An ar­chi­tect by de­sign


As a young man with a keen in­ter­est in de­sign and a de­sire to be­come an ar­chi­tect, Marvin DeJong be­gan his ca­reer by tak­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural tech­ni­cian course at SAIT Polytech­nic.

It was a good ground­ing but he was frus­trated to then learn that, back in the 1980s, he was not able to get credit to ap­ply to Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties.

Un­de­terred, he ap­plied to uni­ver­si­ties in the North­west­ern U.S. and chose the Univer­sity of Idaho in Moscow. He says it turned out to be a good choice as not only was the teach­ing fine but a small col­lege town was a great place to live, and it was easy to get home to sum­mer jobs in Cal­gary.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, DeJong worked for Peter Bur­gener, who re­mains a men­tor, but then chose to join Richard Lind­seth Ar­chi­tec­ture for four years — two lo­cal ar­chi­tec­tural firms where he gained won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

In 1996, DeJong made the big de­ci­sion to launch his own firm — DeJong De­sign As­so­ciates — and hasn’t looked back, hav­ing built a solid rep­u­ta­tion as a de­signer of dy­namic, wellap­pointed in­ner-city and recre­ational prop­er­ties.

Like many small de­sign firms, his be­gan in the base­ment of his home but in chal­leng­ing him­self to pro­vide the best de­signs he soon grew and he now has a thriv­ing ar­chi­tec­tural of­fice in Currie Bar­racks with a staff of 10.

The ma­jor­ity of DeJong’s work is still with high-end pri­vate res­i­dences that can take three months of weekly meet­ings with own­ers who each re­quire dif­fer­ent flavours; a good ex­am­ple are the three ad­join­ing homes for Em­pire Cus­tom Homes be­ing built along Sifton Boule­vard S.W., roughly the same size but very dif­fer­ent in look.

And a num­ber of his projects have been built out of town al­though mainly for Cal­gary clients.

Hav­ing pleased cus­tomers with Cal­gary res­i­dences, he has been priv­i­leged to also de­sign their va­ca­tion homes in places like Syl­van Lake, Ver­non and Invermere. I ad­mit to be­ing just a lit­tle bit jeal­ous of the mag­nif­i­cent home be­ing built for a Cal­gary fam­ily in the Up­lands area of Maui. What a house and what a view.

Sat­is­fied clients re­turn for new lo­ca­tions, ad­di­tions or ren­o­va­tions to their homes, and thank­fully re­fer DeJong to oth­ers. But as well as de­sign­ing one-of-a kind dream homes, he has also launched Prairie Draw­ing Room to at­tract a dif­fer­ent mar­ket of buy­ers.

Prairie Draw­ing Room has a se­lec­tion of pre-pack­aged de­signs — same idea as those in the old Ea­ton’s cat­a­logues — for var­i­ous sized lots and ei­ther sin­gle fam­ily or du­plex de­signs.

They are be­ing sold to in­di­vid­u­als or to smaller in­ner-city de­vel­op­ers; three will be built in Marda Loop on the site of the Ser­bian church with the same in­te­rior plans but ex­te­ri­ors rep­re­sent­ing con­tem­po­rary, manor and arts and crafts styles.

In the next part of his jour­ney, DeJong plans to lead his staff into de­sign­ing small com­mer­cial projects No new is bad news. I was one of the thou­sands of Al­ber­tans who thor­oughly en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing last year’s inau­gu­ral Tour of Al­berta pro­fes­sional cycling road race. But will it hap­pen this year?

Tough to get a pos­i­tive an­swer, al­though I un­der­stand that the govern­ment has agreed to help fund again — but much re­duced. We are surely leav­ing it a tad late to find other spon­sors, sort out the route which surely must show off our moun­tains, and per­suade the ath­letes to ride here. Cy­clists al­ready know their sched­ules.

A great pity if there is no race in 2014. Travel Al­berta un­der­stands the im­por­tance of show­ing off the awe­some scenery we are blessed with, and ben­e­fits went far be­yond the im­me­di­ate eco­nomic im­pact of the race as it was men­tioned many times over by broad­cast­ers of the big Euro­pean races.

It’s good to see cranes, they mean con­struc­tion is hap­pen­ing. But notic­ing the crane has gone from the top of the west tower of Eight Av­enue Place is also ex­cit­ing — it means ten­ants are that much closer to mov­ing in. They must be pretty ex­cited about a new home in Septem­ber.

Lor­raine Hjalte/Cal­gary Herald

Marvin DeJong of DeJong De­sign As­so­ciates is a de­signer of homes and recre­ational prop­er­ties.

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