Cypress Mountain’s new outdoor patio area opened in December last year. Nick Laba

When landscape architect Michael Koch put together a rendering for a shiny new patio at Cypress Mountain’s Cypress Olympic Lodge, he had been doing it as a favour for a friend, with nothing more than his gratitude, and maybe a few free ski runs, expected in return.

Such was Koch’s surprise, then, when the design went on to win this year’s Canadian Landscape Design Award.

“One of my good friends at North Construction had asked me if I wanted to do their rendering in exchange for a ski pass, and I said it sounded like a good idea,” he said, adding how it ended up “turning into a much bigger project” than he anticipated.

The award, presented at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg earlier this month by the Canadian Nursery and Landscape Association, certainly wasn’t expected, said Koch, and garnering national acclaim and attention had never been his intention.

Now that he has it, however, it is “definitely nice to be recognized,” he said.

“This is the first award I’ve won nationally, so that’s pretty exciting for me.”

The patio, built by North Vancouver company North Construction, was opened by the West Vancouver ski resort just in time for the season last year. An expansive four-tier outdoor area, it boasted new seating sections, fire pits and heated umbrellas, and quickly became a thriving space where live music was held and family entertainment took place.

Koch, who was “born and raised” in North Vancouver and is the founder of North Van company Blue Bear Landscape, said his scope usually falls within residential construction, “typically single family homes,” and so tackling such a large scale project had been new territory.

“I had never really done a design on this scale, especially for a commercial project, so that was a huge learning curve for me during the design process,” he said.

“Just the scope of it was so much bigger than anything I’ve done before.”

The site’s location made the design process particularly “special,” and particularly tricky, said Koch.

“This design was different because it’s up on a mountain, so a lot of factors we had to take into consideration were weather related,” he said. “There was no work that could get done up there during the winter, so they had to do all the construction in the summer months. It was a very short window.”

Now, with a large-scale commercial project and a national award under his belt, Koch is looking to the future. 

He said he is “always looking for the next big project,” and is on the hunt for his dream task: Completing a whole home renovation. 

“I’d like to rip everything out, start from a blank canvas, and just have fun designing and building my ideas, and when people let me do that, then it usually ends up being a really great project,” he said.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2023 at 12:54

This item reprinted with permission from   North Shore News   North Vancouver, British Columbia
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