Reich and Petch

Reich+Petch Design International prides itself on the ability to create large exhibit spaces with their end users in mind. “A lot of our projects deal primarily in the public realm in spaces and experiences,” says Tony Reich, a principal in the Toronto-based firm. “We really design for visitors to these exhibits, and that’s what makes us different.” The firm, which often works in conjunction and shares staff and principals with sister firm Reich+Petch Architects Inc., has created designs for public exhibits in museums, historical sites and other locations in 22 countries. 

During its exhibit design process, designers share mock-ups with both clients and members of the public who would visit the exhibit, asking questions about what they would like to see in the installation.

“We relish the fact that we can produce buildings that really work for visitors,” Reich says. “We’re extremely interested in the end user; they’re always a part of our process. We get as much information from them as we can to get a sense of their aspirations as clients.”

Together as One

”Both the architectural and exhibit design planning divisions of Reich+Petch worked on the exterior and interior designs of the Upper Canada Village Discovery Center, which will begin construction this summer, ” company principal Whit Petch says. 

The center, owned and operated by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, will serve as an entry point to visitors of Upper Canada Village, a multi-building living history park recreating life in the 19th Century.

”The $13 million project will add an 8,000 square-foot visitors center with 4,500 square feet of exhibit space to an existing gift shop and restaurant, ” Petch says.

Exhibit space will include a mixture of traditional artifacts such as canoes, buggies, wagons and carriages along with multimedia and interactive features to create an immersive experience. A large part of the exhibit will explore the Battle of Crysler’s Farm during the War of 1812, which occurred near the site.

The new addition will feature an overall design Petch calls a contemporary interpretation of historical materials such as wood and stone.  

Construction is expected to conclude next spring, a year before the bicentennial of the War of 1812, an event that will be marked in Canada and the U.S.

”Work will not impact operation of the existing gift shop/restaurant or the rest of the Upper Canada Village site,” Petch says.

Range of Work

Reich+Petch Design International was established in 1993, after Reich, Petch and fellow principal Stephen Petri began expanding the architectural firm into international exhibit work. Reich+Petch Architects Inc. was founded in 1987.

Reich+Petch’s international portfolio and budget-conscious nature have helped it navigate the peaks and valleys of its local market as well as a highly competitive U.S. market, Reich says.

“We’ve had great success on both sides of our business: architecture and exhibit design,” he adds.

The architectural arm of Reich+Petch has a long history of projects including corporate interiors, housing, and gaming/casino facilities.

“We’ve been involved in one way or another in every gaming facility that has been built in Ontario since 1996,” Petch says. 

Major upcoming projects include architectural design of the new Greenstone Municipal Building in Geraldton, Ontario. The 12,000-square-foot, $3.5 million building, now under construction, will serve as a town hall, a meeting and events center, and municipal offices.

The one-story building is being constructed of materials made in northern Ontario including wood beams, trusses and siding, as well as stone. The building includes high ceilings to create a feeling of openness, the company says.

Another major exhibit space Reich+Petch recently worked on is the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The company provided the designs and documentation for the $20.7 million, 15,000-square-foot exhibit, which opened in May. The exhibit features several media and immersive environments as well as interactive elements to “connect visitors to our ancient ancestors by answering the question `what does it mean to be human?’” the company says. 

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