Architects At Play celebrates ONE YEAR today!!!

Joseph, Grant, and Paulo sitting in the office one year ago.

Architects At Play has its beginning in 2014, when Grant LaBossiere formed Blacktie Architecture as a sole proprietorship. In 2018, Joseph Orobia and Paulo Castillo joined Grant, and Architects At Play was formed to officially carry on the work of the original firm.

We can hardly believe that it's been a whole year since Play materialized. It feels like it was just yesterday we were discussing what we should call ourselves. And one year later, Architects At Play is going strong. So much has happened in the past 12 months, and we'd like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of it.

First, we'd like to thank all the people who helped us build the foundations for our business. We would not be who we are without our friends and families. The support and encouragement we've been blessed with over the past year is immeasurable. Thank you so much for your love and wisdom. Our deepest gratitude also goes to our team of advisors. Verda Design did a fantastic job designing and setting up our website, and Jordan and Madison have been awesome to work with. Our business mentor, Ken Teramura, from Be Positive Team-based Consulting, is an essential part of our team. We are so grateful that he keeps us on track and focused on the future. Jayson Mariano from Robot Age Media has been incredible over the past year. He's produced two videos for us, and he's working on a third. We are so grateful for his time and talents! Our accounting team, Trevar Matheson and Charlotte LaBossiere, keep a close eye on our cash flow, and help us keep our spending in check. Jamie Townsend from Lawton Partners has provided us with some great advice and we hope to do more with him in the future. We'd also like to thank our advisors at RBC and Pullan Kammerloch Frohlinger for their help and advice setting up the business. A big thank you goes to all the consultants, contractors, and clients we've been blessed to work with over the past year. We were able to do some fun projects, and we look forward to doing even more this year! We also got to collaborate with some wonderful people this year. Thank you to Aliyah and April, Yasmin and Joy, Aisha and Sharla, and Jonato for working on some special projects with us. We sincerely appreciate your time and energy, and would love to do more in the near future. HUGE Thank you's go to Rochelle for being so hospitable with your home, and to Jen for keeping us fed and finding us a ping pong table.

A rendered perspective of Hildebrant house from the dinning room to the living room
Joseph, Braeden, Grant, and Paulo in Banff, Alberta

There has been so much to celebrate over the past year. Although we make a point of being grateful for all the little victories and achievements we have on a daily basis, there are definitely some moments that stick out to us, and we'd like to highlight a few of those here. Last July, we went on our first "Playcation" in Calgary, Alberta. Thank you to Joseph's family for allowing us to crash their beautiful home. While in Alberta, we went to the StoneTile Gala and enjoyed a day trip to Banff. It was a great time for us to bond and talk business.

Paulo, Grant, and Joseph at the StoneTile Gala in Calgary, Alberta
Yasmin modelling the Modern Island Youth Hoodie at the University of Manitoba

Another huge achievement for us was the launch of our website and online store. We worked with Verda Design to put together a website that matched the goals and objectives for our firm. We are very happy with the way it turned out, and it is very quickly becoming a great tool for us. Our online store features products we've designed, and we are very fortunate to have work from Jonato Dalayoan from 4two Design. 

Plan view of India house

We also got to do our first international project in India. Call it divine intervention, but a chance meeting was all it took to make "India House" a reality. Construction began this year, and we are excited to see the final product. Hopefully, one day, we'll be able to visit this one in person.

Paulo, Jayson, Grant, and Joseph at the Manitoba Filipino Business Council Trade Show

Another big accomplishment for us was our participation at the Manitoba Filipino Business Council's First Annual Trade Show. This was the first time we ran our 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge, and the event was a huge success for us. Paulo took part in the RBC Panel Discussion, and we were interviewed by Mabuhay TV. The exposure we got was excellent, and we got to meet several wonderful business people in the Filipino community. 

