Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Accountants put wedge into Gasoline Alley

Accountants may have a reputation for being staid and conservative, but Olsen Joly LLP’s future home is anything but.

Accountants may have a reputation for being staid and conservative, but Olsen Joly LLP’s future home is anything but.

The Red Deer chartered accountants are developing a wedge-shape building on Laura Avenue in Gasoline Alley that’s been turning heads since it started taking shape several months ago.

Currently about a month from completion, it represents a unique design for Central Alberta, said architect Cory Gene Leniuk of JMAA Architecture.

“It’s fun when somebody lets us actually push the envelope,” said Leniuk, praising Richard Olsen and David Joly for literally thinking outside the box.

Most developers want to maximize the usable space on their building’s footprint — which results in rectangular structures with more than one floor. Olsen Joly’s partners thought a single level would be better for their staff and clients, but were mindful that this would be the exception on their street.

“We thought it might look kind of odd if there were a bunch of two-storeys on each side of us,” said Joly.

So they asked Leniuk to design a one-storey building with a lofted front.

“That is, quite frankly, where the shape came out of it,” said Leniuk. “It was to minimize the effect of going two floors as a box, as a rectangle, which inevitably led to the wedge shape.”

Rather than allow the upper portion of the building to go to waste, he designed a mezzanine where mechanical and electrical components are located, as well as a storage area.

The building also has a narrow layout, which allows natural light from both sides to illuminate the interior. Leniuk said JMAA Architecture’s own building, Red Deer’s historic CPR Station, benefits from a similar configuration and this impressed Olsen and Joly.

“The boxes we see are terrible with respect to natural light, as the interior of the buildings are so much farther away from the exterior wall,” he explained.

Joly said he’s pleased with his firm’s new building, which is being constructed by Shunda Consulting and Construction Management Ltd.

“It’s going to look really nice.”

Officials with Red Deer County were also impressed with the design, said Leniuk.

“They were thrilled that something like that was going to land in the county.”

He’d like other property owners to take note and also opt for unusual designs when building.

“I think it proves that it can be done.”

Joly said his firm, which employs 14 — including chartered accountants, certified general accountants and support staff — had become cramped in its existing premises at 4620 48th Ave.

“That’s why we’re moving. We just don’t have the space.”

Nothing suitable was available in Red Deer’s downtown, so the firm opted for a move to the county. The increased parking and improved accessibility there should be good for clients, said Joly, and there’s room on the lot for a future expansion or even a second building.

Olsen Joly is expected to relocate in mid-June. Founded in 1981, the firm has been in its current building since the early 1990s, said Joly.

Leniuk identifies one other interesting feature at the new building. Boulders are strategically located at the rear to protect the ground from water running off the long slopped roof.

“It’s literally going to be a waterfall when it rains hard.”

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