If you’re designing a building and would like to give it a little Mexican flavour, Berry Architecture & Associates would be a good place to start.
The Red Deer firm recently added Carlos Gamez and Ileana Gonzalez to its staff. The married couple, who worked as architects in the State of Sonora for nine and eight years respectively, moved to Red Deer last March and are now learning about the industry here and working toward certification in Alberta.
“They are both great workers that strengthen our firm through their talents,” said George Berry, a partner in the firm. “Carlos is extremely strong in graphic design and presentations while Ileana will be adding depth to our interior design team and look closely at the use of materials and how they influence the feel that people have in a space.”
He added that the pair are able to look at projects a different perspective.
“They still have a very strong Mexican influence.
“We explore many areas when we work on a new project and this new international examination is very much of a positive contribution.”
Gamez, who is 33, has done everything from drafting to project management. Much of his time in Mexico was spent on government institutional projects.
Gonzalez, who is a year younger, has worked as a project co-ordinator, including in the area of urban design. She also participated in university research into environmental protection and sustainability.
Gamez is also interested in the environmental aspects of architecture.
“A key factor for them joining with us is their passion and studying in environmental features and the reduction of energy usage,” said Berry. “This is very important to us, and they bring another skilled direction to this important area.”
Gamez and Gonzalez said they were keen to study architecture outside of Mexico.
“We were looking for the opportunity to learn more,” said Gamez.
Gonzalez describes building design in Red Deer as conservative. What’s really impressed her is how well the city has been planned, with urban areas integrated into green space.
Gamez agreed, citing Red Deer’s expansive trail system — which he and Gonzalez have taken full advantage of — as an example.
“It’s very interesting for us.”
While there are many similarities between building design and construction in Canada and Mexico, there are also differences. Gamez and Gonzalez marvel at the amount of wood used here, pointing out that concrete and brick are the building materials of choice in Mexico.
Gonzalez has also been intrigued by the use of insulation her. She would like to share some of these practices with her colleagues in Mexico.
“I think many things that are being done here could be done there.”
In both countries, a goal of building design is to minimize the transfer of heat. Only in Mexico, the focus is on keeping the heat out to minimize air-conditioning usage
They think Canada has made good progress when it comes to environmentally sustainable building practices. But Mexicans are also pursuing advancements in this area, said Gamez, with increasing attention being paid to solar and wind energy, as well as water conservation.
“We are doing good things back there.”
The couple have adjusted well to the northern climate, and weren’t deterred by a visit to Red Deer in December 2013 when temperatures were in the -30 range. Hustling from heated space to heated space here is not much different from darting between air-conditioned enclosures in Mexico, pointed out Gamez.
The transition to life in Red Deer was eased by the fact Gamez and Gonzalez already had friends here. And Gonzalez got a taste of the culture and language a decade ago when she spent a year at Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills.
They like Canadian culture, including the fact it’s influenced by so many ethnic groups.
“In Mexico, you only deal with Mexicans,” said Gamez.
“Here in Canada, it’s kind of amazing that different cultures are mixed.”
He’s been surprised by the number of Spanish-speaking people in Central Alberta, with immigrants from a variety of Latin American countries in constant evidence.
Less than a year after arriving in Red Deer, Gamez and Gonzalez are working in their profession again and living in a “beautiful city” that they enjoy.
“We already have what we wanted,” said Gonzalez.