BY HEIDI YANG, P.ENG.
Peace River Branch
Field, Field and Field - and Another Field
Bob Field, P.Eng., had always wanted to get into consulting. Good thing, too — for Grande Prairie, the rest of the Peace Country and his profession.
Bob graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 1943 in electrical engineering and started with a family-run business as an electrical contractor.
But it wasn’t his family and it wasn’t his company, so the challenge of doing it on his own lured him away.
In 1959 Bob opened an engineering and architectural firm in Grande Prairie that serviced the Peace area under the name Blais, Shedden and Field. The company flourished. It expanded in partnerships and service areas to include northern B.C. and Vancouver.
Meanwhile, Bob’s two children were completing their degrees in mechanical engineering and architecture. Jack Field, P.Eng., and Roger Field had a dream of their own. They’d always had it in their minds that they’d go into business together.
“There certainly was a good fit, with Roger and Jack’s schooling, to go into business together — but it was not presumed that they would go into business with me,” says Bob.
However, the opportunity came and the sons grabbed it. A family-run business with their father was initiated with the creation of Field, Field and Field, on Jan. 1, 1977.
Plenty of School Work
One of the family’s first projects together was the development of Harry Grey School in Valleyview. Field, Field and Field has developed and designed many Grande Prairie schools as well, starting in the 1980s.
The company began its Grande Prairie run with Crystal Park School, and continued on to the most recent develop-ment of St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, completed in September 2001.
The company was also extensively involved in the renovation and expansion at the Grande Prairie Regional College in 1990. It’s currently providing consulting services to the Northern Lights and Northern Lakes colleges.
“Educational facilities are definitely our niche,” says Roger.
But schools aren’t the only projects that carry the firm’s stamp. Grande Prairie Provincial Building and Courthouse, built in 1982, is the first of its kind, combining judicial and provincial facilities on one site. The state-of-the-art AADAC facility, built in 1991, is the model used for new, improved rehabilitation centres.
Field, Field and Field was also heavily involved with developing the innovative concept of Grande Prairie’s Community Knowledge Campus, which combines public and separate schools with City of Grande Prairie recreat-ional facilities.
Completion of Phase I occurred in 2001 with the opening of St. Joseph’s High School. Phase II was completed in 2003 with the building of the Coca-Cola Centre, a twin ice rink facility. And Phase III is under way with the construction of the gymnastics facility.
The latest project for the Field family is the design and construction of the South Peace Community Multiplex in Dawson Creek. It will house an aquatic leisure centre, an events centre and an agri-centre, all under one roof.
The City’s Praise
“Over the last five years, I have been directly involved with the Field family on a number of city projects, starting with the Centre 2000 Tourism and Trade Centre that opened in the spring of 2002,” says Peace River Branch Chair Darwin Juell, P.Eng., the city’s manager, transportation services.
The building, a showcase of wood design, was designed and engineered by the Field family in a joint venture with Schuenhage. “This beautiful facility is a must-see for residents and visitors to our city,” says Mr. Juell.
”The current City Hall was originally designed by the Field family for the Dewitt family,” says Mr. Juell. The city purchased the site in 2001 — and retained the Field family to provide a $1-million renovation for the new City Hall.
Field, Field and Field continues to be a successful, family-run business after 28 years. The Fields have 14 people working for them, producing and servicing nearly $20 million of work each year.
Two key elements of the family’s success are having in-house disciplines (architectural, mechanical and electrical) and using a local structural engineering firm, Liland Engineering, to coordinate projects effectively and minimize costs.
The Fields’ only office is situated in Grande Prairie, where they live and have raised their families. Bob and his sons strive to build a better community.
In fact they use “family” in an encompassing way. “We treat our associates and clients as part of our family,” says Jack. “We share our ideas, good fortunes, experiences, as well as our hardships.
“We invite our clients to participate, at all levels, within the design process, making them a part of our team of experts to share ideas, to ask questions and to communicate. This gives them an insight into the design process and a vested interest in the project through to final completion.”
He continues: “We encourage local businesses, associated with the construction of our work, to grow with newer technol-ogies, methods and materials, and not to be afraid to change or deviate from the same old ways of doing business.”
Fields On Horizon
Field, Field and Field started out with two generations. But the beat goes on.
A third generation is represented by Jay Field, P.Eng., who graduated in 1995 from University of Alberta in mechanical engineering and started to work for the family firm. In 2003 Jay, son of Jack, became a junior partner.
Jack and Roger have aspiring architects in their families, too, currently at the University of Manitoba. Their careers could return them to Grande Prairie.
And generations after that?
“Between Roger and I,” says Jack, “we have eight grandchildren and counting. Maybe we will produce another generation of engineers and architects!
“We look forward to the next generation of Field family practicing architecture and engineering. They will face many challenges, but we will be there for them, to mentor, encourage and offer our experience so that we may continue to grow.”