Living By Design

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Story by Chris Bryan Editor - Tyler Garnham photo 

Pulished in the South Delta Leader Aug 17 2007

 

Peter Dandyk seeks harmony, both in his projects and in his life.

 

Search for a word to describe Peter Dandyk's life these days, and it might be harmony. Or serendipity.

 

The Tsawwassen architect works close to home-something important to him-and he's been doing a lot of work with Century Group president Sean Hodgins on some projects that tap into his passions-not only for creating a more sustainable future, but also a better community.

 

I met him Monday at Rotary Square, on a bench overlooking a lovely new garden and pond, with a gorgeous waterfall designed by Tsawwassen First Nation artist Karl Morgan.

With the town square, Hodgins was seeking something to rival any public square in the country.

 

Peter, a member of Tsawwassen Rotary, suggested his group get involved, as they had been seeking a project to celebrate the organization's Centennial. Peter thought this was a perfect way to mark the anniversary, as well as provide the community with an important gathering place.

 

"Tsawwassen is really lacking a sort of core or heart," he says. "The redevelopment here came as a real opportunity."

 

As Peter speaks, a couple of teens are sitting at a bench on one side of us, and two women are engaged in a conversation at another bench nearby. It seems the area is already taking on a life of its own.

 

"To me, this is the front porch for Tsawwassen."

 

The square, and multi-coloured building called Oliva that hugs its edge, were both designed at Peter's desk. With Oliva, Peter helped Hodgins achieve his goal of creating a sustainable residential/commercial project that set a high environmental standard long before the foundation was poured.

 

The old building was 97 per cent recycled, and the new building built with an emphasis on sustainable, earth-friendly materials (e.g. bamboo floors). Residents also enjoy solar water heating and an auto co-op, among many other environmental initiatives.

 

Peter shares Hodgins' commitment to green building. Peter was the first architect to receive a masters in environmental design at the University of Calgary in 1974.

 

"The idea of responsibility in environmental design has always been a passion, and it's really come together in this building."

 

Beyond Tsawwassen, Peter is helping Century Group with a project on a 30 hectare parcel in Nanaimo called Glen Oaks that will take the principles of sustainability and the pedestrian-oriented values of New Urbanism to an even greater scale.

 

In his own life, Peter tries to follow the principles central to his work. His co-workers work from home, taking one more commuter off the road.

 

And he even moved recently, so that he's only three blocks from his office above the Rose & Crown Pub.

 

It's not an apartment in the city centre-the kind of living he advocates, mixing with work and play-a concession to his wife, who loves to garden.

 

But when it comes to encouraging others to work, shop and enjoy leisure time close to home, Peter is a great role model.

 

"My only regret is not making this decision 15 years earlier."