Paulo at Constable Edward Finney School for the 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge

One thing that we are all very proud of is our Community Outreach program. From the very beginning of our firm, we believed that educating children, students, and the general public about design was very important, and we realized that we could accomplish this through play. At the MFBC First Annual Trade Show, we debuted our 5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge. The purpose of the challenge was to encourage people to complete a small design exercise so that we could begin talking to them about Design Thinking and the Design Process. Since that initial event, we've brought the LEGO® Design Challenge to local elementary schools and high schools to share our passion for design with the students and to create memorable teaching moments in their education. Building off the success of the LEGO® Design Challenge, we developed our Building Empathy Challenge. The purpose of the challenge was to take people through the design process from developing empathy, to defining the problem, to brainstorming solutions, to prototyping, and ultimately testing an idea. We first ran this challenge for the River East Transcona School Division's sTeam Incubator program. We believe that this exercise is a fun and easy way to teach people about Design Thinking and the Design Process, and we will be looking to build on it in the future.

Another component of our Community Outreach program is our partnership with the Seven Oaks Met School and Maples Met School. As mentors to Ranbir, a high school student from the Seven Oaks Met School, we offer an internship where he is exposed to all aspects of our business and can get assistance with his school project. We believe that we have the ability to help any student interested in pursuing a career in architecture, and we believe the Met school is the right fit for achieving this.

We also offer advice as mentors for the Manitoba Association of Architects's Internship in Architecture program, where we meet with Interns to discuss their current career paths and future aspirations. We have been acting in this capacity for several years and have an "open door" policy for anybody who wants to discuss their architectural/design career.

Joseph, Grant, and Paulo with the guys from Mensheds
Grant and Paulo working at Petrus Hall for the Tu Es Petrus concert
Paulo working at Petrus Hall for the Tu Es Petrus concert

In addition to our Community Outreach program, we've been fortunate to be able to support community causes that are important to us. This includes working with Mensheds to design a Little Free Library for Little Stars PLAYhouse, supporting the Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion at Folklorama as a Platinum Sponsor, supporting the Dalagita Awards Gala, supporting the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba Annual Gala, supporting the Strut for Shoal fundraiser presented by the Seven Oaks Met School, designing and building the sets and props for St. Peter's Church Tu Es Petrus concert, volunteering for the St. Peter's Church Building Committee, sponsoring the Manitoba Magic basketball team, speaking at the Asian Heritage Symposium, volunteering for the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba, and volunteering for Folklorama.

We really enjoy being part of the community, and we're committed to finding more ways to get involved and give back.

Perspective rendering of the front elevation of Sauna 01

The past year has been so amazing, and we're looking forward to the next year with the same, if not more, excitement. So, what's in store for the next twelve months?

We'll be expanding our offerings for our online store and looking to collaborate with more artists and craftspeople. We'll also be offering more products developed in our own studio. This includes furniture and accessories for your home or office. 

We'll also be continuing our Community Outreach program by finding ways to bring Design Thinking education to students and the community. We plan to get involved with events in our community, including the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and the Manitoba Association of Architects. One opportunity that we're excited about is presenting for the Building Equity in Architecture (Prairies) initiative, an organization that promotes equity and diversity in the city-building professions. In April, we'll be presenting a special research project focused on Design Thinking in education. Stay tuned for more news on this.

We are also excited to be part of the upcoming 369 Exhibit at the University of Manitoba's Architecture 2 Gallery. The exhibition will showcase a number of design firms through their work processes and workspaces. We're happy that our young firm was one of the few chosen for this event.

One thing that we'd like to do more of over the coming year is competitions. One in particular that we're excited about is the design of a lookout tower for viewing flamingos. Since Grant is from Transcona, it seemed like an appropriate fit for us to try.

We'll also be looking to do more collaborations. We're not quite sure what this means yet, but we're excited about the potential opportunities! In addition, we'll be looking for opportunities to do international projects. We would love to do some work in New Zealand and the Philippines. Site visit?

There is so much more "on the boards" for our little venture, and we're excited to show you what's in store, but for now, we're just going to celebrate the fact that, after one year, we're still going strong!

Cheers from Paulo, Grant, and Joseph!!!