Driven by passion
Project Mint Developments is a Vancouver-based design-build practice with a passion for sustainable design and innovative construction. Over the years, they have consistently translated that passion into happy clients, industry awards, and exceptional buildings.
“Our passion has always been what drives us forward,” says Nick Bray, co-founder of the company. “Everyone we work with is highly skilled and highly motivated, and everyone is focused on doing the right thing – the right thing for the client, the project, and the environment. That’s always been what matters to us.”
Nick, the Director of Design, founded Project Mint Developments with Babak Nikraftar, the Director of Construction. Both bring almost two decades of international experience to their respective roles.
Nick, for example, is a fully qualified architect and has been working in practice since 2001. Prior to moving to Vancouver in 2010, he was involved in a number of high-profile and award-winning designs in the United Kingdom, many of them environmentally sustainable and technically innovative. Following his move to Canada, he continued that streak, working on projects such as the O’Siyam Pavilion in Squamish, the Barrow Street light-industrial complex in North Vancouver, and the mid-rise InGastown apartment building in downtown Vancouver.
Babak, meanwhile, has been working in the Vancouver construction and property development sector for 18 years now. He began his career remediating condos, before following his passion for design and creativity into doing new-build high rises and condominiums. Over the years, he has worked on a diverse portfolio of projects, from concrete towers to wood-frame townhomes. In that time, he learned the importance of quality project delivery at all stages, from pre-sale to handover.
Today, Nick is the Principal Architect behind Nick Bray Architecture, and Babak the Director of Forte Projects. Both are award-winning companies with a proud portfolio of exceptional projects. In 2014, they came together to form Project Mint Developments. They started off doing single homes and duplexes, and have since slowly worked their way into doing larger multi-family developments.
Together, Project Mint Developments specialises in sustainable design and construction solutions that are customized to the specifics of the site and the environment. They use passive-house techniques to create low-energy buildings, and they make sure that each home benefits from natural light, fresh air and warmth, as well as long-lasting building materials.
The company also specialises in proving a “complete service,” one that integrated both design and construction management. That way, they are able to consider budget from the outset, and they are able to ensure that all of the client’s needs, wants, and aspirations are represented in the final product.
According to Nick, those specialties are what set Project Mint Developments apart from other developers.
In particular, he says the synergy between design and construction is extremely important. Other developers often see those two processes as “completely separate,” he says, but he believes that division is often why projects fall apart. At Project Mint, however, those processes are “fully integrated.” This allows their combined team to “discover a lot of efficiencies in both stages,” and to “identify and resolve issues before they occur.”
“I think that kind of working relationship is key,” Nick says. “Having construction involved during the design process, and design involved throughout the construction process, is absolutely vital.”
“Unfortunately, I think a lot of developers – even larger experienced developers – don’t understand that.”
Over the years, Project Mint Developments’ passion for excellence in both design and construction has been consistently recognized by the industry at large.
The Georgie Awards, for example, are owned and produced by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of British Columbia (CHBA BC). They exist to showcase the commitment and dedication to high standards that CHBA BC member companies strive to uphold. Being nominated for a Georgie Award is an industry-recognized stamp of quality.
In 2017, Project Mint Developments received that stamp three times for a duplex project they designed and built on on E Pender St, in the highly-sought after Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood.
That project featured two highly space-efficient residences, each with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, and each boasting high-end finishes throughout. The ground floor included an open-plan living space with concrete floors and contemporary designer-kitchen, and the large roof-top deck was designed to take advantage of the “spectacular view of the North-Shore.” All rooms also featured high-ceilings, in-floor radiant heating, and large windows and skylights for ample natural light.
The Pender Duplex was also designed to be “lower-energy, healthier, and more sustainable,” Nick says. It achieved an Energy Star qualification as well as an impressive Energuide 82 rating.
The 2017 Georgie Awards recognized those achievements by designating that project a finalist in three categories: Best Multi-Family Infill Development; Best Multi-Family Kitchen; and Best Multi-Family Townhouse Development.
More recently, at the 2019 Georgie Awards, Project Mint Developments won the category for Best Multi-Family Townhouse Development (Infill) 6 units and under. In that case, the award-winning project was the Anzio Triplex – another innovative, energy-efficient product that the company both designed and built.
The Anzio Triplex is a Grandview development that comprises a four-bedroom home built over a one-bed suite and a two-bed-suite, plus an independent two-bed, two-bath laneway apartment. It was constructed from pre-fabricated structural insulated panels (SIPs), which – when combined with other innovative construction technologies – “put the building in a class of its own regarding performance and sustainability,” according to Nick.
“We seismically-upgraded the structure, and we selected the materials to stand the test of time,” he says, further describing the project. He calls the design “strikingly modern but respectful,” and says the layout “was exceptionally practical and efficient.”
The Georgie Awards were not the only industry body to recognize that project, or Project Mint Developments overall.
There was also the Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN) Ovation Awards, which are also highly recognised by both the industry and the public. Their mission is to highlight the best projects HAVAN members have built, renovated, designed and/or marketed in Metro Vancouver. In the past few years, they have highlighted Project Mint Developments multiple times.
In 2017, for instance, the company won two Ovation Awards for the Pender Duplex – including Best Townhouse / Rowhome Infill Development, as well as Best New Kitchen Under $50,000, both for the Pender Duplex. The same project also made them a finalist for Best Interior Design Display Suite.
The next year, the Anzio Triplex project was also celebrated at the Ovation Awards. For that job, Project Mint Developments received Best Townhouse / Rowhome Infill Development, as well as the prestigious BC Housing Award for Excellence in Innovative Housing Choices. The latter prize was presented by the province’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
According to Nick, that kind of industry recognition meant a lot to him and his team.
“Those awards confirm that we’re doing what we set to do, and accomplishing what we want to accomplish,” he says.
“They also prove a lot to the outside world,” he adds. “They show that we’re not just good because we say so – that our peers are saying it too.”
Nick credits the wave of awards for the Anzio project, in particular, to the uniqueness of the design.
“The street it was on allowed for a lot of opportunity,” he explains. “There wasn’t any established design language. There were a lot of buildings that were going to be knocked down in a few years, there were some newer renovations, but there was nothing consistent. So we could go out and be the start of something new there. We could set a new trend.”
“We had the opportunity to do something a bit special, a bit different, something modern,” he adds. “So we went full out and designed something that would really stand out.”
Nick also credits the innovation they displayed in environmental technology – which is something they aim to display in all their projects.
“Everything we design is well above the required standards in Vancouver, which are already pretty high,” he says. “In everything we do, we try to push boundaries and increase environmental performance.”
Moving forward, Project Mint Developments will continue to push those boundaries and hopefully earn awards – ideally, on larger and larger projects as time goes by. Nick says the goal is to grow progressively bigger, to steadily take on projects with more units and storeys. Eventually, he hopes to be doing projects up to 10-storeys, either multi-family or mixed-use.
At the same time, he says, the company will always prioritize sustainability and innovation.
“We are always going to be forward thinking,” Nick concludes. “On every project, we are always going to be doing something a bit different, something ahead of the curve. We’re never just going to build the standard thing.”For more on Project Mint Developments and their portfolio of innovative and award-winning projects – and to get in touch with Nick and Babak – visit http://projectmint.ca/