firm has even worked on Canada’s famous MTS Centre, home of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. No matter the application, Robert notes that it’s all about perfecting the practice.

“The core of this company is trying to maintain and do what we do exceptionally well,” he says. “That’s why we invest heavily in our people. What’s ahead is a continued focus on training and developing younger staff and transitioning to BIM and more cutting-edge technologies.”

From the original 10 Donald Street location to multiple offices serving Canada and the world over, the company has progressed significantly over the past 50 years. Number Ten Architectural Group continues to provide contextually sound design, beauty, sustainability and a chance for the next generation to grow.

For more information about Number Ten Architectural Group, please visit: www.numberten.com.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Grant Thornton
PCL Constructors Canada Inc.