One Year With Zeidler: An Interview With Maris LuksisJune 01, 2021
Maris Luksis, Principal at Zeidler and a former founding partner at Queen’s Quay Architects, reflects on his year at Zeidler, illuminating how his experiences have influenced his trajectory.
It’s been one year since Zeidler acquired Queen’s Quay Architects (Q2). We sat down with Maris Luksis, one of Q2’s founding partners and now a Principal at Zeidler, to learn more about the transition into a new company, what it’s like to adapt to a new working culture – even more so amidst a pandemic, and how a unique working relationship, built from years of experience, has turned into a long-lasting partnership.
Zeidler and Q2 have been working together for decades. What was your first experience with Zeidler?
My relationship with Zeidler dates back to the original renovation of Fairview Mall in Toronto in the mid 80’s where I was working for another firm and Zeidler were the Design Architects. That was the first time I met Rob Eley. A few years later I worked with Zeidler on the 250 Yonge Street Office Tower at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre where I met Eb Zeidler for the first time. I met Vaidila Banelis around the time Q2 was established in 1997 and we began partnering with Zeidler on numerous projects and pursuits, though we were also aggressive competitors on many occasions.
Was there a specific occasion or experience that revealed the possibility for a merge between the two firms?
The long-standing relationship Zeidler and Q2 had with each other and with the same clients had a lot to do with why the two firms were able to merge so seamlessly. Over the years both Q2 and Zeidler have been working with the same clients such as The Cadillac Fairview Corporation with numerous projects at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Each offered varied strengths in different areas of architecture, so bringing the two firms together seemed like a practical thing to do.
How has joining Zeidler impacted you and the Q2 team?
Becoming part of the Zeidler team has been a huge benefit, as it’s given us access to certain project types that we were not previously involved with. It’s exciting to be working with a firm that continues to strive for design excellence and has already left a lasting legacy on Canada’s architectural landscape. The extensive design focus brings a whole new challenge and opportunity for our team while we feel we have strengthened and provided additional technical support.
Zeidler has many long-term employees, but unlike many other firms, they have a significant amount of young talent as well. Rob and Vaidila have a natural flair for good design with years of experience practicing architecture, but what really strengthens the firm’s design creativity is the bright young talented designers that bring with them fresh new ideas. This provides a timelessness which expands the design vocabulary of the firm bringing together a whole new generation of design vision. Also, working in a firm with a presence across Canada makes it possible to share staff and projects. This is a significant benefit to clients as experienced staff with a wide range of specialty expertise are always available.
The acquisition has strengthened our leadership and technical team. What relationships and expertise did you bring to Zeidler?
The Q2 team that moved over to Zeidler has a long history of working together on a whole range of projects from airports to shopping centres. They are well known throughout certain sectors in the industry for the way in which they work together in a uniform fashion. Rod Santos and I have worked together in different firms continuously for over 35 years and have developed a working relationship that is quite rare and unique. Bob Mindara, Ian Izukawa and Juancho Aristorenas are long-term employees as well that have demonstrated commitment and drive over the course of their profession. They bring a level of expertise to Zeidler, from initial planning to envelope design, that is not easy to come by.
You joined our office in the middle of a pandemic. How has that experience been for you?
Merging during the start of the pandemic was certainly interesting. Starting with a new firm and understanding a new culture when everyone was working from home was challenging. After one year, however, we have had time to adapt, and I am really pleased with how things have turned out for me personally and the rest of the Q2 employees, despite the pandemic.
Fortunately, in our industry we can continue to do a lot of work from home in terms of design and drawings, but I find it’s still easier and more productive to have face to face contact with people. We’re looking forward to being able to collaborate with the team in the office in the future, so that we can strengthen our working relationship even more.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a number of projects at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, some of which are a continuation of Q2 projects such as the 33 Dundas office space (see interior images below), a complex renovation of the space formally occupied by Sears. The most challenging ongoing project is 2 Queen which incorporates a vertical expansion above a historic structure. This is an extremely complex project from a constructability perspective and requires a significant focus on the technical aspects of architecture while implementing all of the design expectations at the same time.
Thanks for your time Maris. Any last thoughts?
Architecture is a profession that is continuously changing due to economic impacts, demanding building regulations and approvals, time restraints and constantly changing technology. After one year at Zeidler it is clear to see that the firm is well prepared and a leader to tackle this ever changing profession.