Geoff Krahn is a Lead Engineer with the Krahn Group of Companies – a full-service, multidisciplinary engineering and architectural design firm specializing in structural, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering, interior and landscape design. The firm has locations throughout Canada, including Abbotsford, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. Geoff attained a degree in civil engineering, with distinction, from the University of British Columbia and completed his M.B.A from Simon Fraser University.
How did the Krahn Group connect with Nexii?
Our introduction to Nexii was through a mutual acquaintance who thought we’d be interested in Nexii’s technology and the work they were doing. I’d heard claims about the Nexii product but wanted to investigate further. After doing some research, I was genuinely excited about what they were offering, and could see that it was innovative and had tremendous potential.
After meeting with the Nexii team a few times, I was comfortable enough to recommend the Nexii system to a local developer, the Esposito Group, for an upcoming project we were working on together. This was a new Starbucks Café in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. Since we were doing the building design and engineering, I thought the Starbucks project was an excellent opportunity to showcase the Nexii system in a real-world environment.
The Esposito Group was hesitant initially. So we set up a meeting with Krahn, Starbucks, Nexii, and the Esposito team. After the meeting and a subsequent tour of their Squamish plant to see a Nexii prototype building, we were all convinced that the Nexii system was a great fit.
As I began working with Nexii and met the individuals on their team, it became apparent that they were genuine, and really able to deliver on their promises of building in a more efficient and sustainable way. And through a collaborative effort between our engineers and architects, we were able to build a great working relationship and deliver an outstanding result for Starbucks.
Tell us about the Starbucks project
Initially designed as a conventional wood frame building, the Starbucks plans and design required adjusting to adapt to the Nexii system. We had to go back and work with Nexii’s team to rapidly develop the architectural, mechanical, electrical, and structural design elements to work in the Nexii environment. It was a real collaborative effort using the various Krahn group’s and Nexii’s resources and expertise to turn a wood frame building into a Nexii building design. The innovations and solutions that our teams came up with will make the process even easier and more efficient for subsequent architects and engineers.
We performed what I like to refer to as a “panelization”, or more specifically for Nexii, the “nexification” of the building. Instead of the initial site framed wood construction, our team designed the roof and wall structure into panels that fit with the original building design and allowed for factory manufacturing, and then flatpack transportation to site for installation. This is a process we have extensive experience in, given our expertise in tilt-up, precast and modular construction techniques.
The complete redo of the original design was done before the drawings were submitted to the city planners for a building permit. When we met with the planning department, they liked the Nexii system and were excited about the possibility of reducing the carbon footprint of buildings within the city. Nexii had all the documentation needed to meet building codes requirements, so there were no issues from the City’s point of view as the process was straightforward, with minimal red tape.
What was it like working with Nexii?
Since the Starbucks build was the first of its kind Starbucks using Nexii technology, there were a number of hurdles to clear. I found everyone from Nexii was eager, responsive, and knowledgeable, and that they weren’t afraid to pivot or approach tasks differently, if required. We worked collaboratively, alongside each other. It was an awesome experience working with a team striving for excellence and always trying to improve.
Following the Starbucks project, we worked on a Popeyes building and then a Scotiabank. Nexii’s system, design, efficiency, and processes kept getting better with each new project. Through several iterations, the process gained even more efficiencies, and were able to see the construction costs go down. For example, as we moved through the building and design progression, we simplified and standardized design and construction techniques. This way, other engineers and architects can adapt to – or utilize from the beginning of their plans – Nexii designs without having to rethink the process at all.
What can other Engineers and Architects expect working with Nexii?
Expect to work with a team that is innovative and always looking for solutions that are simple, yet ingenious in the problems they’re solving. Expect to work with at product that helps exceed current building code requirements, is more environmentally friendly and can help improve construction timelines. As a consultant, you may have to put in more coordination and design upfront, but it will make the overall on-site construction process go together much smoother and quicker. Nexii is a product that can be utilized in many different situations and areas of the construction industry. The Nexii team will help adapt designs to your specific project.
For general contractors, working with the Nexii product is similar enough to what you have been doing with past construction techniques, so the value with Nexii is in the speed of construction, quality of the product, and environmental benefits. The Nexii system is not complicated, it is easy to install and if you do the upfront planning and design to make sure the system is utilized appropriately, you will see considerable value using Nexii.