Bryan Wolofsky always wanted to be a member of Pink Floyd. But the Montreal developer and art lover “can't make music to save my life,” so he puts his creative talents to work constructing buildings instead.
He's most recently set his sights on Sudbury, where his family's company, Centennial Enterprises, has secured city approval to construct three 17-storey residential buildings, with a total of 800 units surrounded by green space, on a hill overlooking the downtown core.
The first to be erected, in the spring of 2012, will be reserved for seniors, while the subsequent condominium towers will be marketed to professionals. The $100-million project will mean an infusion of money into the local economy and job creation for local trades workers.
And for Wolofsky, it's an opportunity to leave his imprint on the city.
“It's not just a building; this is my chance to shine like Roger Waters and Eric Clapton,” Wolofsky said. “I can't do it with a guitar or drums, but I can do it with this. So I am creating amazing spaces to live in and to visit friends in.”
Wolofsky isn't new to development, although early on his love affair with architecture was overshadowed by a career in commerce.
After graduating from Concordia University with a finance degree in the early 1980s, Wolofsky found work as a day trader. But growing up in a household with an engineer and an architect had its influence, and he started working alongside his father, Jack, a short time later.
The elder Wolofsky started building in 1948, and began creating his own projects in 1965. He formed the company in 1967 – “That's why it's called Centennial Enterprises,” Wolofsky explained – and through his career has built 27 high-rise concrete buildings with more than 4,000 units in Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Sudbury, and New York.
Key for the younger Wolofsky are high aesthetic quality and affordability, the latter of which can often be a challenge.
“There's a whole different art to the engineering and the planning that goes into creating really cool spaces that middle-class people can afford,” he said. “That's a challenge; that's hard.”
The company aims to incorporate design elements that are compatible with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) mandate, which encourages sustainable green building and development practices, including sustainable site development, water and energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
“From a LEED perspective, concrete is a fantastic medium, because on the hottest day it transmits cool and on the coolest days it transmits warmth,” Wolofsky said. “The cheapest energy in any building is the energy you don't need to use, and concrete is a very effective and very high LEED construction medium.”
He's currently in the process of hammering out details: sketching out floor plans, designing the interiors of the units and creating facades.
“We really want to get a facade that makes people go, 'Wow that's really nice,'” Wolofsky said. “We're looking at high-rise concrete buildings and saying, who's doing interesting stuff?”
The aim is to have preliminary blueprints ready for the public's perusal early this summer, with construction on the seniors' apartment complex starting by early winter 2012 and the building ready to accept tenants by September of 2013.
Marketing will also begin on the two other towers, with a rental and sales office constructed on site to field interest from prospective renters and buyers. Wolofsky is aiming to presell 60 per cent of the units, which he anticipates will encourage additional investors in the project.
When his towers – expected to be the highest in the city – finally rise into the Sudbury skyline, Wolofsky will have left a little of his vision behind, something he calls his “director's cut” penthouse, because the specially designed penthouse in each building will be the equivalent of a movie director's vision for a film.
And if he has his way, Wolofsky will be moving right in.
“This is the project I've always wanted to do,” he said. “I've always wanted to live in a penthouse that I've designed in my head, and even though I have not yet convinced my wife that we're moving to Sudbury, in each of the buildings I'm going to build one penthouse that I'll call my director's cut penthouse.”
All in all, it's more than just another brick in the wall.