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The making of Oliver Exchange NAIT grad Chris Dulaba of Beljan Development helps transform a heritage building into a commercial and community hub

Originally a telephone exchange where calls were connected, Oliver Exchange has been transformed into a commercial and community hub.

NAIT grad Chris Dulaba is a developer with Beljan Development. The company bought the building in 2016.
The exchange was built in three phases: 1913 (foreground), 1939 (left) and 1949 (behind).
Since Beljan designated the older portions of the building as historic resources, restrictions were placed on exterior modifications.
Not designated, the 1949 addition was reclad in metal and wood. “It integrates very well with the historic building,” says Scott Ashe, principle heritage planner with the City of Edmonton's urban design unit.
Inside, a section of the second floor was removed and skylights were installed.
The result is an atrium for community, customers and tenants to gather for events.
Dulaba is an advocate of placemaking, which focuses on how communities interact with the built environment for the better. “It’s much easier to tear something down and start from scratch,” he says, “but we feel that there’s no story when you do that.”
“I think we all had a sigh of relief and thought, ‘Oh, this one is going to be great,’” says Lisa Brown, Oliver Community League president. “We were just excited to see that corner being activated."

"It was a slam dunk basically from the get-go.” - Lisa Brown, president, Oliver Community league

Credits:

Leigh Kovesy

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