MQN is one of the largest architectural firms in the BC Interior, and the firm behind some of the region’s most exciting and innovative design projects. Their mission is to design, plan, and construct spaces that are functional, sustainable, and aesthetically-pleasing. Most importantly, they aim to create spaces that reflect and enhance the lives of the individuals who use them every day.
“We always put people first,” says Dora Anderson, a partner at the firm. “Our goal is to make sure that people are at the heart of our practice and every space that we design.”
The company’s other primary goal is to be a leader in environmental sustainability and innovative design. They believe that by staying up-to-date, pursuing new ideas and embracing technology – and by conserving energy, decreasing life-cycle costs, and protecting the natural environment – they can deliver projects that not only make the client happy, but also develop positive growth in the surrounding communities.
These aspirations have been an integral part of MQN ever since the company was founded in 1987 by Robert McDonell. According to Dora, they are a key part of what draws people to the firm, both clients and employees alike. She speaks from personal experience, as the company’s values are what made her personally want to be a part of it.
Prior to joining MQN, Dora was an accomplished project manager, business owner, and Registered Interior Designer. The firm’s other partners – Vicki Topping, Roger Green, and CEO Brian Quiring – are similarly well-versed and experienced, and similarly passionate about the work they do and the region they work in.
In fact, every member of MQN’s 20-plus team – which includes architects, interior designers, building technicians, technologists, contract administrators, and LEED-accredited APs – shares in that passion.
“We have a very talented multidisciplinary team, and we all love what we do,” Dora says. “And we’ve all been drawn to the Okanagan. Some of us grew up here, some of us chose here, but we’re all passionate about the region and the lifestyle.”
Today, MQN is comprised of two companies – MQN Architects and MQN Interiors. Together, they offer the complete range of architectural and interior design services, from feasibility studies through to capital planning, project identification reports, development consulting, LEED consulting, documentation, and the management of complex construction projects.
The company is based in the city of Vernon, in the Okanagan, but has worked on projects across the province and even across Canada. They strive to maintain a diverse portfolio of work, having created design solutions for a wide variety of spaces, including: restaurants, retail stores, schools, museums, offices, places of worship, and high-end custom homes.
In the custom home sector in particular, Dora says MQN is set apart by the way they partner with clients. They collaborate with them closely, they involve them in each stage of the project, and they truly value their input and expertise.
“We really focus our energy on building a good relationship with the client,” Dora explains. “We really get to know them, because we want to design something that meets all their expectation and that gives them a great experience. That’s what we do – we create experiences.”
If a client is not interested in forming that kind of partnership – if they just want to give their architect a budget and get a set of keys in return – Dora suggests that MQN might not be right fit.
“We want to work with clients that have a story, and that want their home to express who they are and what they’re passionate about,” she says. “We want them to have a vision for their lifestyle, and we want to create a space that will help them enjoy that lifestyle. We want to create something that will celebrate them and their family.”
The Georgie Awards are prestigious industry accolades that are presented by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of British Columbia (CHBA BC). They are recognized both provincially and nationally as a premier housing awards program. Their mission is to showcase the best in home building in BC, and to highlight the commitment and dedication to high standards that CHBA BC member companies – of which there are almost 2,000 – strive to uphold.
“The Georgie Awards celebrate excellence in the residential construction industry, and the 200,000 hard-working professionals that make the industry strong,” said Neil Moody, CEO of the CHBA, in a statement announcing the winners.
Neil went on to congratulate not just the winners for their “outstanding projects and achievements,” but also the finalists.
“A finalist nomination in the Georgie Awards is a coveted achievement within the residential construction industry,” he said. “With many annual entries and strong competition, it is not an easy task.”
At the 2019 Georgie Awards, MQN was a finalist in five categories, and a winner in two. Their highly decorated project was a custom lakeside home titled ‘Boomerang Bay.’
Boomerang Bay was nominated for ‘Custom Home Valued over $3,000,000,’ ‘Best Single Family Kitchen over $150,000,’ and ‘Best Interior Custom Residence – New or Renovation,’ and ‘Best Outdoor Living Space – New or Renovation.’ It won the categories for ‘Best Any Room – New or Renovation’ and ‘Best Innovative Feature – New or Renovation.’
Dora describes that project as a “captivating home” with “prairie-style” architecture and design, and says it is “rooted in nature with a sense of place.” She quotes Frank Lloyd Wright, who said prairie buildings are “married to the ground.” She says that’s definitely true of Boomerang Bay.
Dora goes on to say that the project utilizes nature as “a primary source of inspiration for materiality.” Tree and plant motifs are expressed in the custom millwork, furniture, art glass and metal works throughout the home. These motifs echo “prairie-style ideals,” she says, while the emphasis for the home was kept on “integration with the surrounding landscape, horizontal lines, craftsmanship, and simplicity.”
All of these choices were made in collaboration with the clients, who were ultimately thrilled with the end-result. Dora says that kind of reception is even more validating then the awards.
“We were already winners when we ended the job with happy clients,” said Rhonda Gilchrist, the designer of that project.
“Rhonda spent two years getting to know the clients and their family, and designing their dream home alongside them,” Dora adds. “The fact that they were so happy and so excited about the end-result means more to us anything.”
The right team
The majority of MQN’s awards and nominations in 2019 were shared with Bercum Builders, who constructed Boomerang Bay. In a statement after the ceremony, MQN Partner Brian Quiring was quick to credit the project’s myriad achievements to them, as well as each and every other stakeholder on the job.
“Much like building, success is not built by one person but by a team, which is why we are proud to share this build and award with our wonderful clients and all the talented hard-working local Okanagan building partners that worked with us to make this dream home a reality,” Brian said.
“The awards are not just about giving recognition to us,” Dora adds. “We worked with so many amazing local tradespeople, and the awards are really a tribute to them. We were very gifted and fortunate to be able to work with so many talented people.”
Many of the building partners involved in Boomerang Bay had worked with MQN before. Bercum Builders, for example, had previously worked with the firm on another highly home called ‘Bella Vita.’ For that project, they won the 2018 Grand Georgie Award for Custom Home Builder of the Year, among a host of other accolades.
“We were grateful to work with Bercum Builders on that project, and again on Boomerang Bay,” Dora says. “They provide an extremely high level of quality, and we have established a lot of trust with them. We have a great working relationship, and that just makes the build process a lot easier.”
As MQN grows, their goal is to continue building that kind of trust, and forming those kinds of relationships with their builders, consultants, and tradespeople. Moving forward, Dora says the firm will be taking on more projects, and she says it’s important that they have the right building partners to support that growth.
“We’re expanding,” she says. “We’re expanding our staff, we’re expanding our space, and we’re taking on more builds. We’ve got a lot of exciting ventures to come. I think you’ll see some really unique and interesting work coming from MQN in the next few years.”
“It’s all possible because of our team,” she concludes. “We work with the right people, and we put people first.”For the latest on MQN Architecture & Interior Design – and for more on their team, their corporate values, and their portfolio of life-enhancing projects – visit https://mqn.ca/