When Mark Burkhart opens his Little Giant Architecture office in Victoria, he will have booked his growing business to work on projects evenly split between Alberta and B.C.

Launching here in 2020 after 25 years as a successful and much-admired architect, Burkhart says his firm has firm roots in Calgary but has enjoyed designing a variety of developments from the West Coast to the mountains. He and his family have a second home in Tofino, which gives him time to unwind from work and be inspired by being surrounded by creation.

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Working on a variety of projects throughout the West keeps his nine employees busy and happy with travel opportunities throughout the region.

Mountains have always provided creative stimulation; A good example of this is the mixed-use building designed by the Burkhart team to be built in Canmore.

A development permit has been issued for the 20,000 square feet structure and construction drawings are currently being prepared. It will include a restaurant and retail stores, as well as a boutique hotel.

Located at the end of the main street, the restaurant will offer stunning views of the mountains during the day and will be a welcoming beacon 8 feet tally Street at night. The project covers approximately 6,000 square feet and will be spread over two levels as well as a smaller space on the third floor providing a stunning panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains to the west.

With views of the Three Sisters, one of the most photographed views of the Rockies, the hotel will offer 11 rooms designed with kitchenettes for the adventurous demographic of bikers, hikers and climbers, well-equipped with bike and ski storage and accessible through remote check-ins.

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The owner, Calgary businessman Duane Galarneau, also commissioned Little Giant to design a new home for him at Silvertip in Canmore. The entire team has a love affair with mountain courses and were also responsible for two restaurants in Banff – Bluebird Wood-fired Steakhouse and Hello Sunshine Sushi.

Designing luxury custom homes has always been a special talent of Burkhart’s, and Little Giant Architecture is currently working with eight homes in Victoria. She has another home in Whistler as well as a hotel, restaurant and other homes in Fernie and Golden, British Columbia. In Kamloops, the firm designed a multifamily project and a commercial/industrial project in Kelowna.

Back in Alberta, the company is designing a new Malign distillery in Jasper. Founded in 2005 by three Jasper-born friends, Bearhill Brewing Company has grown the company to include brewpubs in Calgary (Last Best) in 2014, Banff (Banff Street) in 2016, and Edmonton (Cambio) in 2018.

Now they are ready to share the benefits of Alberta’s agricultural industry with the quality of grain and purity of water from the Athabasca River to show the world what Canada has to offer in a variety of spirits.

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The firm currently has a number of residential projects throughout the city and foothills, has designed two restaurant interiors, and just completed a master plan for a new project south of the city in the Millarville area.

Little Giant Architecture has grown into a busy and well-respected architecture firm, with a sense of humor that shines through on its internally developed website that features fun “giant” scenarios for the Calgary team. Worth a look.


A vacant office space in Bow Valley Square has been transformed into the first-ever open learning lab, an experiment involving dozens of public, private and non-profit organizations. The 15,000-square-foot lab, which was provided in-kind by Oxford Properties, is home to a large-scale experience that brings together employers, educators and students in a flexible co-working space. The goal is to test new ways to increase opportunities for structured and unstructured collaboration. The Open Learning Lab is also home to up to 1,000 students from the AcceleratedU program offered by Mount Royal University’s Bisset School of Business. These students study entrepreneurship, social innovation, and marketing. Another educational organization that has chosen to offer programs at the lab is InceptionU – a program for adult learners focused on careers in the technology sector.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or via email at info@davidparker.ca

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