Commonhouse Design Inc.: New Name and a New Partner For Comox Valley Firm

December 13, 2023

An example of the design work of the team at Commonhouse Design Inc.

COURTENAYJohn Gower has built a solid reputation designing new homes and buildings for clients in the Comox Valley for over a decade, and now his firm has a new name and a partner.

John Gower Design has been rebranded as Commonhouse Design Inc., and the founder is welcoming Phil Tripp as a partner in the venture at 212-2459 Cousins Avenue.

“This is a new partnership between me, who has been doing architectural design for 33 years, and Phil, who is newer to the game,” says John, who started his company in 1990 after earning degrees from Carleton University and the University of British Columbia and moved to Courtenay 11 years ago. “We’ve been working together for a few years, and I invited him to join me as a partner.

Phil Tripp and John Gower of Commonhouse Design Inc.

“Now we can both take on everything from simple projects to larger renovations and new construction,” he adds. “We work side-by-side, but we each have our own collection of clients and work directly with them. We ask each other for critiques and ideas and put our two heads together to make the projects even better.”

Phil came to Vancouver Island from Manitoba four years ago.

“I am very excited to join John. I’ve been doing design work for about five years, and have been a project manager for over a decade before moving into design work,” he says. “This is a great opportunity to work here.”

John observes that Phil’s design styles are different than his, “and it augments what I’ve offered over the years. It’s good to have new ideas.”

Phil says his strong suit is to make homes functional and liveable with purposeful, functional design.

One of the firm’s designs at 2700 Maryport Avenue

“We’re open to work on any project where a client values design,” Phil states. “I really like the idea of being able to empower clients and make a difference. It gives everyone a larger platform for issues we all care about, and allows us to plan projects even better.”

The collaboration will allow both of them to continue to do community-building work.

“That has been a hallmark of how we’ve worked over the years, because we both care about the com-munities we work in, and we give back,” he says.

John opened the Courtenay office following a professional journey that included stops in Nelson, Victoria and Vancouver.

“We’ve done projects all over BC, Alberta, Alaska and the Yukon,” he says. “Residential projects are 90 percent of what we do, mostly single family, but we’ve done a fair number of townhouse projects.”

What has been a key to the company’s success is its commitment to quality over quantity.

“We want to be busy, but we’re not really growth oriented,” he says. “I had a larger office before, but I’d rather work in a smaller office to maintain a solid work-life balance.

“We really like people and interacting with them and making a difference in their lives,” he adds. “The relationship aspect of what we do is very important, as it takes time to understand people and what is important to them, and direct the architecture that way.”

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